Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Chick-Fil-A and me

Someone very close to me, whom I love and who has my express permission to hold me accountable recently write me this email:
your words of facebook come across to me as very harsh, very condemning, very exclusionary, very barrier building, and - most of all - very unlike you and how you live your life - in my opinion. 

"One of the better articles on why it's not Dan Cathy's personal feelings about gay marriage that is offensive: people are allowed to have those and pursue them; it is the money his tax-exempted foundation gives to political groups trying to deny people equal rights that is offensive."

"Shut up already about how liberals are tolerant of everyone but intolerant people. Seriously. Like everything else, some liberals are like that, but a whole lot of us are trying to be better. Like Glennon. Go ahead, my conservative friends. Read it."
You have modeled for me these last few years your personal life of loving, of tolerance, of inclusion, of forgiveness, and - to me - the written words are none of that.  I've learned much from you - because of what you do and how you live your life - about following Jesus who was loving and tolerating and forgiving and including.
And this person is right.  Something about this Chick-Fil-A thing has me angry.  It has me not quite being myself.  So, this post is more about figuring out what's going on in my head and my heart than a defense.  Because, as I have said, my friend is absolutely right.

I wonder if some of the harshness of my posts is a response to the more conservative things I see being said on Facebook.  (And remember, a lot of my professional life is spent in the evangelical Christian world so there's a pretty good balance of left and right showing up in my Facebook feed.)

I suppose there are two aspects about these posts that strike me: the first is the general gleeful tone of catching up liberals in their own hypocrisy and the second is their assertion that their rights are being infringed upon.

So, this gleeful tone.  This image is a good example.
Honestly, I don't know what to say.  I have a million and one arguments but don't want to go down the rhetorical rabbit-hole.  I suppose folks could even argue with me that this picture is neither gleeful nor pointing out hypocrisy and those folks would be right, as well.  I just know that so many people in my news feed have said they are buying multiple meals today.  Maybe the better word is enthusiasm.

Why does my sense that this is the way folks on the right feel about this make me upset?

Because at the core of this, we're talking about people.  We're talking about people that God loves as much as he loves you or me.

Every time someone posts in support of Chick-Fil-A, they are communicating, intentionally or not that gay people do not deserve the same rights that straight people have.

And why would that be true unless they thought that gay people weren't as good as straight people?

So, that makes me mad.

The second thing is this statement that freedom of speech is at stake here.  This is patently ridiculous.  I asked my friend why he would post about eating multiple meals and he talked about how wrong is was that politicians were saying that stores would not be allowed to open in their districts.

He makes a good point here.  That does seem a little distasteful, IF that actually happened and IF it  wasn't just election year posturing (yes, posturing invites response) and IF the laws of a particular district actually allowed that type of discrimination to happen.

But the majority of people who are upset with Chick-Fil-A are not politicians.  They are individuals who support equal rights for gay people.  And our Constitutional right to freedom of speech only gives you the right to say what you want.  It does not give you the right to say what you want without consequences.

And the consequence for Chick-Fil-A is that people who support equal rights for gay people do not like Chick-Fil-A and do not want to eat there.  Boycotts are not a new thing for the right wing.  They are just usually on the other side of it.

So, again, talking about the rights of Dan Cathy to people who legitimately are not allowed to do things that other people are allowed to do, simply because of who they sleep with, is a little angry making. (What things?  Hospital visitation, social security benefits, tax breaks, adoption, etc.)

I don't the answer to the question as to why this has me acting outside of my usual patterns.  I know that there are times when conversation has to stop and people who are being hurt have to be protected, if those two things are at odds.  I don't know if this is one of those times.  I did not deliberately set out to draw a line in the sand.

The compromise I made with myself today after my friend sent me his email was to give the cost of lunch to The Marin Foundation and to post about on Facebook:
"I just donated the cost of a chicken dinner (with Coke because let's get real) to The Marin Foundation, a nonprofit that works with Christians -regardless of their beliefs about the sinfulness of homosexuality and without judgement of them- to treat members of the LGBT community as beloved children of God through reconciliation and relationship-building."
I do love the people in my life who are conservative and I respect that many of them have come to their beliefs about homosexuality through prayer and study.  I do not think that many of them actually live out their maxim that they love the sinner and not the sin.  Posting enthusiastic support for Chick-Fil-A doesn't communicate love for gay people.  Posting harsh comments of my own probably doesn't communicate love for conservative people, either.  I don't know what to do with that.  Do you?


Anonymous said...

I find the whole time consuming, I'm right, no, I'm right problem that Mr. Cathy created a national stir over is absurd. Yes, the conservatives are right and yes, the liberals are right. However, people who do believe in equal rights for LGBTs will not eat at a Chick-Fil-A because of this. Fair enough. People who belive that gay marriage is wrong will eat at Chick-Fil-A. However, for a mayor of a city (read Boston) to prevent a business from opening it's doors in their town based on that alone is absurd. What about the Christian Book Stores? Should we not allow them to open their doors? What about Planned Parenthood, should we not let them open their doors? I think what is fundamentally at stake here is an individual's right to choose what they believe in. If you believe in equal rights for the LGBT community, don't eat there, simple as that. If you believe the opposite, eat there all the time. Unfortunately, people have become too one sided. It's either I'm right and you're wrong or I'm right and you're wrong. There is no co-existence. Rather than having the thought, "I believe that they are wrong, but I respect their choice" people are condemning and retaliating against one another and nothing good can come from that.

Anonymous said...

I have had a lot of problems with the Chick-fil-A thing too. For one, I find it highly unfortunate that he does condemn gay marriage and that he uses profits to support that view. But I also believe if you don't agree with him, you can choose not to eat at Chick-fil-A.

I think the problem I've really had with the mayors of Boston, Chicago, etc., say "We don't want you here" is that they want other companies there, other companies that probably support similar views. Chick-fil-A is ultimately a private organization. It's a business, but it's a private business. Dan Cathy can think and say whatever he wants. If Chicagoans truly agree, then let C-f-A build the restaurant and fail.

Rahm Emanuel and Mayor Menino haven't condemned the Boy Scouts for having troops in Chicago or Boston, and I"m sure they support other businesses that have equally morally and civilly repugnant views.

But I don't think the way they went about expressing their displeasure was the right way.

It's been challenging for me, that I can feel strongly for gay marriage and feel devastated when another state bans it, and yet also staunchly support the owner of Chick-fil-A to have his own views and use his money to support them. Do I think his views are unfortunate? Absolutely. But only time and a few good gay friends will change them.


--Amanda A

Anonymous said...

Thoughtful post PrincessMaxMama.
Love, the dad

PrincessMax said...

I agree with both Anonymous and Amanda: it's probably not productive to legislate against businesses for their foundational belief systems. Additionally, it's clearly election cycle posturing that hasn't got a chance of succeeding. Folks are offering themselves up to be straw-men.

But overall, I'm just seeing a gleeful anti-gay tone, not a civic political assertion. That's what's putting me on edge.

Anonymous said...

I'm the first anonymous poster...

For those who believe in "punishing" Mr. Cathy and the company, you're also punishing the people whom you are trying to support. If you boycott, you could force a Chick-Fil-A to close. In turn, the people working there whom may or may not be gay are now out of a job. You're punishing people that have nothing to do with it. You're taking away tax dollars that help support programs that help people whether they're gay or straight.

I think a good question would be is Mr. Cathy making donations to the anti- gay marriage group out of the Chick-Fil-A bank account or is it coming from his personal account. Since they are a private company, no one probably knows. Also, what's the dollar amount this guy is donating? Millions or thousands? Not that the dollar amount matters but no one has shown how much or which account it is coming from.

Also, how many companies do you know, that you visit on a daily basis support or are against LGBTs and marriage equality? My guess is that no one knows. That's why major corporations don't get involved, they don't want the publicity. Mr. Cathy chose to voice his opinion, that was his choice. Now it's the individual's choice to eat at Chick-Fil-A or not, not to judge anyone who does or doesn't eat at the food chain.

Furthermore, I think it is absurd that people didn't think that Chick-Fil-A was a strong Christian based business. They are CLOSED on SUNDAYS! What fast-food business is closed on Sunday if it's not based on a belief system? Why would they give up that profit if not for their belief?

PrincessMax said...

Thanks for visiting Anonymous. It sounds like you have a lot of thoughts on this issue, many of which don't seem to be germane to what we're discussing here. Perhaps you should write your own blog post and link to it? I'm sure folks would love to engage you there.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed what you meant about the gleeful tone, too. A friend of mine commented on a Huckabee photo about Chicago. He was pointing out Huck's bad grammar; Foolishly, I took the bait because the facts were wrong too (the Chick-fil-A was not in Chicago).

But I took a few moments to read the comments before I commented, and I was pretty stunned with the happiness with which people celebrated their biases.

I suppose we saw it when constitutional laws were passed in several of the states, but it was so stark. I'll stand on my liberal soapbox and say how sad it makes me that we as a society can't see how discriminatory his beliefs are. And it surprises me how some of the people (or the ancestors of those people) espousing these beliefs have been persecuted under similarly discriminatory laws in the past and still feel this way.

Anonymous said...

That was me, Amanda.

Anonymous said...

I'm the first anonymous poster...

I did get a bit off topic, I apologize.

I don't disagree with your view. I think it is terrible that people, whether straight or gay, do not have equal rights.

Unfortunately we do not live in a world/country/society that is totally ready for these changes. While I believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion and choice of belief, I go back to my original statement, that people need to learn to co-exist, to say "I belive they are wrong but I respect their choice" instead of condemning them and retaliating against one another. The way the nation is reacting to thise will cause people to "chose" sides, which will not help anyone.

I foresee that these inequities will change. While there is a strong opposition today, I believe that once the older generations pass on, we will see a lot of change.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the spelling errors!