Hannah Copper was about to graduate college as a big “v” (vegetarian.) She’d just been waiting for the right meat.
Her senior year in college, she meets a handsome billionaire who has only ever known the dangerous side of chicken.
“Oh Hannah, until I met you, I never knew I could eat chicken because I was hungry, I thought that it had to be charged with hate or at least a political statement.”
Coming soon to a bookstore near you.
Okay, not really. But I was as riveted to the whole Chick-Fil-A debacle as most were to the Fifty Shades Trilogy. When I read the Fifty Shades Trilogy, I wound up skimming through those racy scenes that were supposed to be the reason to read the books as I concentrated on the rest of the story. I kind of did the same thing with the incidents surrounding Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s comments. At the core of the controversy was the issue of same-sex marriage, but what made the whole situation fascinating were the slew of other simply American things it made me think about. In fact, I came up with about fifty of them.
So, I was kind of glad to see Chick-Fil-A come back into the news with the whole Chicago promise-that-wasn’t-a-promise because I’d been sitting on this graphic and intro for a while and I thought it was pretty clever. Never mind that I can’t seem to find any focus for this blog and keep jumping around topics like they tell you not to do if you want people to keep reading. (I even had to create a new category for this.)
Anyway, here are the aforementioned 50 thoughts, things learned, and things wondered presented to you in a sort of stream-of-consciousness list that I call “Fifty Shades of Chicken”:
- Same sex marriage. This is a big issue. This was the least interesting part of the Chick-Fil-A affair. Not that it’s not important, but this wasn’t the conversation that should have sparked debate about it.
- Language used matters. Dan Cathy has talked about his support of “traditional marriage” before, just using different words- here in March, 2012 and here in November, 2011. While his support of anti-gay groups was sort-of news in the past, it did not receive the full country’s reaction the way it did this summer. It was this, the original Baptist Press interview that ignited the national firestorm this summer, where he used the words “Guilty as charged,” in response to a question about his position supporting traditional family. If he had said “Yes, like I’ve mentioned many, many times, we support the traditional view of marriage,” I bet there wouldn’t have been all this hullabaloo. Incidentally, that Baptist Press article did not mention gay vs. straight marriage, or even gay anything at all.
- The media sucks. This really shouldn’t have been news. It was old news, rephrased to help fuel readership. Here’s how the NY Daily News switched up the Baptist Press article to their own article with a headline reading “Chik-Fil-A: A-OK with Being Anti-gay, Says Prez.” Not that anyone’s really claiming the Daily News is a bastion of journalistic integrity, but no matter who you’re writing for, is a rhyming headline that stirs up lots of hate better than a more accurate one?
- Some of the LGBT community were very angry and suggested a boycott. I can understand why some folks were pissed – the media is telling them that they’re very hated publicly and that people are spending money to prevent their happiness; I’d be pissed, too.
- It didn’t surface where I saw it in July, but Cathy did say some very negative things about supporters of same-sex marriage. He stated: “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.” It’s not nice, but still not news, although you would think it should have been bigger news than the “Guilty as Charged” comment.
- Many of the LGBT community refrained from hating and supported free-speech. Like this insightful gentleman who wrote an ireport on CNN. Maybe they wouldn’t spend their money there, but most of my gay friends didn’t want this to be the platform for or against gay marriage. And they hoped to be able to speak their mind freely, too, and recognized that meant allowing those with whom they disagree do the same. It’s very American.
- Some governments decided that this guy’s opinion would allow or disallow him from being able to do business in their city. Here’s an example from Boston.What? Can I lose other rights if the mayor disagrees with my opinions? Seems very un-American.
- The backlash resulted in what I’m terming an “unboycott.” Chick-Fil-A appreciation day was August 1. The idea was to go eat at Chick-Fil-A to back Cathy. I think that if you were at Chick-Fil-A that day, your statement was likely unclear. Were you anti-gay? Were you pro-free-speech? Were you hungry for chicken? Do you just like long lines?
- We have a constitutional right to free speech, so this guy can say whatever he wants. Sarah Palin was part of the unboycott and said the boycott threatened free-speech. I would think a boycott is another kind of free speech, but I’ve never been to Alaska.
- All publicity is good publicity. If Dan Cathy has any business sense, I bet he’ll try to stay wishy-washy on this deal so he can fire it up again when things get slow. Like maybe in late September?
- I was surprised that other fast food restaurants didn’t try to cash in.
- Fast food has become as American as free speech.
- Americans are fat. I can imagine that there are some folks in a third-world country who wish they could be half as fat as us and shout their opinions from the greasy-smelling confines of a fast-food restaurant.
- Gays felt hurt by long lines at Chick-Fil-A. I guess I would feel hurt, too, but I can hardly stand to eat at a fast-food place much less determine the future of marriage there. It made me sad that people were airing their thoughts on this in a fast-food restaurant.
- The boycott’s unboycott was fought by the un-un-boycott, the “Kiss-In.” I don’t care who you or your partner are, public displays of affection are gross. Fast food restaurants are gross. Don’t combine them. I’m just glad this wasn’t followed by an un-un-un-boycott of old “traditional” married couples making out. Eww… I just threw up in my mouth a little at the image of elderly people pressing their wrinkled, chicken-breathed, mouths together while sitting on old waffle-fry covered booths. Just gross.
- No kiss-in in Tallahassee. I have a friend on Facebook who is a TV news reporter in Tallahassee. She was sent to cover the local “kiss-in.” She said there wasn’t one. Made me wonder if other folks realized that a fast food restaurant isn’t the most romantic or political venue the media would have us believe it to be.
- I’m now curious about what Chick-Fil-A tastes like. I haven’t been to one since the one in the student union at Oklahoma State University and I haven’t been there in over 15 years. I decide to visit the Chick-Fil-A website, where I’m struck by these next few items that I learned.
- They claim to have invented the chicken nugget.
- They also take credit for the boneless chicken sandwich.
- They are closed on Sundays. Everyone seems to agree that this is really cool. But everyone seems to keep eating fast-food and shopping on Sundays.
- Cows want us to eat mor chikin? Seems like their cause would be better supported if the cows and chickens got together. Probably avoiding cross-species integration I suppose. Is this another Chick-Fil-A statement for bias and segregation?
- The nearest Chick-Fil-A to me is almost 100 miles away. I cannot even make a statement about their food even if I want to without driving to New Jersey. People from Connecticut try not to do that. (This is where the facts I learned from the Chick-Fil-A website in this list end.)
- Not being able to weigh-in with a boycott, unboycott or kiss-in is similar to my ability to influence the Presidential election. Connecticut is not a Chick-Fil-A state or a swing state. That seems unfair. People say vote with your dollar (meaning a donation.) I think that the $20 I can afford would be better used in a local charity. It could actually go for a Chick-Fil-A purchase if I put it towards a political campaign, though (click to view an article on what money gets spent on on the campaign trail.)
- The swing state thing reminded me that there is an election going on. And that it sucks that my choices are big-government Obama and big-involvement-in-my-personal-life-including-abortion-and-marriage Romney.
- Thoughts of the election reminded me that lobbying matters, so where Dan Cathy spends his foundation’s money could significantly change my world.
- Chick-Fil-A isn’t the only company using money to support causes. Amazon and Target have openly and financially supported the cause for gay-marriage. I don’t know if this means a lot of southern Kindles got thrown away or what.
- Thinking about corporations having political opinions, I was reminded that in January, the Supreme Court said it is okay for a corporation to spend money on a political campaign; a corporation is protected by the First Amendment the same way that an individual is. So maybe I should pay more attention to where I buy stuff.
- The Baptist Press article came out on July 16 and one week later Sally Ride died, and upon her death it came to light that she was a lesbian with a long-time life partner. Unrelated, but wow, this would be a big deal if you were born gay and had a hero like Sally Ride. It was also pointed out that her life partner would receive no benefits. This meant two big news pieces for the LGBT community in one week.
- The thought of no benefits reminded me about health care, and how health care sucks right now in this country. Obviously, there are other benefits that Sally Ride’s partner is missing out on but just showing how this Chick-Fil-A thing brought my mind everywhere.
- Through all of the conversation that erupted from the Chick-Fil-A thing, I learned that some people still think being gay is a choice. Whether you think it is right or wrong or whatever, to believe that someone would choose homosexuality is silly to me. Try to imagine that being attracted to whomever you happen to be attracted makes other people sick or angry. Would you pick that for your life? I don’t think we get to pick much about who we fall in love with.
- Where does the Biblical interpretation that homosexuality is a sin come from? All this has a lot of people bringing up this old quote-things-the-old-testament-says-are-wrong-that-we-do letter. (I direct you to Snopes because it is attributed to so many different people in so many different places.) The letter makes a good point about the Bible telling us lots of things are wrong like wearing polyester clothing. I believe that Jesus taught love and tolerance in the new testament and that you have to love sinners. Maybe you don’t feel the same way, but neither you nor I is actually God so we can totally disagree here. The key to any religious scripture is learning it, having faith in it, and living that faith. And my interpretation (from the open and affirming UCC’s Sunday School) of Jesus’ word is that you should encourage others to have the same faith, but you can’t hate them when they don’t.
- So now engrossed in this whole issue, I found this pic that I thought was amusing and ironic three days after the unboycott. It was an internet meme-style pic of people in line at Chick-Fil-A and it said “You’d never see that many Christians lined up to help at a food bank or homeless shelter..And that’s something Jesus actually said to do.” I now wish it had said “You often don’t see that many,” instead of “never.”
- Christians felt accosted by my pic. I have several Facebook friends who really do live their faith and have done a whole lot more than wait in line. They were examples that the pic wasn’t true. And one, who happened to be eating a Chick-Fil-A egg and chicken sandwich for breakfast, made this statement, which I’m going to quote because it was very eloquent and summed up the 15 or so comments that were made: “And Jen, I believe very little of this “debate” for lack of a better word has to do with chicken or even gay marriage/rights. It is simply the liberal media and activist groups latching on to one man’s statement of his beliefs and using it to incite a frenzy with the only objectives being to draw attention to themselves.” I won’t mention her name unless she asks me to, because she can’t pick who sees her words in my blog, I just want you to know the eloquence didn’t belong to me. I think that’s fair.
- Chicken and egg sandwich? So gross. Especially for breakfast.
- All that made me realize that social media fires people up. I’m grateful because when someone posts something, especially something I think I disagree with, I educate myself on the topic. I’ve learned so much about politics, science, pets and Gangnam Style because of what people post on Facebook.
- I can make my Facebook arguments sound smart. Social media gives me time to do my research and arrive at an educated stance on something. In person, I’m more likely to retort, “Yeah, well, your mom wears sweaters.”
- Dan Cathy has a girl’s last name and every time I read an article about him I picture a woman because they refer to him as “Cathy”.
- I had always thought that more marriages would mean more stable relationships that would benefit children, but there had recently been a study on children of gay marriages. From Texas, this study: How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study is cited in many articles and is used to imply that children of same-sex marriages are not as healthy as young-adults as those children of heterosexual adults.
- After a deeper look at this study, I remembered that studies suck. The “same-sex” contingent was represented by any parent who has had a same-sex romantic relationship. And the whole study sample was pretty small. For these and lots of reasons the study shouldn’t be cited in the debate for or against gay marriage. I remembered why I never finished my thesis – the owners of money funding my research wasn’t liking the results I was finding and I didn’t want to change it up. In most cases you can find a statistic that will support your case no matter what data you have.
- When discussing gay marriage, people point out that in some states it’s okay to marry really young or if you’re first cousins but you can’t marry your soul-mate if he or she is the same-sex. I have never understood the relevance.
- Some folks who are anti-gay marriage still say it will lead to marriage to animals and/or multiple spouse marriages. I think that if the government can tell you the sex of your spouse, why couldn’t they tell you what age, race, or religion?
- I support same-sex marriage but don’t do much about it, and it reminds me how I always question where I would have been on the slavery issue. I know that I have trouble with owning a cat, I know owning another human is way wrong. But would I have stood up against it the way I should have or sat back and let others take action? What about the later civil rights movement? Are there issues I sit back on now that I should be taking more action on?
- What should I tell my kids about marriage? My brother’s getting married in November and I was explaining a wedding to my daughter. Of course I started with, “When a man and a woman love each other…” Is that wrong now?
- A couple of days ago, the media reported that Cathy had caved on his stance in order to open a restaurant in Chicago, and I was confused.
- The Chicago situation brings the government back into this issue. An alderman, Moreno, was only going to let Chick-Fil-A open because he received this memo implying Chick-Fil-A would stop donating to anti-gay groups. Is that okay? Shouldn’t the concern be about zoning and traffic and not religion or opinion?
- The media still sucks – he hadn’t really caved. Chick-Fil-A actually said they were going to try to make sure that his donations wouldn’t go to organizations with political agendas.
- Chick-Fil-A’s director of real estate understands what language does work. Here’s the Windy City Times’ article including the letter that had Moreno believing Chick-Fil-A was all pro-gay-marriage now. I wonder if he read it? Or did his assistant (or probably former assistant now) just think this would be funny?
- How were we going to make sure Cathy made good on the Chicago deal anyway? There are lots of organizations that probably don’t support gay marriage but that might do other good things. Like the Boy Scouts?
- Now the media is reporting that Cathy went back on his word. Again, it was director of real estate’s letter. It actually never said they’d stop donating to those groups. Ughh. Media keeps this issue alive because they know it keeps me reading.
- We’re lucky to live in a place that the media and citizens can say whatever we want. We just have to be a lot more diligent about making sure it’s true because the internet and social media make it way to easy for anyone to make anything news just to keep us watching them or reading their words.