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Both sides right, wrong in Chick-Fil-A flap

Last week, I walked by an Atlanta Chick-fil-A crowded with customers. While some may have been regulars, others were likely there to show support for the socially conservative views of the restaurant chain's founder. Good for them!

Though I vigorously disagree with Truett Cathy and his son Dan, who have contributed heavily to anti-gay causes, they have every right to their beliefs and to back them with their money. If they want to entangle their privately held company in controversy, they go forth in a great American tradition of free speech and free association.

For my part, I hold with the other side -- those social progressives who have chosen not to do business with Chick-fil-A. The boycott, too, has a long and honorable place in the American civic tradition.

The Chick-fil-A showdown was sparked earlier this summer when Dan, the company's president and chief operating officer, was interviewed on a conservative radio talk show. His comments, though inflammatory, were not unusual among ultra-conservative Christians, who confuse homophobia with piety.

"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.' 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," he said.

The Cathys have long contributed to organizations that oppose full equality for gays and lesbians, including same-sex marriage, and this isn't the first time their activism has brought sharp criticism. Liberal college students have been fighting campus Chick-fil-A locations for the past year.

But this time, the reproach from gay-rights supporters caught the attention of former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, a conservative Christian himself. Now a radio talk show host, he declared last Wednesday "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day." The battle was joined.

Having long ago considered the politics of Chick-fil-A's founding family -- their religious views are well-known in metro Atlanta, where the company is headquartered -- I don't partake of their chicken sandwiches or waffle fries. Thereby, I honor both my waistline and my convictions. I grew up in the segregated South, and I learned at my parents' knee not to give my money to businesses whose owners so offend my beliefs.

The non-violent boycott was one of the staples of civil rights strategy, a way of forcing merchants to consider just how strongly they endorsed Jim Crow. Some merchants were happy to lose patrons as long as they could hold onto their bigotry. But many preferred to hold onto their profits.

The well-planned and disciplined boycott is also a perfect method for drawing attention to injustice, as civil rights advocates from Martin Luther King Jr. to Cesar Chavez understood. The Montgomery bus boycott, which was famously kicked off by Rosa Parks' arrest, is a textbook case (quite literally), one of the most successful such tactics in modern history.

As the Chick-fil-A controversy has raged on, some conservatives have complained that equal-rights advocates are trying to strip the Cathys of their free speech rights. That's just nonsense. The First Amendment gives them every right to their bigotry.

But it also gives their opponents every right to call on fast-food diners to eat more beef. There is no constitutional right to offend people without consequences.

I would point out, however, that local leaders such as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel have gone too far in suggesting they would try to exclude new Chick-fil-A outposts from their cities. As long as the stores meet local zoning requirements, they have every legal right to open where they see fit. If Emanuel doesn't like the company's politics, he can boycott, as I do.

He won't be missing much but several hundred calories of Southern-fried fat, with a heaping dollop of homophobia.

Email Cynthia Tucker at cynthiacynthiatucker.com.

Comments

1d2ec 2 years, 3 months ago

Maybe the ones who agree with Chick-fil-A give the same treatment to Office Depot, Home Depot and Targets who contribute heavily to GLB.

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AlbanyIsTooDarkDuringTheDay 2 years, 3 months ago

Boycotting does not serve a useful purpose in the 21st Century. I guarantee everything you buy is from a company whose leaders' beliefs are opposite from your own on several issues.

Stick to boycotting companies whose product is inferior or too expensive.

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AnotherMom 2 years, 3 months ago

Thank you, Ms. Tucker, for allowing those of us who are bigots & homophobes to freely voice our opinions in this great country. According to you, we aren't voicing opinions based on morals & convictions of our religiously held beliefs. No, we are bigots, homophobes & haters. Yet, you and those who disagree with the Cathys are the righteous, pious ones who never do anything to offend anyone. The only ones who seem to offend are those who have beliefs contrary to your beliefs. It seems there are a lot of people in this country who hate Christians but that is perfectly all right. They might be called anti-Christians or Christianphobes.

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billybob 2 years, 3 months ago

How would allowing gays to marry affect you in the least if you are not gay? That is the thing I don't get. Gays getting married won't affect heterosexual marriage at all. My straight marriage will be the exact same as it is now if gays are allowed to marry.

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AlbanyIsTooDarkDuringTheDay 2 years, 3 months ago

I think it is something that was established in the Bible and therefor it is a Christian ceremony uniting two individuals. If doing so violates something in the Bible then it shouldn't be allowed.

However, something like a civil union or something like that would not violate anything in the Bible as it is not addressed in the Bible. Allowing homosexual couples to share benefits and get the appropriate tax benefits of married couples could be achieved.

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billybob 2 years, 3 months ago

Actually marriage in the bible included multiple wives, concubines and rape victims being required to marry their rapist. Furthermore, we do not live in a theocracy. Just because a group belonging to a religious sect that follows a 2000-year-old collection of books doesn't believe one segment of the population shouldn't have the same rights as those granted to another segment of the population doesn't make it right or just or legal for that matter.

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AlbanyIsTooDarkDuringTheDay 2 years, 3 months ago

As I pointed out in another of your posts, you are referring to Old Testament accounts of man-made rules that were abolished during the New Testament days.

My point, since you missed it, is that if marriage was defined and created in the Bible, we have no right to change what constitutes it today. If we want to make it okay to have civil unions between same-sex couples to grant all the benefits of a tradition marriage then so be it. We cannot redefine what constitutes marriage.

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billybob 2 years, 3 months ago

You're just plain wrong. Hindus marry, they don't follow the Bible. Buddhists marry, they don't follow the Bible. Muslims marry, they don't follow the Bible. People of all kinds of religions and no religion at all get married. One religion should not dictate who can and can not get married. It's none of your business. If you are against same sex marriage, don't marry some of the same sex. If you are against arranged marriages, don't participate in an arranged marriage. If you don't like asparagus, don't eat asparagus. It really is that simple. And still not a single Christian will answer, how will gays getting married affect your marriage or your life for that matter? I don't know how many times I have to say it: WE DO NOT LIVE IN A THEOCRACY!!

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AlbanyIsTooDarkDuringTheDay 2 years, 3 months ago

Chic-Fil-A protesters are hypocritical if they do not also boycott the oil companies who are based out of the member nations of OPEC. They have a little harsher views on homosexuality than the Cathy's of Chic-Fil-A. But I guess it would be too inconvenient to do so.

Picking and choosing when to get offended simply makes yourself look an idiot.

Being gay is not the new black. Chic-Fil-A still lets gays enter into their establishments the same way heterosexuals, serves them the same food...etc. Gays are bullied in today's world, but so are fat people, nerdy people, and people with special needs. Gays were never subjected to the same hate that blacks were. Someone saying that gays should not be allowed to marry is not hate speech.Deal with it.

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billybob 2 years, 3 months ago

And Christians are hypocritical if they say they oppose homosexuality based on the bible but don't advocate the death penalty for it as prescribed in the bible. Christians also don't advocate the dealth penalty for a women being a non-virgin on her wedding night which is in the bible. The list goes on and on of things that are prohibited in the bible and subject to the death penalty. There is an awful lot of picking and choosing going on amongst Christians where adhering to biblical instruction is concerned.

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AlbanyIsTooDarkDuringTheDay 2 years, 3 months ago

I think you are confusing Old Testament law with New Testament. Old Testament being, "an eye for an eye", and New Testament being, "turn the other cheek."

Anyways, I completely agree with your statement on the hypocrisy among some Christians today. It is just as much as sin to have premarital sex or to overindulge in food and drink as it is the sins that many Christians crucify others for doing.

My point is to point out the stupidity of boycotting Chic-Fil-A, not to say that Christians who disapprove of homosexuality are somehow better than gays and gay supporters.

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