Mike Huckabee’s big fat protest

Mike Huckabee’s big fat protest
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Really, all it did was make me hungry.

We don’t have Chick-fil-A in the part of Canada where I live, so all the recent attention the chain’s been getting has stirred a very odd sort of temptation. On the one hand, I’m gay and support gay marriage. On the other, those waffle fries do look tasty…

Chick-fil-A set all sorts of records on Wednesday when anti-gay marriage customers flocked to its stores in a demonstration of loyalty to the company’s CEO, who had pledged support for traditional marriage on a Christian radio station sometime last month. It was very much a “backlash against a backlash” sort of thing; the boss man’s original comments had predictably generated much outrage amongst liberal pundits, which in turn prompted prominent conservative ones, such as Mike Huckabee, to profess contrarian affinity for the man. A formal “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” was organized by the ex-governor through Facebook, and the results speak for themselves.

I wrote about my recent unequivocal conversion to the cause of gay marriage for a previous toon, and those arguments still stand. What struck me about this revolt in particular, however, was just how much it seemed to reaffirm a sentiment I expressed in that earlier post, namely, the sheer “mindlessness” and empty symbolism of gay marriage foes at this late stage in the game.

Considering how precious little in their lives was actually at stake, it’s very hard to view the actions of these fast-food insurgents as anything other than an anxious sort of posturing. Gay marriage is already unconstitutional in many of the states whose stores saw the largest turnout, and certainly none of the protesters were under any looming pressure to get gay-married themselves. People who support gay marriage, in turn — from the President on down — aren’t usually weak-kneed about it, meaning it’s hardly the sort of stance that one expects politicians to “back down” from in the face of public revolt.

I do understand the free-speech arguments, of course — this idea that smug liberals who go around endlessly denouncing (or even seeking to exile) those who profess anti-progressive opinions deserve to be smacked around by a fee-thinking populace. Trouble is, these protesters did not carry themselves with the stoic, solidarity-like demeanour of a people who viewed their rights under attack. If you consult the various photo galleries you instead see an endless sea of smiling, hammy faces; folks having a jolly time revelling in their own equally smug righteousness that comes with thinking the popular thing in the safest possible context.

And that’s what makes the whole spectacle most offensive, the idea that homosexuals who want to get married — actual flesh and blood humans with an unfulfilled ambition to solemnize their love — are little more than some dumb, funny abstraction to be opposed in a dumb funny way. “Gay marriage” is reduced to something akin to “Obamacare,” or “big government,” an empty, totemic slogan of some larger cause in the greater right-versus-left political war, which ignores — and encourages us to ignore — the degree to which it’s actually a fairly unideological, non-partisan concern of basic human dignity.

There is, in short, an undeniable meanness to the anti-gay marriage crowd these days, but not a meanness born of genuine cruelty that should provoke real fear. As I said in my other piece, we know that more and more Americans — particularly the powerful, right-wing ones — do in fact have gay friends, and the polls suggest there is an ever-rising tolerance and understanding of homosexuality as something that is both innate and inescapable. The meanness comes when all this is known, but the innocuous desire for gay marriage is still opposed with great fervour and delight anyway. Does this smile on the face of Sarah Palin, for instance — a woman who supported the repeal of DADT, has lots of gay buddies, and has been called a “friend to the community” for her live-and-let-live attitude towards homosexuals — resemble anything but the creepy forced gesture of a woman stomping on a known-to-be-harmless community for a brief moment of political opportunism?

In seeking to counter all this, the appropriate response from gay Americans, I believe, is not to fight stupidity with stupidity (like today’s Chick-fil-A  “kiss-in“) but rather to simply become more outspoken in calling the bluff of people who claim to be so eager to deny innocuous homosexuals such an inconsequential legal affirmation. Considering that anti-same-sex marriage advocates are already increasingly tying themselves in intellectual knots trying to explain how their arbitrary discrimination is not, in fact, “anti-gay,” I think there exists ample opportunity to emphasize how goofy people look in trying to battle a cause which ever-accumulating evidence suggests they don’t actually care very much about.

The inescapable, easy-going niceness of Americans is one of the country’s greatest strengths, and something Republican politicians desperately need to learn to exploit for the sake of their own electoral future. A party that is mean just because it can, and revels in the expression of pointless, reactionary gestures of meanness — not just towards homosexuals, but other minorities too — does not strike me as one likely to lead a sunny Reaganesque revival anytime soon.



  1. @RedneckGaijin

    No, actually, there's PLENTY of cruelty, and gays and Lesbians in America are quite right to be afraid. The people who flocked to Chik-Fil-A the other day hate them with a passion- and would quite happily lynch them if they thought for even one instant they could get away with it. Bear in mind one of the "pro-marriage" groups CFA donated to lobbied hard in FAVOR of Uganda's death sentence for homosexuality.

    Don't mistake the politicians on the top for the movement as a whole. The movement is cruel, ignorant, and fearful- all the things on which American conservatism has always been based.

  2. @RedneckGaijin

    Case in point: http://www.shewired.com/soapbox/2012/07/18/16-yea

  3. ThePsudo

    How is this anecdote related to Chick-Fil-A?

  4. Jake_Ackers

    There is hate and cruelty. But to make it seem most conservatives or most Americas are hateful is simply not correct. I wouldn't go around saying all lefties are communist or want to lynch rich people and fire bomb police stations. The crazies on both sides spoil it for everyone.

  5. Etc.

    … or they're people like me who just happened to pop in for a milkshake and had no idea this nonsense that the media kicked up was going on, or like the people I saw there who were going because they didn't approve of various local governments barring Chick-Fil-A based off a comment by a CEO who doesn't do anything to actually bar gay people from working in or eating at his restaurants. It's never a good idea to take an insane minority and then take their crazy opinions to describe a group much vaster than it.

    I'm just sick and tired of this sort of nonentity being blown up somehow into an actual media event. Both conservatives and liberals won't ever seem to stop to take potshots at each other over the most trivial of things and are constantly dehumanizing the other side as some sort of inhuman monster, which helps just about nothing in this country.

    Why can't we find something we agree on for once instead of constant wedge issues made out of meaningless nonevents like this or maliciously crafted slants on national tragedies such as in Colorado?

  6. Dan

    Was it peach?

  7. Etc.

    I don't know why, but I've never cared for peaches. It was regular vanilla, sorry to disappoint.. : (

  8. John R

    Stating that Sarah Palin supported the repeal of DADT while citing an article "Sarah Palin Hints at support for DADT repeal" is very disingenuous. The article you chose is mostly referencing retweets and second hand accounts of these 'hints'.

  9. JonasB

    I think that a significant portion of the people who turned up did so less out of solidarity with the anti-gay stance of the restaurant CEO but rather to say "keep your politics out of our food". Eating at Chick fil-A shouldn't be governed by one's view on gay marriage any more than buying an iPod is governed by approval of sweatshop labour.

  10. David

    Should, but I'm sure that wasn't the case on Wednesday. I'd say the other 364 days of the year, that's probably what eating at Chick-Fil-A means (that, and you like their food, having never been there, don't know if that's actually a plausible excuse), but I'm positive that a majority of people on Wednesday did so for a reason, the whole reason there was a record turnout. I know if I was in a position to go to Chick-Fil-A, and didn't care one way or the other on gay marriage, I'd avoid it on Wednesday, because the restaurant would be mobbed with those who *do* support it, and it wouldn't be worth waiting two hours for fried chicken.

  11. Jake_Ackers

    I think there are more people just outraged that Chick-Fil-A is being denied the right to open up stores just because of his religious beliefs. Sure there are people who support traditional-marriage too. Many people in America do separate the issue of the religious institution versus equal rights. While all the outraged lefties never understand that you can separate the two.

  12. zackrovinsky

    They weren't actually denied the right to open new stores, that was just political posturing.

  13. @Cristiona

    Quite possibly only because of the harsh backlash.

  14. jermcool

    The majority of people who flocked Chick-Fil-A weren't "gay-haters". They were people who were sick of the progressive left trying to make "free speech" a thing that only belongs to them. Dan was asked about his stance on gay marriage. He stated it. Then he was bullied for it! No, it wasn't a popular opinion outside of Christian Conservatives. Does that give Boston and Chicago the right to say "You can't come here you intolerant yuck-yucks because you have a Christian Conservative opinion!"? That's what made me mad and why I would have been at Chick-Fil-A if there was one here in Vegas.

  15. Anon

    Let us not forget that that Boston mayor, Thomas Menino, said he would block any attempt Chick-Fil-A makes to expand into his city. Yet he gave money to an Islamic Center where the Imam could not decide on which way he would violently have homosexuals killed. That is proof that he only cares about gay marriage when he can politically benefit from it, just like how many of the heterosexual "allies" of the pro-gay marriage movement are only in it to make themselves fell better as opposed to the needs of the minority. While the people who flocked to Chick-Fil-A on August 1 are ostensibly cruel, the pro-gay marriage movement is callous and exploitative because they will sell out the LGBT community once they find their new pet cause.

  16. zackrovinsky

    Let us also not forget that free speech is a two-way street; that no statement is free from consequences and denouncement, and that those city officials backed down once they realized they couldn't actually do anything to stop Chick-Fil-A.

    No ones rights to free speech are actually being denied in this silliness, despite the hysterics and hyperbole.

  17. James

    That CEO's freedom of speech was never at issue, But lets not forget that this man gave $250,000 of his companies profit to help sponsor Uganda's "Kill-the-Gays" bill…..
    This isn’t about mutual tolerance because there’s nothing mutual about it. If we "agree to disagree on this issue", he walks away a full member of this society and I don’t. There is no “live and let live” on this issue because Dan Cathy is spending money to very specifically NOT let me live. I’m not trying to do that to him. No one is denying him his rights (Boston City council reversed their silly and unenforceable decision). I’m not trying to dissolve Mr. Cathy’s marriage or make his sex illegal. I’m not trying to make him a second-class citizen, or get him killed. He’s doing that to me, folks; I’m just fighting back.
    All your life, you’re told to stand up to bullies, but when we do it, we’re then told we're the ones being intolerant. Nope, sorry, I'm just exercising my freedom to denounce him spending money to sponsor laws that would literally murder people for their sexual orientation, and calling that charity….

  18. @SideshowJon36

    I went to Chik-Fil-A yesterday, between the two protests. No lines!

    I evened it out by eating some Pro-Gay Marriage Oreos for dessert.

  19. ThePsudo

    Haha, Oreos are pro-gay marriage?

  20. Etc.

    They had some sort of ad up showing an Oreo with rainbow stuffing for a gay pride thing over a month ago http://blog.zap2it.com/pop2it/rainbow-oreo-kraft-

    There was some sort of minor controversy over it about as equally inane as this one, though that fortunately was less frequently publicized than the current mess.

  21. @SideshowJon36

    Chik-Fil-A's stance on marriage/divorce (The original comment Dan Cathy made was more anti-Divorce than anti-Gay Marriage) is less the issue than the idea that government officials would deny zoning permits based on personal beliefs (which is in direct violation of the 1st Amendment).

  22. James

    I wish all those "Christians" that flocked to Chick-Fil-A would flock to other "Traditional Value" things…..you know like clothing the poor, or feeding the hungry, or helping to heal the sick……You know, things that Jesus would actually do….

  23. @Cristiona

    South Suburban PADS ( http://sspads.org/ ) would like to dispute your pointlessly broad brush.

  24. rmjones13

    I think he meant less tha Christians never do that stuff, and more that he wishes they actually flocked to it and poured money into it like they did with Chick-fil-A.

    As someone who has worked in the mercy ministry at our Church and whose mother ran in for a time, it's disgusting to me how many so-called-christians will rally behind a cause of hate rather than one of hope. It was like pulling teeth to get donations for the ministries we ran, but sure, everyone goes for a chicken sandwhich!

  25. jermcool

    @James: I keep hearing that, but I'm wondering how many food banks are run by faith-based organizations versus other organizations. I'm willing to bet those Christians you're vilifying are already supporting food banks with volunteer hours and money given through tithing. I know our church supports numerous food banks throughout the valley.

  26. zackrovinsky

    I'd totally take that bet.

  27. rmjones13

    Notice the word "flock". I would bet good money that many of these "christians" were the same ones who would donate quilt scraps to our Church's food kitchen. Because hey, anything to relieve their conscience, right? Lets not put any actual effort into it now…

    (Seriously- I would say that although the church is great for sponsoring mercy ministries, the amount of inidividuals who actually do something on a consistent basis to help people out is probably less than 50% of the people at the church. 3000 people were at our church, and I can tell you right now I didn't see even half of them help out.)

  28. @SideshowJon36

    It's actually pretty well documented that Christians and Conservatives give more time and money to charity.

  29. Jake_Ackers

    The CEO's position is his religious beliefs. He doesn't ban gay people from his store nor discriminating in hiring. Seriously, he has the right to believe what he wants and say what he wants. Why is the Left even outraged here? Denying him the right to open up restaurants is the discrimination and also putting politics before jobs.

    Plus gay/traditional marriage (the religious institution) is a religious issue. Civil unions and equal rights is the constitutional/political issue. The left and any supporter of gay marriage can't separate the religious institution from the legal rights issue. Most anti-gay marriage people are anti-gay marriage from a religious issue but are more than willing to support the position I have always stated: The law shouldn't use the word marriage (straight or gay), only gender neutral civil unions. Same rights, same word, but nothing religious about it. It stops the debate over religion and focuses just on civil rights. Anyone who is against it then is a bigot and intolerant of gays or intolerant of religious freedoms.

  30. Sven

    What's the "religious freedom" argument against same-sex marriage? Seriously? So you want to maintain a Biblical position on marriage? Go for it! Marry a member of the opposite sex – NOBODY IS TRYING TO TAKE THAT AWAY FROM YOU. So what's the "religious freedom" aspect of the same-sex marriage debate? The "freedom" to make some people second-class citizens? You might as well say Muslims deserve the "freedom" to ban women from going to school, or Jews deserve the "freedom" to ban pork, not just for themselves, but for everybody.

  31. Jake_Ackers

    Never said there shouldn't be gay marriage. I said the gov't shouldn't use the word gay or traditional marriage. Gov't should never use the word marriage. You want gay marriage? Go for it. It's the gov't using the word for straight/gay/polygamist marriage that is the problem. Gov't shouldn't define marriage one way or another, ever. The government should use another word for everyone.

  32. SpookyDo

    Why? That is the quesiton here. Why should religion get full rights to the word marriage and get to dictate it meaning? After all if the government is fully uninvoled with marriage then I could theoretically marry my computer and no one could say I am not married. Hell I could marry you without any concent and say I am married, if it is not legally binding and marriage has no legal definition so you could not force me out of it.
    Granted I would have no issue with making marriage a meaningless concept in the social order and switching over to the concept of unions instead however, that will simply not happen because the concept of 'getting married" is so fully engrained into out society.

  33. Chris Germann

    I want to get married, but I'm an atheist. I'll probably marry another atheist, and we will get married. We will have a wedding, she will be my wife, I will be her husband. We will be atheists, and most likely not get married in a church, and no one will argue that we aren't "married" and that we didn't, in fact, have a "wedding".

    I could have a Star Wars wedding, the man presiding changing the words to say "these two are bonded in the Force", but still no one would debate that we would still be "married" and that all of the Jedi and the Stormtrooper honour guard who attended this blessed Life Day was, in fact, a "wedding".

    But I would also like to have a husband, I have no idea whether I'll actually end up marrying a man or a women, but both are equally possible. I'm told I can't in most states. The ceremony we have to celebrate our union will not be a "wedding" by legal definition; I can have a partner, we could raise a child, share insurance, I just can't have a "husband".

    This is not fair.

    Yes, it is just a word, but words mean something, and in this debate they mean a principle, and what we fight for is not a word, but what is fair.

  34. Jake_Ackers

    I never said you couldn't have the same rights nor did I say you couldn't use the word marriage. I said the gov't shouldn't define your marriage nor should it define mine but rather it should give both the same word and the same right (ie: civil union). I am arguing in favor of what you are saying except the GOV'T (regardless of orientation) shouldn't use the word. Gov''t should use another word for both/all groups.

  35. Chris Germann

    Except you and I both know the issue runs much deeper than simply how the government from any level chooses to call a union. You have to admit, even if the government decided to legally refer to all marriages as civil unions, the general discomfort of LGBT's getting married, regardless of how it's referred, will be the same as it was beforehand. For that matter, the constitution itself should have rendered the entire thing a non-issue as a matter of freedom of religion, and yet we do it anyway. As a democratic nation, if enough people believe something is wrong, no matter how unfair or unconstitutional something is, a democratic government will uphold and enforce the laws its people choose. If the constitution can't bring a quick resolution to the problem, as it clearly should have, then there's no way a quick bureaucratic band-aid could actually resolve things.

  36. Chris Germann

    Except you and I both know the issue runs much deeper than simply how the government from any level chooses to call a union. You have to admit, even if the government decided to legally refer to all marriages as civil unions, the general discomfort of LGBT's getting married, regardless of how it's referred, will be the same as it was beforehand. For that matter, the constitution itself should have rendered the entire thing a non-issue as a matter of freedom of religion, and yet we do it anyway. As a democratic nation, if enough people believe something is wrong, no matter how unfair or unconstitutional something is, a democratic government will uphold and enforce the laws its people choose. If the constitution can't bring a quick resolution to the problem, as it clearly should have, then there's no way a quick bureaucratic band-aid could actually resolve things.

    The reason I take such an issue with your stance, and I was when you were making similar posts back when J.J. made another comic on LGBT rights, is that it belies a deep naivete about the issue, on both sides of the line. It's not just a war of words, but a debate of principal and of what's good and wrong. You're right in that the US government should not be taking taking sides, even within their bureaucratic language, but to suggest that decades, even centuries, of oppression and anguish, and the long fight to gain our civil rights, and Christendom's internal struggle to determine what's right and wrong in a rapidly changing country, that it can all be easily appeased by a change in semantics isn't just unrealistic, it's ludicrous.

  37. Jake_Ackers

    I agree, especially with the democratic point. However, that dislike/hate won't be changed overnight with a law nor government. But rather people whether they be politicians, celebrities or just the regular person. We have to talk, argue, fight for equality in both the law and society.

    I'm not saying that society will change overnight because of the law. My point is that by removing the word marriage from the law, the main argument from a political perspective will be an issue of civil rights. So if someone is against it then they are against gays. The issue becomes about equality.

    Right now the argument goes "you trying to define marriage" versus "you trying to discriminate." For the most part, I know there are still tons who just hate gays and just focus on that. Taking the word marriage out makes the argument only about gay rights, in the eyes of the law at least, as opposed to gays and religion. Again in the eyes of the law, society will always argue both.

    Will there still be people yelling against gays? Yes, a lot of anti-gay sentiment will remain. However, those people will be a lot less. And as a society we can hopefully work that problem out. Removing the word marriage removes the view that religion is being legislated. Then it becomes just a straight argument about rights for gay. Although I know many people will still use religion to argue against gays. But what it does is make the legislation of religion a non issue, which what many view this argument being. The real focus should be with giving gay rights.

    There are two debates right now, the word debate and the gay rights debate. Resolving the word debate, will make it easier to give equal rights in both law and society. I hope I am more clear now on my position. If not, I'll elaborate more.

  38. Jake_Ackers

    Government should not be the one defining the word marriage. Having the gov't call marriage anything is as if it was defining baptism or the sort. My point is why can't straight marriage AND gay marriage be called a civil union and never use the word marriage in a LEGAL definition? Same rights, same word but NOBODY (straight or gay) uses it in a legal context. That removes the religiousness of the word.

    Again if someone wants a gay marriage that is fine. I never said they couldn't. The same goes for straight marriage. The problem is having gov't defining it at all. Gay marriage doesn't stop straight marriage. Nor does straight stop gay. The gov't defining something is the problem Gov't shouldn't go around defining marriage as traditional, gay or both.

    Do you all realize in order to get married some states issue marriage licenses in which only religious officials can carry out the marriage. Thus some religions potentially could not carry out a marriage because the state doesn't view them as a legitimate religion. By removing the WORD marriage and replacing it for GENDER NEUTRAL civil unions, solves both the religious and civil rights aspect. Get it?

  39. SES

    Why shouldn't churches create THEIR own inferior term for relationships? The term "civil union" was invented to degrade same-sex relationships, so changing all civil marriages into "civil unions" just extends a very bad thing to everybody. If churches can't share nicely like they have for centuries, then why should they get the GOOD word? They can start calling things "religious unions" if they so desperately need the division in terms. While it's obviously very different in magnitude and intent, it reminds me of the attitude that led people to burn down white schools rather than integrate them.

    Oh, and North Carolina voted to ban "civil unions" just last year, so obviously most anti-gay marriage people there don't take that position.

    (I wonder how long until someone falsely claims that lots of European countries have abolished marriage and replaced it with civil unions. They haven't; while in many cases the legally-effective act is the signing of the equivalent of the marriage license, there is no special inferior legal term for relationships that haven't been sealed in a church.)

  40. Jake_Ackers

    When even civil union as an option the polls show there is about an even split between gay marriage, civil union, and no rights (about 1/3 each). But yes it does vary by state, some more willing, others not so much.

    1) Anyone can use the terms gay/traditional marriage if they want. Just the government won't be able to call it that.
    2) There won't be an inferior term because all marriage will be called civil unions, even straight ones. So it puts everyone on the same level and just removes the loaded word that is marriage.
    3) If the church wants to use the term gay marriage that is up to them. Same goes for traditional marriage. My point is that it's a lot easier to get equality if the word being used for that equality isn't marriage but anything else. Again it won't be easy but I think it makes it easier.

    Even if there wasn't this debate over gay marriage. The gov't still shouldn't of been legislating straight marriage in any method. And still should of been using the word civil union regardless. I know in many states now instead of saying "secular prayer" the state now just has a "moment of silence". It does the same thing but it allows everyone to use the term "moment of silence" without the loaded word "prayer" in it. And again I do know that some places still use "secular prayer" or just "prayer" but some places do use a "moment of silence."

  41. @Andy928766

    I think this whole thing is rather silly, from both sides. I mean, hanging out at a fast food restaurant to be anti-gay marriage, and then flocking there to protest that? Or maybe I am just jealous because I cannot have any of their waffle fries since the closest location from where I live is like two states away.

  42. Etc.

    I think that the kiss-in was planned first but then the counter-protest was then scheduled prior to it so that it ended up happening first.

    This is still a monumentally stupid turn of events for all sides.

  43. Jake_Ackers

    I wonder if there will be a third protest. Like a "stop putting politics in my food" or something.

  44. Roland

    I once heard this clever saying about tradition, I don't remember who said it or the precise words but it went along the lines of "Tradition is the reason for doing something when you can't think of any other reason to do it."

  45. ThePsudo

    Even people who are anti-traditional still have habits. Habits are to individuals as traditions are to societies.

  46. Byron Sherry

    JJ, if you are still tempted, there is on Chick-fil-a location in Bellingham, Washington.

  47. Max

    Correction: "was." Western's campus right? That location closed down. I'm trying to find the news to why…

  48. Lt. Magnet

    Lets be clear here about what happened between Chick-Fil-A and the left wing:

    The CEO's comments were just icing on the bigot cake here – this corporation has a history of denouncing homosexuality. More importantly, it financially supports groups that are actively working against gay rights. And that right there is the sticking point. Liberals don't care at all about what the CEO said; any liberal who's paying attention has known about Chick-Fil-A's anti-gay views for a long time now (there isn't even one near me, and I've known about it). The CEO's statement was just an easy flashpoint that got the public's attention, so liberals ran with it.

    For those crying about free speech: This corporation has the right to donate to whoever it wants. if it wants to send money to the KKK, it's their right. HOWEVER, that does not mean that I am obligated to ignore it and buy their products! In the same way it's legitimate (but silly) for you to buy tons of Chik-Fil-A 'cause you feel really threatened by The Gays, it's also legitimate for me to go out of my way /not/ to buy Chik-Fil-A because I support civil rights. Neither of us are threatening the free speech of anyone; Chik-Fil-A just isn't getting liberal money, which they probably weren't getting much of anyway.

    Personally, I just don't get these people. How do you look at yourself in the mirror in the morning knowing you're actively working to make someone's life worse for absolutely no good reason at all? How do you ever feel joy or happiness knowing you've expended effort to make extra sure these people can't be married, even though their happiness would have no effect on your life at all? They're like the torture-supporters to me; I don't get how you can support waterboarding while also managing to maintain any sense of self-worth.

  49. Jake_Ackers

    I understand your point and position. It's valid but should mass organized protests be when an organization/business reaches a tipping point? Do we even need mass protests or should we all just make a personal decision regardless? If this continues it seems like half of America will shop in PETA certified clothing stores, in GLAAD or Church only approved businesses, etc. etc. I guess if Chick-Fil-A didn't have that history then most people wouldn't even of thought twice. Plus Urban Outfitters seem a lot worst than Chick-Fil-A.

    It's like when those nanny staters protest TV shows. Can't they just turn off the TV instead of denying other people the right to watch that TV show? This is what the politicians are doing though. They are putting politics before jobs. Don't like it? Don't eat at it. Politicians shouldn't go around blocking businesses because they disagree with their politics. Politicians should be concerned (in this case) enforcing non-discrimination laws. Does Chick-Fil-A respect its employees and customers? If they do then they should be allowed to open up a business. And let the politics of it roll out as it may.

    When Whole-Foods was against Obamacare because he preferred to give his employee healthcare or w/e the whole argument was. People started to boycott Whole-Foods, not at this extent but nonetheless. Do people have the right to boycott/protest? Yes. But just seems a bit odd that a side that screams for tolerance then goes around and has mass protests against all kinds of businesses. Again I understand there was a tipping point here. But when does exercising your right to protest become just intolerance (Chick-Fil-A aside for a second)? Are these kiss-ins too far? Did the Occupiers that blocked traffic go too far? Do CEOs that talk about politics go too far?

    Personally, I think businesses should keep their mouth shut about politics. Unless the election or candidate or issue affects your business directly in some way. I just feel it's part of professionalism.

  50. Lt. Magnet

    I agree! But with Citizens United, they won't be doing that anytime soon. I think your vision of liberal/conservative-approved businesses will actually become a reality – they can spend limitless amounts of money on campaign contributions, and eventually both sides are going to catch on to the connection their money has to election results. None of this is good, mind you, but it's the inevitable reality as far as I can tell. You can't dangle the possibility swinging elections in front of corporations without them jumping for the opportunity, much as we would like them to.

  51. @Cristiona

    Who's saying you can't boycott CFA? The problem is government officials threatening to illegally use their power to stop a private business from setting up shop.

  52. Lt. Magnet

    There are people shouting down protestors, claiming our protests and disagreement with the way CFA spends their money is violating their free speech. It's a dumb argument, but there are more sophisticated versions of it (Why are you liberals talking about how a business spends it's own money anyway? Just shut up and buy their stuff regardless of where they spend their money) that are much more commonplace while being based on the same flawed premise.

    This 'problem' is essentially imagined; everyone agrees that city officials were politically posturing. Sort of like how Mittens does a poorly-received speech to the NAACP so that he can claim they booed him down because they like 'free stuff' the next day.

  53. Cicero

    As I said in my (much longer) post, there were a lot of factors here. Yes, opposition to gay marriage played a role. Likely, too, was a desire to "show up" a left-wing boycott and, in the context of the more generic left-right debate in the US, slap the left in the face. Ditto irritation with political correctness. And the government officials getting out of hand and shooting their mouth off completely upended the context of the debate and more or less shoved the ACLU and other groups into CFA's corner even where they disagreed with the statement.

  54. Lt. Coke

    I responded to your post with agreement. Thanks again!

  55. zaitcev

    The misrepresentations about "anti-gay marriage customers flocked to its stores" are rather tiresome, and for anyone trying to take the high road they are plain unacceptable. ACLU proclaimed their full support. Is ACLU an "anti-gay-marriage" organization? The whole point of the protest is to denounce how the people weilding significant government power attempt to coerce and persecute those with whom they disagree. If you let mayors to bully businesses like this, what do you think they can do to gay bars and pot dispensories?

  56. Lt. Coke

    I actually think there's an opportunity for a real discussion on this issue: How much control should one's local community have on what businesses start up there? It's an open question. My little town set up standards that Wal-Mart flat out refused to meet. They demanded we exempt them from all kinds of ordinances. We told them to stuff it. Is this wrong in your view?

    That said, don't be trying to con me, Zait. These people showed up for buckets (do they use buckets at CFA?) of chicken to show their support for their very narrow view of marriage and sexuality. They didn't show up because they felt ever so strongly for the rights of businesses to set up where they please. Libertarians are growing in numbers, but they're still a statistical drop in the bucket demographically, no way they could pull this off on their own.

  57. Cicero

    Just to try and explain what happened, at least as I understand it, I don't think Chik-Fil-A Appreciation Day was /solely/ caused by the issue du jour. It was a part of it, and indeed a major part of it (let's face it, it's what set off the whole thing), but there were a few other aspects to this that I think piled up to cause the right to "force the issue" here:

    1) There's been a tendency for any company that does something seen as wrong to the left to get the crap beaten out of it in the press and/or by left-wing politicians. I will offer the most prominent recent example that I can think of other than the CFA one, namely that of Target's donation to an anti-gay marriage group causing an explosion. (1) This is the most prominent example, yes, but I'm also reminded of this devolving into a bit of a silly season at times (and I will provide examples upon request, but would prefer to split them into a separate post to avoid bogging this one down) as vitrually any left-wing cause becomes fodder for boycotts and protests against companies. It seems fair to say that a lot of folks on the right get sick of these antics (to say nothing of the press they get).

    2) I think there's a certain resentment against the number of companies that, for whatever reason (be it executives' views or deciding to pursue a given demographic), have chosen to embrace LGBT causes/support them (be it by selling t-shirts or otherwise). To folks who disagree with those stances or who find tolerance of their behavior against their worldview (we can argue about whether those folks are right later), this gets rather grating since this often comes off as "We disagree with your worldview and we're flaunting it in your face".

    3) Then there's the generic "Political Correctness Police" complaint, a version of which being where the ACLU broke ranks with a lot of folks on the left and sympathized with CFA's dilemma. The most extreme version I can think of is those "Human Rights Commissions" that Canada hearing the case against Macleans over Mark Steyn's articles, and I know there were numerous other incidents there where expressing the "wrong" views could border on being a criminal offense (2). In this particular instance, it got out of hand when a few local politicians started making noises about blocking CFA from areas (Chicago and Boston were the big ones) on the basis of the executives' views…in effect attempting to turn expressing the "wrong" views into an offense the government could punish. To the extent that there might have been an extended row over the remarks Cathy made, this /really/ set a lot of folks off as being a "bridge too far".

    4) Finally, there's the fact that a corporate executive expressed a controversial view that a lot of people agree with but that can…well, cause controversy. Most companies take great pains to sanitize any public statements by their leadership to avoid this sort of kerfluffle, and if something leaks out the company quickly patches things up with follow-up statements or apologies. Essentially, if an executive at a major company says something espousing anything but the most blandly tolerant-of-anyone-and-anything social views, it gets "walked back" in some form. You just don't risk rankling a possible customer lest you lose their business. Be it on gay marriage or anything else, this gets old…so when an executive came out on the issue (yes, I get the irony of the phrasing), I think there was a desire to reward the honest (if impolitic) statement by those on the right. If nothing else, it was refreshing to see someone just come out and say what they thought instead of trying to duck every question thrown their way on the issue. After all, he was asked the question…all he did was tell the truth.

    So, while gay marriage was the issue that triggered this, I think that just about any relatively hot social issue could have triggered this with social conservatives. That it was gay marriage and not abortion (or something else) may be a bit of luck in terms of the reactions of both sides to the statement. Heck, there are times that I think foreign policy issues (i.e. the war in Iraq/Afghanistan) could trigger a similar blowup, and I can see a situation where an economic one could trigger a "backlash backlash" from the tea party. (3)

    In other words? I think there are a number of causes on the right that had been spoiling to slap the other side down hard that converged on this incident. Yes, gay marriage was the "trigger issue" and it played a major role, but there was (and is) a lot more going on here.

  58. Cicero

    Footnotes to the above post:

    (1) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/28/tom-emme

    (2) It's not just Canada here, either. For a more extreme example, in Belgium the Vlaams Blok was effectively shut down for expressing racist views. Setting aside discussion of those views, a major party being banned over part of its platform ought to be a bit disturbing from a free speech point of view.

    (3) For example, a bank loudly refusing to go along with a bailout in spite of pressure to do so might trigger a campaign to move deposits there…I seem to recall some minor efforts in this direction a few years ago, but the Tea Party wasn't terribly organized at the time.

  59. Lt. Coke

    I didn't actually consider this view of the situation. I think you could be right – after the CU ruling, the left has been getting much more sensitive to where corporations spend their money. This has resulted in a number of boycotts over recent months. On top of that, corporations that have thrown in with liberal causes in the growing number of culture wars have been quickly lauded by the most widely heard liberal voices. I can see this nagging major conservative voices over time, and resulting in avalanche chicken-purchasing.

    I appreciate your insight. In what direction do you think this is ultimately headed? I think it won't be too long before both sides are rallying around corporations that directly support their causes, and it's going to make for a pretty toxic political atmosphere. I'm dreading it almost as much as I've been dreading every budget year.

  60. Cicero

    Well, assuming that the right has also become a bit more sensitive to "boycott mania", I think you're going to get a three-way split in corporate America:
    1) "Right wing" companies (CFA being something of the ur-example, but there are a number of military-oriented companies that are going to end up with a similar alignment due to the attitudes of their customer base), who cater to conservative views to some extent insofar as how they market themselves;
    2) "Left wing" companies (potentially coming at things from a "green" angle, for example, or a "socially responsible" one; Ben and Jerry's leaps to mind), who cater to liberal views; and
    3) "Neutral" companies, who more or less try to stay out of the fray.

    I think #3 will be the biggest group by far, followed by #2 and then #1…but it seems quite possible that #1 could become something of its own ecosystem. I know there are studies out there suggesting that shopping patterns can be indicative of political views…it seems entirely possible that if those trends strengthen/harden a bit, some companies could simply decide to build brand loyalty among "their" base and write the other side off.

    The first big question is how frequently and to what extent the left (and, to a lesser degree, the right) start making "rogue" donations an issue. That's going to determine how quickly this starts to "spin up" and how far it goes: I know there have been lists of who donates to who for both sides for a while, but those may become more important.

    The second one, and by far the one that I think we're all dreading, is "Do companies start touting this in their advertising?" It's not uncommon for a company to tout a green initiative in their advertising, or that they're socially responsible; a natural outgrowth would be targeted ads noting charitable donations to religiously-affiliated groups (and you see a little of this already among "loudly Christian" companies)…and this wouldn't be too bad. What would be scarier is if companies actually start indirectly attacking others' behavior (i.e. relatively clean "comparison" ads on donations) and an open fight begins…particularly if it turns into a proxy political fight of some sort. I think that is quite possible, such are the base sizes these days.

    I think the key is that #3 will tend to be your super-sized corporations (who need massive consumer bases to maintain their size), while #1/2 will be either smaller companies seeking a niche (which this can really provide them with) or companies that are already demonized by the other side (CFA is falling in this category increasingly, but Blackwater also comes to mind…demonized as they were in the press, you could always find a table of Blackwater merchandise at a gun show). The key is that, as polarized as things are, there's now potentially enough of a base on each side to support a decent-sized company without having to worry about reaching the "uninterested" market en masse.

    However, there's an interesting business model that could emerge, and I'd like your thoughts on it: A company starts up, embraces a side (left or right), uses that to gain market share, and then begins "easing up" once they hit a certain size, eventually transitioning to more-or-less neutral status. I can point out similar examples on cable (witness how "theme" networks have been transitioning to become more generic…Cartoon Network, TV Land, and the History Channel all come to mind).

  61. Lt. Coke

    I think that business model would be far limited in scope – any firm that could succeed with that strategy would have to be one that provided an essential good or service that almost everyone wants or needs. Since the political atmosphere at that point would be so polarized, 'defections' from either camp would almost always be fatal, I think. Who wants to support the corporation that once supported 'them', or who 'sold us out'? Assuming this scenario came into play, everyone would be staying informed enough that such companies would not only lose the market share they had, they woudn't gain any market share since they'd already been written off by the people they defected for in the first place.

    This all assumes we aren't talking about a good/service that is universally desired that the company in question has a chokehold on the supply of. Broadband providers and cable TV providers would be good examples (I know Verizon donates to causes I don't support, but I would suck it up and practically demand they take my money if FiOS ever came into my area), as would any infrastructure type company (airlines comes to mind) but it really could be any good/service that almost everyone wants enough to be worth 'forgiving' their previous political indiscretion.

    I think the biggest problem with your scenario is that it doesn't take into account some of the super corporations out there, and what those super corporations want (it's more than money). Think Proctor and Gamble – these are immense corporations that own entire categories of products. Corporations so big that you could probably find entire aisles in big box stores where every brand is owned by no more than two firms. I think it's going to be these super corporations that end up deciding whether this goes down, and if we do move toward a more political corporate environment, their sheer size is going to force is to one extreme or the other.

    If we do get a more political environment, what super corp one buys from could end up meaning more than what party one identifies with. They would end up being almost one-stop-shopping type brands I think. I don't really have any examples to go with because we're entering territory that's basically only been explored by dystopian fiction; but I think we'd ultimately end up with two politically entrenched super corps providing almost every product someone would need in their day-to-day-lives, and the only firms in the 'neutral' territory would be companies that make products that people don't need very often (car companies immediately come to mind.)

    Ultimately, I think the politically toxic atmosphere scenario is almost inevitable at this point. There's more than money at stake now, since the 'winners' in this fight will end up determining government policy. I think the only question is how absurd it will get before it gets shut down. Many of these super corps also own medical device manufacturers; will we see situations where hospitals end up being forced to pick a side to stay in business? It sounds silly, but we're moving into completely unknown territory here; after being politically engaged my whole life, I've long stopped assuming that the objective absurdity of a thing has any relation to it's potential success.

    The good news is that I think this no-holds-barred kind of scenario is self-defeating and unsustainable. Right now nobody wants to confront major political issues of the day, which is what I think ultimately led to Citizens United, our comically dysfunctional congress, and our equally dysfunctional public discourse. This politically toxic environment would be impossible to ignore and would have an increasingly exhausting effect on all actors involved. It would only be a matter of time before a third party came into play that promised to put a stop to all of it, a bandwagon I think everyone would jump on by that point, and either put that third party in power or got enough dialogue going that it wouldn't be politically feasible to be against the idea.

    I could be totally wrong on any point in this; we live in a big marketplace, and it's completely possible that super corps would stay out of the fight, sucking the oxygen out of this fire. It's also possible that I'm overstating the power these super corporations have on the market, and we'd end up in a many-sides melee that would make a real mess of things. What do you think, am I being a tad too cynical?

  62. ThePsudo

    The natural bias of capitalism is to align PR with the customer base. If more people come shop at your place if you take a political position, take it. In the modern cultural environment, that means supporting gay rights in order to get gays and pro-gay-rights folks to shop at your place. Huckabee is trying to show that anti-gay-marriage folks are a significant customer base, too, but I think they're a smaller and shrinking customer base. Even if it works to financially maintain Chick-Fil-A until this current controversy blows over, that success is only the last hurrah of an ideological minority that may never disappear entirely but will almost certainly fade into political ineffectiveness.

  63. Cicero

    I think it is a harbinger of sorts, though. Not on this particular issue, mind you, but on politics in general…for a long time, there have been miscellaneous campaigns by companies to bring attention to their support for the "correct" stances. There are exceptions (some lower-profile military-oriented companies jump to mind), but in general a major company will want to align itself with inoffensiveness.

    The other thing about this is that while one base may be larger than the other, both may be large enough to support decent-sized companies. If one has 25 million customers in it and the other has 50 million…yes, the second can support more customers, but it will likely be more fought-over as a result. The first is still large enough to be worth pursuing to the exclusion of the second. If you've got five stores toting how "tolerant" or "inclusive" they are selling a given product, there's probably a niche for the sixth to loudly break with them now.

    I would point out that some of this has already happened with other demographics: A number of companies cater to all races, for example, while some will clearly shoot for blacks to the exclusion of catering to most whites (some urban-themed/rap-themed brands come to mind here) and others will do the opposite (look at some of the beach-oriented "lifestyle brands" and their advertising). Ditto with Hispanics to some extent (though not so much with Asians or NA/FN folks, due to smaller market share in both cases and low average incomes in the latter case). The latter approaches occasionally generate complaints from minority advocacy groups…but in a lot of cases, if the approaches work, they just throw a sop to avoid controversy.

    I guess what this feels like is a potential decline in the sops…there may well be room for a company, confronted with a disgruntled group but also in possession a solid consumer base aligned with them, to turn to those complaining and say "And what of it? If you don't want to shop here, then don't!"

  64. Colin Minich

    I'd love to know exactly what part of "traditional values" factors into fast food.

    I mean, is Burger King somehow a cornerstone of respect for one's elders? Does Wendy's advocate the Ten Commandments in the preparation of its Baconators?

  65. Brian

    "Chick-fil-A set all sorts of records on Wednesday when anti-gay marriage customers flocked to its stores in a demonstration of loyalty to the company’s CEO, who had pledged support for traditional marriage on a Christian radio station sometime last month."

    I saw this and was disgusted. Many of us went to Chick Fil A that day in honor of free speech, and nothing more. If the company bases its business platform on his belief's he has that right. Further, the said company has the right to donate to whom they wish. When gays ask for rights, we must adhere even when it means placing our rights aside to do so? The country is divided for a good reason now; religion aside, all, and I mean ALL rights must be observed, not only when it's convenient or is something you may disagree with. To use this story as an agenda to get America to accept that men humping men and women munching women is deplorable. I don't care what they put in their orifices, nor should it be pushed onto society as acceptable or normal. Your scathing retorts to other peoples' rights is disturbing, and is inconsistent with the very rights you ask for.

  66. @msccust


    Your reasoning in this post: narcissism –> ad hominem. Because gay marriage affects your personal identity, you are alienated by those debating it in the abstract, and, as such, you see them as cold and heartless.

    People can lack a personal stake in an issue and still have good moral reasons for their position. In terms of opponents of gay-marriage, their motivation is a concern for the _social consequences_. They believe that God's law revealed to them in the Bible is the path to a happy and prosperous society and that homosexual marriage will compromise that. They may be wrong — I think so — but they aren't idiots — morally speaking — or emotionally vapid.

    The greatest failing in social-liberal thought concerning sexuality is to only consider its emotional and pleasurable dimensions. It pays no serious mind to the social-consequences. We may find socially-conservative reasons unappealing, but their method of thought in these matters is superior.