Only in America, right? Chick-fil-A has become a symbolic battleground in the gay marriage debate following the chain’s president’s recent statement about their anti-gay advocacy. I think it was well known that the company held traditional Christian values, but it was not as well know that they used their profits to fund groups that work against gay rights.
If we were in denial before, there’s no way to ignore it now. Southern chicken quick-fried in religious right lobby dollars makes for a combo meal that feeds the suppression of equal rights. Can we have waffle fries with that?
The social media debates (and some of them frighteningly illogical) are only going to escalate leading up to Huckabee’s Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day on Wednesday and, on the other side, scores of anti-fil-A protests. This symbolic throwdown has so much traction that you pretty much have to pick a side: Eat, Pray or Love. Here are some of your available options:
- Eat. Keep on keepin’ on, Chick-fil-A. I support your right to do business however you like. Laissez-faire is where it’s at. I don’t care where you stand on any issues, really. Dance nude in your profits with eighteen wives and a blackmarket flea circus for all I care or take a husband of your own, Mr. Cathy. Business is business.
- Don’t Eat. No way, Chick-fil-A. Fast food is gross — and is that PEANUT oil you are using? I love my family too much for your soggy sandwiches.
- Pray. Chick-fil-A, I share your values. Palin, Santorum and Huckabee and I are stopping by extra to show you we support your kind of political spending choices. I’m happy my money goes to anti-gay-rights causes. Let us bow our heads and give thanks for these Christian-values spicy breakfast biscuits.
- Love. I pray, too, Chick-fil-A, but I pray with love. All Christians don’t fund hate and in fact recent you using our name to excuse this political advocacy against gay marriage, so I’m going to have to join this boycott to tell you that.
- Love. No way, Chick-fil-A. I don’t like the fact that you take my nugget profits and use them against gay people. I’m boycotting you and supporting blocks against you opening new stores, because I’m not interested in letting my children see that our city helps to fund hate.
- Love. No way, Chick-fil-A. In fact, I’m so appalled by your hate that I’m fighting it with love and showing up at your store tomorrow with my same-sex friend for a kiss-in at my local Chick-fil-A! Put that in your coupon calendar.
This, however, is not a valid option:
- Eat. I hate your politics but not enough to stop eating your sandwiches. Fast food is the real opiate of the masses and I’m lovin’ it. I like your sammies with the one pickle, and I’m putting them in my belly. Here’s 10 bucks. Mmm fried things! I know that this hurts gay people but I don’t really care.
Even The Muppets and the Berenstain Bears have taken a side to distance themselves from Chick-fil-A policies, and you know that Papa Bear can barely get himself organized to go fishing. And on the other side, Sarah and Todd Palin have had a Chick-fil-A date night. So c’mon, you have to take a stand, too. Do it for the puppets, or for the cows.
It’s worth taking a minute to get clear on Chick-fil-A, because these issues are coming up more and more frequently. Social media and Internet access helps us know more about where corporate money goes, and that information makes it impossible for us to be in denial about our economic power or lack of power when making consumer choices.
So you have to pick a side — and I don’t mean fruit cup vs. fries. And then you have to decide how to explain it to your kids.
If your children are old enough to understand money, they can very much understand voting with dollars, and then need to. In this case, you don’t have to explain every nuance of gay marriage debate to young kids, but you can start to give them context that money is power in many ways, and that just as you want them to make good consumer value choices, your family wants to be mindful of what you support with your dollars.
You can explain your economic choices to young children very clearly. I used to emphasize the positive when explaining. For example:
- We are going to store X instead of store Y, because store X does things that are better for the environment than store Y does.
- We are buying X instead of Y, because X is nicer to the people who make the chocolate than Y is.
- We are buying X instead of Y, because X is owned by people right here in our town and our money will help them!
That’s how I started, and then as my children aged we could have increasingly complex conversations about the issues. Now they make their own choices. It’s not so much that I needed them to agree with my rationale, but I am proud that I’ve taught them the type of critical thinking skills that will help them make good decisions across the board. I’m happy I’ve taught them that like their votes, their spending choices matter.
If nothing else, I’m confident my sons aren’t adding to some of the illogical debates we are seeing on Facebook and blogs. What about you? Where do you stand: Eat, pray or love? Which came first, the chicken or the Christian right/gay rights controversy?
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