Rants in My Pants: Chick-Fil-A Chickens Out and So Does Its Opponents

Before I commence my rant, I thought about doing a blog post on my Portland trip from three weeks ago — like I have done with all trips I’ve taken since 2010 — but I lost interest. I will say that it was fun, the light rail system was superb, the food scene is great and the fireworks show was spectacular. Here are my photos from the trip if anyone’s interested in seeing them.

Now, on to my rant. If you’ve been paying attention to the news in the last few weeks, you’ll very well know that Chick-fil-A has been mired in a series of controversies that began when the company President and COO Dan Cathy confirmed in a media interview that the company officials are “guilty as charged” when it comes to their opposition to same-sex marriage.

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit,” Cathy told the interviewer for Baptist Press. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business.”

Soon after those comments, gay rights groups called for a boycott of the chain, mayors of Chicago and Boston withdrew permits for the company’s plans to open locations in the cities, the Jim Henson Company withdrew their support for the company in favor of GLAAD among other actions.

Despite the ensuing controversies, company officials remained steadfast in their opposition to the issue and showed no signs of backing down. Social conservatives and religious groups have stood by with the company and praised their efforts in defending traditional marriage.

Since then, Chick-fil-A has received greater scrutiny for a series of unfortunate events like this photo from a restaurant in Plano, Texas only a day after the Jim Henson Company announced its withdrawal of support for the chain.

The timing and the reasoning is suspect. Unless proven to be true at some point, they really suck at playing dumb with the rest of the populace.

Tying into that comes this incident on the company’s Facebook page where a possible “plant” from the company created a profile with a fake identity and a photo of a teenage girl taken from a stock photo website posting comments on someone else’s thread critical of the chain. She appears to be a shill, albeit not a very good one, who claims to the other commenters on the thread that the company made this decision long before the Cathy interview and defended the company’s stance on the issue by erroneously citing a Bible passage that had nothing to do with homosexuality. Not long after was her cover blown.

I, for one, very much support same-sex marriage and Chick-fil-A’s stance on the issue has never been much of a secret to anyone. I was really baffled to see supporters of same-sex marriage expressing a great deal of outrage as if this was somehow a huge surprise. Cathy’s comments confirmed an open secret — something we already knew or have figured out but waited until someone actually confirmed it as true (take Anderson Cooper’s recent announcement, for instance).

I really don’t see any point in holding boycotts or staging protests for the sole purpose of pressuring company officials to change its stance. As Cathy said, it is a family-owned operation, a family that believes and takes a particular stance on the issue, even if not everyone agrees. We can’t change their minds either. Chick-fil-A is not a publicly-funded entity or agency people rely on for services. That being said, as a free country, we can either choose to eat there or not eat there.

I certainly don’t agree with the company’s stance but I will continue going there occasionally as long as the purchase and consumption of the food there doesn’t also equate to a pledge that I have to affirm to their beliefs.

Not that I’m saying boycotts aren’t and shouldn’t be necessary but when it comes to something deeply rooted in the beliefs of a family-owned and -run company, it’s hard to change that.

Many recent boycotts tend to be ineffective and often make little to no measurable impact. Koch Industries, run by the same Koch Brothers that take solace in sabotaging our democracy, manufacture some very well known products like Brawny paper towels and Dixie-branded cups and plates. People have called for boycotts of these products too but those efforts lost steam rather quickly. A socially conservative group of mothers earlier this year called for a boycott of J.C. Penney solely because of a new ad campaign featuring Ellen DeGeneres, a lesbian, as its spokesperson. Those efforts also fell flat.

In closing, I have this message for Chick-fil-A: When you take a stance on an issue, especially one that gets people fired up, be consistent and don’t run around like a chicken with its head cut off.

[UPDATE as of 8:30 p.m. Tuesday: Chick-fil-A released a statement on its Facebook page, stating that the aforementioned fake account allegedly planted by company officials to defend their stance on the same-sex marriage issue was not perpetrated by anyone within the company. Such a claim that they created the account, in their own words, is 100 percent false.]


6 thoughts on “Rants in My Pants: Chick-Fil-A Chickens Out and So Does Its Opponents

  1. That picture from Plano is right around where I live!

    Great post. You’re a good writer, Simon!

  2. Hi Simon –

    Thanks for sharing this post! While I don’t think Chick-fil-a’s stance was a huge shock to anyone – it’s one of the many reasons people are saying brands should not take a stance on any political message.

    This was their statement:

    “The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.

    Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family.

    Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

    While I understand their mission is to serve great food – I’ve had many friends who worked at Chick-fil-a who were scared to tell their employers they were gay. Targeting/seemingly alienating an entire culture is wrong.

    I don’t eat at Chick-fil-a and will continue to not do so. I’m even in ATL where this company started and I don’t eat there. Do I “boycott” every place that doesn’t support same-sex marriage or speaks out against the gay population? No, but until Chick-fil-a clears all this up – they still have a huge storm brewing around them.

    • Thanks for commenting, Lauren. At this point, as the statement suggests, Chick-fil-A really should avoid taking any more policy stances that stoke a great deal of controversy. One can only hope that decades down the line, if it still exists, the company will have a change of heart on the issue. However, I’m not holding my breath over it.

      • I’m hoping they’ll have a change of heart too AND that they stay out of the media from now on. Kind of sick of hearing about them and their intolerance. Let’s hope they wise up!

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