Saturday, July 21, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Isn't Wrong, But Isn't Right Either

It's become a news item - why the hell does it have to be a news item? - that Chick-Fil-A, a fast food establishment that focuses on chicken-based dishes, has an anti-gay stance.

So what?  So do lots of churches, individuals, and assorted other organizations.  What's the big deal?

Well, the big deal is the Chick-Fil-A is a service company.  They provide a service, but they propound a philosophy that alienates a segment of the population.  That's just bad business.  More on that in a moment.

What other organizations have an anti-gay stance?  The Boy Scouts of America, for one thing.  Never mind that evidence exists that Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, himself might have had a homosexual pedophilic inclination of his own, they are a privately held organization with a deeply religious foundation.  As such, their philosophy isn't something that can be regulated by government.  They are their own deal, and should be.  And how to deal with their anti-gay stance is simple:

If you find that objectionable, don't join the Boy Scouts.  I did join the Scouts, but shouldn't have.  I didn't enjoy it very much, though there were a few lessons that stick to this day.  The most useful ones have had to do with how to tie assorted knots, but I picked some of those up from my dad, and Dad was never inclined to recommend anything as harebrained as a winter campout, so on balance Dad wins out as a more trustworthy former of young minds than the BSA.

So, back to Chick-Fil-A.  I'm going to be completely honest, I love Chick-Fil-A.  The food is very good and did you know that if you asked them nicely, they'll make a lunch sandwich for your breakfast?  It takes a few minutes extra, but it's no problem at all.  Anywhere else you go, the lunchtime menu is simply not available and won't be until 11:00 or so; Chick-Fil-A's people (in my admittedly limited experience of exactly ONE store on Clinton Highway in Knoxville, TN) are extremely pleasant, accommodating, and efficient.  You want the chicken club sandwich for breakfast?  "Just take a seat and we'll bring it to you when it's ready."  Table service at a fast-food joint, no less.  The quality of service at CFA blows everyone else out of the water.

But now here's this other matter: CFA's anti-gay stance, or to be more precise, anti-gay marriage stance.  Well, that bugs me a little - it's kind of like being bitten by a dog you like.  I like CFA and that isn't going to change, but I stand firmly in approval of gay marriage rights.  I don't think that's a right that should be withheld from anyone for any reason.

As comedian Denis Leary says, "Gay people should absolutely have the right to marry each other.  Then they too can harbor years of resentment, bicker about bills and be generally miserable just like everyone else."

I never understand where comedians are coming from when they say stuff like that.  I don't harbor resentments or bicker with my wife.  If I did, we wouldn't have gotten married.

The Bible-based argument against gay marriage is right there in black and white, and since CFA is both privately owned and operated by a devout Southern Baptist who takes his denomination seriously, he's totally within his rights to use his company as a bully pulpit, if he wants, to make his convictions known.  I hope he backs away from them just a bit, however: as I said, alienating a portion of your market is just bad business.  If it bites you on the ass, you have no one to blame but yourself.  But again since it's a privately held company, no one else will be blaming you, either.

One of the arguments I keep hearing against gay marriage is this: that it somehow dilutes straight people's marriages.  How is that, exactly?  I only married the one person, the only dilution my marriage can experience is going to come from exactly two people: her or me.  No sign of that yet.

No, if you really want to prevent the devaluation of marriage, don't get divorced.  Make the commitment and stick to it. I think it's asking too much to do something as crazy as outlaw divorce, people change over the course of years and undisclosed preexisting issues can come to light that cause intolerable interpersonal strain.  Divorce has to exist as an option.  But the fact that it does exist, in my mind, is one of those things that makes marriage even stronger.  If I've been married for forty years when I could've gotten divorced at any time, doesn't that simply point up the depth of my commitment?  Not lashed to each other by laws or religious tenets, our marriage is what the Bible intended for it to be in the first place: a permanent, voluntary union of souls, not an artificially enforced union of government assets or religious practitioners.

My point, at the end of all this verbiage, is the Chick-Fil-A is actually doing marriage no favors.  Not in my opinion.

And on an aside, it's absolutely stupid of Boston (yes, the city) to disallow Chick-Fil-A to open any locations because of their professional convictions.  They're many of the same convictions espoused by churches of many different denominations; have they disallowed any churches?

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