The Chik-fil-A Ordeal


How do you determine between a hateful, bigoted comment and an individual’s personal opinion? And does that statement necessarily represent the establishment they represent?

These are the questions Americans had to ask this summer when Dan Cathy and his popular restaurant chain Chik-fil-A were targeted by angry gay-rights activists over an interview in which the owner presented his unpopular opinion towards the long-debated controversial topic.

Customers line up to show their support for Chik-Fil-A. Protestors lined up outside the restaurants or staged “kiss-ins.” (Jebb Harris – AP)

Only moments after the article was published, the support and protests were lighting up social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. During the end of the month of July, it seemed that one couldn’t open up any of these webpages without being bombarded with passionate opinions on the subject. Soon enough, people began taking their information from these sites and word of mouth rather than from the source.

So what was in that interview that sparked such an uproar?

On July 16, Baptist Press, a religious news source, conducted an interview with Dan Cathy, a known devout Christian who frequently implements his spiritual beliefs into his company policies – such as closing the restaurant on Sundays.

But when the questions came around towards whether or not the assumptions of Cathy’s support of traditional family, he replied affirmatively that “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit…”

Apparently, this was enough to ignite a lot of fury towards the otherwise loved American food service. Events such as boycotts or “kiss-ins” (in which same-sex couples would attempt to stir up discomfort by kissing near or inside Chik-fil-A restaurants) became the latest social service project to support.

Partners of Chik-fil-A, such as the makers of Muppets, responded as well by pulling out their toys that went along with kids meals. In explanation, the company posted on their Facebook page that “The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over 50 years and we have notified Chick-fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors.”

With all the fuss citizens and even companies are making, one must ask whether or not the aggravated reactions are merited. In other words, did Cathy really attack homosexuals in the interview and, more importantly, does Chik-fil-A as a whole represent this viewpoint?

The answer is no. In no part during the interview did the owner”bash” homosexuals. Dan Cathy did, however, state his, and his family’s personal opinion on the subject – which, since last the Constitution was promptly spread out and thoroughly checked, is still covered under the imperative First Amendment that Americans hold so dearly.

And as far as whether or not Chik-fil-A as a company should be held responsible for the manifestation of such a right, the establishment has firmly reiterated its stance on the matter, saying “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.”

Meanwhile, the fury has died down, but there are still grumblings against Dan Cathy.

The entire situation can be confusing, considering the fact that the entire argument for gay rights and same-sex marriage is based upon a citizen’s right to do whatever he or she pleases without interference from the government. However, that is conveniently ignored in Dan Cathy’s case. His personal opinion during an interview is declared as “wrong” or “hateful”. It seems as though there is only one correct opinion on the matter and whoever disagrees with it is immediately cast down.

This is not an argument for or against gay rights, but rather an introspective look on Americans’ (at least the vocal Americans) views on freedom of speech. The idea appears to be that if one should speak up about their personal beliefs on a subject, and that belief is not in accordance with society’s standards, then they are somehow infringing on the rights of whomever opposes them.

It’s incredibly ironic how the very group that is determined to have their views be heard and listened to is condemning one person for relating their opinion to a religious publication (one might wonder, what else did they expect?). Dan Cathy should not be punished for expressing his views, and whether or not they are agreeable to the majority or minority is irrelevant. If anything, he should be applauded. To speak out with an unpopular opinion alone is impressive, but to also be the representative of a flourishing franchise that would inevitably, though incorrectly, implicated is a true testament to this man’s faith and character.



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