Chick-Fil-A: Where Tolerance Takes a Hit

Should we boycott businesses because they don't agree with our values?

Patch Blog:

I have to begin this treatise with the admission that I have never eaten at a Chick Fil-A restaurant and quite honestly, probably never will. But not for the obvious, "jump-on-the-bandwagon" reasons. As anyone who has looked at a TV or read a paper lately knows, people are unhappy that a high ranking executive in the Chick-Fil-A organization proclaimed that he supports the Bible-mandated concept of marraige being solely between a man and a woman. This has angered many people who are accusing him of being many things and they have decided to boycott his businesses. There are also a number of people who are showing support  for his position and his right to freely express his opinions.

The whole issue raises an interesting dilemma. Would you quit patronizing a business if their beliefs contradicted yours? Would it depend on the business and how extreme their beliefs were? Where does one draw a line? If the business showed disrespect or disregard for your family or your culture, would that be enough to shop elsewhere? What if they showed disregard for your country or religion or if they excluded your child because they didn't want children in their place of business? It's a tricky issue in which we have to seriously evaluate our values, morals and ethics. How much are we willing to compromise them when we shop?

When it comes to businesses and who owns and runs them, how much do we really know about the people who operate them? I confess that I don't know whether uses sweat shops to get their clothing and goods or whether the owner of BevMo uses profits to support "pro marijuana" legislation. I don't know that we can look at businesses that way. Ours is a capitalistic society that is dependent on goods being bought and sold for our society to survive. To single out one business or two or three as having a faulty belief system may be a little naive and counterproductive. I mean, if you are committed enough to boycott one business for conflicting beliefs, you'd better be prepared to boycott all of them who go against your beliefs. It's only the fair and right way to justify that.

I don't know how corporate executives feel about the important issues in my life. To me, it's not a deciding factor in whether I patronize a business. My bottom line is, does the product meet my needs at a reasonable price? Of course, that's not to say that I wouldn't quit shopping somewhere if my feelings about their ethics were strong enough to avoid them, but so far few businesses fall into that category for me. In most cases I have to support the Constitution and people's right to freely express themselves and move on.

I know that those who are against Chick Fil-A see bigotry and intolerance and they may be right. But so far, all that's out there is a man's opinion. The boycotters are projecting that it's much more than that and I don't know if they are correct in their own propaganda or not. But if they are incensed at this man's intolerance, isn't it a bit ingenuous that they are just as intolerant of his opinion? Don't get me wrong. I am not declaring the Chick-Fil-A stance as being right. But in this country, it has a right to be expressed.

I may be challenged for backing the Christian "right" or those with a pro-Chick-Fil-A agenda. I am not supporting Chick-Fil-A's position; yet I am not particularly supporting the other side either. I am supporting freedom of speech and seriously wonder why some people feel so threatened by that? 

Just because someone says something you don't agree with doesn't make them evil or a bad person. My parents had opinions that appalled me at times but did I ever value them less? Of course not. It's the same principle here. But in recent years it's not enough to let others express an opposing opinion and step away from it or ignore it. Now it seems people have the need to FORCE others to accept their position or see their way no matter what. I'm sorry, but that's not the part of the American character and it isn't exhibiting the kind of tolerance that made this country great.

Do what you need to do for your own conscience sake, but try not to overreact to others just because they don't share youre perspective. Keeping the lines of communication open can do more to elicit change than cutting people off or insisting that they think like you do.

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Steven Hanson August 13, 2012 at 05:30 PM
I don't know the business world very well but I can't imagine that any major company wants to alienate any potential demographic that will help them achieve success. In the case of Chic Fil-a, each store is an independently owned franchise so I think I can assume that they have the choice to go their own way .
Lou Irigoyen August 13, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Unfortunately, even being a franchisee, doesnt give you much latitude even if you do own a license to operate. The corporation still has quite a bit of contol over how you represent the trade name. Therefore if you own a franchise and the company doesnt agree with your management, they can make it difficult on the owner in ways that are not apparent, but effective. In essence, if you own a franchise, you get to share in the profits, but not in the advertising, marketing or public image decisions of the corporation. Ask anyone that owns a new car dealer like Ford or Chevy, how Ford and GM manipulate the availability of certain models. IE: if the ABC Ford dealer wants more Mustangs because they are hot sellers, Ford says, here are 50 low end cars to move because we are overstocked on them, then you get your Mustangs. The analogy here being that even if the franchisee wants to openly display his likes or dislikes, the home office has ways of putting the heat on to keep the franchisee in check.
Steven Hanson August 13, 2012 at 07:14 PM
I've also heard it's rather difficult to make a good profit on any franchise but maybe that has changed.
Debbie August 19, 2012 at 07:15 PM
B.K. I thought you said you were done! Just for clarification, Chik-Fil-A is not a franchise. It is a family owned business.
Steven Hanson August 19, 2012 at 10:34 PM
I am done arguing. There's no point in trying to move an immoveable rock. According to the definition of franchise:" the right or license granted by a company to an individual or group to market its products or services in a specific territory." it seems accurate to refer to Chick-Fil_A as franchises. But I guess I was thrown off by the franchise thing when I heard the CEO, who started this whole controversy refer to them as "franchises". :)


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