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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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

AndyL August 07, 2012 at 11:21 PM
It's a simple question: Do you want your consumer dollars to be funneled into causes you find disagreeable, even offensive? Chick-FIL-A corp and its CEO both funneled money to groups that not only want to deny same-sex couples the legal rights, protections, and duties of marriage, the groups also deliberately promote a false image of gay men as pedophiles. People are free to believe whatever they want - and do so. In this case, the corporate leaders of Chick-FIL-A have chosen to embrace an interpretation of the Bible that emphasizes certain rules over the infinite love and compassion of Christ, and feel entitled to speak for God. Of course they enjoy freedom of religion and a free speech right to do so. I personally appreciate the honesty...at least we know where they stand. Choosing not to give these people money is free speech as well.
MellowMaverick August 08, 2012 at 12:10 AM
I always appreciate anyone who is honest about where they stand and are not afraid to defend that position, even if I don't agree with them. It shows purpose and quality of character. It doesn't mean their position is right. It just means they are guaranteed the right to express themselves. The information they generate or believe in may be flawed or even reprehensible but so far no one with beliefs different than mine have negatively impacted the quality of my life. Maybe I'm blessed that way.
B Ulm August 09, 2012 at 08:46 PM
I think your are blurring an important distinction. Its unfair to punish a company for an individual in the company's position or opinion (even if its an executive), but I don't agree that its unfair to punish a company that takes a position and spends its money on a position that you don't agree with it. As a consumer by punish, I mean avoid giving them my money. The owner of Chick-Fil-A can believe anything he wants as an individual. A company I previously worked for had a CFO who was mormon and gave tens of thousands to support Proposition 8 (denying gay couples the right to legally marry). I donated hundreds to oppose Proposition 8 (sorry, I am not a CIO so that was all I could afford). Our individual stances had no bearing on the company we happened to both work for, nor implied any position by it. HOWEVER, Chick-Fil-A as a company (i.e. the CEO, board, etc.) reportedly has given $5 Million dollars over the past few years to groups that are anti-gay marriage, including some that go far beyond that and promote outlawing, arresting or deporting gay people. So that means when you support that fast food chain, some of your money is being used to attack the GLBT community. If that's fine with you, while it makes me sad, so be it. Unfortunately in most of the media hype around this, the story was twisted into a free of speech cause for the CEO, and that's not what the issue is or the protest is about - at least to me.
MellowMaverick August 09, 2012 at 11:24 PM
People with hateful or negative messages will always be there. I don't feel threatened by them. But I do what I can to register my displeasure with what they advocate(.I tend to do it quietly and privately, which is by choice.) But the people who have a negative agenda thrive on publicity and getting their message out. So I personally refuse to give that to them. But if they want to take that position...,I say, go for it. You do what you have to do. I'll do what I have to do. I happen to think this whole Chick Fil-A thing was not a free speech issue either. I think it was a premeditated marketing ploy to polarize the public and generate free publicity for the food chain. The "divide and conquer" ploy seemed to work pretty well for them. They are now making more money and are more popular than ever. We can rally troops and decry the position of people with narrow minds but it hasn't helped in this case. And sometimes it gives them just what they want. There are better ways to impact small minds. Acknowledging that people with contrary opinions exist and have a right to feel the way they wish seems a reasonable first step. It shows respect for them as human beings. It's a courtesy thing. Once that is done, THEN we can try to talk some sense into them by educating them.
Bill C. August 10, 2012 at 01:15 AM
B Ulm, instead of swallowing the line you've been fed about these groups go into their websites and actually see their stances, that's what I did and none of them favor "outlawing, arresting or deporting gay people". B.S. from people that are agenda driven and nothing more. BK, It's not a free speech issue when city officials threaten a legit business based on comments made by a company owner or ceo? Are you kidding me? As for a premeditated marketing ploy meant to polarize the public, that makes no sense. The public buys the companies product and they want to polarize people? They somehow knew people would rally to their cause, really? As for premediatated, the comments people were upset about were made in the Baptsist Press, the Baptist Press B.K., not the N.Y. Times or Washington Post. Don't you think a guy who was smart enough to decide to start a premediatated ploy might use a larger and more active avenue to start such a ploy? The narrow minded are the people who buy hook, line and sinker anything they read without looking into supposed facts before making ridiculous claims. The arrogant nature of your post, which bashes those who think diferently than you, is a sad indictment of how the left refuses to do anything near to an actual look into some issues but still feel they've taken some type of moral high road when they speak on it. I don't disagree with everything you right but you're way off base here.
MellowMaverick August 10, 2012 at 01:45 AM
You're entitled to your opinion Bill. Wrong or right....
B Ulm August 10, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Bill C - if you believe the company stance from their web sites rather than base your understanding on what they actually do and what they actually fund, I think you are the one who is swallowing a line. You can found a detailed cost break down of the donations by Chick-Fil-A, the COMPANY (not the CEO) at the following web site. They did provide funding to some groups that are actually classified as hate groups and promote what I described above and worse (but thankfully they gave relatively small amounts to the worst of them). http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201207020001 Again - the CEO or any staff can do whatever they want. So can the company, but when the company does it - consumers have a right to know, and vote with their wallets. I suspsect if a company were spending actual profits to attack you and those you love (and denying your rights is an attack) I suspect you might find another company to give your hard earned dollars too. And I agree with you that some people have turned this into a free speech attack on the CEO, and I don't agree with that being a fair reason to attack the company (for the same reasons I stated in my original post).
Bill C. August 10, 2012 at 05:18 AM
I actually base it more than going to their websites, I base it on personal experience. One of the groups labeled, but not designated, a hate group was the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which I joined in 1970. They have at least two chapters run by anyone. They, like some of the other groups mentioned do believe that gays can become straight through prayer, counseling and guidance but they force nothing on anyone. I don't believe in general that type of thing happens very often though it has taken place. The hate group designation for Exodus International was by the say so of the SPLC. The only reason it was given to them was due to a senior researcher stating that gay sex should be criminalized which their head said wasn't anything their group was working towards or getting behind. Not one of the groups believe in arresting, deporting or outlawing gays, it's a total lie. I've been to the link you've provided before but gone much further, apparently you haven't if you believe the stuff you've posted. The SPLC and Morris Dees, their leader, are agenda driven and very far left, their word is not gospel as to who the haters are.
Bill C. August 10, 2012 at 05:29 AM
My post got mixed up cause I'm on my cell. The FCA have at least two chapters who have presidents that are gay. I'm ok with gay couples in an officially sanctioned relationship having all the rights straight couples do but think it should be called something different due to the uniqueness of the relationship and being a traditionalist when it comes to the word marriage. So where is the tolerance from the gay community for others like me? I sound like a hater? A right isn't found in a word but in an official action. You know, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet". I accept your white flag BK.
B Ulm August 10, 2012 at 09:40 AM
Bill, thanks for checking the link but here is a policy wonk from the "Family Research Council" (one of the supported groups) speaking of deporting homosexuals and how homosexuality is destructive to the society: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6JuKnXJGTc I believe what you say about your group, and am relieved to hear that the extremist researcher's view was not taken (and hopefully he is not employed) but I think you could understand that having who you are being part of a discussion about being criminalized could upset the group being attacked? Your last statement baffles me. I understand it to mean that you want your right to take away the rights of others respected as right in itself? If so, that is one non-right I will never support. There is a dangerous pattern forming where it seems some people feel that their rights are worth less if someone else has them too (i.e. I am not happy unless I win and you lose). If you don't support gay marriage, don't marry a same sex partner. I do respect your difference of opinion on marriage, but I can't support anyone taking away rights from another. The legal definition of marriage is "a civil contract between two people who meet the legal requirements for getting married established by the state" and is what the GLBT community is after. The religious ceremonies and requirements that vary by religion are up to those religions as they always have.
MellowMaverick August 10, 2012 at 01:41 PM
There's no white flag, Bill. I just see no need to move forward when it's pointless. Besides, as anyone on this site knows...one can debate with you all day and you maintain that you are right no matter what. So just saying, "okay fine, whatever" and moving on is much easier than dealing with your immoveable point of view. It's not worth my time and effort to offer more than I have., Plus, my point of view has been well documented in the post and comments above. I have nothing else to add. Have a good one :)
Bill C. August 10, 2012 at 02:02 PM
You don't debate BK, you throw stuff out and never argue facts, just feelings, it's what the left is all about. Feelings don't count in a debate, facts do. I learned that when I was on my debate team, presentation is also part, you know feelings and emotions but facts rule the day. Ulm, I was real clear in that I'm ok with gay couples having all the rights that married couples do so my thought that they could show some tolerance and gain those rights under a different name isn't denying anybody anything. That's why I put the quote up.
Bill C. August 10, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Ulm. that video is years old and the stance has been retracted since. There's no doubt these groups feel homosexuality is destructive but they are not actively, at this time, attempting to do the things you mentioned or supporting them. If someone could show me they were actively attempting to do those things I'd speak out against them.
MellowMaverick August 10, 2012 at 03:06 PM
If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough...Albert Einstein I don't need to debate. I blog. I respond to comments out of courtesy, not necessity. I am a writer. Accept my position or don't. It's really irrelevant...my life and blogs go on...If I didn't feel that I was 100% right in what I wrote at any given time, I wouldn't write. If you feel the same way, more power to you!
Bill C. August 10, 2012 at 09:02 PM
If you can't debate a given point that you now claim you're always 100% correct about, than what have you accomplished. You throw out a blog, claim certain things and when challenged act like all that matters is what you wrote. You write what you want BK but it's pretty much just a fictional story when you post only feelings with no factual basis to rely on. People on the left like you preach tolerance but rarely show any to those with opposing views, pretty sad.
MellowMaverick August 10, 2012 at 11:08 PM
I think I've shown I have more tolerance than many people. I don't try to browbeat and intimidate my opponents. You don't like what I write. Don't read it. That's what keeps me away from Ann Coulter and Bill Reilly's works :)
Bill C. August 10, 2012 at 11:32 PM
How can people be intimidated on a page BK? You know what I think intimidates you, what you mistakenly call browbeating , facts you can't dispute. That's why you don't debate in my opinion, you've got nothing to come back with so you try to take some mythical high road the left thinks it owns while posting inane comments back at me. You're close minded BK, that's why you don't read Coulter and O'Reily, I'm not. You're apparently afraid they might burst that little leftist bubble of yours. I'll read your stuff anytime I feel like it and post on it when the mood strikes. How am I supposed to know if I like it until I read it? Unlike you, I'm not afraid of the opinion of others and read people on all sides of the political spectrum. You ought to try it some time, might learn something.
MellowMaverick August 10, 2012 at 11:36 PM
If you showed any comprehension of what I have written you'd see that your statements are rife with contradictions. I'm done. Write what you like...you need to feel superior and right in every situation and I'm not playing that game. I don't have to :)
Bill C. August 10, 2012 at 11:56 PM
No wonder our schools are a mess, end of story.
Lou Irigoyen August 13, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Anyone who takes any position taken on an issue like "same sex marriage" as being detrimental to the health of any business, obviously does not understand what drives this country. Money! The day I see a sign that says that any business does not serve a particular group of people, I will eat my hat. As long as the business keeps falling through the door, there is not one corporate officer who will ever impose a company policy denying service to anyone of a particular choice. As far as his right to have a particular point of view on any subject, he is well within his right to express that as long as he doesn't use the company to distribute his views and far be it from a large corporation to allow anyone to impede the flow of business with his personal opinions. Having worked in the corporate world for over 30 years, I know for a fact that a company would terminate any employee rather than be labeled as having biases toward or against any group of people.
MellowMaverick 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.
MellowMaverick 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.
MellowMaverick 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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