With delicious chicken bites, pickles on buns, friendly customer service and entirely reasonable prices for it all, Chick-fil-A has long been, at least in my experience, one of the most ideally run fast(er) food restaurants our country has to offer. If my memory serves me correctly, I knew about them before I ever set foot inside one of their establishments, as they sponsored a children’s program I was quite fond of (I think it was “Reading Rainbow,” but don’t quote me on that). Any restaurant whose slogan is “Eat Mor Chikin” hung on a sign around a cow’s neck is good in my book. In the eyes of some, however, there apparently could not be a more evil organization.
Several months ago, it came to light that the Christian owners of Chick–fil-A, the Cathy family, contribute a great amount of money to political interest groups who support traditional marriage between one man and one woman. This revelation sparked a nationwide boycott of the chain by pro-LGBT groups and a counter boycott/support drive led by Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Now, as a new Chick-fil-A recently opened in Santa Barbara, the controversy has become all too real. Pro-LGBT forces have not only sought to impugn the Cathy family for their political views but also accused them of violating federal anti-discrimination laws. Such arguments are entirely out of proportion and ought to be rebuked.
First, as much as I wish I didn’t have to explicitly say this, the First Amendment of our Constitution provides that all citizens of the United States have an inherent right to free speech, of which political contributions are a subcategory. You and I and the Cathy family are entirely free to support whichever causes we hold most dear and are willing to voluntarily give our money to aid. In a free civil society, while we are free to disagree with each other, our disagreements do not license us to question each other’s morality or slander each other’s character. Furthermore, this inane debate over Chick-fil-A’s actions also completely sidelines the religious liberty clause of the First Amendment: Just as with the health care contraception mandate, forcing any company that does not support gay marriage to tacitly support it by recognizing the marriage of gay employees directly coerces them into violating their consciences. A high price to pay, indeed.
At the same time, even while I condemn their main message and their slander, I cannot help but commend the tactics of those who oppose the Cathy family’s political objectives. In regard to any business, the most effective thing that can ever be done is to hurt their profits by not buying their product. No other form of civilized protest could be more efficient than this, and it is a testament to our free market economy.
Still, I feel compelled to urge you all to remove politics from the equation altogether. Simply put, whether you have an R or D on your voter registration card ought not to deter you from frequenting businesses and buying products you enjoy. We ought to be choosing where we eat based on what food we find delicious, not whether we agree with what CEOs do with their salaries. If we let politics dictate our economic decision-making, no business would survive, and we’d all be worse off for it.
So don’t worry, my friends, eat mor chikin. Rest in the knowledge that it is those who would condemn you that are morally bankrupt, and be filled with unhealthy, yet supremely satisfying, goodness. Or don’t. The beauty of America is that you, and no other, are free to choose.
Jeffrey Robin doesn’t talk politics at the dinner table.
Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are submitted primarily by students.