More Chik-Fil-A

As I knew he would, John F. takes issues with my defense of eating at Chik-Fil-A:

Perhaps you don’t have any family members who have been denied their rights but I can’t imagine you or anyone on the left being o.k. with this if nearly any other group were impacted i.e. black, hispanic, women, etc. I would argue that it is our failure as a society to tie corporate actions to social & civil life, unlike many other societies that “get” the connection, that the power of the people is so diffuse and disorganized. This isn’t simply a matter of what a corporate board member or president believes, it is a failure to recognize people as equals and denial of the very thing the corporation stands for (profit) due to an errant ideological belief. It’s an abuse of a corporate charter and without punishment will only encourage other for-profits (especially if bigotry is profitable) to follow suit.

And here’s part of the original article, which I thought quoting and didn’t that explains why I stand by my earlier comments:

First of all, Chick-fil-A is not a hate group. In a statement released yesterday, company leaders made their commitment to equal service clear, “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.”

As a native Atlantan, I’ve dined at the chicken chain more than I’d like to admit over more than two decades and even interacted with its leadership team. I’ve never witnessed any customer refused service or even treated differently. On the contrary, Chick-fil-A is known for offering world-class customer service to each person that walks through one of the restaurant’s doors.

Additionally, the organization gives millions of dollars each year to charitable causes — and not just to “pro-family” groups. It funds a large foster care program, several schools of a higher learning, and a children’s camp. It has provided thousands of scholarships for Chick-fil-A employees to attend college and grow past the service sector where they got their workplace start.

Now, if Chik-Fil-A were refusing service to gay people, of course I’d agree with John and many others.  But they are not.  They are simply in support of a policy with which I disagree, but nonetheless find a defensible part of current political debate.  I reject the idea that opposing same-sex marriage makes you a bigot.  This is not some way of “how can we do more to make life miserable for gay people?” but let’s be honest, marriage has been an essentially heterosexual institution for milennia and it strikes me as reasonable that people would object to a sudden re-definition.  Now, if this was in any way related to how Chik-Fil-A actually conducts their business, i.e., discrimination against employees or customers, that’s a completely different matter.  But simply holding a political position shared by roughly half the American public should not be the basis of a boycott.

Dinner at Chik-Fil-A

Okay, probably not because my wife is making a fabulous crock pot meal, but I’m certainly not going to boycott due to the political beliefs of the corporate leadership.  I really wonder what would be left to shop/consume if I stopped patronizing businesses where I disagreed with the corporate leadership and their political donations.  Again, I also object to making gay marriage the sine qua non of liberal politics.  Now, if Chik-Fil-A was going around robbing poor people or fighting against Medicaid, maybe I’d feel differently.  Then again, basically any business that supports the Republican party is supporting a reduced safety net for society’s most vulnerable.  There’s really no winning.  Thus, I particularly enjoyed this essay from the Atlantic’s Jonathan Merritt:

But my bigger question is this: In a nation that’s as divided as ours is, do we really want our commercial lives and our political lives to be so wholly intermeshed? And is this really the kind of culture we want to create? Culture war boycotts cut both ways and are much more likely to meet with success when prosecuted by large groups of people, such as Christian activists, who are more numerous than gays and lesbians and their more activist supporters.

Gay and lesbian groups were famously rankled when pro-family activists reacted against Kraft for posting a photo of an Oreo cookie with rainbow-hued filling last month in honor of Gay Pride Month, and also when similar groups protested JCPenney for announcing lesbian talk show host Ellen DeGeneres would be its next spokesperson.

So should the 45 percent of Americans who oppose gay marriage opt for Chips Ahoy! instead of Oreos? Should they begin shopping at Belk instead of JC Penny? If they did, it wouldn’t make any more sense than the endless failed calls for liberal consumers to boycott Urban Outfitters, because its owner is a conservative and Rick Santorum donor, or to not order from Domino’s Pizza, because it was founded by a Catholic conservative who helped fund anti-abortion causes.

On both sides of our latest culture war divide, we must learn to have level-headed disagreements without resorting to accusations of hate speech and boycotts. As Josh Ozersky argued on TIMEThursday, “businesses should be judged by their products and their practices, not by their politics.”

I agree: I don’t care how my dry cleaner votes. I just want to know if he/she can press my Oxfords without burning my sleeves. I find no compelling reason to treat sandwiches differently than shirts.

From a business standpoint, some might say Cathy’s comments were imprudent if not downright dumb. But in a society that desperately needs healthy public dialogue, we must resist creating a culture where consumers sort through all their purchases (fast food and otherwise) for an underlying politics not even expressed in the nature of the product itself.

If white meat’s not your thing, try the Golden Arches. But if you want a perfectly fried chicken sandwich, Chick-fil-A, will be happy to serve you — gay or straight. In this case, those who boycott are the ones missing out.

Maybe I’m wrong, but until proven otherwise, I’ll enjoy my chicken sandwiches and the fabulous and courteous service completely unrivaled by other fast food establishments.

Penn State

The penalty struck me as about right.  I especially approve of taking Joe Paterno’s wins away.  Apparently, many a Penn State fan still doesn’t get it.  Thus, Buzzfeed has a nice little feature juxtaposing tweets defending Joe Pa with text from the Freeh report.

Photo of the day

Alan Taylor has compiled some of the best from the National Geographic Traveler photo contest.  If you love great photos (and I know many of you do) you’ve got to check out the whole set.  My favorite:

Fly by: This photo was taken on the ice near Arctic Bay last month. As far as we know, it is the highest latitude passenger flight on a hot air balloon ever. It was quite the sight to see a hot air balloon fly between the iceberg columns — it is one iceberg but looks like two.(© Michelle Valberg/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)

Science vs. public

There was a nice report that went along with last week’s Pew science quiz.  The full report looked at the public’s opinion of science and scientists.  Short version: the opinion of science/scientists has slipped (I blame Republicans).  What I found most interesting was the comparison of beliefs of scientists vs. the general public:

Also interesting to see what a liberal lot, scientists are:

Cannot say I find that surprising and it strikes me largely as self selection.  One becomes a scientist for the pursuit of knowledge, not wealth.  Throw in the fact that Republicans have been on an anti-elite/anti-science crusade for some time, and it’s not wonder only 6% of scientists consider themselves Republicans.

The dumbest response yet?

Charles Lane’s columns having a way of especially annoying me.  I think because he pitches himself as one of these liberal truth-tellers who just happens to agree with conservatives more often than not.  Now, of all the responses to the Aurora massacre, the idea that putting a high tariff on Glocks and similar European made guns would make a difference (and placing any of the blame on Europeans) strikes me as ridiculous.

For all the tut-tutting across the pond, America’s gun culture exists in symbiosis with Europe’s own culture of precision manufacturing — of which the Glock is a notable expression…

Glock’s customers have apparently included not only Holmes but also Jared Lee Loughner, charged in the January 2011 Tucson massacre that left six dead and then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords among the severely injured — as well as the shooters in the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre (32 murdered), a 1999 Honolulu shooting (seven murdered), a 1998 Oregon high school shooting (four murdered), a 1998 Connecticut shooting (four murdered) and the1991 Killeen, Tex., massacre (23 murdered).

You might call Glock the favorite weapon of America’s Amoklaeufer, as those who run amok with guns are known in German…

All told, European Union members shipped just under a million handguns to the United States in 2010. Their domestic markets may be limited by gun control, but Europe’s small-arms makers can still get rich, and create jobs, thanks to the Second Amendment. Who knew?

Now, I’m no gun expert, but I’m assuming that there are American manufactured semi-automatic pistols.  And if there’s not, something tells me there would soon be if the best imports suddenly faced a high tariff.  Now, at risk of being called a hypocrite for suggesting limiting access to one type of gun would make any difference, to me the key distinction is that I don’t think this would actually do anything to reduce the cost or availability (at least after a short adjustment period) of high-powered semi-automatic pistols.  If there were not readily available Glocks, the killers above would surely use other similar guns.  If there were not readily available assault rifles, the killers would presumably be forced to use a less deadly (i.e., less portable and smaller magazines) type of gun.  I’m not suggesting you can stop these massacres.  And while only 9 dead and 30+ injured still sounds horrible, imagine the difference that would make to so many families if those were the figures instead of 12 dead and 70+ wounded.

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