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Playing Chicken

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Fire With Fire - Scissor Sisters (mp3)
Farmer Brown/Chicken Reel - Lyle Lovett (mp3)

My Facebook stream has become an annoying culture war. And that war is now lined up around the block.

Why are we playing Chicken? Or gay chicken? Or Christian Chicken? Whatever version of the game this is, where two sides rally around a manufactured controversy, whatever name it’s called, I think it’s a stupid game.

To be clear, I would be called “pro gay rights.” Marriage. Equal privileges. The whole kit and kaboodle. There is nothing controversial to me about the legal rights they deserve and don’t currently have in a majority of our United States.

But this latest brou-ha-ha over Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s comments that he -- wait for the shocker -- supports traditional marriage... I’m just not quite sure how this is deserving of a full-on culture war.

Chick-Fil-A is a business that is closed, across the country, on Sundays. It’s been that way since their first store opened. They choose to take a significant loss compared to most fast food restaurants because their openly (conservative) Christian founder believes it to be sinful to operate on the Sabbath. I’ll go out on a limb and say that closing on the Sabbath strongly correlates with being “pro-traditional marriage.”

The more important question, in my mind, is: What reporter decided to stir this pot, and what was his or her secret motivation behind it?

Mr. Cathy is a Christian, one whose views differ in important ways from my own. The minute the interviewer asked him this question, what choice did Mr. Cathy really have? He either had to lie to protect his company or answer honestly, and we’ve already established that he’s willing to sacrifice corporate income for his beliefs, so lying was mostly out of the question.

Therefore, Mr. Cathy’s choice was to either speak truth or speak Romnese*. Am I supposed to hate him for not speaking Romnese? Am I supposed to stop eating Chick-Fil-A for being honest in spite of what it might do to his business? We're stuck in a time when honesty seems as endangered as the Ocelot, so I prefer disagreeable honesty to smarmy fibs.

* -- Romnese: the language of saying whatever you think your voting constituency wants to hear in a given moment, regardless of what you might have said years, months or even days before.

I don’t agree with Mr. Cathy, but if I have to boycott every single business where a high-ranking executive believes or behaves in ways starkly disagreeable to me, or if I must boycott every business who employ questionably ethical practices (helloooo Apple!), I’m not even sure I’ll be left with Trader Joe’s on my list of acceptable consumerist stops.

If it was annoying and amusing when conservative Christians boycotted Disney for allowing Gay Pride parades (and it was), then how is it any less annoying or amusing when liberals boycot Chick-Fil-A because its owner said something that sits poorly with them? In both cases, one side gets its panties in a wad and makes a mountain out of a church steeple.

Our culturally-selective Offense-O-Meter is inconsistent, hypocritical and nauseating.

Why are we as a culture more riled up over Chick-Fil-A than we are over Apple and their prison-like working conditions in China? Is it easier to boycott a sandwich than a phone? Are gay rights or "the sanctity of marriage" more important than nightmare working conditions (that save us money) halfway around the globe? How many chicken biscuits = 1 iPad? How many gay marriages equal a suicide net?

We'll wage a cultural war over something as insignificant as a fast food restaurant, but if it requires sacrificing gasoline or A/C or fun cool new gadgets, we seem to have more difficulty working up the vitriol.

Boycotts: There’s a randomizing app for that. Made, apparently, by Jesus. Or a cow. I get confused.

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