Thursday, August 02, 2012

More than a sandwich

I didn't bother with the Chick-fil-A "buycott" yesterday, but a lot of other people did, all over the country. And there's a message in that, although I'm assuming you might not hear what it really is if you rely on the mainstream media.

If you've spent any time near a school in recent years, or had a child in one of those schools, you've heard more than once about an anti-bullying initiative. It's easy to understand both the rationale and value of such initiatives. Unless you live in a cocoon, you will at some point encounter a bully. Most people initially run into them on a playground, but you will find them throughout the course of your life. Intimidation often works, so the temptation to use intimidation is strong, both for a bully on the playground and in other arenas.

There is also little doubt that, at least on the playground, the kid who is most likely to feel a bully's wrath is someone who is different, especially a boy who might come across as somehow effeminate. I saw it happen plenty of times when I was growing up. I was initially bullied in 5th grade, because my family had moved across town and I became the "new kid" at my new school. Eventually I had to fight the kid who was bullying me and after I won the fight, most of the bullying stopped.

That's how it works -- you have to fight back. Anti-bullying initiatives are helpful in schools because they teach kids that using intimidation and threats is, in the end, counterproductive.

Which brings us back to what happened yesterday, all over the country. Following a spate of nastiness from various politicians in Chicago, Boston and elsewhere, Chick-fil-A found itself on the defensive because of the stance of its owner, Dan Cathy, regarding traditional marriage. The chain and its franchisees have been told that they need to get their mind right before they can do business.

So what happened yesterday, when hundreds of thousands people stood in long lines to get sandwiches? It was an anti-bullying initiative. Blogger Bob Owens explains it well:

Clearly, this is more than a “buycott” over gay marriage. If the smattered of people I’ve talked to are representative, homosexuality is a side issue.

This strikes a much deeper, more foundational chord.

The massive crowd reaction locally and nationwide are driven by a loathing of arrogant politicians like those in Boston, New York, Chicago and San Francisco who feel they have the power and the authority to tell a businessman like Dan Cathy what personal opinions he can and cannot hold if he wants to do business in “their” towns.

They trampled on his religious beliefs. They trampled on his freedom of speech. They attempted to deny him and his franchisees the rights to start small businesses, merely because a free American dared to share what he believed.
I think that's right. We're going to get gay marriage in this country eventually. In the greater scheme of things, it's actually not that important an issue, especially right now when the country is essentially bankrupt and headed for a fiscal disaster decades in the making. What is much more important is retaining the right to disagree. I fully support the right of people to act like a guy Owens saw yesterday:
Cars lined up for the drive-thru stretched out of the parking lot, down the access road, and up the street to the main highway. I tried to get a quick count of the cars, but had to be content with an estimate of 40-60 as they stretched out of sight behind Applebee’s. A solitary driver laid on his horn as he went by the traffic jam, middle finger extended defiantly from the window of his CR-V, his “coexist” bumper sticker mocking those he left in presumably smug satisfaction.
We can choose to "coexist" in any number of ways.

1 comment:

Gino said...

my facebook feed was a steady stream of pro and con CFA, and for different reasons.

there isnt much of a conversation going on when nobody knows what the topic is.