I’ve long known that nothing gets the right agitated more than the 3 G’s: God, guns and gays. So, I should have known that comments about gays and chicken would elicit such vitriol. Of course, this has to do with Chick-fil-A, the anti-gay statements of the fast-food joint’s president and the subsequent protests. And, of course, something I said on television had lots of people going off half-cocked.
Meghan McCain and I were largely in agreement when we discussed the Chick-fil-A controversy on MSNBC on Aug. 1. That was the same day as Mike Huckabee’s “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” We agreed that company president Dan Cathy had every right to exercise his First Amendment right of free speech. We also agreed that folks who had a problem with his stance don’t have to eat there. But I had a bit of advice for those gay protesters who were planning on doing ill-advised “kiss-ins” at Chick-fil-A’s to register their anger.
Oh, sure. Those thousands of people who are lined up at all those Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country, their money is going to go in part to the Chick-fil-A foundation where they will spend that money on organizations that, you know, want to do harm either, you know, legislatively and socially to gay people. What I would like to see on August 3rd, I believe is the date of the kiss in...at Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country.... I would like them to actually be a little smarter. Fine, do that, but find out who is affiliated with Chick-fil-A in any way. And put pressure on those folks to put pressure on Chick-fil-A in some way. I mean, it’s one thing to protest with signs.... It’s another thing to be more strategic about how you affect the change you want to have.
Cathy deserves the protests because of how the philanthropic arm of his company finances organizations that put power behind his words. Equality Matters outlined all of the anti-gay organizations that have received funding from the WinShape Foundation, Chick-fil-A’s charity. Those groups seek to deny same-sex couples and their families the protections that accrue to heterosexual married couple. They perpetuate the canard that homosexuality is a choice that can be overcome through prayer. All of this is harmful to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. That I would have the temerity to advise them to replicate the tactics of the far right was too much for some to bear.
“No, shoving your twisted values down our throats (pun intended), instead of keeping it in the bedroom is what’s wrong,” wrote an indignant Shawn Gallagher. “I’m suprised [sic] you people aren’t out petitioning to have jerry [sic] sandusky [sic] released from prision. [sic] That’s what you’re all about isn’t it. I stand on good ground and for what is morally right.”
“Your assertion ChikFilA [sic] wants to hurt gays is so off the mark, its laughable,” wrote John from Dallas-Fort Worth. “Perhaps spending more time outside of DC and NYC would do you some good. You know, see how the normal people live. Where 32 oz. drinks aren’t illegal. Where children respect their elders. It’s a nice place. Let me know when you are in town. A ChikFilA [sic] combo #1 on me.”
“Gays seem to take everything personally,” wrote Bob Mahoney. “Perhaps rightly so, but If they feel they are right, then act the part. Stop walking backwards and crying and whining that the country is against them. Marry whom you want, settle down, raise children, work, join the communities and work for a better America.” That only makes sense if you’re gay and live in one of the six states and the District of Columbia where marriage equality is legal. Still his argument falls apart because no matter where you live the federal so-called Defense of Marriage Act makes what Mahoney demands difficult.
But my absolute favorite in Chick-fil-A backlash was a voicemail that came in sometime before Friday of last week. I wish you could hear it. The voice, the pauses, the profanity. It was priceless. Would that this type of message were the exception and not the rule.
How about if I harass you, mother-----r? I dont’ give a f--- if your worthless liberal a-- likes what kind of chicken I eat, b----. Pull that ---- out of your mouth, stupid f--!
This is the bigotry and intolerance that is fed by groups receiving funding from Chick-fil-A and other like-minded people and organizations. But this is the United States. People have every right to say and think such filth. Yet those who take offense also have the power to make their displeasure known in any number of ways. While a kiss-in is fine for theatrics, using the marketplace as the right has done for years is the best way to make yourself heard loud and clear.