Talk about a fox in the henhouse.
This Chick-Fil-A business has really blown up, hasn’t it? We’ve got COO Dan Cathy strutting his homophobic stuff; we’ve got Kermit and friends dropping Chick-Fil-A like a hot potato in response to its now-openly-affirmed anti-gay stance (followed quickly by Chick-Fil-A’s own counter-move decrying Jim Henson toys as “unsafe” and therefore unfit for inclusion in their (Chick-Fil-A’s) meals); we’ve got fake teenagers defending the corporate giants and mayors stepping in to ban that same giant. With all the pigs and frogs and chickens and horses (or at least the posterior part of their anatomy), this is starting to feel like an Aesop’s fable.
This debacle has moved steadily from a protest against the policies and views of a corporation (and how those views are empowered by the PROFITS of that corporation in the political and social arenas) to an issue of “free speech.” It is one in which you and I, friends, are expected to be (to extend the barnyard metaphor to the breaking point) sheep. No matter which side of the debate one may fall, the powers that be expect all of us to swallow this “free-speech” argument, nod our woolly little heads, and then go back to ignoring our own exploitation.
I, for one, have a problem with that, mostly because we stand on (to borrow a phrase) the rain-slick precipice of darkness – or, at a less hyperbolic level, a very dangerous slippery slope. And while sheep are nimble when navigating such treacherous paths, it must be reiterated that we are not so fortunate.
Those of you who are regular readers of my rather irregular blog will know that I’m no booster for corporate personhood. I firmly believe that unchecked capitalism leads us to one place: an oligarchy. But if we permit Boston and Chicago to dictate business availability based on disagreement with the beliefs of said business (or even key figures within that business), we are setting a dangerous precedent. What’s being lost here is the fact that while the COO’s stance is indeed backward and bigoted, what is TRULY objectionable to the LGBT community and its allies is Chick-Fil-A’s history of directly supporting (with its deep pockets full of cash) organizations that work toward destroying both LGBT people and our rights. This issue, I contend, has less to do with free speech than it does (as my friend Aaron said earlier today) the free market.
While I strongly (and I do mean STRONGLY) encourage you all to boycott these poultry mongers, I don’t think that the government should be able to say “put an egg in your shoe and beat it” to companies for reasons of amorphously-defined “moral outrage.” And here’s why: when we empower the government to regulate morality (a power those of us aware we are fortunate enough to live in a country that is NOT a theocracy are generally unwilling to extend to churches and corporations when we find their decisions pushing us toward that misguided form of governance), we open the door to cities and states saying, “Sorry, we don’t like your business (or organization, such as Planned Parenthood) in our town/state/trailer park because we object to their gay fabulousness, or their rockin’ Muslim-tude, or their trans-friendliness.” When we not only permit, but encourage, such extra-judicious (by which I mean outside the legal system, and not some sort of concentrated delicious justice a la Judge Fudge) actions by leaders in the name of vengeance, we are giving the same weapon to those who would use it to deny others their rights and equal standing in society.
It would be wonderful if we could call upon the better natures – the angels inside the apes – of corporations and governments to do what is best (truly BEST) for the people they serve, but the sad fact is that their better natures are loth to respond when the siren song of filthy lucre is so much louder. The right-wingers are always blathering on about how the market reflects consumer values (an assertion that ignores the trillions poured into controlling consumer behavior by telling them what those values should be), so let us use our power as consumers to speak in the language that corporate behemoths truly understand: Cashola. Cheddar. Benjamin and his boys.
Money talks, empathy walks, is what I’m saying to you.
So let us speak with our money. Instead of empowering bigots to draw on this event as a precedent, why not simply vote our consciences by not investing our dollars in companies who are actively homophobic? Boycotts are one of the few remaining ways to grab the ear (or perhaps other, tenderer organs further to the south) of a corporation and squeeze. No customers, no money. A kid running a lemonade stand gets that, Mr. Cathy – yes, even the gay kids.
Of course, we could also change the company’s policies by changing their clientele. There are already efforts in this direction underway: a “kiss-in” is scheduled for August 3rd (along with an “eat-in” sponsored by Mike “Remember me, the guy who wants America to be a Theocracy?” Huckabee, scheduled on the 1st for those inclined to support Chick-Hatez-Gays). The ultimate expression of the free market is the power of the consumer to say, “Meet my demands, or I’ll take my money somewhere that will.” If enough people exert pressure on the company, it will be forced to act, either by changing its ridiculous anti-equality stance (and accompanying donation behavior with regard to anti-gay organizations) or it will stand on its bigoted principles, crying “Guilty as Charged!” until it sinks into oblivion and bankruptcy. Either way, the world is a better place, and all without handing the keys to moral governance to Uncle Sam.
Can you feel it? The pointy little ears on your head? The complete lack of woolly fluff covering your torso? The sudden urge to befriend a hound-dog named Copper?
They might want you to be a sheep, but you’re a fox, my friend. Join me in the henhouse, won’t you? There’s delicious change on the menu, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it tastes more than a little like chicken.