When Rightbloggers Tell You the Battle of Chick-fil-A Isn't About Gay Rights, It's About Gay Rights
But their proudest tale will probably be about the Battle of Chick-fil-A, in which rightbloggers showed their hunger for freedom (or contempt for homosexuals, take your pick) by eating chicken sandwiches.
Dan Cathy, President of CfA, has made no bones about his feelings on gay marriage. "I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about," he said in an interview. Also: "We are very much supportive of the family--the biblical definition of the family unit."
When this got around, some schools, like Bowling Green State and Northeastern, decided to keep CfA off their campuses. Evangelicals like Denny Burk complained this was "intolerant" (i.e., a decision by stakeholders that did not go their way), as well as a sign of "more open opposition to Christian teaching on human sexuality." "Rump-Rider Sycophants Removing Chick-fil-a from College Campuses," said Doctor Bulldog and Ronin. "Nothing like the hypocrisy inherent in the much touted 'all-inclusive,' Liberal academic world excluding those who are of a different opinion."
Ed Helms from the Hangover films tweeted, "Chick-fil-A doesn't like gay people? So lame. Hate to think what they do to gay chickens! Lost a loyal fan." At the Washington Examiner, Thomas Valadez called Helms "gender confused," said he "never had a very good physique," and reasoned, "boycotting a restaurant for being anti-gay seems like a contradiction. They are intolerant to gays, and Helms is intolerant to their intolerance."
If you were confused by the idea that not eating a certain brand of junk food is intolerant, libertarian* Nick Gillespie at Reason offered to set you, as it were, straight: While he admitted that "libertarians believe in 'disciplining through the market' - in refusing to do business with folks who annoy you," he suggested CfA might be different for some reason: "Is the Chick-fil-A ban a modern-day instance of that? Or is it political correctness run amok?" he asked. "And finally: Why am I jonesing for chicken for lunch today and it's not even 10am?" (* "libertarian," for the uninitiated, means "conservative with social anxieties.")
Soon private citizens began to lose faith in CfA. Sensitive junk-food lovers offered their own "Chick-fil-Gay" alternative home recipes for the CfA chicken sandwich.
At this stage only a small cadre of rightbloggers were taking up the cause. Even when the Muppets pulled out of CfA (and were replaced with the Berenstain Bears, though it looks like they might not last there either), they didn't get into it. The real world couldn't give a shit.
But then some Democratic officials decided they'd try and get a piece of this anti-CfA action.
Boston Mayor Tom Menino wrote CfA a letter, saying, "I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston," and that it would be an "insult" to gay people "and to our city's long history of expanding freedom to have a Chick-fil-A across the street" from City Hall. He added later that "if they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult unless they open up their policies."
From my cold dead hands. (cc) Chris Harrison
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said "Chick-fil-A's values are not Chicago values... if you're gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values," and Chicago alderman Joe Moreno moved to block a franchise from opening in Logan Square. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee tweeted, "Closest #ChickFilA to San Francisco is 40 miles away & I strongly recommend that they not try to come any closer." Etc.
Statements like these from public officials are basically threats, and folks like Glenn Greenwald, the ACLU, and Mother Jones' Kevin Drum jumped all over the offending pols. So did Barney Frank and Mike Bloomberg. Menino ("I make mistakes all the time") and Emanuel through his spokesperson ("[Emanuel] did not say that he would block or play any role in the company opening a new restaurant here") backed off. It now seems unlikely anything except consumer disinterest will block those franchises now.
But another politician, former GOP Presidential candidate and anti-gay crusader Mike Huckabee, saw his opening and called for a National Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. To protest "those on the left" who "make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity," said Huckabee, he asked his godly followers, not to "make signs, speeches, or openly demonstrate," but only that they prove their devotion to the cause by "simply showing up and eating at Chick Fil-A" on August 1.
To normal people, this may seem weird -- eat a chicken sandwich in protest? But on the peculiar terms of rightblogger politics, it was a brilliant idea, because it gave the brethren the best of both worlds.
First, as with their "Human Achievement Day" schtick (in which they claimed anyone who used power on Earth Day was thereby joining their protest against environmentalism), they could claim anyone who ate at CfA that day was protesting with them.
Second, they could forthrightly show support for CfA without having to mention gay marriage -- they could just say it was about freedom, and wink.
Of course, many of the brethren couldn't help themselves, and went there anyway, portraying the Battle of Chick-fil-A as a struggle between liberty and homosexuality.
Fox News' Todd Starnes tweeted that "a Chick-fil-A sandwich" was "the best defense anti-Christian, anti-Chicken, leftwing, heterophobic bigots."
"Chick-fil-A Latest Example of How Same-Sex Marriage Threatens Religious Freedom," roared Thomas Messner of the Heritage Foundation. "Boy Scouts of America has lost equal access to public facilities and programs because of its position on open homosexuality... This is precisely what is happening right now to Chick-fil-A."
At NewsMax, GOP direct mail king Richard Viguerie announced that the Battle of Chick-fil-A proved that "the Democratic Party has now, once and for all, dropped all pretense of respecting the values held by tens of millions of American Christians and has instead launched a concerted attack to undermine those values in favor of the radical homosexual agenda."
"The gay marriage movement isn't just arguing with its opponents; it's pathologizing them," claimed Ross Douthat at the New York Times, who also thought that gay marriage had advanced not by convincing straights that gays had rights, but by "inducing people who haven't really changed their mind to simply give up the fight."
At Hot Air, Rob Bluey told us it was the liberals who were intolerant, because "when the company's top spokesman died unexpectedly last week, one liberal friend of mine declared on Facebook, 'Oh, karma, you crafty bitch.'" Oh, wait, he had more -- Mark Regnerus' study claiming children suffered from having same-sex parents was torn to pieces, not, as most of us thought, because the study was shoddy and compromised, but because "activists" -- you know the kind he's talking about -- "sought to destroy his credibility and banish him from public discourse." Also, the Boy Scouts.
So how'd Appreciation Day go? Rightblogger estimates were between fifty and a hundred kabillion in sales. CfA, natch, said it set a sales record, though it declined to release figures. 600,000 people said on Facebook that they'd go -- and, given that they were promising to visit a fast food restaurant, we believe them.