Unless you've been living in a basement without electricity, you've heard about the socio-political chicken soup boiling up around Chick-Fil-A, complete with boycotts and "buycotts" inspired by the company president's anti-gay-sex marriage stance. And you've heard about it from one side, then the other, then both again. Gay people are pissed as wet hens, and cock-blocking Chick-Fil-A chicken, while conservative folks are buying chicken sammies en masse.
The next round comes today, with a gay kiss-in at Chick-Fil-A outlets, but there are certain to be many more rounds. Although this definitely qualifies as a polarizing issue, a few basic courtesies should be observed, no matter what side of the controversy you fall on.
Here are the five worst things that people can do as they exercise their Chick-Fil-A first amendment rights:
5. Get violent.
It's easy as cooking up a batch of waffle fries to get caught in a moment of pure anger and lash out at anyone you perceive as threatening you, your family, your lifestyle and/or your cause. Believe me when I say that I've wanted to forcibly cram a few chicken biscuits in a few gobs since this whole controversy started, and it's tempting to spray-paint a few choice phrases across the windows of my local Chick-Fil-A, but not only are those acts seriously immature -- not to mention illegal -- this sort of behavior nullifies your position on the issues you are advocating. Act like you've got some home-training.
4. Leave hateful voice-mail messages. Using your cell phone -- or land line, if you are among the dozen folks who still have one of those -- to express your displeasure is fine, but leaving nasty messages is an ineffective way to produce either dialogue or change, and could be illegal depending on what you say. It's scary to receive threatening messages, and chances are your messages aren't even reaching the person/people you are really pissed at, anyway. A viable alternative? Spew your feelers out on the internet like most people do nowadays, and maybe make a few photo-shopped memes while you are at it. Those are usually pretty funny, especially when chickens or cows are involved. If you are gonna be a mother-clucker, at least be a less-offensive, funny one.
3. Forget that opposing opinions are allowed.
From the perspective of someone who openly and publicly supports rights for same-sex couples, I find it unfathomable how other people don't share my feelings and options. But it's useful for everyone to remember that other people are entitled to have their own feelings, experiences, ideas and opinions, ethics and values, and they have the right to express those just as you do. If we try to force other people to STFU, then we run the risk of being forced to STFU ourselves. It goes both ways, like it or not. 2. Be unaware that both sides have agendas.
Cultural warfare and emotive politics can sure make businesses thrive -- or not -- and the bigger the business, the more business owners, industry leaders, politicians and activists have at stake. With this Chick-Fil-A fight also come religious influences, and it would be difficult to imagine that any of the central or even the outspoken peripheral figures in this controversy -- Dan Cathy, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Nancy Pelosi, Edwin Lee, Perez Hilton, on down the chain -- don't have reasons for their support or rejection of same-sex rights. When the chicken sh*t hits the fan, it's important to remember that understanding the issues involved with gay rights, from both perspectives, for and against, is always the best way to educate yourself and form your own ideas, rather than blindly following chickens crossing the road (even if they have shiny feathers on the TV).
1. Harass the employees at Chick-Fil-A stores.
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Employees at Chick-Fil-A stores are getting tarred and feathered right now from both sides of the chicken coop, and that's pretty clucking unfair. They are just working at their jobs; they've been told by the company not to speak to the press; they have customers who are hen-pecking them about their own reasons for supporting the company or not, and they are just trying to pay their bills and live their lives. The gay employees have an additional burden of being jammed between their paychecks and their civil rights, and the last thing any of these people need is to be confronted by customers on either side of this cock fight. If you must visit a Chick-Fil-A right now, get your damn food -- or free cup of protest water -- and don't feel the need to run your beaks, because the employees really don't need to hear your squawking.