Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chik-fil-A's LGBT stance: Business & politics collide

A visual meme from
the Courage Campaign
You've probably heard about it by now.

"The Muppets have filed for divorce from Chick-fil-A citing irreconcilable differences" (thank you, Ricky!!).  And just in case you haven't, or even if you have,  Jezebel has a great piece on it, "Muppets and Homophobes Locked in Fierce Battle Over Chick-fil-A":
Last week, Chick-fil-A's CEO confirmed what liberal fun-ruiners already knew — the restaurant not only serves up delicious waffle fries, but also some good old fashioned from-scratch bigoted homophobia. Like Mom used to make! (read more...)
This caused the Muppets, via the Jim Henson Company, specifically their Facebook page, to assert their own stance on the matter:
A parody of
Chick-fil-A's catchphrase 

The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD. (http://www.glaad.org/)
If you're on Facebook, you can go here to see the note. As of the time of this post, the note has had almost 12,000 likes, roughly 5,600 shares, and over 2,500 comments, mostly positive and supportive. And as you can see from the images posted, it's inspired a number of visual memes shared via social media.

The divorce also inspired calls for a boycott of Chick-fil-A from the LGBT community and its allies, but als a day of support from those who consider themselves stewards of the "traditional family".

The Atlantic posted an interesting opinion piece, addressing the call to boycott,  "In Defense of Eating at Chick-fil-A" which kicks off the article by asking, seemingly rhetorically:
Do we really want a country where people won't do commerce with those who have beliefs different than their own? (read more...)
I consider myself a man of logic, and for the most part, I could follow the author's point, and agreed with certain aspects of it. Until he stopped short of seeing his argument out to fruition. While I can empathize with his feelings about the knee-jerk reaction to scream "boycott" in a crowded theatre when you realize a company you've supported doesn't support you, to me this causal relationship, this flow of money can't be ignored.

Because I'd rather be part of a society where we might feel the desire to boycott more than we need to, versus one that encourages a culture of consuming without considering consequence and not speaking up against discrimination.

There is always consequence where profit is concerned. In fact I would say that it's actually hypocritical to claim that you treat every customer with "honor, dignity and respect", when as soon as you have the money of your LGBT customers you spend it on policies and rhetoric that causes harm to them. It's as if to say they're only your customers at the time of purchase.

And to encourage people to spend blindly, without thought for what business owners spend their profits on, when it's spent on organizations that affect others' lives for better or worse...I would say that is the worst trait of consumer culture.

On the flip-side you have Boston's Mayor, Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who has vowed to keep the franchise out of his city. Time has a piece on this, "Boston Mayor Blocks Chick-fil-A Franchise from City over Homophobic Attitude":
"You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against the population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion." (read more...)
What it comes down to is corporate philanthropy. Grantspace has a page answering the question "Where can I find information on corporate giving?"

And it's the realization on the part of businesses and corporations that what they do with their profits can encourage or discourage consumption of their product. Anything that goes to something other than their own personal pursuit of happiness and begins to affect others is up for scrutiny. While most corporations have acknowledged this to some extent, it seems Chick-fil-A believes that their consumers and the causes their profit support exist in two different worlds.

Hopefully this will be a wake-up call for them as similar issues have been for others companies and even non-profits, teaching that eternal and universal lesson, with every action comes an equal and opposite reaction.

This is a bad thing when that action works against and excludes people. And a good thing when the action works with and includes others.

Divided, we fall, and all. Obviously, all this is just my opinion and based on personal experience. Would love to hear what others think, even if, especially if it's a different point of view, as long as it's constructive and respectful.

- JR
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