Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Delicious Bigotry

Every tent in this picture belongs to someone who supports bigotry and prejudice:

tents in the parking lot

They all belong to people who are camping out at the new Chik-fil-A, which opens tomorrow. If they camp out for 24 hours and then they are the first 100 people through the door, they will receive a free meal from the restaurant for a year.

They will also willingly support and patronize a business that openly gives money to hate groups.

I'm not exaggerating, either. Chik-fil-A has a long history of donating to anti-gay groups, and they're not small donations, either. Between 2003 and 2009 Chik-fil-A gave over two million dollars to groups like Focus on the Family, Exodus International, and the National Organization for Marriage. Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage have both been classified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, while Exodus International had strong ties to Uganda's 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which called for the death penalty for gay people and up to three years in prison for people who knew someone was gay and did not report it. Chik-fil-A gave money to these groups, and every time you eat there, you're helping them do it.

I had an argument with a friend about this today, after I mentioned seeing the people camped out and how disgusted I was by the idea of people fighting to support bigotry.

"Well, it's not really bigotry."

"It's not? It supports discrimination against gay people."

"Well, yeah, I guess, but..."

"But? Would you eat there if they were giving money to the Klan?"

"Well, no, but this is different."

Oh. OK. I see.

Racism is bad, but homophobia is kind of ok, and that's the real problem here. As Byrne Fone explained in Homophobia (I can't pull a page number because I donated my copy to the resource center), "Homophobia is the last socially-acceptable prejudice." If you don't believe me, think about it this way:

If you say that your religion says that women are property and shouldn't have any rights, then people tell you that your religion is sexist and outdated. Just listen to the national dialogue on women in burkas and the Taliban if you feel like arguing that.

If you say that your religion says that black people are subhuman and should be treated as such, then people tell you that your religion is racist and outdated. That's why Mormons are still defending themselves in the media over an exclusionary doctrine that was overturned in 1978.

On the other hand, if you say that your religion says that gay people are hellbound sinners who don't deserve the same rights that straight people take for granted, then people tell you that everyone has a right to their beliefs and that we should all respect that. If you want to argue that, take a look at the number of recent pushes in various state legislatures to include "religious exceptions" in anti-bullying policies.

We live in a society where it is currently acceptable to hate and discriminate against gay people. Chik-fil-A gives money to groups that want to make sure that continues. And when you buy chicken at Chik-fil-A, you're helping them do it.

Which brings us back to my friend and I, wandering around Kroger and discussing the nature of bigotry.

"I see your point, I guess, but those people in the tents aren't bigots."

"Then what are they? If you're not a bigot, but you give money to people who are, what does that make you? A fan of bigotry? A bigot supporter? A patron of bigotry? A condoner? A collaborator? Really, what word should I use?"

"I don't know, but it's not fair to call them bigots."

Fine. I won't call them bigots.

But I also won't say that eating there is ok.


Meg said...

I see your point, and it's good to know that about Chik-fil-A. They're opening one in my town, too. Chances are, though, that most of the people in those tents don't know a thing about the organizations this company supports (I sure didn't)--they probably just want free food. They could probably stand to receive a little education from someone who knows better.

strong cookie. said...

well written/said, Joel.

Donna said...

I know several folks in my town who waited in line and were well aware. Sadly, the dollar speaks loudly to some.

Marcheline said...

I wish they had Chik-Fil-A up here in New York, so I could boycott it. Not only do they serve heart-clogging fast food, they're obnoxious to some of my favorite people.