Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Different views of the Chick-Fil-A Mess


Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans, R. Clarke Cooper provided an interesting view to the Chick-Fil-A drama.

He said:
"Turning a chicken sandwich into Public Gay Enemy Number One makes LGBT people look superficial, vindictive and juvenile -- everything that we as a community have worked hard to overcome. Remember, employers don't want drama queens on the payroll, military service is serious business, and marriage is not a right society grants to spoiled children. While in a perfect world our equality should not depend on our good behavior, in a world where our rights too often hinge on political reality, the way our movement conducts itself matters.
"The 'movable middle' moves both ways, and they don't like seeing people attacked relentlessly for their religion. Whatever the nuances, these voters see a man standing up for his beliefs against a politically powerful mob dead-set on driving him out of business. It's un-American, and when fellow conservatives are finally standing up and speaking out for marriage equality as consistent with the sober values of responsibility and commitment, splashing a popular American company with metaphorical chicken blood in protest is nothing less than friendly fire."
Hmmm. Interesting, but he's not alone. My friend Sean also had a strong response:
I see little evidence that the damage done to the Chick-fil-A brand is as severe or permanent as some would like. Every time a new gay marriage referendum comes up and is voted down, it ends up demonstrating how rampant this kind of gay-positive groupthink is. Most Americans probably don't have very strong opinions about the whole controversy.

There is also a tendency in gay politcs/media/activism to overrate the degree to which LGBT civil rights battles are fought within the realm of pop culture, and this is that "superficial, vindictive and juvenile" faction that Cooper is referring to. Sure, visibility has always been an important factor in the movement, but it's not the only one. The theory has always been that if you use consumer culture and pop cultural allies to increase the visibility of gay people, you will change the broader public's view of them and that will cause policy changes. (Has anyone asked Lady Gaga what she thinks about this yet?) But if you look at the history of most civil rights movements, you'll see that this is really a two-way street. In fact, it's often the case that public policy changes come first, which lead to social changes later. Fighting for rights in court rooms and legislative chambers may not be as glamorous or exciting as talking about a fast food chain everybody's heard of, but it's much more effective at improving people's lives in the long run.
Love to hear your views on this.

3 comments:

K. Clark said...

Hmmm, while on one hand I do agree that focusing only on one business's anti-gay attitude does the movement a desservice, it doesn't make any of the protests or statements that have come in the wake of Dan Cathy's comments any less valid.

I mean, the mayors of at least three major cities have publicly gone on record as not wanting Chick-fil-A to come into their town specifically because of their beliefs/actions (of course, a business should have the freedom to set up shop wherever they please as long they go through all the proper steps, but you get the picture); Advertising partners (i.e the Muppets and now the Berenstain bears) are also publicly distancing themselves from them.


Would this have happend 10, 15, or 20 years ago? Probably not. Pop culture can provide proof of our collective power and influence in a visceral way court cases often cannot. But I can also see your friend's point that getting our rights on the books is more lasting than a Chick-fil-A scandal, though the latter, and other incidents like it, could be taken as pats on the back that we've gained some ground.

Hope I didn't babble too much:).

steve lindenberg said...

While I may agree, to a certain extent, the vitriolic response to this issue, it nevertheless, reminds us that we have a responsibility for statement. If someone calls me a fag, I'm going to take issue with it. The community needs to be aware of those businesses that do not support our issues in the GLBT community and respond.

SEAN said...

It's a different world for each generation. What worked for those 35-45 doesn't work for 15-25 or 25-35.

Is not eating at Chic which takes our money and then works against us much different from lunch counters that separated blacks from whites? (I used Black civil rights because it is the more recent movement)

I disagree with not allowing Chic to open more stores but I do believe in exposing their business activities. It is a disservice to their customers and the families and friends of their customers to do what they do.

BTW - until the definition of marriage was only changed when the anti-gay activist had it changed. Before then, the form didn't have the proper wording mostly because no one had been asking not because it was defined as one man/one woman.