How to Ignore the Pied Piper


This post is not going to earn me many friends. Luckily, I’m eight months pregnant, have had a migraine for four days, and am about as cranky as you can imagine a beached whale with a drill going through her head would be, so I’m going to post it anyway, secure in the knowledge that making new friends is not going to happen in my immediate future.

I’ve loved Chick-fil-a since I was a kid. Their food is yummy. Their shakes are divine. Their chicken biscuits are just so trashy…and delicious. (Come on, y’all, admit it. Fried chicken on a biscuit is like something out of Paula Deen’s fantasies.) My dad even operated a Chick-fil-a for several years while I was in high school, and knowing the inner workings of the fast-food chain made me even more loyal. They are committed to cleanliness, fresh ingredients, and good customer service. They’re good people.

That being said, yesterday’s Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day really disturbed me. And when I voiced my annoyance with both sides of the Chicken-gate debacle on facebook, the response I got disturbed me even more.

I expressed annoyance that the whole issue had become overblown, and was told that I was not standing up for Biblical values. I asked that everyone just let it go, and was told that my attitude made others “sad” because I wasn’t supporting traditional values.

Guess what I didn’t say? I didn’t say, “I support gay marriage and hate Chick-fil-a.” Kind of like Dan Cathy didn’t say, “I hate gay people and won’t serve them my delicious chicken sandwiches.”

What I saw yesterday, in the hordes of people swarming into Chick-fil-a and gleefully posting pictures of the crowds on facebook, was an overreaction to an overreaction to a complete and utter non-event. As far as I’ve been able to tell, the inciting incident was an interview by the Baptist Press (and I’m amazed that anyone could even feign outrage over this) in which Dan Cathy reaffirmed his company’s commitment to traditional marriage. This is quite literally the equivalent of an interview with Jezebel in which a well-known gay-rights activist, let’s say, Lady Gaga, said, “yup, I still support same-sex marriage.” Cue the outrageous outrage. Left-wing media outlets began digging up old interviews and company donations and slapping them into histrionic stories, and the LGTB community lost their ever-loving minds over it. Mayors began hysterically talking about banning Chick-fil-a, an absolutely unconstitutional and insane thing to propose, celebrities freaked, the Jim Henson Company threw a hissy fit, and the whole world ended.

Then, of course, the other side had to overreact as well. Mike Huckabee organized yesterday’s “Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day”, Rick Santorum got in on the action, naturally, millions of people waited in line for hours for chicken, my facebook feed was completely clogged with pictures of crowded Chick-fil-a restaurants, and I threw up in my mouth a little.

Why, you ask? Because the whole thing was just. so. ridiculous. From both sides. It was ridiculous that anyone could be surprised and outraged by an interview like the one Dan Cathy gave. It was ridiculous that mayors in America could so completely ignore everything our country was founded on to appease ruffled feathers (lame pun intended). It was ridiculous that Christians could talk about being “persecuted” with the mind-blowing turnout yesterday that supported Christian values.

Now, to give the right to assemble it’s due, yesterday was definitely a victory for the people. It showed Rahm Emanuel and his ilk that the people of America are not going to bow to heavy-handed political attempts to squelch the voice of any and all who disagree with them. That was one good thing…and probably the only good thing. Because guess what was happening yesterday on stage left? Oh yeah, that pesky HHS mandate went into effect.

In case you’re unaware, the HHS mandate is actual persecution of actual Christians. (And if anyone starts the “Catholics aren’t Christians” thread in my combox, I’m going to cyber-punch you.) Let me make this very, very clear: calling someone a homophobe is not persecution. Telling them they cannot follow their conscience and the laws of their religion because birth control is more important is persecution. Empty threats to close a business which could never be legally carried out is not persecution. Actually closing businesses by forcing them to pay huge fines if they insist on not violating their consciences is persecution.

Yesterday’s Chicken-gate was a smokescreen. It was an occasion of mass hysteria incited by the Prospero-like media, who gleefully watched as all the little people danced on their marionette strings, predictably topping each others’ outrage with even more outrageous outrage. And if you refused to dance, guess what? You don’t care about discrimination and basic human rights or, inversely, you don’t care about traditional values or the Bible.

Fine. Color me apathetic if you will, but I’m tired of dancing to someone else’s manufactured tune. There are real issues at stake in this country, and what the CEO of Chick-fil-a believes about gay marriage is not one of them.

(For more coherent thoughts about what was missing from yesterday’s non-debate, go see Brandon Vogt. He pretty much hit the nail on the head as far as what was lacking on both sides.)


  • Meaghan

    Nicely said! You can be my friend! :D

  • Joe Wetterling

    Calah, you make some very good points.

    A company shouldn’t need a pat on the back for simply not disavowing an executive’s right to free speech or to his beliefs, but it is feeling, lately, like they do. For me, there was something else to standing in that long line yesterday evening. It was a bit like walking in the door on my birthday, thinking, “did they remember? Is there going to be a party waiting for me?” and joyfully finding out that everyone’s hiding behind the furniture, waiting to celebrate. “Does anyone else in my town care about this?” It turns out, yes, there are a lot that do, and it was very good to feel not alone.

    Did that fix anything but my sense of camaraderie? No. It wasn’t a prayer line outside an abortion clinic or a march against the HHS mandate before the Capitol. We all got to see each other and feel supported – and that’s good – but it was easy to go out, enjoy some food, and show support to each other. It was very easy and lots of people were able to do it.

    Maybe that’s the problem. It was easy. It was very easy (and very tasty). If I take time off from work and stand outside the abortion clinic or march or speak out against the mandate, then I have to sacrifice. I have to pray. I have to work. I have to be out in the cold or rain, or face the jeers or passers-by. That part is hard.

    To me, the appreciation day wasn’t a bad thing, but it also wasn’t a solution. The question I’d ask everyone that was there (myself included) is: can you stand up for more than a fast food company? Can you stand in line outside the clinic or the Capitol? Can you stand up publicly where you might not just be buying dinner. Can you do this again when its not going to be so friendly and the reward isn’t so immediate?

    Or are you chicken?

  • Amanda

    Pretty much sums up my opinion too. I just can’t believe it became a whole thing.

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  • Elizabeth

    I agree with you. Not only is it a complete overreaction, it also makes Christians look rather silly.

  • Lark

    i respectfully disagree with your summation of the ‘buy-cott’ etc.

    a goodly percentage of the population are horrified at, upset at, and frightened by, what feels like a forced ride on the train to Commie-ville.

    what’s more, even though we protested loud and long, often in person, and our representatives in Congress shouted across the aisle and tossed the 25lb. packages of legislated paper on the floor in desperate attempts to stop the Left – we, the citizens could do nothing but sit helplessly on the sidelines while the Left gleefully took steps to increase government control.

    but – anyone can have access to (in this case) Chick-fil-A. and most everyone can afford to spend $10 they might normally not use. they could DO something tangible! and do it together.

    i believe this was an outpouring of a visceral outrage against the government and the MSM and everyone else who wants to call personal opinions hate, racism and bigotry and/or seize control of our thoughts and feelings (not to mention our businesses and religions) .

    THIS is how movements are started. by a simple small defiant purchase, or a lone defiant voice on a blog, an underground newspaper going against the mainstream; a single person holding a sign by the side of the road.

    don’t dismiss the importance of this nationwide coalescing of support as meaningless, or simple, or missing the point of the true issues. it might just be a tipping point – the point at which the victim of the bully goes all ‘krayzee eyes’ and chases the bully out of the schoolyard.

    • Josh

      Buying dinner from a national fast-food chain that is operating legally and under no sanction from the government is not a defiant purchase. Buying untaxed smokes off the back of a truck is a defiant purchase.

      My family eats at Chick Fil-A regularly, not as a way of saying “See Rahm! You’re not the boss of me!”, but because the people there are kind, the food is good, the bathrooms are clean, and there is a store “grandma” who gets excited at the sight of an SUV full of my kids. No other restaurant employee I’ve encountered gets excited by 5 kids 6-and-under.

  • MK

    In a time when freedom of speech and freedom of religion is being threatened or trampled right and left, I saw nothing absurd or hysterical about yesterday’s event. Far from being hysterical, people just calmly and cheerfully, by all accounts, showed their support for freedom of speech. Was Rahm Emanuel’s threat likely to be carried out? Maybe not. Right now. But just a few years ago, when Republicans AND Democrats were supporting strong conscience protections, I bet no one thought that we’d be where we are right now, with the federal government forcing companies to violate their religious beliefs. The alternative to yesterday was to sit quietly and let the Emanuels of this world suggest that it was not only okay but actually good to ban businesses based on their personal religious beliefs. As someone who has attended multiple religious freedom rallies, contacted her congressman and senators, and tried to encourage friends and family to get involved in the fight against the HHS mandate, I found yesterday enormously encouraging. Sure, it’s a lot easier to go to Chick-fil-A than it is to attend a rally or pray at an abortion clinic (I’ve done all of them). But for many people, going to Chick-fil-A just might have been a first step. Sure, that may be all some people do. But other people may find that it’s a little easier to stand up next time now that they’ve gotten their feet wet. You have to take a first step to becoming an activist on the big issues. Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day may have been that first step for some. At the very least, it may get a few more people fired up to go to the voting booth and support traditional marriage and religious freedom. And if it does only that, or just encourages those, like a friend of mine, who spend their lives fighting on the important issues you mention, then it will have been worth it. I’ve worked in politics for nine years, and if there’s one thing I’ve become convinced of, it’s that making your voice heard, publicly, always pushes things in your direction. It may not bring all the good you want, as soon as you want it, but it makes a difference. The single greatest obstacle, in my opinion, to preserving traditional marriage and religious liberty, is people’s failure to publicly advocate (at rallies, to their congressmen, in letters to the editor, etc.) for their values. Sure, yesterday’s event wasn’t a rally, but it was still a public statement by a million or more people (or so) that they stand against the government attempting to quell anybody’s freedom of speech (and that they believe in marriage as defined by God and natural law). And they did it not hysterically but calmly and cheerfully. I didn’t notice anyone denigrating those not in attendance or expressing hatred of anyone. We’re facing the HHS mandate and its threat to religious liberty precisely because people did not get up earlier, at the first signs of a threat to liberty, and proclaim loudly that there would be no curtailing religious liberty in America. Had Catholics, had Christians, had Americans, had the bishops been fiercer in the defense of religious liberty earlier, there would be no HHS mandate today, no matter who was in the White House. Rahm Emanuel’s threat might not be a viable threat today (although businesses in this country ARE currently being threatened financially and legally for their opposition to same-sex marriage), but by standing up yesterday, a million Americans made his threat a little less likely to come to pass in the future.

    • Patricia

      Thank you for saying this. I agree that this was overblown, but then this is the reaction by the gay community to everything and anything said or done that doesn’t support their position. It was a non issue until the media made it one, and the gay movement picked it up and ran with it. They need to know, we aren’t going to take this lying down anymore. To me this is more about attacking Christianity and Christians than anything else.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I respectfully disagree.

    In this day and age, when careers can be ruined, even by rumors of “Racism” or “Homophobia”, a company should be praised for not caving in to public opinion, and people should be praised for supporting it, instead of scurrying away, and letting themselves be intimidated into silence, or going along with “Buy-cotts” (whichis what usually happens.) If there hadn’t been this outpouring of support for Chick-fil-a, the next step certainly would have been to start pressuring mayors to keep businesses that have the “Wrong” point of view out of their cities; in short, letting the government, not the free market, decide who gets to run a business, and who doesn’t; a pretty big issue, actually, and one almost as important as HHS.

    Look, we’ve all known HHS was coming towards us, like a runaway train; Obama, Nanny Pelosi and far too many “Social Justice” Catholics wanted it. I think the best thing we can do at this point is to resist the law, and to work for its repeal in the future.

    Act when you can, and protest what you can. Every little bit counts.

    (And I don’t think the mainstream media really wanted, or fomented, the movement to buy at Chick-fil-a; I suspect they were hoping for another touching LGBT victory story, wherein the forces of goodness and tolerance force an evil, capitalist business to its knees.)

    • Kathy Adkins

      MK, I totally agree with you. I won’t go into all the details, but enjoyed making my statement at Chick-Fil-A yesterday & since I love their food, will continue to do so in the future. After many emails, phone calls, etc to Congress that I believe have been less than effective; it was nice to be a part of something that the news media nor Congress could ignore. Thank you Mike Huckabee for starting this and allowing all Christians to support a Christian business & show the world there are many of us out there that aren’t afraid to stand up for what we believe…we get such few opportunities to do so in the public arena.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Great post, MK!

    Let’s face it—the time to stop HHS might actually have been back in 2008, before 52% of Americans voted for Obama, thereby giving their tacit approval of his progressive programs. (And, yes, I know McCain wasn’t any prize either.)

    And, yes, bishops, Catholics, Christians, should all have been fiercer in their opposition to HHS. One problem is that any time something, like yesterday’s Chick-fil-a buy-in gets going, and people actually participate, they’re accused of overreacting, hysteria, calling attention to themselves, not trusting in God, not turning the other cheek, being as bad as the other side and acting highly un-Christian. So, they back off, and keep quiet, when they shouldn’t, (figuratively) gnawing their nails and, sometimes, venturing a mild criticism, such as “Isn’t that, um. . . you know. . . doesn’t this law violate freedom of speech?” At which point, they’ll be told they’re “overreacting”, and Christians should be seen and not heard, and probably not even seen; not in the world, not of it, but some state in between, impossible to achieve. . .

    Tyranny always begins with small steps, and moves on to bigger ones.

  • Jessica

    Long time reader, first time commenter…THANK YOU for this perspective. I was just talking with a priest about how these types of over-reactions can actually limit political compromise: the option of settling differences with some “back-room” conversations are growing more and more limited. The priest was of the opinion that the HHS mandate would’ve been settled by the bishops #2 guy talking to Obama’s #5 guy in some little conference room in Washington. I don’t know enough about politics to know if that’s true, and I agree with you that the HHS mandate is worth fighting in a way that the whole Chik-fil-a really wasn’t, but I think it’s true that extremism provokes extremism, and sadly, I don’t see this cycle coming to an end anytime soon.