Chick-fil-A ‘Drive-Thru Bully’ Publicly Apologizes

Adam Smith, the man who made news late this week for going through a Chick-fil-A drive-thru and chewing out the employee who gave him free water for working for a company owned by a bigot, has just released a video statement of his own.

In it, he apologizes to Rachel, the person who served him. (Apparently, he apologized to her in person the next day but she, understandably, didn’t want to speak to him.)

He also talks about how his company fired him, the threats against his family, and the message he was really trying to send in the first place.

You could argue he should have stopped talking after the apology, but that’s a separate discussion. He sounds sincere and that matters. I’m not sure if it’ll make any difference at this point, but I think it’s better than not saying anything at all.



About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Guest

    Usually, any apology that continues after the ‘I’m sorry part’ begins to drop on the sincerity meter.  It’s best to say ‘I was wrong, sorry…the end.’ 

  • Seanasy

    Let’s see of the Christians can forgive him.

    • Guest

      If you go to any Christian blogs, you’ll see most already have – though some are cautious to say it’s really up to the young girl to forgive, since she is the one that has been dragged into the public arena (fortunately her kindness and grace has not really hurt her any).  But yes, even the day it was posted, I noticed on several sites that Christians were feeling pity for him and saying they didn’t want harm to come to him.  All Christians?  Probably not.  But atheists or pro-gay advocates probably wouldn’t want to be associated with some of the meaner things said during all this either.

  • OC3

    This is a perfect example of what I think of as a “Christian” apology. He does, technically, apologize. But then he throws in some self-justification (I was just SO MAD!) and some hate speech (…by the sight of all the people supporting the horrible, bigoted company you work for.) followed by a nod to his personal righteousness (I violated my normally awesome sense of personal integrity.) And this is probably why his company didn’t want him to make one. It doesn’t really make him look any better. Maybe he could have proposed turning in a written apology, so the company can proofread it. Then they wouldn’t worry about what he might get carried away and say.

    • Guest

      You’re right.  In the history of the human race, I think it was Christians who first used that approach.  Geeesh.  Get out much do we?

      • Coyotenose

         Great strawman there. Want to use any other obviously disjointed retorts that involve making up things and claiming the other guy said them?

        • Guest

          Read his comment.  By using quotes he was specifically suggesting that this is something that is somehow unique to a Christian version of an apology.  By the way, for future reference, the highest number possible has been discovered, and it’s the number representing how often the term straw man is used in internet discussions, whether it applies or not.

    • TheAmazingAgnostic

      In my opinion, he shouldn’t have made an apology at all if he wasn’t willing to lay aside his ego.

      • machintelligence

        I think it is more often referred to as a notpology. It usually takes the form of: I am sorry your feelings were hurt, but I’m sticking to what I said.  Sometimes appropriate, sometimes not.

    • JDatty

       What do you mean “Christian apology”?  Is the guy a Christian?

      And fuck atheists…they killed millions when they had the chance.

      I predict they will do it again.

      • Coyotenose

         Nobody ever killed in the name of atheism. You’re thinking of people who killed in the name of Fascism, Marxism, Stalinism, Maoism… ideologies that are religious in execution.

        Learn to read and logic, please, whiner.

        • Pseudonym

          FWIW, I agree that saying “atheists killed millions” is missing the point. In turn, so is calling Fascism, Marxism etc “religious”.

          But even more importantly, it’s very important to separate out the lies that people tell themselves which allow them to commit atrocities from the actual reasons, which are often far more complex and subtle than “religion bad”. The Bush administration killed thousands in the name of “freedom”, “democracy” and “security”. On the other hand, nobody was ever killed in the name of Methodism, Jainism or atheistic forms of Buddhism.

          • Coyotenose

            I disagree with the the first point. Those ideologies have everything in common with religions. The only significant difference is that they substitute in “The State” for “God”, but to the same end. At this point, the jingoistic America Myth mashup exemplified by the Bush administration and its supporters also qualifies (think “God, Guns and Country” with the attendant servility towards power, contempt of the Other, distrust of knowledge, “free market” worship, and so on.)

            Methodists, Jains, Sikhs, some Buddhists, and Humanists (and others?) have that in common. The difference is that some indirectly empower the superstitious thinking of other, less pleasant sects by making it acceptable to treat myths as valid ways to interpret the world. Fundamentalists are stronger than they should be simply because the moderate sects move the window of “normality” closer to Crazy.

      • Thackerie

        “And fuck atheists…they killed millions when they had the chance.”

        Here we go, with that same old BS again. Can you site one true example of anyone anywhere killing in the name of atheism? Sure, you can twist examples of dictators who happened to be atheists killing in support of a political ideology, but that isn’t the same thing at all, and intelligent people know that.

        So, which is it? Or you just not very intelligent? Or are you a lying liar for Jesus? Or, both?

        • Rwlawoffice

          Or are you just selectively ignoring history. The goal of Stalin was to build a secular society free from religion as an athirst state. So I know you don’t like it but calling it by a different name doesn’t change the facts. Spin it how you and Sam Harris want but its bs. Stalin killed to create an atheist secular society. It matters not that he also wanted the population to worship the state .

          • Wild Rumpus

            Stalin actually revived the Orthodox Church to intensify patriotic support for his war effort. Because of this the Orthodox Church colluded with Stalin in his vision of a new Soviet Union, and the church actively supported him.

            He might have been an atheist himself, but no matter how you spin it, Robert, he had no such ideals to create a society without religion. Religion was too much of a tool for him.

            Another point is that he never committed his crimes “in the name of atheism” or becaus of “the will of atheism”. He commited his crimes because he was a psycopathic megalomaniac.

            Christianity, on the other hand, is directly responsible for the deaths of millions. When a leader says war or murder is just because “it is the will of God” or justifies war and murder by doing it “in the name of God”… well, that’s a war based on religion.

          • Coyotenose

            Stalin crafted a state religion when he pumped up the church so it could help him send more people to die in war. Try again, Known Liar.

            If you were able to reason things out, you’d realize that you just argued that you and your religion are responsible for Islamic terrorism. But that’s never been your thing.

  • Dfmcmahon1

    I watched his original video. I thought calling it “bullying” was a stretch, and he never accused the server of being a “hater” herself, I just thought he didn’t know when to stop talking. 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

      Bullying doesn’t always imply a schoolyard bully or name calling.
      bully (verb) – to be loudly arrogant and overbearing.

      The fact that he wouldn’t stop talking is really the main bullying part. Someone who is bullying you in a conversation corners you and just won’t drop whatever you were talking about in order to prove themselves right.

  • ortcutt

    I can understand his reaction though.  There is a lot of latent anger about the way that gays and lesbians have been treated in our society for decades.  What really burns me is the fact that people are claiming moral superiority for treating gays and lesbians as second class citizens or worse.   And somehow they think that religion makes it all OK.  I’m angry and if you aren’t angry, then you aren’t paying attention.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      It was still a dick move regardless.

    • Ironhidetx

      There is a lot of latent anger from gays about anyone who disagrees with their lifestyle period. We all have a right to disagree and talk among our peers or support people and groups that agree with our beliefs andvalues as long as its peaceful. The first amendment was not created to give people the right to abuse or violently attack anyone cause they disagree no matter which side your on. The sad thing is some people get involved cause they want to stir up trouble and thst is happening on both sides in situations like this.

  • Rwlawoffice

    A little wordy with an attempt to rationalize but good for him. I agree he seems sincere and I applaud him for stepping up. Also, his suggestion that we can get along better without the name calling is very true for both sides of this issue. But from your most recent post it appears that this will only be taken in one direction- Christians can’t call names, but it is appropriate and important to call them bigots to further the cause.

    • RebeccaSparks

      Metha also called Adam Smith a ”
      heartless bully” in his first post on this topic.  It seems to me that Metha believes in calling out what he considers inhumane behavior, regardless of the affiliations of the perpetrator.  

    • Coyotenose

       If you have a problem with calling out bigotry, that’s your unearned martyr complex, and not related to anything we’ve said. We’re well aware of your logical shortcomings already, and can work out the major consequential moral failings that derive from them without any further help.

      • Rwlawoffice

        Keep up your bigoted justifications for name calling those who disagree with you ,but trying to take the moral high ground is just sad.

        • Coyotenose

           So desperate that you have to misrepresent what “bigotry” means. Stupid, lying cretin.

          That you can’t actually refute my point has not gone unnoticed. If you want to gibber to people who can’t see through you, go to your church’s website. We’re well versed in tearing apart bad logic bandied about by fools, so your little games wouldn’t fly even if you hadn’t proven a hundred times here that you’re dishonest.

          You’re getting exactly the treatment that you’ve demanded, ACTUAL Bigot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=740856118 facebook-740856118

    He should have just told the employee, “Could you let your supervisors know that I oppose Chick-fil-A’s sponsorship of anti-gay groups?”  

    I’m glad he apologized, and let’s put the focus back on Chick-fil-A.

  • ClosedThisAccount

    What a MORON… Just because someone doesn’t support the degenerate lifestyle of the gay community does NOT make them anti-gay and doesn’t mean they are attacking the gay community.  It’s the gay community who is attacking people and trying to force their sicko lifestyle on everyone else.  We don’t have to tolerate their ignorance or their demands that we subject ourselves to their depraved lifestyles.

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      Either you’re blind or full of shit. Probably both.

      No one’s asking you to like gays or even accept them. We’re TELLING you that what you’re doing is bigoted. By all means avoid gays. Just get out of the way of human rights FOR ALL.

      BTW, “gay” isn’t a lifestyle, it’s an orientation. As in biologically hardwired. In comparison, you CHOSE to believe in an angry, petty sky fairy that’s all about eating the body of a dead Jew. Which “lifestyle” do you think has more “sickos” in it?

    • Coyotenose

      That you’re stupid enough to claim that gays are trying force you to “subject yourself” to their “lifestyles”*, that doesn’t reflect poorly on anyone but yourself.

      *It’s inborn, Dumbass. Read a book.

    • Marguerite

      Of course! You aren’t anti-gay just because you think gays are “degenerate,” “depraved,” and have a “sicko lifestyle.” Makes perfect sense. Really.

    • allein

      How exactly do you define “anti-gay,” then? What do you have to do and/or believe to be classified as such?

    • Indorri

      No one’s forcing you to do anything, you lying sack of shit.

  • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

    This has been blown way out of proportion. He made some pretty poor choices, no question, but for those choices to lead to threats to his family? I call bullshit and also I call out a certain number of human beings for being total donkeyfucking douchecanoes. Mr. Smith said something that someone who is entirely reasonable wouldn’t have. Is there ANYONE here, reading this now, that has never done that? Have you ALWAYS been reasonable when speaking? If the answer is NO and you still think it’s okay for him and his family to be threatened, go find a rusty tire iron somewhere and vigorously beat your face with it.

    Forfucksakes. This is so typical of bullshit tribalistic holier-than-thou behaviour. The Internet is a lot of things, and one of them seems to be a concentrator for assholes.

    • Coyotenose

       When you post your douchery online, you can expect backlash. The only part of the backlash that isn’t reasonable or even very human are the death threats.

      Who exactly said it was okay for people to threaten him?

  • http://twitter.com/tkmlac Katie

    I really don’t like what he did, but I think it’s also sad that thousands of people line up to support the oppression of  a minority and the media concentrates on ONE GUY in a Drive-thru and calls him a bully. Meanwhile, the bigots are pointing to it and saying, “See? You same-sex marriage proponents are just intolerant!!” Makes me sick.

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      An excellent point. This is at least partly the result of the normalization of Christianity and its values in U.S. society, which is EXACTLY what the fundie Jesus freaks want. They WANT the vilification of gays to be normal; they WANT women to be subservient and to have their bodies controlled by male insecurities; they WANT the rights of the individual to be subordinate to the whims of an authoritarian theocracy. There’s probably a race issue in there as well…

      Because this sabotage of human rights is so egregious, I’ve long ago given up any interest in being civil when I deal with theists. Until they confine their values to their churches and their homes, it’s important that we crush their every effort to normalize THEIR religion in OUR society.

      • http://twitter.com/tkmlac Katie

        To be told my intolerance of their attack on gay people and women is intolerant is so frustrating, it makes me want to shout.

        I’m being told in the comments on another Friendly Atheist post that “individuals and special interest groups” don’t have a right to change definitions or society without going through a “political process,” completely disregarding Judicial Review and the Constitution.

    • Pseudonym

      I agree with you 100%. Having said that, if this had been the other way around, half of the audience here would be doing precisely that which makes you sick.

      Yes, I’m sure you wouldn’t. Hemant wouldn’t, either. But a critical mass of allegedly rational people would.

    • Ironhidetx

      Its sad that you feel anyone that disagrees with you is an opressor. This is America where everyone has a right to express his or her opinions. That means you and those that disagree. Deal with it. You sure have a strange way of defining tollerance.

  • kaydenpat

    Good for him for apologizing.  What he did was wrong and it’s good that he’s acknowledged that.  I am sure that Chick-fil-A understands that it has lost many customers based on Mr. Cathy’s stance on marriage equality.  There’s no reason to berate low level employees for his stance.  Find better ways to protest.

  • Ken

    OK the guy made a real dick of himself and posted it online.  Why he got fired is questionable — isn’t this penalizing someone for their beliefs?  Just asking what his stupidity had to do with his job, the same way I would ask what being Baptist or Muslim or Buddhist would have to do with a job — the persecution knife does cut both ways.

    As for the apology, the man is desperate, scared and shitting-his-pants repentant, just the way all good Christians are expected to be in church, so his sincerity will always be suspect.  What he is displaying is how NOT to protest on any issue, and that gay-friendly can be just as wrong and dumb as gay-bashing.

    • 3lemenope

      …isn’t this penalizing someone for their beliefs?

      No, it’s penalizing him for his actions (which he was proud enough of to post a video). So far as I know he isn’t being penalized for protesting CFA, but rather for doing it by haranguing a drive-thru cashier in an unprofessional manner. Much as CFA’s CEO isn’t being penalized with a boycott for his odious views on homosexuality and marriage, so much as what he spends his corporate proceeds on in furtherance of those odious beliefs.

      As one of my favorite authors likes to remind his readers, words are wind; it is action that tells.

  • http://profiles.google.com/whoreslie joe smith

    there is no justification for screaming at someone barely paying their bills at their job. I think Cathy’s position is  outdated and dopey, but sanctimonious assholes screaming their politics at working stiffs is beyond the pale. I wouldn’t even bother going to a Chick-fil-a.  Id love for people to check out the business and labour practices of companies whose stuff they actually buy.

  • Gunstargreen

    I’m glad he recognized what he did was wrong and owned up to his mistake. It takes a big man to come on camera and do this. You’re not going to see Chik-Fil-A apologize for their bigotry.

  • sidray

    This is a little off topic, but I’d like to get this out there. It’s about tolerance. I don’t believe in god or the supernatural. It’s a choice I made a long time ago after examining the evidence and coming to a conclusion based on the information I could obtain. It is a decision that my friends respect because I explained it to them in an open, honest, and tactful way. I say this because there is a growing trend among ‘atheists’ (I hate that term) to find symbols of religion and demand thier removal. Why does this bother you? Why does the sight of a cross make you so upset you sue cities and states to have them removed? As much as people hate to hear this, our society is based on western values that were influenced mostly by the religions of chirstianity and judaism. That’s a fact. Truth be told, there are some pretty good life lessons in those religions and one does not have to believe the dogma to understand a good moral code. So I say this, let us respect people of religion and not worry about a cross on the side of the road. Look, if they want to believe in majic, who are we to mess with thier fantasy?

    • Coyotenose

       Sidray, it’s because religious displays on public land are illegal according to the U.S. Constitution. They are nothing more than a way to create out-groups upon which the majority can focus tribalistic contempt and censure. In other words, they’re a power play for the dominant religion, used to take over our government and pervert its purpose and function.

      The U.S. wasn’t based on Judeo-Christian beliefs. Those beliefs are antithetical to our founding document. If you look at the Constitution and compare it to the Bible, you’ll find that almost everything in the Constitution was adopted to fix religious traditions (like the “divine right of kings”) or is irrelevant to those traditions (like freedom of the press, when the “press” didn’t exist when the Bible was compiled).

      Our nation was founded on principles from (pagan!) Roman law filtered through English culture, on Greek philosophy, and on Enlightenment values, all of which run counter to Christianity.

      The useful morality in the Bible is a tiny percentage of the whole. Google “Jefferson Bible”. Thomas Jefferson trimmed away what he considered the bad parts of that huge text and was left with (iirc) 27 pages. Turn to a random page and you’re a hundred times more likely to find an account of someone being murdered for no good reason and God being okay with it or even ordering the deed, or women being treated like garbage, or superstition palmed off as science or medicine, as you are to find a good life lesson.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

    Yes, my 12-year-old son is apologetic after he opens his mouth, too.  Anyone can apologize after the fact but it takes a real man to just not do someting stupid like he did.

    I’m glad he apologized, though.  Shows a little character.

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      I’d argue otherwise. It takes a “real man” (I prefer “someone of character” to include everyone) to own up to a mistake made. EVERYONE makes mistakes, yes? Even really stupid ones. It’s how you deal with the mistake that shows your true colours.

  • disqus60

    You’re not gay.  Right.  First thing you should do is stop lying to yourself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anthony.scott.1694 Anthony Scott

    He’s sorry he lost his job. Fuck him.