Amber the Quisling Chikin Says…

Every day is chicken day around here, but today people are making an effort to eat at Chick-fil-A in order to offset the boycott directed at the chain because its owner opposes gay marriage. As I pointed out here, I don’t really object to people exercising their right not to spend money somewhere for some ideological reason. I think it can be carried too far, and honestly, as Fr. Dwight points out, people on our side don’t do this quite as much:

Where was the outcry when Ben and Jerry’s named an ice cream in support of gay marriage or Starbucks declared their corporate policy (not just one executive’s opinion) to be in favor of specific legislation supporting gay marriage. Why is Starbucks and Ben and Jerry’s allowed to support specific legislation in support of gay marriage with corporate policies, public marketing decisions and explicit information and public relations exercises, but Mr Cathy and Chick-Fil-A must remain silent? Who was really getting involved in politics? Starbucks, Ben and Jerry’s, Nike, Microsoft and other companies. They did so with public policy statements, ‘values’ statements and well funded propaganda.

The equivalent of Starbuck’s move would be for Chick-Fil-A to issue a public corporate policy statement in formal opposition to gay marriage and to fund measures to repeal it. An equivalent action by Chick-Fil-A to Ben and Jerry’s marketing and publicity blitz would be for Chick-Fil-A to name a new sandwich ‘The Mom and Dad Traditional Chicken Sandwich’ with a marketing campaign saying, “If you support Mom and Dad not Dad and Dad–then buy this sandwich, along with a media blitz to convince people to be against gay marriage.

I don’t like this idea of having to perform an ideological check on every purchase I make. When Jeff Bezos (head of Amazon) announced that he was donating money to support a gay marriage initiative, there were some passing suggestions for people to shift to other online sellers, but nothing serious. Certainly nothing even approaching the firestorm surrounding Chick-fil-A. I certainly won’t be changing my buying patterns. I already don’t buy Ben & Jerry’s because they’re overpriced, or Starbucks because it’s crap in a cup, and also overpriced. (Ever notice that the retail options with the best progressive credentials are the most boutiquey, expensive, pretentious ones, while the ones with the least–Walmart, Chick-fil-A–serve a lower income bracket? Funny, that.)

On the other hand, I’m all for offsetting the aggressive boycott tendencies of the left with a buycott. I won’t be able to get there today–still deep in a big project and family matters to tend to–but I plan to get over there this week and do something I rarely do when I can avoid it: eat fast food. They do make a pretty nice sandwich, and I’ll be doing my small part to show the forces of intolerance that opposition to gay marriage is not the same as opposition to gay people.

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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • robin

    Buying stuff I like for a good cause? I’m in!

  • victor

    We only have one Chik-Fil-A in South Eastern Michigan, it’s 30 miles away, (which has rendered all those coupons we’ve gotten with the purchase of VeggieTales DVDs over the years completely worthless), and it’s being renovated at the moment. Anyway, a better name for the sandwich in Fr. Dwight’s example would be the “Hen-teronormal Chicken Sandwich”.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    Hey, I learned a new word recently concocted by the forces of BS: cis-gendered. This is what you’re supposed to call a heterosexual woman or man, because “normal” is too judgmentalish, and God knows we must have infinitely multiplying designations for human sexuality. They could have called it a Chicken Ciswich.

  • Reluctant Liberal

    Speaking as the friend of some people who have chronic pain diseases, I have to tell you that “normal” can be a really painful and really offensive. You would not believe the junk they have to put up with just because they aren’t “normal.”

    Do you just call white people “normal” too? Would you feel comfortable saying that Hispanics or Black people are “not normal”? “Normal” is a values judgement that people who aren’t have to struggle against their entire lives. “Normal” isn’t just just judgmentalish, it is hurtful. It causes others to stumble. It is uncharitable. It takes children of God and calls them “not normal.”

    So here’s an idea, why don’t you stop criticizing the way others deal with and describe obstacles that you don’t have? A little more more charity and understanding from “normal” people would go a long way.

  • victor

    Wow. It’s like TLMcD’s comment triggered a Google Alert on the word “normal” and kicked off some sort of crazed auto-reply.

    “Chicken Ciswich.” Heh!

  • Reluctant Liberal

    Do you care to reply to any of the stuff I actually said? I can’t vouch for how I come across to people who aren’t forced to deal with these issues. If I do appear to be “crazed,” it’s because this issue IS personal for me. People I love and care about suffer because of thoughtless attitudes like yours. I’m very happy for you (I really am) that you haven’t had to deal with these issues. But I have to deal with real, actual pain every day, and I don’t care to be insulted by someone who hasn’t thought for five minutes about how it might not be the easiest thing in the world to not be “normal.”

    Oh, and by the way, ad hominem attack = logical fallacy.

  • victor

    It’s not an ad hominem attack if I really suspected that you might be a robot. If you’re not, though, then I really can’t explain how someone could turn a humorous statement about sexual morality and chicken sandwiches into an indictment against people who suffer from chronic pain.

    Regardless, whether you like it or not, norms — whether they be cultural, social, moral, or even physical — do exist (and thank goodness for it!).

  • yowsa

    Some people have to make everything a bigger issue… whoops, didn’t mean to say some people

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    I’m not even sure quite what you’re saying, since I wasn’t aware of “society” making things difficult for people with “chronic pain.” I guess you’re new here, so I’ll give you the short version: I suffer from an autoimmune disease which has left me crippled and in agony for long periods of time. I don’t really remember any “thoughtless attitudes” really causing problems for me. I remember extreme soul-crushing pain and a total inability to function causing problems for me. I wasn’t “differently abled,” I wasn’t “special”: I was a friggin’ cripple. It sucks. There really isn’t much to know past that, so I don’t get the “chronic pain diseases” part of your comment at all.

    As for the other wearisome part of your argument, if I thought lefties would ever understand it, I would make it my life’s quest to go around and explain to them how race and sexual identity are not the same thing. There is no “normal” race. “White” is not a default. There is, however, a normal sexuality, as illustrated by the fact that the act is designed to created babies not as an unfortunate side effect, but as it main purpose.

  • robin

    What happened to RL? I wanted to talk about my abnormalities (Abby Normals, I’d call them, if they were brains in jars.)

  • Reluctant Liberal

    You don’t find it inconvenient that it’s “normal” for people to work from nine to five? (Real question) You don’t find that other people’s expectations sometimes get in the way of managing your pain?

    I’m also curious (if you don’t mind my asking) when you got your chronic pain disease. The people I know with chronic pain diseases all got theirs in high school, which I could see having a greater impact than if someone got a chronic pain disease later in life.

    I’m finding your distinction between normal sexuality and normal race difficult to figure out (Race and sexuality are different, I just can’t tell why you think so). And you’re assuming your own premises. Who says babies are the primary purpose of sex?

    It actually would still an ad hominem attack if I was a robot. It just wouldn’t be a real argument. =p

    And you’re missing what I’m trying to say. It’s not funny. Comments like that cause people pain. You might not like that they cause people pain, and you might think that it shouldn’t cause people pain. It still causes pain. And that’s not funny.

    About half of transgendered people (who are not cisgendered, which is where this whole conversation started) attempt suicide. About forty percent of runaways are gay kids. I didn’t make cisgendered versus “normal” an issue. The people who decided that trans and gay people weren’t “normal” did.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    This exchange is just odd, and I’m not really sure how to follow it. I’m honestly not connecting half of what you’re saying to any real point, and the 9 to 5 thing just shot right over my head. I’ll try to take a couple of points that seem to be answerable, and that will probably be it for me. If someone else wants to take a whack, they’re welcome to.

    “Who says reproduction is the primary purpose of sex?” Um … the entire animal kingdom? Pleasure is a fringe benefit, not a telos. Whether you believe in design or evolution, gender and sexuality have no functional purpose other than reproduction. That’s why fold A goes into slot B. (Didn’t they teach you this in biology?) The emotional component is separate, and largely unique to humans because we alone among the creatures of the earth have a rational soul.

    Race is a minor morphological understanding of human differences that’s semi-useful for human classification and has no taxonomic significance at all. Sex is a fundamental means of reproduction common to most fauna on our planet. Race is small. Sex is big.

    As for transgendered people: they attempt suicide in greater numbers because they are mentally ill. That’s what being transgendered means: a person has gender dysphoria. This is tragic, as is all mental illness, and needs to be approached with mercy, care, love, and treatment. However, unlike other mental illnesses, some in the medical community choose to solve this one with brutal and barbaric chemical and surgical approaches. This is the equivalent of encouraging an anorexic to starve herself to death because, after all, that’s really how she sees herself.

  • Anthony S. Layne

    @ RL: “I’m finding your distinction between normal sexuality and normal race difficult to figure out (Race and sexuality are different, I just can’t tell why you think so). And you’re assuming your own premises. Who says babies are the primary purpose of sex?”

    The first sentence is more than a little confused; it looks like you can’t quite figure out whether you’re contradicting Thomas or not.

    But the latter two sentences … hoo boy! I’d be tempted to mock you relentlessly if large segments of our “intelligentsia” weren’t engaged in denying any connection between sex and procreation.

    Who says? Well, most biologists for starters. But it doesn’t take a scientist to look at the direct connection of the sexual organs to the reproductive organs to figure it out. If we reproduced in any other manner, we wouldn’t be built with the capacity for sex; consider angel fish — the female lays her eggs on some surface, the male ejaculates over them, and the process takes place without either of their “sexual” organs coming into contact. If we reproduced by fission, like amoebas, sex organs wouldn’t be necessary even in the angel fish’s limited sense; we’d simply split in two and smoke a cigarette. No, the connection between sex and reproduction is primary; most of our culture’s sexual issues stem from trying to put so many sexual carts in front of the reproductive horse.

  • Jessica Patino

    Chik-Fil-A serves a lower-income bracket? Why? You can go to any other fast food place and get a lot more food for the same price. Just saying.

  • Irksome1

    Re: the contention that conservative Christians tend not to boycott companies over their politics at the rate gay activists do, I wonder if that may, at least in the Chik Fil-A case, have something to do with a qualitative difference between foregoing a product one might happen to like and indulging in it.

  • Reluctant Liberal

    I’m not really sure the Animal Kingdom says what you think it does. Both homosexuality and sex for pleasure absent any reproductive activity occur in the animal kingdom.

    Transgendered people are not mentally ill. When trans people are allowed participate in society they frequently find themselves much happier and are able to develop much more rewarding relationships. The comparison to anorexia is misplaced. An anorexic person will not and cannot remain healthy. If you knew trans people, or had read about their experiences before, during, and after transition, you would be able to see this.

    Gender dysphoria is increasingly understood by psychologists to be the result of other people’s baggage and expectations.

    And if the surgery and chemical approaches make trans people more able to live their lives (which they do), then I find them considerably less barbaric than a society that allows trans people to be persecuted or ignored to the point that their suicide rate is so high.

    Ugh. I hadn’t meant to get into all this stuff this soon. I plan to comment regularly, and I had hoped to introduce these ideas more slowly so that they might actually make a modicum of sense. I used to be a conservative Catholic, so I think I can eventually get to the point where my ideas don’t come across as complete gibberish.

    In the meantime, so you won’t completely write me off, I feel the need to say that Pope Benedict’s Introduction to Christianity is still my favorite book on theology.

  • Reluctant Liberal

    I would point out that people are slightly more complex than angel fish.

  • NCSue (I follow back!)

    I hadn’t even heard about the buycott until my hubby said he wanted to eat there yesterday. Don’t worry about not being able to make it – everyone else on earth was there, or so it seemed!

  • Dennis Mahon

    Which relates to the point at hand….how?

  • victor

    I think people with lesser means are more likely to dine at Chik-Fil-A (or other fast food restaurants) than they are at La-Foie-Gras — that is, when they dine out at all. I think that’s all TLMcD was saying.

  • Robert King

    @Reluctant Liberal –

    Both homosexuality and sex for pleasure absent any reproductive activity occur in the animal kingdom.

    Let’s take eating as an analogy. We (and many animals) eat for pleasure. We enjoy the taste of certain foods, and there is great variety in the kinds of food that different people find enjoyable. We put a great deal of time and effort and thought into making tasty food.

    But no one would think to claim that the primary purpose of eating is nutrition. Everyone acknowledges that those who eat solely for pleasure do so at the peril of their health. No one believes that we should separate the pleasure from the nutrition in such a way that there any overlap between those functions is entirely voluntary.

    But it seems that this kind of separation and distortion of primary purposes is exactly what western culture is trying to do with sex.

    The only way humans reproduce is through the union of male and female gametes. These gametes originate in the sexual organs, which also deliver the gametes in such a way that conception may occur. Technology has been largely successful at destroying this capability, and sporadically successful at replicating it in laboratory conditions. Meanwhile, nature has already provided an excellent system for reproduction, sexual intercourse.

    This is not the exclusive purpose of the sexual organs. No one is arguing that it is. However, our gracious host is correct that the pleasure associated with it is the byproduct, not the essence. The emotional and personal feelings are byproducts, not even of the sexual act, but of our rational natures. (After all, look at the bond that forms between fellow soldiers, or classmates, or even sometimes coworkers.) In other words, there is good, objective, scientific as well as philosophical reason for calling procreation the “primary purpose” of sex.

  • Robert King

    Correction: what I meant was “But no one would think to claim that the primary purpose of eating is pleasure.”

  • Reluctant Liberal

    I’ll grant you that there are philosophical arguments that can be made, but appealing to science is bunk. Science does not distinguish between essence and byproducts. Science cannot imbue anything with purpose.

    I used to make the comparison with food as well (though my version included the Roman vomitorium), but that comparison doesn’t really stand. You cannot have a loving relationship with food. You can have a loving relationship with another person without having children. Your comparison only stands if you seriously devalue the loving and relational aspects of sex. It’s not food without nutrition, it’s food without one kind of nutrition.

    I’m married. My wife and I love each other very much. But we are not in a good position to have kids right now. We could not give children the life and attention they deserve. Are you suggesting that we abstain from sex? (And by the way, that abstention would cause serious stress to our relationship. And I’m not talking about meeting physical urges, I’m talking about real emotional harm.)

  • Robert King

    @Reluctant Liberal -

    First, I am neither qualified nor interested in giving you advice about your marital life. As far as I’m concerned, this is a philosophical discussion. The practical implications will vary according to the situation. Whether you and your wife abstain or not is between the two of you, and I have no place in that decision.

    As to science, I suppose I was unclear. You are correct that empirical science as such does not distinguish between essence and accident; but it does provide information for philosophical argument. Philosophy does distinguish between essence and accident; and it seems to me that the biology of the reproductive system (and, for that matter, of the digestive system) does provide support for saying that these systems have a “primary purpose”, at least biologically speaking – to the point that we name them “reproductive” or “digestive”.

    You say: You cannot have a loving relationship with food.

    I think this is a red herring. There are lots of ways to express love; sexual intercourse is one, just as cooking and sharing a meal is another and having a conversation is still another. I don’t have a loving relationship with my genitals or my spouse’s genitals or with the gametes involved, just as I don’t have a loving relationship with food or with words; rather, I use all these to express love in different ways. Each can be used well or poorly. A lie is an abuse of conversation; poison is an abuse of a meal.

    The original comment that sparked this thread was trying to separate the pleasure of sex from the procreative function of sex. If you do that with any other way of communicating love, it becomes abuse. Conversation focused on pleasure without regard to truth inevitably becomes false and untrustworthy. Food focused on pleasure without regard to nutrition inevitably becomes unhealthy and even deadly. Sex is no less powerful, and separating pleasure from function is no less dangerous.

  • Reluctant Liberal

    I agree that you have no place in decisions about my marital life. Yet by offering a universally applicable warning about the danger of separating sex and procreation, you have placed yourself in the position of offering warnings that apply to my marriage. Don’t formulate general principles if you are unwilling to deal with the specific applications of those principles.

    I don’t mind you saying philosophy supports you. But I want to make very clear that science does not confirm your position. It might be used as support, but it cannot offer confirmation.

    Again, you’re drawing false comparisons. Food focused on pleasure is an awful thing to compare a loving committed relationship to. Babies are one good that come from sex. Loving romantic relationships are another. Both are good in and of themselves (unless you want to argue that a sterile couple is not capable of sex that is good). One does not need the other validate its existence.

  • Robert King

    Don’t formulate general principles if you are unwilling to deal with the specific applications of those principles.

    I’m not unwilling to deal with them in my own life; I’m simply unwilling to tell you how to deal with them in yours. An argument about general principles does not absolve any of us of the responsibility to decide how to act in our own lives.

    Re: science – I don’t think we ever disagreed on this point.

    Food focused on pleasure is an awful thing to compare a loving committed relationship to.

    True. But I’m not comparing eating food to a loving relationship; I’m comparing eating food to sexual intercourse.

    Sex and relationship are neither identical nor convertable terms. They are related, but they are not the same. Which brings us to…

    Babies are one good that come from sex. Loving romantic relationships are another.

    Babies do indeed often come from sex. Loving romantic relationships do not come from sex. Rather, sex is an expression of loving romantic relationships. Notice the order of operations: first come attraction and romance, which leads to sex. Only in a Brave New World does sex precede the relationship.

    This is a point of contention among adherents of sexual liberation. I understand that, and don’t want to argue (here) whether it is morally right or wrong. I’ll just point out that I have never seen a relationship that starts with sex develop into loving commitment.

    Both [babies & loving romantic relationships] are good in and of themselves (unless you want to argue that a sterile couple is not capable of sex that is good).

    No argument here. But I note that your “unless…” clause doesn’t follow – unless you are confusing sex with love.

    Sex in and of itself is good. But like any other action, it can be done well or done badly. I am arguing that to divorce the pleasure of sex from the procreative function of sex is to do sex badly.