It’s Not About the Chicken

“The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.”
—Cesar Chavez

Protesters gathered today to object to a Chick-fil-A store planned to open in Mountain View, but it is San Jose that will have the dubious distinction of having the first Chick-fil-A in the Bay Area. If we’re lucky, it will close down within a month.

Whether the food is any good is not the question. At some point conscience must control a person’s pocketbook. Donald Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A, is an admitted bigot. He uses money reaped from the legions of chicken consumers to fund anti-gay organizations and promote a “Christian Agenda” that real followers of the Jewish carpenter should find offensive and repugnant.

Certainly Mr. Cathy has a right to free speech. There is no argument with his right to even promote hateful speech. But a major benefit of the First Amendment is the ability of the populace to reject that speech, to firmly repudiate those ideas with their own decision not to engage in commerce with bigots.

The public relations disaster befalling Chick-fil-A based on their stated philosophy has had huge consequences. First, Kermit the Frog and company dissed them publicly. Their longtime spokesperson suddenly died, allegedly over the stress he endured from the fallout. The company has been linked to a false Facebook page which pictured a stock photo of a “wholesome” teenager who defended Chick-fil-A. It took all of a few hours to expose that hoax. Finally, Mayors from Boston to San Francisco have made it clear, Chick-fil-A is not welcome in their communities

Some people disagree that official government policy should be used to prevent businesses from opening based on a person’s speech. It is a slippery slope and the courts clearly prevent government from disallowing a business based on speech. As such, governments cannot prevent Chick-fil-A from locating in their town. That said, they can make it very uncomfortable.

But the better way is for an informed consumer to actively avoid businesses that are antithetical to the views of the community. To see Chick-fil-A run out of town based on consumer choice is really the act of an informed democracy.

In the final analysis, the boycott of Chick-fil-A is about people. The LGBT community is among the last to experience institutional inequality in these United States. Our nation is a history of the march forward for equality for all.  Women, African-Americans, Native Americans, Asians, Latinos, and many others had to fight for institutional equality. And though cultural inequities still exist, the first step in freedom are laws on the books that groups that have suffered persecution must be treated equally. As long as there is a law that is not being applied equally among the common populace, we will never arrive at the promise that is America.

Chick-fil-A should not get a single dollar from those of us who advance the cause of liberty and reject the voices of bigotry. Every dollar we don’t spend at Chick-fil-A advances the cause of liberty and equality.

To paraphrase Cesar Chavez, it is not about the chicken.  It is never about the chicken.  It is about the people.

Rich Robinson is a political consultant in Silicon Valley.

Rich Robinson is an attorney and political consultant in Silicon Valley. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.

17 Comments

  1. Certainly Mr. Cathy has a right to free speech. There is no argument with his right to even promote hateful speech.

    I’m sure he’s against gay marriage, but I’m not sure that counts as hateful speech.  Over half of California was against gay marriage the last time the issue was on the ballot.  What’s he saying or writing that’s so hateful.

    The problem with these sorts of things is that both sides get carried away.  You get things like “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day”, and you get bomb threats.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/a-chick-fil-a-was-forced-to-close-today-because-of-a-bomb-threat-2012-8

    I think these sorts of campaigns will cause other businesses to get targeted.  This is different from boycotting products produced by businesses in a labor dispute.  This can devolve into a witch hunt on both sides.

  2. Once again you sound so much like PO and BO.  People have a right to free speech and run a great business.

    Really,

    To paraphrase Cesar Chavez, it is not about the chicken.  It is never about the chicken.  It is about the people.

    Don’t remember that statement.  I do remember one, oh from me,

    Your an idiot!  Please post a blog that we can have a real discussion about. Thank you.

    Vote Romney!

  3. If I can, I’ll always fight pro Republican businesses. They’re horrible and they support Republican causes – think the Koch brothers. We must fight them every step of the way and primarily that’s through the pocketbook. Little known fact: if everyone bought with an eye toward politics, the Democrats would win. Believe me California does a lot more for the nation than Mississippi.

      • Yes, it’s important to realize that the blue states are doing all the heavy lifting. Not only that, but within California, the blue counties are doing everything for this state. Everything is political. I love the fact that whether they buy an I phone or an Android people in Texas are buying phones with software and hardware designed and supported here in Santa Clara County. That’s what I try to get people to realize, a place like Alabama does so little for this country compared to California and yet they have just as much power in the Senate as we do. And they’re all Republican.

    • prescient, sometimes I wonder if you are for real or just a confused pot-stirrer.  You have made it clear that you are a Democrat yet you oppose unions which typically support Democratic candidates. (We know: Chuck Reed and Jerry Brown are your heros – both are Democrats but Chuck acutally did something to destroy the unions like Republican Governors Scott Walker and Gov Christie while Jerry Brown only talked about it… you do know that many believe Reed is really a Republican who registered as a Dem for political expediency to get elected as San Jose is by-and-large a Democrat stronghold….) 

      You really despise Public Employee Unions , their benefits and most especially their pensions yet the Koch Brothers may be one of the SINGLE biggest financial supporters of candidates and efforts like (not saying they contributed to Measure B but support efforts LIKE) Measure B – but you are anti-Koch Brothers?  The more you post the more confused you seem to be.

  4. Rich,
    Thank you for writing this column, and trying to educate us on the importance of boycotting businesses that discriminate against people’s civil or legal rights. I won’t be buying their chicken now or ever, unless or until they change their stance on the Gay community.

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