Thursday, September 20, 2012

Gee, but It's Great to Be Back Home

It was announced this week that Chick-Fil-A will no longer donate money to groups that oppose same-sex marriage, a decision that in all likelihood grew out of a desire to expand into the lucrative Chicago market. I don't eat much in the way of fast food, and I don't live in the United States anymore, so this part is of no real interest to me.

What I find fascinating is the reaction of those who so vehemently supported Chick-Fil-A on Customer Appreciation Day, back when it first came to light that Chick-Fil-A was against gay marriage. A quick look at the Chick-Fil-A page on Facebook shows a lengthy trail of comments from people who are hurt, betrayed, and angered. "Goodbye, Chick-Fil-A," they say. "We thought you had principles."

Now, having principles is all well and good, but let's be realistic about this; when the CEO of Chick-Fil-A announced on radio that Chick-Fil-A supported traditional marriages and opposed non-traditional marriages, can anyone honestly tell me he wasn't going fishing? The amount of free publicity Chick-Fil-A got out of that one radio interview was easily two or three times their annual marketing budget. Customer Appreciation Day was the reward. Yes, all these hundreds of thousands of people were standing up as one, eating at Chick-Fil-A, and saying, with one voice, "We support your beliefs." For those people, the most important part of that sentence might be the bit about supporting beliefs, but for the CEO of Chick-Fil-A, the most important part is "eating at Chick-Fil-A." And, frankly, it should be

Chick-Fil-A reaped the benefits of its practices in a glorious, month-long frenzy of activity. And now, because no one's business ever closed because they stopped supporting something, they are doing the sensible thing, dropping their association with traditional marriage, and opening up branches in Chicago. And if a few of their southern branches do close? Rest assured that the profits from a Chicagoland Chick-Fil-A will far outstrip the lost earnings of a restaurant in rural Tennessee.

To the people who supported Chick-Fil-A on Customer Appreciation Day, who find themselves so hurt and betrayed now: Can you honestly tell me that before this became a national fad, you had any idea about what Chick-Fil-A did with its money? And can you honestly tell me you ate there because the company had the same values as you? No. You can't.

There's a good chance that Customer Appreciation Day was, and will remain, the only time any of you have actually done something to express your support of traditional marriage, and to voice your opposition to gay marriage. Which is fine. When I go to zoos, I put a quarter in the spinning drum to save the rainforest. We, as a people, like a convenient way to express our support. That's why the "Like" button is so successful as a cultural meme. One click lets me express my support in as generic and unthinking a way as possible. Just like ordering the #1 combo with slaw and a coke zero.

Many of you are complaining on Facebook, a company which has been very consistent in its support of Gay rights and equality. But that hasn't made the news yet. So I suppose, until it does, you can carry on with your new-found feelings of superiority towards Chick-Fil-A. You were in this together, you and those cows on the billboards, you and every person who works at a Chick-Fil-A. And now they all turned their backs on you. How dare they stop believing in something they originally believed in for the sake of a dollar just for the sake of a dollar?

The nerve of some people. Honestly.

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