Thursday, August 2, 2012

Chick-Fil-A and Gay Marriage, Again

I am going to cover the Chick-Fil-A situation one more time. There have been some inaccuracies widely reported by mainstream media, bloggers, commenters, and even people friendly to Chick-Fil-A (in at least one case) surrounding the comments concerning traditional marriage. I am going to discuss a few of these.

1. The opponents of traditional marriage have framed Cathy's remarks as being against gay marriage rather than supportive of the traditional marriage and family unit.

This is extremely important, as Cathy's remarks were the catalyst for the current outrage. So, what did he say? Was it "I do not like gay marriage"? Not quite. Here's the relevant quote from the article:

Some have opposed the company's support of the traditional family. "Well, guilty as charged," said Cathy when asked about the company's position.

"We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that."

Here is the major point: while this entails that they would not be supportive of gay marriage, it also entails several other positions (incest, statutory-relations, polygamy, and divorce, just to name a few). So, importantly, he did not address any of these positions. Instead, he focused on the heart of traditional family values. Framing the issue as dealing with gay marriage directly is dishonest of gay marriage supporters.

2. Gay marriage supporters labeled the comments as "hate speech."

"Hate speech" is a relatively recent term in U.S. culture, but it basically refers to groups such as the KKK, or individuals who simply hate a specific group of people. The major problem is that the comments cannot be reasonably or fairly construed as communicating hate. Unless it is, of course, hateful to promote the traditional family (how absurd would it be to condemn as hatred the mere existence [and celebration] of the traditional family!). But by applying the terminology of hate to Cathy's comments, people began repeating the caricature of Chick-Fil-A's comments. Either the gay community knew this was a caricature and attempted to frame the debate according to what they would like, or they were honestly so out of touch that they believe any support of a traditional family as relating to morality is hatred. In either case, it does not help their case one bit.

3. They engaged in name-calling.

It is important to note that not every member of the gay community engaged in (3). However, the vast majority did engage in (1-2), and the majority engaged in (3) as well. While many gay marriage supporters defended the right of Cathy to say what he will, they nearly invariably followed this by proclaiming Cathy a "bigot." But what argument is there for stating moral disagreement equals bigotry? Name-calling is rhetoric masking as substance.

4. They desire to protest by confrontational means.

Again, it's worth noting that many members of the gay community do not intend to protest this way. However, many will still do so. The idea is that on Friday, August 3, homosexual couples will stage a "kiss in" at Chick-Fil-A restaurants. Here's the problem: people in the Christian community do not oppose gay marriage because of hate. We oppose it because of moral issues. Hence, what these confrontational approaches will do is to be morally offensive. "But wait!" one may protest, "Opposing gay marriage is morally offensive to me!" Fair enough. However, the issues are not quite symmetrical. One issue is a belief, and the other is an action. The belief can be held quite independently of any actions toward any individual or groups (including refraining from legal action); however, the action of going to people who ostensibly believe homosexual activity is morally wrong and doing it in their faces strikes me as morally questionable (regardless of homosexual activity's moral status), if not downright juvenile. Is this really what you want? To be offensive? Do you really want a confrontation?

5. Gay marriage proponents have also sought to intimidate Chick-Fil-A on a governmental level.

It is by now well-known that the mayors of Boston and Chicago have used the language of intimidation and threats against Chick-Fil-A, telling them they are not welcome in their cities, and indeed may be blocked. Of course, that block will never get off the ground, and the mayors know it. Even the ACLU, certainly no friend of traditional values, concurs that such a move is indefensible constitutionally.

Again, to reiterate, many members of the gay community have openly expressed support for Dan Cathy's right to free speech, and do not succumb to threats and intimidation tactics. However, the vast majority do (1-3) above, and confrontation and threats just make the rest of them look bad. Chick-Fil-A does not send a message of hate, and anyone who thinks it does is either disingenuous or ignorant.
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