I’m sure you have read plenty on the Chick-Fil-A issue in the last few weeks. I do not want to take a stand for either side (Is it ok to base your business on such values and support them financially? Is it ok that a mayor voices his opinion on the matter? and so on). But I have a general impression on this issue that I want to share.
What struck me most about the entire debate is this tiny little fact: It’s all revolving around fast food.
Who doesn’t like fast food, who doesn’t consume it at least occasionally? Mean tongues may even whisper that fast food is among the central aspects of American food culture (not necessarily a bad thing!).
And now, with Chick-Fil-A, we have two camps: The supporters, who are now consumed more chicken sammich than usual because they support the anti-gay-marriage movement, and the ones who refuse chicken in order to support the pro-gay-marriage movements.
I never knew just how politically uninterested Americans are until I learned about it and saw the situations here in Europe. I don’t want to generalize, there are many Americans who work very hard to express their political interests. That’s a great thing. But there’s a general disinterest in politics. Only a little more than 50% of all Americans make use of their right to vote. In Germany, an average of 75% make use of that right, other European countries go up to 95% of all people with the right to vote. I think from this point of view it’s safe to say that people don’t really care about politics and how it influences their lives as well as the lives of others.
Shame on those Americans who refuse to vote on a regular basis. Don’t bother me with the argument that freedom also means the freedom not to vote. Yes, it does, but to maintain freedom you have to vote. Not voting because you have the freedom not to vote is a strawman argument for people who like to watch those partially scripted, finely acted out debates on TV but at the end of the day they’re too lazy to move their asses out of the house. Not voting is not an appreciation of freedom, it is the sheer ignorance of the freedom you enjoy and, if you ask me, a punch in the face for the millions who died and still die until this day (and will do so in the future) to obtain the right to vote. But, let’s move on.
Considering that actual engagement in politics is quite a bit of work, eating or refusing a certain type of fast food is the easy way out. People who don’t give a rat’s ass about politics (and expressing this by not voting, for example) suddenly have the option to engage in something because it’s so much easier than it usually would be – it’s so much more convenient.
Suddenly, our politically uninterested John Everyone can sit at work and loudly express their politic interest by voicing that he had a Chick-Fil-A meal to support anti-gay-marriage. And Lisa HobbyLGBTpride-supporter(but it’s actually too time-consuming) may announce that she’d rather eat her shoe that something from Chick-Fil-A.
An important aspect is the fast food environment in general. First off, fast food is not something Chick-Fil-A is the only provider of, or the most popular provider of. It is not even a large provider! Avoiding Chick-Fil-A is so very easy. Chicken fast food can be obtained at almost every other fast food chain. There are much bigger and more popular ones (think McDonalds, Wendy’s, etc). It’s not hard to avoid it geographically, there are many places where a different fast food restaurant is just round the corner. It’s literally a difference of one street that you’re driving in your car. And that seems to be, unfortunately, as far as most pseudo-politic activists are willing to go. And the reason why politicians actually have the guts to speak up against this company only have the guts because they’re not facing a giant that might just screw them into the ground so deep that they’d end up in a kangaroo’s bellybag.
Let’s think about this in a different way: What would have happened if we were actually dealing with a company that means something? One that is not so easy to avoid as just driving 100 more feet to get food? What if, highly hypothetically, Microsoft were in this situation instead? Would we avoid it? Would we refuse it? There are other options, but they’re not as convenient. Would we feel like doing the same thing? I’m sorry, but I don’t think so.
At the end of the day, the Chick-Fil-A is a pointless debate. Because sometimes, a chicken sammich is just what it is: A chicken sammich, and nothing more.
You’re not going to change the world, politics, or anybody’s opinion. You’re not going to take down an ebil company. You’re not doing anything that really matters except saving a poor, tortured chicken’s life. Well, that’s the one good thing in this.
And for the record: I am an avid supporter of gay marriage and the LGBT community. I support all people who work to change something in the world and who are involved in politics, no matter what side they’re on. I am pro active society.
But I can’t like a debate that is nothing more than an instrumentalized fast food debacle.
(One last edit: I have nothing against this form of protest and I still support all writers who have taken on this issue in the past weeks as well as honest, sincere refusers and supporters of Chick-Fil-A. It is about the dimensions, especially among the usually disinterested crowd and the general media attention it gets compared to other much more severe issue than a small fast food chain being homophobic.)