GRANT MERRILL: Let’s Just Get Along And Eat Mor Chikin!
If there is anything the year 2012 has taught me, it seems that the world we live in is more culturally and politically divided than at any point in the thirty years I’ve roamed the Earth. The truth is, it has probably always been as divided as it is now, but with social media fueling every news story that comes out and giving anyone the ability to express their opinions to thousands, the public debate is more public than ever before.
Chick-Fil-A has always been one of my favorite restaurants. I may hold the world record for uttering the words, “number five twelve pack with a Coke” more than any person in history. It has been a three-to-five time a week visit since an old girlfriend of mine introduced me to the Fort Smith location in 2003. And it only took a few times for me to realize, “Wow this place is different.” The one thing that you will always see in any Chick-Fil-A, is that it is their pleasure to serve you, and you will always be treated with kindness and respect.
They demand it.
The fact that these values of pristine customer service are upheld by a Christian based company should be no surprise to anyone. If you’ve stopped into one of their restaurants on a Sunday, you know just like I do that they are closed by choice. They’ve faced pressure from landlords in malls and airports and business districts across America to make all that money from the after church crowd, but they’ve never caved. So when Dan Cathy made the statement that he supported traditional marriage last week, there should have been no surprise to anyone in America that he would feel that way.
When you look at the liberal left and the LGBT community’s smear campaign against this company over the last week, the hypocrisy should stare you right in the face. Dan Cathy, like any American has the right to freedom of speech and expression. Just like a gay person has the right to debate their politics, the Cathy family has a right to debate theirs. But apparently when you speak out against the homosexuals, you are automatically a hate filled bigot. When you take a stand for Biblical principles, you are right up there with the terrorists. Apparently you do not have the right to take a shot at the LGBT community for their views that you disagree with, but they have the right to pick apart your business if they disagree with yours.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. You may remember the January 2011 incident when Elton John and David Furnish decided to unite in their matrimony and adopt a baby, a Mountain Home area Harps Food Store placed a “Family Appropriate Shield” over the cover of US Weekly which prominently displayed the picture of the two celebrating. A firestorm erupted. Homosexuals from across the country who had never heard of Baxter County began a smear campaign against Harps, who as business owners have a right to block anything they so choose in their house.
To me, it isn’t an issue of whether or not gay marriage is right or wrong. It is the notion by the liberals and the LGBT community that this company — or any company should be punished or crucified for expressing their opinions. As Americans, we all have constitutional rights that should be respected by all parties. There is always room for healthy debate, but to try to force a company to be tolerant because you don’t agree with their stance by spewing hate and bigotry of your own, it certainly holds the right to a double standard when the left is saying, “You aren’t tolerant of our views, so we’re going to smear you and show you intolerance.”
In Boston and Chicago, politicians have vowed that the company will not operate in their city. Last time I checked, Rahm Emanuel has about as much power to stop a business from opening in his metro area as I do to force Jennifer Aniston to fall madly in love with me. (Yes, both possibilities are extreme long shots)
I do not hate gay people. I have a number of gay people that I count as great friends, and while I don’t agree with some of their lifestyle choices, I show the love and kindness toward them that they deserve as human beings. When a high school classmate spent years fighting for gay marriage in the state of New York, I watched his journey with curiosity wondering how it would end up. He went through the right channels, marched straight to Albany, and along with a couple thousand of his friends they changed the laws of their state. A week later he married a man that he loves, and they seem happy. While I may not personally agree with the outcome, they fought for their freedom and got it. This is America, and they have a constitutional right to fight for what they believe in.
But so does Chick-Fil-A.
So to my homosexual friends, I will say this. I know you’ve had your feelings hurt this week. I know if some of you had a gas can, a match, and a stiff wind you’d be awfully tempted to take them out. But leave this company alone. They’ve set the gold standard in customer service, they’ve operated with a set of principles, and they have a right for those principles to be different than yours. Healthy discussion is fine, but waging a cultural war against someone’s livelihood because of their beliefs takes hypocrisy to a brand new level when you are complaining that they are not tolerant.
And know this. Whether you are gay, straight, transgender, red, yellow, black, white, paraplegic, toothless, or a combination of all of the above, it will be their pleasure to serve you. It always has been.
Grant Merrill is the owner of KEWI Radio