August 1, 2012 will be marked in American history as Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. Typically on such celebratory, capitalist occasions business owners show gratitude to their diners by a discount or a balloon. That Wednesday was topsy-turvy. Dan Cathy’s customers reversed the tradition, showering this Atlanta-based corporate CEO with consumptive love. Lines stretched around the block, a record-breaking scene. It was a bad day for poultry; a good day for cows.
I admire Cathy’s chicken sandwich and waffle fries as much as any fried mercantile repast, even though my patronage is spotty. A business that closes on Sunday so that diners can attend church has made a financial bow to belief. One can hardly imagine Einstein’s Bagels, say, closed on Saturday.
But several weeks ago, Dan Cathy crossed a line. He didn’t change his opinions, but those opinions became newly publicized. Mr. Cathy was quoted as defending traditional marriage – for God’s sake! – suggesting that gay marriage is “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.” I am not in the business of discerning God’s judgment. My concern is more parochial.
After Cathy’s remarks were broadcast, several politicians suggested that there was no place for Chick-Fil-A in their blue-state communities. Rahm Emanuel, no shrinking violet, opined that Cathy’s values were not “Chicago values.” Surely the Daleys would not have forgotten the Catholic Church down the street. Pandering attempts to banish the chain because of politics are clearly unconstitutional, particularly in the absence of evidence that they deny service to any customer.
Citizens properly have the choice to patronize whichever business they wish. Private boycotts for political reasons fall within our rights. The question is not whether such boycotts are legal, but whether they are wise.
I am troubled by choosing consumption based on the boss’s belief. Let us take the case – the case at hand – of “gay marriage.” In the United States today we are equally . . .
Read more: Reflections on Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day