As biological evidence continues to support that gender, sex, and sexual orientation are not of one’s conscious choosing, religious arguments that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice rather than an inherent trait become downright idiotic and potentially harmful. The attitudes of people promulgating this opinion fosters an environment of hate where bullying and abuse are allowed in schools and communities under the guise of “religious freedom”. And it gets just as ugly in their churches, preached from the pulpit of a popular evangelical preacher and even from their tiny tots (and lets not talk about the pastor that wants to put gays and lesbians in concentration camps) in what seems like a pretty sad testament of faith. These attitudes also continue to deny an LGBT person’s access to the same rights that the others share including employment, adoption, marriage, hospital visitation, tax benefits, and death benefits and create an environment where a group of Americans have been made into second class citizens.
I think that is wrong. I think that there is something deeply hypocritical and morally wrong with people seeking to deny others civil access to the same civil rights they enjoy. I think there is something un-American about imposing one’s religious opinion on those that do not share the same beliefs. After all, the same sort of beliefs were use to defend both slavery and segregation.
As a result, we haven’t been eating at Chick-fil-a for over a year (I don’t consider myself “boycotting” because I’m not trying to make a political statement by not eating there, even though that is technically what I am doing). Personally, they have excellent tasting chicken. Really, really excellent. Quite possibly some of the best fried chicken ever (just don’t look at the ingredients list). To top it off, their customer service is fantastic–including someone that will take your tray to your table if you need assistance (a parent with their hands full of squirmy kids or someone that is disabled). Their restaurants are immaculately clean (including their bathrooms which have complimentary diapers, wipes and feminine products “just in case”). And, to top it off, most of them around here have play areas (while most of the McD’s are knocking theirs down) for a rainy day. I can see why someone would eat there, it used to be one of my fave places to take the kids. But I still haven’t eaten there in over a year, because I don’t want my money going to the organizations they support*.
Quite simply, I don’t want my money supporting a business that uses its profits to contribute to “charities” that practice discrimination (still can’t find the darn articles that prompted us to stop eating there in the first place because of all the recent stuff) or that seeks to allow for the institutionalization of discrimination, that uses its profits to contribute to lobbying groups that tacitly support anti-homosexuality legislation resulting in the death penalty in foreign countries, that uses its profits to help fun so-called “ex-gay” ministries (specifically Exodus International which, until very recently has heavily promoted conversion therapy), and that uses its profits to endorse organizations seeking to define marriage for all Americans by their religious standards on the basis of their theological opinion (separation of church and state anyone?).
Whether you agree with me, my decision, or the reasoning behind my decision or not, this is “acting when you know”.
I’ve seen a lot of criticism about boycotting Chick-fil-a**, some of which is directed at the idea that lots of companies support stuff people don’t like, and its silly/stupid/hypocritical/enter negative adjective to bother for one company if you aren’t doing it for every company. Bologna. No one has the time or resources to sit around and Google every product they purchase and every place that they patronize. But once you find out (in this case that someone you do business with has business practices you disagree with), you need to decide if you have a “duty to act” (to borrow a phrase from my time as a first responder) and what that action (or actions) should look like.
Acting when you know, in my opinion, is about refraining from taking preemptive actions until you have accurate information. Its not a total prohibition from taking preemptive action though–in cases where the “jury is out”, I think we still have a duty to act in a way that causes the least harm. Also, to some degree, I think “act when you know” offers some absolution from guilt when you don’t know. I don’t think, however, it is a “get out of jail free” card for ignorance. If you don’t know, you should at least make a reasonable attempt to find out…particularly if its something you have an opinion on or might be called upon to take action on (like voting). I also don’t think that action just because you know is always appropriate without consideration of the effects of said actions, or that one should act simply because everyone else in (I really hate the bandwagon effect).
Act when you know….and know when and how to act.
*This is not about freedom of speech…Dan Cathy has the right to his opinion and to express his opinion. Dan Cathy also has the right to donate his money to the cause of whom ever he wishes. But Dan Cathy should consider being a little more like this guy. Because, at the end of the day, everyone else has the right to their opinion as well. When you use the profits of your corporation (as opposed to personal contributions of the money you personally make from the business) to fund bigotry from your profits (or child slavery and chocolate, or wars with child soldiers and diamonds, or killing dolphins and tuna, or making people sit at the back of the bus because of their skin color), people will eventually notice, and some of them might actually give a damn. If Dan Cathy chooses to alienate a large number of his potential customer base over what he feels is his religious obligation, that’s his right–just as it is my right to stop giving him my hard earned dollars because I disagree with the way he uses them. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from repercussions.
**I’m not trying to make a judgement about people that are still eating at Chick-fil-a. I just happen to give a damn about this issue more than I love their chicken, so I choose to eat elsewhere…but I don’t expect everyone else to share my opinion. At the end of the day, everyone else has the right to their opinion too, and the right to go to somewhere else to eat. Or to have the opinion not to give a fuck, the opinion just to love chicken sammies pressure fried in highly refined peanut oil of hate (The Hubby says that is what makes them taste so delicious…and yes, that was a joke, by the way), or the opinion to consciously and purposefully support said business for their bigotry.