Friday, August 03, 2012

Jon Stewart boils down the Chick-fil-A controversy

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Jon Stewart of The Daily Show addressed the Chick-fil-A controversy last night, and summarized the whole affair so neatly, both in his condemnation of the mayors who actually did try to violate the organization’s First Amendment rights and with his poignant conclusion about the inevitable outcome of the LGBT marriage equality debate, that I just had to post it here:

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JON STEWART: Now, you may wonder: “How did we get here?” It all started two weeks ago when people got wind of the Chick-fil-A CEO’s feelings about gay marriage.

CfA CEO DAN CATHY [07/26/12]: I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our first at him and say, “We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,” and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.

STEWART: Of course, it’s perfectly okay to have the audacity to re-engineer God’s chicken design to make them 95% breast meat and then drop a couple of strips of bacon and cheese on top of those bad boys, ’cause you can’t take everything the Leviticus [?], but all right.

Still, this man is a private citizen – he’s a private citizen. He is a private citizen; it’s a private business. He’s got every right to his opinions, just like other private citizens have a right to theirs.

YOUTUBER ON MSNBC [07/27/12]: To toss the word “Biblical” out there as a PR decision in a feel-good way of saying you’re homophobic without risking your business not only cheapens your Bible, but in my opinion, disrespects your God.

WOMAN PROTESTOR [07/26/12]: Those kinds of messages and that kind of rhetoric is very, very hurtful.

MSNBC’S THOMAS ROBERTS [07/27/12]: If you like marriage equality and you’re for marriage equality, and you go there that day, you’re a chicken-eating Judas.

STEWART: Is there really any other kind of Judas? […]

So basically, so far, we’ve got ourselves a pretty typical culture war skirmish. Doesn’t seem enough to warrant a Million Mouth March. Until …

MSNBC’S ERIC DYSON [07/26/12]: Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is promising to block Chick-fil-A from opening a store in Boston.

RICHARD HERMAN (CNN) [07/28/12]: The mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who threatens he’s not gonna allow Chick-fil-A in Chicago.

CNN ANCHORWOMAN [07/27/12]: And now, San Francisco is telling Chick-fil-A it is not welcome.

STEWART: Oh, boy. You know how the Right’s always complaining about the government persecuting them for their beliefs, mistaking not being able to do whatever they want, whenever they want, for censorship? Uh, well, in this case, I’m pretty sure they got something. Pretty sure you can’t outlaw a company with perfectly legal business practices because you find their CEO’s views repellent. Not sure which Amendment covers that, but it’s probably in the top one.

I think maybe the mayors hadn’t thought this thing through.

BOSTON MAYOR MENINO [07/26/12]: I don’t want an individual who will continue to advocate against people’s rights, and that’s who I am, and that’s what Boston’s all about.

CHICAGO MAYOR EMANUEL: Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values.

STEWART: Oh, really? Is being against gay marriage your standard of values? Because I’m pretty sure there’s already another franchise-based anti-gay-marriage organization with branches throughout your cities you more than likely embrace. [photo of Catholic cathedral] There it is. That’s the one. Over one billion served – albeit, very small portions.

Not that the Chick-fil-A-teurs themselves […] did not have their own issues with overreach.

MIKE HUCKABEE [08/01/12]: This is a big day, not for Chick-fil-A, but for America and for people who believe that the First Amendment applies to everybody, including Christians.

STEWART: You go, Christians! And don’t you stop until there is a church in every town in America! [puts hand to ear] Oh, really? How about every block? [hand to ear again] Really? Oh well.

Look, I have no idea what actually drove people to the Chick-fil-As yesterday. Supporting the First Amendment? Great! A statement about how you’re tired of getting pushed around by the gay agenda? Lame. You really like chicken sandwiches and had no idea yesterday was Litmus Test Lunch Day?

All I know is this: If the massive culture war Armageddon we’ve been dreading for years takes the form of record one-day chicken sandwich sales, maybe everybody walks away from this a winner. The Right finally has got themselves a legitimate First Amendment gripe, and as a bonus, a fried-meat-sandwich-based protest that can also be seen as a little bit of a “[fuck] you” to a certain someone’s healthy eating initiative. [picture of Michelle Obama]

And, for people who are gay or support gay marriage, I get how seeing thousands of people come out to make this statement is incredibly disheartening. But take solace in this: Gay marriage is happening. Like many drive-thru window lanes, it ain’t going backwards. And your bonus is this: You get gay marriage, and all your political opponents are going to get is type 2 diabetes.

So, here’s my prediction. In ten years, America will have a lot more gay marriage and a lot more Chick-fil-A restaurants, because they are both quality products.

Heads and nails, all of it. The only issue is that Stewart and other critics make it sound like the problem is all about the CEO’s personal bigotry, when the fact is that the company’s corporate profits have been funneled by the millions directly towards viciously homophobic Christianist groups that actively fight against any and all forms of LGBT rights, and who even support Uganda’s “kill the gays” bill (which is currently more or less in limbo, but not defeated). I couldn’t say how many who protest Chick-fil-A’s CEO’s anti-gay stance are aware of this particular little detail, but it seems like it would bear mentioning when discussing the company’s anti-gay policy, especially given how much clearer the whole issue becomes when it’s taken into consideration.

The Chick-fil-A issue is not about free speech. It’s about an organization that is lending direct support to groups that openly call for gays and lesbians to be stripped of their rights and even thrown in jail – and overseas, outright slaughtered. Anyone who goes and buys food at Chick-fil-A in a show of solidarity isn’t a patriotic supporter of religious freedom. They’re a bigot.

Edit (08/03/12 4:06 PM ET) – Slightly edited for style.