Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Your Burger Or Your Beliefs?

Chik-fil-A, a seller of delicious chicken sandwiches and milkshakes has come under a storm of controversy this week for admitting that they support “traditional marriage”, and donating to anti-LGBT groups. 
The president of the business has said, “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. We operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that.”

This has caused many groups and politicians to condemn the business.  Boston mayor Tom Menino has stated that You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult — unless they open up their policies.”  Even the Muppets joined in, as the Henson company announced on their Facebook page that it would be severing its relationship with Chik-fil-A, and donating any further money it received from them to GLAAD.  

Many ordinary people are now boycotting the Chik-fil-A, and urging other people to boycott them as well.  Should we boycott companies based on their beliefs?  It was already well known before the announcement that Chik-fil-A was a fundamentalist Christian company.  The company stores were not even open on Sundays, so they paid more than lip service to the tenets of the Bible, despite the hit to their bottom line.  This knowledge did not stop me from enjoying a nice milkshake there every once in a while. 

But now I feel as if I can’t go there any more.  What has changed?  I guess the sure knowledge that my money is going to groups who are actively working to ensure discrimination against LGBTs.  Yet I still go to Cracker Barrel and Panera Bread on occasion, despite their direct involvement in racial discrimination.  I also still shop at Target, despite some questionable donations on their part.  Am I big hypocrite?  Do these personal little boycotts make any difference?  Who do you boycott and why?


  1. I try to put my money where my mouth is. That's easier when it's about things that don't block me from stuff I like. I haven't had Dominos in years because of the company's relationship with Operation Rescue. I like Dominos pizza. But we found Papa John's, so it's okay. I do occasionally feel like I should try harder to buy things made in America. If our trade laws didn't suck so badly it would be a lot easier to do that. I love Target, and when you have two small kids and a limited amount of shopping time it is so incredibly handy to have one big store with everything. But almost nothing there is made in America. That sucks.

    To continue this train of thought, though, my mom brought up Woody Allen yesterday. Now, I have never liked Woody Allen movies, I find him pretentious and sexist. But on top of that, I really don't want to give him money after he had an affair with and then married his stepdaughter. And I don't watch Roman Polanski movies, for the similar reason. I spent a long time not listening or buying anything Michael Jackson did, until after he died. Then I splurged on a lot of his music.

    I'm inconsistent, but generally driven by when what I know about the producer makes me feel bad to buy the product.

    What about you?

  2. Mandi asked does it do any good to boycott a company with policies you disagree. Good, meaning actually getting the company to change? Probably not, unless you get a huge number of like-minded people to do the same. But maybe it does your soul good, if it assuages your conscience, or causes you to think more about an issue, or leads you to take more care with regard to spending and consumerism.

    I don't boycott, partly because I'm lazy, and partly because I prefer more direct avenues for activism, and partly because it would be a tremendous job given how many companies I am involved with via spending money. And what would I do if a particular store or company is pro something I agree with but also pro something I abhor?

  3. I'm more along beadgirl's lines when it comes to economic activism. If something becomes known to me, and I have a deep reaction, then I will try to avoid the company/product/artist. So I'll probably avoid Chik-fil-A as a general rule. I also avoid Woody Allen films, his family still hasn't forgiven him, why should I? I hypocritically enough, do not, and never did, avoid Michael Jackson music. I rationalize that he has denied all charges, has never been found guilty, and he makes really good music. I try to avoid Chris Brown, but since that guy seems everywhere, I mostly try to avoid things where he's in there in too big of a dose. I am inconsistent as well, which does make me feel a little guilty, as well as ineffective.

  4. Oh, and now Chik-fil-A has been caught using fake accounts on Facebook to try to bolster its image:

  5. That's pretty darn lame. Honestly, doing that would potentially drive more young people away than even the anti-gay stance, because it's so very uncool.

    I totally agree that economic boycotting is only effective if lots of people do it. But I still think it matters, where you put your money. I guess I view it like environmentalism, which is to say: I'm not perfect - I eat meat, I use disposable diapers - and that's not going to change (well, hopefully the "baby" will potty train soon, so that will stop the diaper use). But everything I manage to do is better than doing nothing, so I try to push myself to do more.

  6. I boycott all fast food restaurants everywhere. This kind of controversy is to distract patrons from thinking about the kind of crap "food" served at these establishments.

  7. That's probably healthier, but maybe less delicious :-)