You’ve probably seen Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s letter to Chick-fil-A floating around the web today, declining the chain a location in Boston’s commercial landscape:
“There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.”
There’s also a lot of squawking about free speech on behalf of Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy, who made the homophobic comments that kicked off the shit storm. Those people, the free-speechers, are right. He can voice his opinions and beliefs, and some might even say, as a business leader and community leader, he should.
But, and this harkens back to Daniel Tosh’ internet beating last week, being free to speak your mind is not the same as being free from criticism once you do so. Would I support Chick-fil-A protesters throwing rocks through the storefront window or threatening Cathy? No, of course not. Do I think they should have their licenses revoked due to his personal beliefs? Of course not. That said, say something bigoted, and people may choose to take their business elsewhere.
There are trade-offs to be made, here, right? Between supporting our values with our dollars and living a pragmatic, practical, convenient life. I struggle with clothes shopping for this reason, but we all have to make these decisions every day. How much and at what cost are you willing to compromise?
There’s a gender studies concept called the “patriarchal bargain” in which women (and men) play into gender stereotypes for the sake of their own personal advantage, undermining the overall cause of equality. If Kim Kardashian makes millions playing a hot ditz on television, who cares if she detracts from society’s perception of women and their value? We all make patriarchal bargains any time we choose to adhere to gender stereotypes to make life easier (shaving my armpits, wearing mascara, letting a man pay for my drink), it’s just of question a degrees.
The Chick-fil-A question asks us about our willingness to make a similar bargain, an “I’m-a-real-world-consumer bargain”. If I buy a sandwich at Subway instead of Chick-fil-A today, does it matter? What percentage of my purchase would be supporting, even in the vaguest sense, anti-gay advocacy? 3 cents? 8 cents? How much do I care to not drop 3 cents in an bigotry bucket?
On the other hand, the more successful Chick-fil-A becomes, the bigger platform we give Dan Cathy from which to voice his homophobic beliefs.
Related Post: More from MA: How I wish the Brown/Warren debate had gone down.
Related Post: Kelly Ripa on gendered dating assumptions.