When Rightbloggers Tell You the Battle of Chick-fil-A Isn't About Gay Rights, It's About Gay Rights
In years to come, rightbloggers will tell their grandchildren many stories of the glorious summer of twenty-twelve. They'll tell 'em how they warned America about the socialist menace of the Olympics. They'll tell 'em how, in the wake of the Aurora shooting, they defended assault weapons against Democrat gun-grabbers. They'll tell 'em how they revealed the newly-deceased Andy Griffith to be nothing but a shill for Obamacare.
But their proudest tale will probably be about the Battle of Chick-fil-A, in which rightbloggers showed their hunger for freedom (or contempt for homosexuals, take your pick) by eating chicken sandwiches.
Dan Cathy, President of CfA, has made no bones about his feelings on gay marriage. "I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about," he said in an interview. Also: "We are very much supportive of the family--the biblical definition of the family unit."
When this got around, some schools, like Bowling Green State and Northeastern, decided to keep CfA off their campuses. Evangelicals like Denny Burk complained this was "intolerant" (i.e., a decision by stakeholders that did not go their way), as well as a sign of "more open opposition to Christian teaching on human sexuality." "Rump-Rider Sycophants Removing Chick-fil-a from College Campuses," said Doctor Bulldog and Ronin. "Nothing like the hypocrisy inherent in the much touted 'all-inclusive,' Liberal academic world excluding those who are of a different opinion."
Ed Helms from the Hangover films tweeted, "Chick-fil-A doesn't like gay people? So lame. Hate to think what they do to gay chickens! Lost a loyal fan." At the Washington Examiner, Thomas Valadez called Helms "gender confused," said he "never had a very good physique," and reasoned, "boycotting a restaurant for being anti-gay seems like a contradiction. They are intolerant to gays, and Helms is intolerant to their intolerance."
If you were confused by the idea that not eating a certain brand of junk food is intolerant, libertarian* Nick Gillespie at Reason offered to set you, as it were, straight: While he admitted that "libertarians believe in 'disciplining through the market' - in refusing to do business with folks who annoy you," he suggested CfA might be different for some reason: "Is the Chick-fil-A ban a modern-day instance of that? Or is it political correctness run amok?" he asked. "And finally: Why am I jonesing for chicken for lunch today and it's not even 10am?" (* "libertarian," for the uninitiated, means "conservative with social anxieties.")
Soon private citizens began to lose faith in CfA. Sensitive junk-food lovers offered their own "Chick-fil-Gay" alternative home recipes for the CfA chicken sandwich.
At this stage only a small cadre of rightbloggers were taking up the cause. Even when the Muppets pulled out of CfA (and were replaced with the Berenstain Bears, though it looks like they might not last there either), they didn't get into it. The real world couldn't give a shit.
But then some Democratic officials decided they'd try and get a piece of this anti-CfA action.
Boston Mayor Tom Menino wrote CfA a letter, saying, "I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston," and that it would be an "insult" to gay people "and to our city's long history of expanding freedom to have a Chick-fil-A across the street" from City Hall. He added later that "if they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult unless they open up their policies."
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said "Chick-fil-A's values are not Chicago values... if you're gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values," and Chicago alderman Joe Moreno moved to block a franchise from opening in Logan Square. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee tweeted, "Closest #ChickFilA to San Francisco is 40 miles away & I strongly recommend that they not try to come any closer." Etc.
Statements like these from public officials are basically threats, and folks like Glenn Greenwald, the ACLU, and Mother Jones' Kevin Drum jumped all over the offending pols. So did Barney Frank and Mike Bloomberg. Menino ("I make mistakes all the time") and Emanuel through his spokesperson ("[Emanuel] did not say that he would block or play any role in the company opening a new restaurant here") backed off. It now seems unlikely anything except consumer disinterest will block those franchises now.
But another politician, former GOP Presidential candidate and anti-gay crusader Mike Huckabee, saw his opening and called for a National Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. To protest "those on the left" who "make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity," said Huckabee, he asked his godly followers, not to "make signs, speeches, or openly demonstrate," but only that they prove their devotion to the cause by "simply showing up and eating at Chick Fil-A" on August 1.
To normal people, this may seem weird -- eat a chicken sandwich in protest? But on the peculiar terms of rightblogger politics, it was a brilliant idea, because it gave the brethren the best of both worlds.
First, as with their "Human Achievement Day" schtick (in which they claimed anyone who used power on Earth Day was thereby joining their protest against environmentalism), they could claim anyone who ate at CfA that day was protesting with them.
Second, they could forthrightly show support for CfA without having to mention gay marriage -- they could just say it was about freedom, and wink.
Of course, many of the brethren couldn't help themselves, and went there anyway, portraying the Battle of Chick-fil-A as a struggle between liberty and homosexuality.
Fox News' Todd Starnes tweeted that "a Chick-fil-A sandwich" was "the best defense anti-Christian, anti-Chicken, leftwing, heterophobic bigots."
"Chick-fil-A Latest Example of How Same-Sex Marriage Threatens Religious Freedom," roared Thomas Messner of the Heritage Foundation. "Boy Scouts of America has lost equal access to public facilities and programs because of its position on open homosexuality... This is precisely what is happening right now to Chick-fil-A."
At NewsMax, GOP direct mail king Richard Viguerie announced that the Battle of Chick-fil-A proved that "the Democratic Party has now, once and for all, dropped all pretense of respecting the values held by tens of millions of American Christians and has instead launched a concerted attack to undermine those values in favor of the radical homosexual agenda."
"The gay marriage movement isn't just arguing with its opponents; it's pathologizing them," claimed Ross Douthat at the New York Times, who also thought that gay marriage had advanced not by convincing straights that gays had rights, but by "inducing people who haven't really changed their mind to simply give up the fight."
At Hot Air, Rob Bluey told us it was the liberals who were intolerant, because "when the company's top spokesman died unexpectedly last week, one liberal friend of mine declared on Facebook, 'Oh, karma, you crafty bitch.'" Oh, wait, he had more -- Mark Regnerus' study claiming children suffered from having same-sex parents was torn to pieces, not, as most of us thought, because the study was shoddy and compromised, but because "activists" -- you know the kind he's talking about -- "sought to destroy his credibility and banish him from public discourse." Also, the Boy Scouts.
So how'd Appreciation Day go? Rightblogger estimates were between fifty and a hundred kabillion in sales. CfA, natch, said it set a sales record, though it declined to release figures. 600,000 people said on Facebook that they'd go -- and, given that they were promising to visit a fast food restaurant, we believe them.
"80% of the folks at the tables [at the food court] were sporting Chick-fil-A bags. Taco Bell and Sbarro's shared the rest of the tables, it seemed, with Five Guys, a very popular Washington area burger chain," reported Robert Morrison of the Family Research Council. "'I've had enough of those 'gaystapo tactics,' we heard one diner say."
"The Chick-fil-A controversy has no doubt been polarizing in some corners of the country," said Mark Hemingway of the Weekly Standard, "but the undeniable success of yesterday's nationwide rally to support the fast food chain means we're likely to remember August 1, 2012 as Silent Majority Day." Put it in your calendars, rightbloggers, along with Victory Over Ground Zero Mosque Day, Discovery of the WMDs Day (pending), and Marco Rubio's Birthday.
Hemingway claimed the scene at his CfA included "enough different races for a Benetton ad." It is regrettable that he included no photos that would support this, as the many rightblogger photo albums of crowded CfAs are pretty honky-intensive. (There were a few black folk on board, though. Tea Party mascot Lloyd Marcus said he explained the situation to his father, who went from supporting the boycott to denouncing it, Marcus revealed: "The Bible says homosexuality is wrong. He must stand on the Word of God. Patriots, my excitement was overwhelming.")
Hemingway also said "a number of gay Americans noted their support of Chick-fil-A"; maybe he was talking about Gay Patriot B. Daniel Blatt, the poor fellow whose job is to serve as gay back-up for everything rightbloggers do. (See Blatt's "I bought Chick-fil-A's product; I didn't buy its owner's politics," and this account of how he took two gay friends to CfA and "Chris soon arrived and we hugged, right in front of Chick-fil-A. No one insulted us." Maybe they thought it was a bro hug.)
"One might actually start to believe that the majority of the country's population still supports Christian values, not just 'a small bigoted minority,'" cheered The Crescat at Pantheos. "We're here. We're Christian. Get Over It."
Especially Jesus-juiced about Appreciation Day was Father Dwight Longenecker, a Pantheos writer who reeeeally doesn't like gay people -- here's a column in which he tells us gay marriage advocates seek, at the behest of Satan, to "destroy the sacred, the beautiful and the true"; here's another in which he likens "homoexualists and perverts" to "Nazi zombies." (If you go for this sort of thing, here's a bonus Longenecker column on sodomy.)
Longenecker called CfA Appreciation Day "historic because it marks a new method of mass protest" which did not involve "unwashed crowds of unhappy people holding a sit in" or "sullen adolescents in a stroppy mood" (which would make it very different from any fast-food joint we've ever been in). He also compared the Appreciation to "Gandhi and the American civil rights movement," "the Solidarity movement in Poland," and "the revolution of Cory Aquino in the Phillipines, and numerous other smaller scale non-violent revolutions in Africa and Central and South America," because that they, too, had been "inspired by the people and for the people... working from the grass roots upward to change their society for the better."
He added that the protesters "were not scary people like the folks from Westboro Baptist who tote guns and hate homos," which suggests to us that even the most diehard homophobes can be housebroken for special occasions when the PR opportunities are good.
Rick Santorum cheered the protest, as "the chain has been under intense fire in the national media after its CEO publicly said he believes in the biblical view of family."
Some of the brethren couldn't even bother to drive to their local CfA, but assured their readers they were there in spirit.
Quin Hillyer of The American Spectator couldn't make the scene, but promised, "I'll make sure to go at least twice next week and twice the week after and twice the week after that -- in other words, three times more often than usual." Greater love hath no man -- except maybe Steven Hayward of Power Line who, since his nearest Chick-fil-A was "closed for the month, since school is out of session," did "the next best thing: I rotisseried a chicken myself on the grill. It was yummy."
Lest you mock these as ridiculous gestures, Sgt. Mom of Chicago Boyz will have you know that "those people who came out in 100+ heat to stand in line and jam the premises of a chicken sandwich franchise are the ones who will indeed stand in line to vote." And it's certainly not like they were going to vote Republican before this -- and there are hundreds of thousands of them!
To stretch the whole ordeal out longer, some gay marriage advocates arranged an August 3 "Kiss-In" at CfA -- or, as Moonbattery put it, "militant sickos are planning to attack Chick-fil-A by ruining its customers' appetites with in-your-face displays of nauseating perversion." These were not very well-attended, which rightbloggers took to mean that hets rule and homos drool.
"'Kiss-in' is activist intolerance," said Pat Boone -- yes, that Pat Boone -- at the Washington Times. Boone reckoned that the "very distasteful kiss-in show" was "designed to turn customers away and damage the business. This is a classic example of the Saul Alinsky leftist (some say communist) method." See, you can teach an old dog new tricks!
Doug Giles of TownHall laughed at the "homo faux pas" and asked, "what's up with this BS that we've got to agree with someone's view of gay sex before we can buy or sell chicken sandwiches?" as if it had anything to do with anything.
Pictures of protesters at a Hollywood, California CfA were posted by Zombie, a rightblogger enterprise specializing in posting pictures of obstreperous protestors and holding them up to the jeers of the brethren. (Here's a lovely example from 2007 which made rightblogger Ace of Spades threaten to boycott Miller beer because he saw "leatherboys" serving it). The gay-friendly folks' jokes were not funny to Zombie ("'Eat More Carpet,'" they read off one sign. "Is this a carpet-munching protest, or a kiss-in?"), but the actual gay kissing was ("Not sloppy enough. More sloppiness!").
"HERE ARE THE 7 PICTURES FROM THE CHICK-FIL-A 'KISS-IN' PROTEST THAT YOU MAY OR MAY NOT WANT TO SEE," piggy-backed Mytheos Holt at Glenn Beck's The Blaze. "Be warned," said Holt, "some of these may include disturbing language and/or concepts." He might have meant the "Jesus Was a Cunt" t-shirt, or he might have meant ooh-gross-guys-kissing; judging from their readers' comments ("All that hair looks like two ends kissing ..... watch out for that fart"), we'd say both.
When some protesters at his CfA chanted, "Hey hey, ho ho, homophobia has got to go," DaTechGuy chanted back, "Hey hey, ho ho, Christophobia has got to go." He added, "For some odd reason this expression of the same first amendment rights they were exercising didn't sit will with them." By this DaTechGuy appeared to mean that when he harangued the protesters and tried to take their picture, they didn't like it. "Oddly enough," he noted, "they seemed to have no problem giving interviews to others."
DaTechGuy then claimed the gays were scared of his fedora and had a laugh over that: "First the scourge of AIDS had decimated the gay community 30 years ago, and now a new malady had reared it's ugly head... A malady called Fedoraphobia!" Well, it's probably funnier if you hate homosexuals.
"The juxtaposition of these two protests made very clear which view is mainstream, and which view is fringe," said Ed Morrissey of Hot Air. Nonetheless some of the brethren fretted that the Kiss-In was getting more coverage from the hated MSM than their fast food fiesta had received. "L.A. TIMES: Chick-fil-A 'Kiss in' protest small compared to appreciation day," linked Instapundit Glenn Reynolds. "But it got more media coverage, I think." "Chick-Fil-A Kiss-In: Smaller Crowds, Bigger Media Coverage?" asked Patterico's Pontifications.
In our world, this makes no sense. CfA Appreciation Day was heavily covered in the mainstream media -- by CBS, NBC, ABC, Yahoo, CNN (as PoliPundit had it, "even CNN was forced to report it"), and local TV reports all over the country. No one missed that a lot of people went to CfA.
But something you have to understand about rightbloggers is that they are subject to violent mood-swings, and vacillate between delusions of grandeur and persecution mania: One moment they're winning everything, and the next they're being held down by sinister forces.
So though they'd been high-fiving each other until their palms chapped (or it just felt too gay), and Rush Limbaugh was telling them that CfA Appreciation Day was a harbinger of a Romney election victory ("I'll tell you what's gonna happen on November 6th. Obama's gonna get Chick-fil-A'd himself"), and TV pastor Rick Warren assured them that CfA "set a world record today" ("there are many reports of huge lines outside the stores," confirmed Daniel Halper of the Weekly Standard) -- rightbloggers still weren't happy. They knew who was to blame. And this time it wasn't the gays! (Well, except by overlap.)
"CBS Evening News Ignores Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day," cried Paul Wilson at NewsBusters. "...Update: CBS This Morning did cover the events at Chick-fil-A."
"Mainstream Media Blacks Out Chick-fil-A Story?" asked Michael Warren at the Weekly Standard, troubled that news of a bunch of people eating at CfA did not appear "on the front pages of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune," et alia. (The Wall Street Journal? Even Rupert Murdoch! They're all in on it!)
Eventually Warren's mood swung back to optimism: "The Newseum's collection of the top ten newspaper covers from around the country seems to recognize the biggest national news story of the day," he documented. Plus "the papers covering the story aren't just located in the South, Chick-fil-A's regional base; smaller papers from Colorado, Ohio, New York, and California were all over the story." Those are important electoral college states.
"Media Blacked Out Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day," echoed Ace of Spades. "The last place -- not the first place, not the second, not the sixth -- you'd want to go to find coverage of news is an American newspaper or an American news broadcast. They're not in the business of news any longer..."
So, why do you care, then, one might reasonably ask? Spades nonetheless went on for hundreds of words about it: "The news media seem to be employing the fashionista's sense of style and taste," he cried, "the fashionista's overwrought, half-kidding concealing of her eyes and exclamation of 'I do not see that!' when confronted with a dress not to her liking -- to the news." Like a girl!
Over at Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds worried: "I'm actually afraid that the mainstream media will push the marriage angle..." Now where would they get that idea?
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.