Thursday, September 20, 2012

Can we end this “controversy” now?!?

We got the encore this week to what may well be the ‘stupid’ scandal of the summer. Anybody else remember Chick-fil-A?
MORENO: Back in the news because of pollo

All across the country, government officials have been expressing their opposition to the chicken chain, which is an Atlanta-based company whose owners like to claim they believe in morals, decency and respect – but go out of their way to express hateful attitudes toward gay people.

THEY MAY HAVE the right to think such thoughts. But what arouses the ire of many people is the way this particularly company’s management likes to use its financial muscle to push for politicians who will promote their warped ideals.

So naturally, when the company decided it was going to start trying to set up their franchises in Chicago, it was all too likely that one of our local officials would take offense.

That came in the form of 1st Ward Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno, who decided that he didn’t want the company locating a store in the portion of the Logan Square neighborhood that lies within his ward.

He went after the Chick-fil-A people, claiming their views didn’t represent those of Chicagoans. For a short while, he even had Mayor Rahm Emanuel on his side.

BUT THEN, THE ideologues came crawling out of the woodwork, and this whole issue seriously devolved to the level of stupidity.

The same people who made a point of deliberately eating at Chick-fil-A franchises because the food is “delicious, and non-gay” (their words, not mine) took up the cause of “freedom of expression.”

They wanted someone to be permitted to express such nonsense-talk. Which may well be within their right – we do have the right to be wrong.

But what I never understood about the way this turned into a crusade to shut Moreno up was the idea that, somehow, Chick-fil-A was entitled to the “last” word.

AS THOUGH THE company could not be challenged on their beliefs. That is pure nonsense. Freedom of expression really means that we can devolve into a batch of whiners with everybody expressing their thoughts equally.

Any other belief is just downright un-American – which is what I think of the people who are going to be determined to believe that Moreno “lost” this brawl, which hopefully is now resolved on account of the fact that the company has come up with some sort of statement that will be interpreted by some as a shift in their attitudes on the issue of gay marriage and homosexuality.

The statement, supposedly sent to all franchises from the corporate headquarters, tells the managers that they’re not to disrespect anyone based on sexual orientation. It also says the company’s not-for-profit foundation will stop giving financial contributions to groups that oppose gay couples being able to marry.

In exchange for that, Moreno says he’ll now stand back and do nothing to thwart a Chick-fil-A franchise from setting up in his neighborhood. Although one of the "golden" rules of the "Chicago Way" of doing things is that aldermen reign supreme over what goes on in their wards.

PERSONALLY, I THINK the statement is cheap talk. I read the rhetoric and wonder what the loophole is that will still allow for hostility toward gay people and support for those who act against them.

Will it literally be just the company’s executives making private contributions to the politicians of their choice? This may not change anything. Which would make the whole summer’s worth of flare-ups a whole lot of rants about nothing!

Personally, I was glad when this story withered away in the news cycle during the summer. Having it crop up again this week is kind of annoying. Because I don’t think of a Chick-fil-A store as a place worth much attention either way. The one time I ate there (a store in Springfield, Ill., that no longer exists), I was distinctly unimpressed with my sandwich.

The one good thing I can think of coming out of all this is that we can quit thinking of Chick-fil-A as being a place to make a political statement, and can go back to thinking of it as merely a franchise that serves mediocre food.


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