It’s Not About Ethical Spending…It’s About Embarrassment Spending.

Several months ago Donnie expressed a belief that if he has a choice, he’d rather NOT buy something with the Nike emblem on it as long as they’re still sponsoring Michael Vick of dogfighting notoriety. He’s not getting on a soapbox about it, he just doesn’t like the taste it leaves in his mouth when he has to buy Nike stuff.

I struggled with that because I love Nike gear, it’s all I wear, so I went back to my old standby: Every company probably supports something I don’t agree with in one fashion or another. If I don’t research every dollar I spend I can’t get uppity about some of them.

Maybe this is lazy. Maybe this is spot-on. Either way, it’s how I kept buying all of my Nike gear even though they sponsored someone who used to make money fighting dogs.

It’s been my knowledge for years that Chick-fil-A – as a business – did not support Gay Rights. And while that is the one political issue I’ll actually argue with people about if I need to; I still ate there. Because A) I love their food and then my Nike reasoning B) I don’t research every dollar I spend so I can’t get uppity about some of them.

But then it became an issue EVERYONE knew about. People are talking about it on Facebook. On Twitter. In the line at Target. Everyone in the world now knows that Chick-fil-A doesn’t support Gay Rights and they are proudly proclaiming it to that world as a political stance. Cities are now banning their establishment in their borders. Entertainment conglomerates are breaking ties with them. And there are some groups promoting SUPPORT CHICK-FIL-A eat-ins to show they agree with the stance. Everyone is starting to attach those yummy chicken biscuits to anti-Gay rights. So you know what? I’m not eating there anymore.

It’s not about me Not Giving My Money To Someone I Don’t Agree With. I still stand by the fact that some corporations are so big we just don’t know how they spend their money. I can’t get self-righteous about it. No. This boycott is about something else.

This is me worried – no, TERRIFIED – that someone will think I’m against Gay Rights.

The issue of Gay Rights hits home to me as it affects several close friends and family. This is not just a bumper-sticker issue, this is a personal issue that touches my life every day. I do not, under any circumstances, want anyone to ever doubt: KIM SUPPORTS GAY RIGHTS. And now that Chick-fil-A is so public about their stance against them, I can’t take that risk. I can’t go through a drive-thru for breakfast and have even one person see me and think, “Hmm…she must not care about their stance on Gay Rights.”

It’s less about boycotting for ethical spending reasons and more about boycotting out of sheer embarrassment.

Because it is an issue close to my heart – as you all know. And thankfully, it’s an issue that is becoming more and more supported every day. If anyone thinks that in 10 years this movement is going to be more on the Chik-Fil-A side of things? They don’t understand how the fight for civil rights works. In the future, people are going to be remembered for where they stood on this issue and I want to make sure – when the day comes when my friends and family can finally marry the person they love regardless of gender – that I’m not remembered eating a chicken sandwich.

No matter how delicious it is.

Addendum: I’ve avoiding getting political here for years because I have a long tirade I like to go on about how frustrated I am with politics and government. However, I will say this: the opposing side of the Chick-fil-a issue is siding with Mike Huckabee who said something disparaging about a Mayor who makes decisions for a city based on personal disagreements with a CEO. (In reference to Boston’s Mayor publicly declaring he won’t allow Chick-fil-A in the city.) Now, I kinda agree that this is shitty. I prefer that the citizens of Boston sign a petition to keep the restaurant out, or something like that. If the Mayor of Huntsville blanketly banned a restaurant for openly supporting Gay Rights? I’d be pissed. Because – while I hate that this is true – Chick-fil-A is not doing something illegal. The CEO does not support Gay Rights, but they don’t ban gay people from eating there. Until they publicly do that, they aren’t doing anything illegal. So, while I support his political stance, I’m not sure if that’s the best way to promote it.

(SEE. Reasonable people can hear arguments from the other side and say, “Hmm….I kinda get that point.” WHY ISN’T EVERYONE REASONABLE?)

30 Comments

  • ccr in MA

    My view on this sort of thing has been like yours: I’m sure many places I spend my money aren’t using it the way I would like, but I don’t have the time/energy/whatever to thoroughly investigate every company before I spend there. The Chick-fil-A thing has been bothering me for the same reasons, too: I’m strongly pro-gay rights, but man, I love their chicken strips.

    You’re right, though: I don’t want anyone to think I’m supporting their stance just because I’m eating there. Damn it. I love those chicken strips! I guess I have to practice saying that I loved their chicken strips.

  • Swistle

    Oh, what a very interesting point. YES, I think you’re right: I think there’s a point at which things TIP from one of those two stances to another: from my usual “I am not going to be able to invest in EVERYONE’S ISSUES ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT EXISTS, or else I will never be able to buy anything ever again” to “Fine. This has become something more than that, and now there’s no longer such thing as being neutral.” It’s like when a word starts to be used as slang, and for awhile it still mostly means its original meaning, and then for awhile both meanings are appropriate, and then after awhile no one should be pretending to use the word without understanding its slang meaning as well: “definition saturation” has occurred in the culture.

  • Mary

    Well, I have friends who are gay who eat at CFA. And while I support gay rights, I don’t research where every dollar I spend goes either, and I plan to continue eating at CFA. I am a moderate conservative (socially liberal, fiscally conservative), so every time I support a political candidate, I am supporting someone who I disagree with on some issues, unless I am able to find a libertarian to support, which is not the norm where I live. I have, however, had my FB feed BLOW UP with anti-CFA stuff, so I may not check in on Foursquare when I go there to eat anymore, not because I am embarrassed but because I don’t want to start a political war on my FB wall.

    • zoot

      I really think – deep down inside – none of us can support a political candidate 100%. But in this era of extremes: REPUBLICAN or DEMOCRAT! it’s like you’re not allowed to say, “Well…I’m voting for Obama but I’m not really happy with the way he’s handled our multiple wars…” I get frustrated that liberals defend everything Obama does and and I get frustrated with conservatives defending everything Romney does. Why don’t more moderate people like us (and I’m totally NOT moderate…that’s the funny thing…I’m a die-hard liberal but NOT a Democrat) ever seem to be pundits? On the news (any channel) it always seems that HAVE to criticize ONE and support the OTHER 100%. And surely that’s not rational, right? Surely nobody supports their candidate 100%…or are there people like that? Who really do stand behind someone 100% deep down?

      ::INSERT GIANT DRAMATIC SIGH HERE::::

  • Jen W.

    I just want to applaud you for being reasonable and hearing both sides. I love the fact that you are willing and able to think through the issue and then come to a decision instead of just reacting out of emotional. Thank you!!

    • zoot

      Thank you. That’s what I get so frustrated about. I feel like all of my liberal friends are like “OBAMA IS GOD AND ROMNEY IS THE DEVIL” and the conservatives are vice versa. Suddenly everyone supports their candidate and claims salvation and their hands and damnation at the hands of the opposition. First of all – there’s no one any one extreme is ever going to make wide-sweeping changes in a country so divided. Obama didn’t make the changes I wanted so what makes me think Romney is going to be able to make his changes so easily. Why is does the political atmosphere only seem to support Candidate A = Perfection, Candidate B = Demon From Hell. Does anyone honestly believe that extreme? I mean – I’m about as liberal as they come – but even I have complaints about Obama. *sigh*

  • Erin

    You make a really, really good point here. A friend of mine just yesterday posted a big long spiel (schpiel? schpeil? speil?) on FB about how if we’re going to boycott Chik-Fil-A on this then we ought to do our research and find out which other organizations are anti-something we support. (It was actually a well-written and well-thought-out post, unlike a lot of them.) And my reply was that I would not even know where to begin doing that research, and it even if I did I do not have the time because that is an overwhelming task, to research the political stances of every company I plan to give my money to.

    I have decided not to eat at Chik-Fil-A anymore. I only ever ate there three, maybe four times a year to begin with (I always seem to want it on Sundays, and the fact that they aren’t open on Sundays is enough to make me annoyed with them anyway), so it’s not a huge loss for me. The Wendy’s Spicy Chicken is just as good as theirs.

    The reason I’ve decided not to eat there is partly what you said — I don’t want people to see me there and think that I am in support of their stance — but also that I don’t want my dollars going to a cause that I don’t support. (On Twitter recently, @dashoff said something to the effect of “Every time I go in there, I fight the urge to say ‘This $5 goes tot he electric bill only, okay?'”)

    I feel like fast food makes me feel physically gross enough without tacking on the emotional/mental squick factor of giving money to a company that may in turn pass it to anti-gay groups. I’ll stick with plain old indigestion, thanks.

    • zoot

      HA! Love the “My money goes to the electric bill, okay?” type of sentiment. And yeah – I’m too lazy to research it but if they’re going to be public about it? I will probably let it influence my decision. But I would NEVER presume to act as though we should – as consumers – research every dollar we spend. WHO HAS THE TIME? I’m too busy catching up on my TV, jeez.

  • Heather@YSP

    Frankly, for me there are only a few really big issues that strike a chord with me, and gay rights just happens to be one of them, so I’ll be avoiding CFA. Also, it doesn’t hurt that it was one of the only fast food place I still went to, thus saving me a lot of calories and fat by not eating there anymore.

  • Christina

    I would also like to mention that Chick-fil-A not only does not support gay rights but pushes a VERY strong specific religious agenda. I do believe that we as consumers have a strength that we tend to ignore. Honestly if everyone was more aware and worked harder to be aware of what we as consumers are buying we frankly could change things. The same goes for politics. Unfortunately, it is hard to know what the masses are doing so we tend to stick to our own myopic worlds (my own myopic world is included in that statement, I am guilty of sticking my head in the proverbial sand as well!)

    Here is a good example. I personally think there should be more stringent gun control in the US. I was astounded the other day to hear that the sales of guns/gun permits in the state of CO went UP the days after the Aurora shooting. I thought surely people would see what is broken in this system. That someone could get a permit and quickly develop a killing arsenal because there are no good federal/state regulations in place. Another good example is buying products that are made outside of the US. We all do it because Old Navy has $12 shorts and those same shorts made in the US would cost like two or three times that and I would prefer to spend $12 on the shorts made in foreign country than the ones made in the US because it makes sense in our budget. However, we as a nation complain about the loss of jobs and money to these countries yet we do not want to pay more to keep the jobs from going overseas. These are, I believe, Catch-22 situations. Change is hard. At any rate, I digress.

    With all of that said and I do not wish to sound preachy and I probably do {SORRY} because I like what you have to say and I am not any better. I am vaguely aware of things like I do not shop at Hobby Lobby and for years avoided Target because guess what they used to have same sex relationship troubles as well. I have never ever eaten Chick-fil-A but it had to do with health more than religion. Upon finding out more about the company, I felt good about not supporting them. I cannot, of course, only go out and find left wing liberal companies to support because that would frankly get tiresome and frustrating and expensive! I am always glad when the greater public is more aware of things like this, a hot button topic if you will. It makes it easier to know about the choices we make and we can either eat there OR we cannot. Both ways we are aware of the corporate culture and we have choices to make, you know?!

  • Clancy

    I could have written this whole post, except for the fact that I have no cause to buy running gear. This is definitely our civil rights movement, and I want to be able to look back in 20 years and tell my kids that we were ardent supporters of marriage equality from the beginning.

    The only thing I would add to this post is that, GAH, my kids love CFA. It is the ONLY restaurant in our town with a play area, and they love that and the food. I’m not sure I can promise to boycott it entirely.

  • Kelli Oliver George

    You are creeping me out! Because this is exactly the direction I am heading in. I don’t know if you remember, but we had a conversation about this awhile back and I appreciated your general stance on boycotting companies. Because in reality, most companies are probably endorsing someone or investing in something in which I don’t personally believe.

    However, like you, This Chik-fil-A stance rubbed me the wrong way. It is one thing for a company to support groups with which I don’t agree. It is another thing for a CEO to publicly declare “we don’t like these people and don’t want them in our restaurant and we don’t care what you think about it”.

    I have started the talk with my kids about why we won’t eat at Chik-fil-A any longer. They don’t quite understand it yet, but I think it is important to show them what taking a stand again intolerance and hatred involves.

    Because for me, it is not “gay” rights. It is about Evan’s rights, Ken’s rights, John’s rights, Doug’s rights, ETC that is being trumped upon.

  • meowmix

    I’m not sure why everyone loves their chicken sandwiches so much. Everytime I’ve tried one, I sat there wishing it was a Wendy’s spicy chicken instead. Burger King also has an awesome chicken sandwich now. I do like CFA’s nuggets, but we had already pretty much stopped going there because the cost of enough nuggets to fill up my family of 5 is crazy! I was pleased the company was open about their Christian values (since I am a Christian) but oh so embarrassed they’ve taken this stance on “traditional marriage.” I can’t figure out why some people think human rights don’t extend to all humans. No, CFA isn’t banning gays from eating in their restaurants, but they do want to continue banning them from getting married and that isn’t ok. That’s discrimination, plain and simple.

    • zoot

      Heeee. I love that you led with the debate on their quality of food. Because – let’s be honest – that’s my biggest issue. If I didn’t like their food it wouldn’t matter! I’m a big fan of their chicken BISCUITS b/c the chicken is good (I don’t like the spicy stuff much) and the biscuit? AMAZING. I also love their waffle fries. SIGH.

  • meowmix

    Oh, and KFC has new Original Recipe Bites and they are yummy! Very similar to CFA nuggets, just a little more KFC flavor.

  • melaniek

    I certainly get it, I am ALL for gay rights I find it deplorable that I have to vote for elections where my FISCAL beliefs either have to be ignored or my social stances do it makes me ill EVERY.SINGLE.VOTE and yet I go, I vote and no matter which side of the aisle I choose I feel like I sold my soul… and that is a very shitty feeling. That said, I am pissed off about selective boycotting, I am mad as hell at the boy-scout organization, but recognize that its not the boys in the scouts that are the problem..its the cowardly men running the show, yet without hurting those boys (by boycotting the organization) can we affect change??? I honestly don’t know…. but chick-fil-a does a lot of things right as a company too (can anyone give me a fast food joint with better customer service, or more respectful employees?), but because they are religiously run and apparently everyone is SHOCKED that a BAPTIST run organization believes marriage is between a man and woman we are waging consumer warfare on them….. which tells me that I apparently I can never run a company. I am Catholic and while I wish with everything I have that my faith would get out of the dark ages, it hasn’t but I see good things in my fellow parishioners and I cannot leave the Catholic faith because at the end of the day I still feel like my faith makes ME better. I rarely ever go to Chick-fil-a, but I again am left with a really shitty feeling, I have to boycott.. lest I look like I hate gays, and yet it pisses me off that we are pretty selective about our boycotting…. we would rather boycott against someone’s right to believe something than boycott that its hard as hell to buy anything made in this country. *sigh* apparently buying made in communist China is a better option than eating at a Baptist-run organization. I just can’t wrap my head around it all

    • Kelli Oliver George

      Zoot isn’t calling for a nation-wide boycott. She is just explaining why in this particular case, she will be choosing to spend her money elsewhere.

      No one is surprised that Chik-Fil-A is religious or Baptist or even that they support anti-gay efforts. I, however, was surprised at the intolerance in Dan Cathy’s WORDS, his actual quotes. I am not comfortable with my money going toward something like that.

    • zoot

      Man – I get SO frustrated with official “boycotting” because I feel the same way – there are so many other businesses that are unethical that deserve that official “boycotting” type of movement. Hence why I don’t want to take a political stand against not eating there. Just a personal “I don’t want you to misinterpret my mean choices” type of stance.

      As a society right now, the political atmosphere seems to be all about OUTRAGE and EXCLAMATIONS and nothing big ever actually gets changed. I try to do a lot of buying/eating local at small business, just as a personal decision, and sometimes I wonder if people did that, just individually tried to make more conscious decisions, if things would get better without these widespread EVERYONE RAGE ABOUT THIS ISSUE type of movements.

  • suz

    I live right outside of Boston, and work a stone’s throw from the Mayor’s office. I am a strong supporter of gay rights, and I think nothing less than equal marriage rights is acceptable.

    I went to college in Virginia, and lived in Birmingham for a couple of years. Since I left the south in 1996, Chik-fil-A was on the top of the list of “Things I Missed” (along side Johnny Ray’s lemon pie). Last summer, we went on vacation and spent some time in Virginia, and ate at Chik-fil-A every chance we got, despite my anti-fast-food and vegetarian teens protesting from the back seat (and they didn’t eat anything). I knew last year, when I ate there, that they were very conservative, and likely were anti-gay.

    Like you, I wouldn’t eat there now, even if they were in my state/city. Maybe it’s because of the publicity, maybe it’s because of the clarity of the statement. If Cuddy had made those statements and it wasn’t picked up by the national media but I knew about them, I think I would still refuse them my business. It’s one thing to “wonder”, it’s another thing to know.

    But I do want to say – Mayor Menino’s letter to the company didn’t say “I won’t allow you in my city.” He said “I urge you to reconsider your plans,” followed by a very strong paragraph about his – and Boston/Massachusetts’ – commitment to equality. I think he could have a little less nasty, but I applaud his clarity.

    • zoot

      Thank you for the clarification, I apologize for my generalization/paraphrasing πŸ™‚ And I do applaud his stance! I’m just wishing the opposing side wasn’t playing the whole, “SEE! Government interfering with capitalism!” card. BAH. I don’t like giving the opposition rational arguments to use. ::sigh::

      I’ll say, I haven’t eaten there much in years since I heard they donated to anti-gay marriage efforts. But, I did still eat there b/c it’s just SO GOOD and I told myself that most people didn’t read political sites like I did and probably didn’t know their stance. That’s probably pretty shitty of me, isn’t it? πŸ™‚ To try to claim plausible deniability just so I could eat their yummy chicken biscuits? πŸ˜‰

      Thanks for commenting/clarifying!

      • suz

        I’m not going to say it’s shitty, because I did the same thing last summer! The whole thing is very sad, because it is soooo yummy! If it weren’t for all of this, I’d be thrilled to hear that they were thinking of coming to Boston. Apparently, the site they were looking at is right across the street from my office.

  • -R-

    Well, this is the big liberal government part of me, but I do think that government already does and should continue to interfere in capitalism. =)

    I like to think that I would boycott Chick Fil A, but the only one here is at the airport, so it’s pretty easy. When I went to Texas a few years ago, I did eat at Chick Fil A because I don’t otherwise have the chance, even though I know the company has principles I disagree with, and I was disappointed. The food was just ok.

  • EmilysHollow

    I am very (very) liberal. My life doesn’t always reflect this, though, because it’s not always feasible. If I could, I would only shop local, sustainable, organic, whatever. But we’re a single income home and can’t afford it. Also? My kid likes mass produced plastic trucks and fishy crackers. So. But, like you and many others, Gay rights is a HUGE issue for me and many around me, so CFA is out. (Not that I have a choice, we don’t have one!) But it also has as much to do with their pushy religious beliefs than their politics, because I’m petulant like that. πŸ™‚

  • Jackie

    I agree that I can’t research every company so I’m not going to boycott one just because their stance is public. Also, I have opinions and the leadership at CFA has opinions and we are entitled to them. That that doesn’t mean that CFA’s opinion is the opinion of every worker, franchise owner or customer that goes there.

    I had someone on Facebook say they were going to boycott all Pepsi Co brands because they used a portion of an aborted fetus to do some research (I don’t remember all the details). Anyway, that is a lie. If you go to the PepsiCo brand website there are 100’s of brands owned by them. Are you going to take a list to the store and check every item you place in your cart or ask every restaurant if any product used is from Pepsi? No, so don’t say it if you don’t mean it.

    I went to CFA this weekend and it was PACKED as it always is. They aren’t hurting for business and I never looked around and thought…oh, these people think the same way CFA does. There were so many people there that I would bet a lot of money that there was a gay or lesbian person eating there. I bet their chicken sandwich still tasted good. πŸ™‚

  • Alex

    “If anyone thinks that in 10 years this movement is going to be more on the Chik-Fil-A side of things? They donÒ€ℒt understand how the fight for civil rights works.”

    This is an excellent sentiment. Bravo.

  • Terri S.

    This is one of those times I am happy that I MOSTLY can’t eat Chic Fil A’s food. The only thing I can stomach without getting sick is the chicken salad sandwich so I rarely ever eat there (thanks to whatever grease they cook their food in). Not hard for me to boycott someplace I never eat at anway. πŸ™‚

  • The World Is My Cuttlefish

    If they were in Australia, I wouldn’t be eating there either. I hope they stay out – we’re having enough of a battle with our politicians (and others) as it is without companies inciting further fear of whatever it is these people fear.

  • kelly

    I agree with you completely. Everyone regardless of orientation has a right to marry if they choose. Chic fil a is stupid for saying what they did because a) doesnt matter if they like it or not and b)they’re just gonna lose business by thinking their antiquated opinion will make a difference (other than costing them money).
    I walked by one the other day, and I hadn’t eaten all day, but I kept walking and ate hospital cafeteria food just so no one would see me there.