Don’t balk at Cathy, just ‘eat more chikin’

By Joe Nolan, Opinions Editor

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When the “news” came out that Chick-fil-A supported the traditional definition of marriage, dissenting CHS students biting into the restaurant chain’s iconic chicken sandwich found themselves in a dilemma difficult to digest: should they continue to patroniza a business that holds atypical views?

I, for one, will continue to munch on delicious chicken nuggets between gulps of over-concentrated lemonade. I will proudly support Chick-fil-A, not necessarily to express my views on gay marriage, but to show my support for Chick-fil-A president and COO Dan Cathy, a man who acts on his beliefs and is not afraid of the consequences.

Dan Cathy freely expressed his views on gay marriage this July, and right off the bat, a slew of celebrities pledged to boycott the fast food restaurant. The mayors of Chicago and Boston promised to ban Chick-fil-A from their cities (although both withdrew their claims due to certain legal restraints), LGBT advocates organized Chick-fil-A kiss-ins, and many university students petitioned to ban Chick-fil-A from their campuses.

This knee-jerk reaction is to be expected, but considering that Chick-fil-A has never hidden its preference for traditional marriage, this reaction is absolutely ridiculous. Indeed, for years the company has donated large sums of money to organizations like The Marriage & Family Foundation that openly lobby against gay marriage. The restaurant found little to no opposition until this summer. If Cathy has been openly supporting “anti-gay” organizations for years now, what could he possibly have done to merit this sudden public humiliation, this infringement of the right to open a business, this badgering of innocent customers?

Cathy’s business was not barraged by such antics because he believes in disallowing gay marriage. No, Cathy’s business received all this bad press because he had the audacity to state what he believed and why he believed it.

The message that the shallow students, mayors and celebrities are sending to America is clear: you can believe in your beliefs and act on your beliefs, but whatever you do, never talk about your beliefs. They insist on this un-American message because they find a legitimate discussion on this issue to be uncomfortable.

Aren’t they right? Don’t we want restaurants to quiet their opinions on sensitive issues, to just hand us a chicken sandwich without making us think about what we, or others, believe? Wouldn’t it be better if everyone cut short their individuality for the greater good of a comfortable society where we can all get along?

No, disagreement and discomfort are essential. They are not an unfortunate by-product of democracy; they are what make democracy work. They are how we move forward as a nation, because ideological tension means ideological progress. The minute we shut up disagreement for the sake of the placatory, the minute we avoid serious discussions because they provoke unwanted arguments, the minute we desire ideological comfort over ideological truth, we guarantee our nation a faulty set of beliefs.

Chick-fil-A is like that weird guy in class with unusual values. He made a boring class exciting by bringing up a controversial subject; a subject we all had on our minds but didn’t have the guts to talk about. We can get angry at that guy and tell him that he’s wrong, but we do not have to alienate him or silence him simply because he livened up the class a bit by making us think.

In all honesty, America needs and deserves a frank discussion on the future of marriage. If Chick-fil-A is now a hub for intellectual discussion on gay marriage, I will eat their chicken sandwich with my chin up.

UPDATE: As The Observer went to press, Chick-fil-A announced that they will no longer discuss political issues or donate to anti-gay marriage foundations.