April 28, 2015

Mail Bag: The Politics of Anti-Gay Chick-fil-A, Brand Equity, and Personal Expression on the Job

In the post this morning about Brands and Brand Equity, I mentioned the Chick-fil-A scandal in passing; particularly how it has experienced a 50% drop in brand perception over the past few weeks as the scandal unfolds.  One of the questions was too expansion to deal with in the comments thread so I put it in the Mail Bag template and am responding here.

Joshua, thanks for bringing the 50% drop to my attention. Among my peers, Chick Fil-A has actually skyrocketed in popularity and I have been getting all these e-mails from them about defending Chrisitianity from Satan by eating a chicken sandwich on August 1.

CommentSo thanks for bringing the 50% drop to my attention. It made me feel like the liberal academic at an Ivy League school who remarked that she couldn’t possibly understand how Nixon won because all of her friends voted for McGovern.

On a side note, do you think executives of public companies should ever speak out about a personal belief that happens to be unpopular with the general citizenry? Obviously, Chick Fil-A is a privately held company and they can make whatever trade-offs between money and their own moral agenda that they desire, but what about for publicly traded stocks? If I’m the CEO of Procter & Gamble, should I have any business telling people how I feel about the healthcare ruling, abortion, gay rights, the constitutionality of flag-burning, etc.? I’m curious about your opinion because I know Buffett remarked that he didn’t put his citizenship in a blind trust when he became CEO of Berkshire, but I’m wondering how you feel about the advisability of that. After all, CEOs of publicly traded companies are speaking from a platform that will affect the profitability enjoyed by other shareholders who may not share the same views.


Framing the Chick-fil-A Brand Equity Problems 

Before we get into the broader free speech and economic implications, realize that Chick-fil-A is not being boycotted solely because the founders believe the definition of marriage is one man and one woman.  The main transgression that people find so offensive is the revelation that the donations to WinShape, the family foundation, had resulted in more than $2,000,000 being given to virulent anti-gay organizations, some of which are literally listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  

Let’s imagine that you and I live in the same small town.  You own a lumber yard and are Catholic, and I own a donut shop and am Baptist.  Every day, you come in for coffee and breakfast at my donut shop.  Several years later, you find out that I have given a big part of my profits to large anti-Catholic charities that wage war on the Catholic church and sue individual Catholic businesses.  You cannot, in good conscience, give me money any longer, regardless of how you feel about the high quality of my coffee and donuts.  You might even be personally hurt because my actions have a direct effect on your life.  Now, imagine that I start screaming your decision not to patronize my donut shop is because of your “anti-Baptist hatred”.  Obviously, your decision to cease entering my donut shop has nothing to do with hating Baptists.  It is about being able to live consistent with your values, doing what you think is right, and putting the moral good above your own desire for tasty donuts and hot, fresh, coffee.

That is a better analogy for the Chick-fil-A brand equity collapse over the past three weeks. 

Chick-fil-A Donations to Anti-Gay GroupThe level of vitriol put out by some of the recipient groups that received donations from Chick-fil-A is on par with neo-Nazi skinhead organizations, in my opinion.  I am astonished at some of the actions, once I began looking into the literature myself.

  • One released publications essentially implying that gay people were more likely to rape and molest children; that their “real” aim wasn’t to win marriage equality so they could have equal inheritance rights or Social Security benefits (which they pay for in taxes), but so they could lower the age of consent to seduce teenagers.  
  • One group lobbied on Capitol Hill to kill bills such as ENDA, which would allow owners to only consider job performance in firing decisions, making it illegal to fire someone solely because of their sexual orientation.  
  • To try and keep gay families from adopting the foster kids they cared for, these people engage in behavior I consider deeply intellectually dishonest such as founding a tiny organization and giving it a medical sounding name, “The American College of Pediatrics”, to issue papers about how gay families aren’t good for children.  It’s completely bunk science and they know most people won’t read it.  They also chose their name carefully, realizing the average American is too mis-informed to realize they aren’t the real pediatrics association.
  • Another group, Exodus International, strives to help gay men and women (or “same-sex attracted” people, as they call them) to be celibate for life or marry someone of the opposite sex to conform with “God’s plan”.  Up until a few years ago, one of the affiliate groups ran a residential program in which Christian parents would ship off their gay teenage kids against their will to a therapy program, sometimes lasting months, to make these kids “realize” their straightness.  I am of the personal opinion that some of these groups bear at least partial responsibility for the kids who kills themselves, resulting in the need for things such as the Trevor Project.  It’s so bizarre that it resulted in major media coverage and even a full-length documentary film, in one case.

I’ve come across many of these groups peripherally due to the donations of the Kennon & Green Foundation, where there name and activities would pop up over the years.  Looking at the behavior of these organizations, the Southern Poverty Law Center was correct for listing them as hate groups.  These are not folks who have a mere difference of opinion or doctrine position.  

The Absurd Idea That the Protests Are Somehow Anti-Christian

Bluntly, it is beyond absurd for someone to believe that protesting or boycotting Chick-fil-A is anti-Christian or driven by anti-Christian animus.  Regardless of which side of the issue or marriage someone falls, rationality tells us that not all Christians disapprove of marriage equality.  In fact, looking at the Pew Research figures, a major percentage of young Christians are all for it, cheering from the sidelines with pom pons and megaphones and the older generation looks on aghast.  

Chick-fil-A Anti-Gay

Chick-fil-A is not being subjected to any religious liberty issues. It took a social position that many find offensive, and in a free market economy, individual consumers are welcome to choose how they want to allocate their dollars. This is one of the reasons our economic system works so well.

If many young Christians support marriage equality, then marriage equality cannot, by definition, be anti-Christian.  A parallel: The fact Catholics and protestants have different beliefs on the transubstantiation of the bread and wine during communion doesn’t make anti- or pro-transubstantiation folks “anti-Christian”.  They have a deeply held difference in doctrinal belief.  You don’t see Catholics and protestants waging war on each other screaming, “You aren’t a real Christian” … anymore.  The whole reformation and wars in England got that out of the collective system.

That said, I’m much more interested in the freedom of speech question you posed, especially as to how it integrates with economics in the United States.  Let’s get to the good stuff!

The Religious Liberty Argument Is a Canard

The United States has one of the longest, and best, traditions of religious and speech freedoms thanks to our Bill of Rights.  In fact, the founders thought it so important, that those two rights are listed as priority one in the first amendment.  The exact text reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The first amendment gives a citizen of the United States a guarantee that the government does not have the authority to limit speech.  With few exceptions (e.g., the famous ‘you can’t yell fire in a theater’ precedent), you can say whatever you want, provided you aren’t disturbing the peace or being disruptive.  Generally speaking, subject to private property considerations, you can print what you like, post what you like, comment where you like, and engage in intense debate, regardless of how offensive, unpopular, or controversial that speech may be.

Likewise, religious liberty means you can believe whatever you want, and live according to those beliefs within very broad guidelines, subject to the limitation that you cannot force others to abide by your own convictions (e.g., your right to swing your fist ends the moment it makes contact with my face).

Nowhere are you given a promise, or a right, that you are immune from the cultural and social ramifications of how you choose to use the freedom of speech or religion.  All of our choices have consequences.  I’ve said it many times on this site: If you eat more calories than you expend, you put on excess weight.  If you spend more than you earn, you go into debt or file for bankruptcy.  If you neglect your family, at some point they want nothing to do with you.  A significant part of being an adult is accepting that basic truism, realizing that you, or more specifically, your choices and actions, are both the problem and the solution to most issues you face.  These dual categories of action and behavior are no different.

A Case Study of the Social Ramifications of Free Speech

To understand this distinction, a case study would be helpful.  Let’s go back 55 years in United States history.  President Eisenhower is in the White House.  Warren Buffett is 27 years old and has been running his investment partnerships for two years.  Legendary actor Humphrey Bogart passed away of throat cancer.  Dr. Suess publishes The Cat in the Hat for the first time.  The Tropicana opened in Las Vegas.  John Lennon and Paul McCartney meet three years before they form The Beatles.  The Soviet Union launched Sputnik 2, along with the first animal in space.  Elvis Presley dominates the box office with Jailhouse Rock.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average includes stocks such as United Aircraft, Standard Oil of New Jersey, Standard Oil of California, Sears Roebuck & Company, National Steel, National Distillers, Johns-Manville, International Nickel, Eastman Kodak, American Tobacco, and Chrysler.  

That same year, the Little Rock Nine began attending Little Rock Central High School as a result of the Brown v. Board of Education decision three years prior, which declared separate was not equal.  Massive protests followed in the south.  The national guard blocked the entrance of the school, resulting in the President sending Federal troops to their aid to escort the students to class.  The scene outside looked like this: 

Interracial Marriage Gay Marriage Equality

As social values change in a society over time, things that were at once in the majority can become deeply offensive.  Consider that the people in this photograph were in the majority of their community.  They faced no social stigma or consequences for their beliefs.  Today, they would be shunned by friends and family.

Everyone in that crowd had a constitutional right to express their opinion.  The government could not shut them down, nor imprison them for their heartfelt beliefs.  Their opinion happened to be the majority in the community at the time.  They did not face social stigma or experience discomfort.  Many of those people based their beliefs on their Christian faith, citing the Bible, in which slavery is perfectly permissible and strictly governed.

Now fast forward to the present.  You could go down to that same location this very moment and organize a protest with the exact same signs and the exact same beliefs.  The government cannot stop you.  It is your right to free speech.  It is your right to believe that the Bible does not forbid the ownership of slaves, and demands segregation.  However, the social and cultural consequences of that speech are going to be very different for you because the moral contract in society has broadened to include the idea that all races are inherently equal and that people must be judged as individuals.  You are going to lose friends.  You are going to be called a bigot.  You might have trouble finding or retaining employment because people do not want to associate with you.  

Would your friends, who no longer wished to speak to you, be declaring war on your Christianity?  How is such a thing even possible if they were Christians themselves?  Do you have a right to have other accept your opinion as valid, even if they don’t believe it to be so?  Since when?  Who promised this right?  

Personally, I think it is baffling how a major majority can scream, without any sense of irony, that they are being oppressed because their right to oppress a minority is being taken away from them.  

How the Situation Parallels the Chick-fil-A Scandal and What the Cathy Family Should Have Learned from the King & Spalding Meltdown

The desegregation protests are a socio-demographic parallel to the Chick-fil-A scandal because you have a belief that was at one time mainstream (e.g., disapproval of gay people compared to disapproval of blacks) that is now unacceptable to a significant portion of the population because people got to know the members of a group.  

Coca-Cola King and Spalding Gay Marriage

When famed Atlanta-based law firm King & Spalding decided to take on the House of Representatives as a client before the Supreme Court, defending a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, a huge portion of the firm tendered, or threatened to tender, their resignation in the first 24 hours, leading to a reported internal meltdown. Also rumored, Georgia’s grand boss of business, Coca-Cola, made it abundantly clear to the law firm that it would not associate with bigots, nor would it be so generous with the billions of dollars in legal fees it generates. Opposing marriage rights for gay people is now as toxic as being racist or hating Jews.  The topic of marriage equality has moved beyond reasonable disagreement. This is even true in the board rooms of the deep South.

The basic reality is that the world has changed on this particular matter and I believe Dan Cathy probably thought Chick-fil-A was immune to those forces.  Perhaps he lives in an echo-chamber of like-minded people so he truly didn’t understand how horrible his actions were.  Doubt it?  Look at the utter meltdown of legendary law firm King & Spalding.  One of the best lawyers of his generation, Paul Clements, agreed to take the House of Representatives as a client to defend against a constitutional challenge in the Supreme Court to the Defense of Marriage Act.  Within 24 hours, a huge portion of the entire firm had threatened to, or actually tendered, resignation letters.  This was not a small thing.  You had a major part of the workforce, many of whom were earning six-figures or more, storming out of the office, giving up their salary and employment in the aftermath of the worst recession since the Great Depression, with no guarantee of alternative sources of paychecks.  Working with people who were against marriage equality was that offensive to them.  

Then, according to sources referenced in the news stories, Coca-Cola, the firm’s most important client, directly intervened.  The rumors are that the higher ups in Coke effectively told the partners of King & Spalding, who were watching their people walk out the door in protest, that Coca-Cola and the billions of dollars in legal fees it generates, would not work with bigots.  The choice?  Drop the House of Representatives and support marriage equality, or find another client.  The result?  Congress lost its law firm and Paul Clements had to leave the partnership to start his own practice.

On the day the Chick-fil-A scandal broke, I saw people on Facebook (I’m no longer active, but many people around me are when I bother to go into the office), literally end real-life, physical-world friendships that had lasted years over posts supporting Chick-fil-A.  One married woman wrote to another Christian couple, to paraphrase, “My husband and I have decided we no longer want to associate with bigots.  To allow you to remain in our lives when you display such offensive beliefs isn’t acceptable to us.  Friendship terminated.”  It was stunning because it wasn’t an isolated case.  There was a consistent pattern.  What was interesting to me, from a sociological perspective, was the fact that so many of the pro-Chick-fil-A people genuinely, honestly, and in good faith had no idea what they had done wrong or how offensive they were.  It reminds you of that crazy 95-year-old aunt your in-laws have who you find out is a secret racist and she doesn’t understand why people don’t see her point of view.

Marriage equality is at the point that there is no longer an “agree to disagree” attitude, at least in the upper levels of the socio-economic hierarchy, just as no decent person would “agree to disagree” with a racist or an anti-Semite.  I’m sure it is still different in the lower income and lower educated ranks, as evidenced by the Pew Research studies, since changes tend to lag in those demographics.  Other businesses now don’t want to work with Chick-fil-A.  A significant portion of society doesn’t want to patronize the franchise locations because doing is a direct affront to the well-being of their gay friends and family members.  This is the United States now.  In fact, it is most of Western Civilization.  I mean, Target, our second largest discount department store chain with a presence in nearly all major communities, now has same-sex wedding registry advertisements running.  This is about as white-bread-and-butter as you can get.

There is no doubt the founders of Chick-fil-A have a “right” to have their beliefs but their beliefs are now offensive to much of society, myself included.  The folks with whom I work, as well as several of my family members, have made it abundantly clear that we will never eat at Chick-fil-A again, which is sad because I enjoy the waffle fries and cole slaw.  From our office alone, the local franchise lost tens of thousands of dollars in sales over the coming years.

The Question for Business Managers About Personal Politics

Here is where it gets tricky.  A man or woman doesn’t leave his personal beliefs at the door when he accepts the corner office.  On the other hand, the owners have a right to fire someone if they are engaging in action that lowers profitability.  Therefore, it is a balancing act.  With someone like Warren Buffett, he is the controlling stockholder.  You know going in that you are, for all intents and purposes, a minority partner who accepts things as they are.  If you don’t like it, go somewhere else.  The same could be said of a family business like Chick-fil-A.  When you get into public companies that do not have a controlling stockholder?  I think the Board of Directors would be doing its duty to put an end to it because the point the managers become a distraction bigger than the business itself, they are disruptive.

Part of the brand equity destruction at Chick-fil-A, in my opinion, is the horrible PR disaster that ensued.  The company allegedly created a fake Facebook account and used a stock photo to respond to criticism and make it appear as if people supported them, leading to an entire Colbert segment:

Side note: My new favorite phrase is “lesbian fantasy snack”.  I will never think of the KFC double down the same again. 

Then, they allegedly lied about the fact that the Jim Hansen company pulled the Muppet toys because they didn’t want their brand assets associated with discriminatory beliefs, saying that the Muppets hadn’t ‘really’ dropped them, that they (Chick-fil-A) had recalled the Muppet toys for safety reasons.  Then, the head of PR died of a heart attack.  Now, the top Google search suggestions for the brand include things like “Chick-fil-A anti-gay”.  That isn’t good for your business.  The fact the allegedly lied on multiple occasions in the aftermath of the PR challenge took away a significant amount of creditability.  It was terribly handled.  The focus should be on the food.  I’m not sure they will be able to undo the long-term damage to the brand.  I still know people who haven’t eaten at a Jack-in-the-Box since the 1990’s because of the horrific food poisoning deaths that unfolded on the news.

If I were on the Board of a public company and this were happening, I’d probably give the executive a chance to resign.  Cathy is lucky his firm is privately held.  In the end, if his family is willing to accept the lower brand equity and significant social disapproval, as the total private owners, that is their economic trade-off to make.  Personally, I think it is a foolish one, but it is their business.

  • Ian Francis

    It is always amazing to me how wording is so important to getting support for your cause. This has been seen for decades with the “pro-life” and “pro-choice” groups. Being pro-life impies that the other side is “anti-life,” or they actively support the killing of fetuses. Likewise, being pro-choice implies the other side is “anti-choice,” promoting an agenda of taking away your freedoms. Neither is correct, and i think subconciously the members of both groups look at the oppsite group in that kind of negative light. This kind of phrasing really hurts debate, and causes years of continuing squabbling with neither side listening to the other’s argument.
    The same exists in the gay marriage debate, though it seems much more one-sided to me. Those for gay marriage support “marriage equality.” Throwing the word ‘equality’ in there really stirs up emotions, especially in this country. This, of course, implies the other group is “anti marriage equality,” which is, well, pretty much correct, though they say they support “traditional marriage.” Both sides paint their argument in a positive light, but really, this is not the same as the abortion argument. Those who support “traditional marriage,” in reality, are against gay marriage. Those who support “marriage equality” are for both heterosexual and homosexual marriages. They are not against anything. Its not as if one side supports only straight marriage and the other only supports gay marriage.
    And frankly, I just don’t understand why people care. Its not as if people are being forced into gay marriage, or anyone is forcing a church to perform gay marriages. If you truly believe gay marriage is a sin and those who are gay and act upon those feelings are sinners, then let them make their own decisions and we will all find out if you are right sooner or later. How this affects you is beyond me. I do not think Christianity tells people they much force their beliefs on others in order to get into heaven. For God’s sake, I just read an article in the news THIS WEEK about a black couple who couldn’t get married in the church they attend (or probably used to attend now) because the rest of the congregation (or at least a vocal few) were uncomfortable with the idea. If churches can still be legally racist to this day, then there is no reason your church can’t be legally homophobic. Just like the divorce rate in no way undermines my personal marriage, gay marriage in no way undermines it either.
    I personally feel some of the issue is this blending of religious marriage and a legal civil union that we have grown so accustomed to. Marriage used to be strictly a religious affair, until society started supporting it by way of tax incentives and the like. I don’t see why there cannot be a religious marriage and a civil marriage (or whatever you want to call it). The civil marriage should be the only thing that offers tax breaks, visitation rights, etc. If you want to also become married in your religion of choice, then so be it. The first ammendment allows you to go to a church that supports whatever definition of marriage you like. Then, those commited to heterosexual marriage only can live in whatever hole of ignorance they like, just as those who are racist can too. Just don’t try to equate civil rights with religious freedoms. Your religious beliefs should have no affect on social policy, just as social policy shouldn’t have the ability to control your religion.

    • Joshua Kennon

      I saw that news story on the black couple being denied a wedding in church because of their race! It was so surreal, I didn’t know quite how to process it.

      Good thoughts. You’re right that language matters. (Whenever I hear “traditional marriage”, I actually can’t help immediately recalling that what we think of as heterosexual marriage – one man, one woman in an equal, monogamous relationship – is an experiment that is less than 200 years old; adding in the romantic component where the parties get to choose themselves, it is mostly less than 100 to 150 years old depending on the nation. True traditional marriage would be a tribal chief with dozens of wives, arranged by parents in a financial transaction. That is how it was throughout much of history.)

      Have you watched hate mail with Richard Dawkins?

    • Joshua Kennon

      By the way, if you haven’t already, you should read Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear by Dr. Frank Luntz. I am going to read it after hearing about it so often. It deals with the precise issue you are highlighting – how words shape perception.

    • http://twitter.com/SMcTwelve Scott McCarthy

      “I do not think Christianity tells people they much force their beliefs on others in order to get into heaven.”

      From the New International Version of the Bible:
      2 Timothy 4:2-5 – Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct,
      rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.
      For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.
      Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great
      number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
      They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
      But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work
      of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
      1 Corinthians 9:16 – Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I
      am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

      And so on, and so forth – I mean there are dozens (if not hundreds) of calls to spread the Word. Telling other people how to live is kind of the entire idea behind Jesus, you know?
      But really, how do you think the religion spread 2,000 years ago if there were no calls to proselytize and evangelize?

      • Ian Francis

        “correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction”
        The idea is to spread the word, to influence through spreading understanding and influence through action. If you think gay marriage is wrong, you have every right to tell people so, but to make them unable to act upon this “wrong” is forcing your beliefs. There is a huge difference between telling people gay marriage is wrong and they shouldn’t do it and making it illegal. And that is not taking into consideration that there are many religions other than Christianity. Were there a religion that supports same-sex marriage then a law against it would be persecuting that religion. Because of this, I reiterate that public policy CANNOT be dictated by religion. Do what you like in your church, but leave those outside the church alone.

        • rhv70

          Agreed. I am convinced that Christ would not have wanted the Crusades or the indoctrination in Catholicism that the Spanish imposed on the native Americans. As the old cliche goes “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still”.

    • kurt

      Wow…that was an incredible comment…thank you for sharing your viewpoint.

  • Joshua Kennon

    Thank you for the tip off to that story. I look forward to reading it! Several years ago, I followed the Marriott Hotel’s internal pornography debate quite closely to try and understand the thought process behind a major Mormon business making a significant portion of profit from adult entertainment distribution, while simultaneously denouncing it as a societal ill. To add another layer of complexity on the entire mess, according to one study out of Harvard, the Mormon-dominated state of Utah led the nation in secret pornography consumption. The cognitive dissonance fascinated me, whereas on the other hand, a ‘liberal’ state like California actually had the lowest consumption per capita. Stories like this are always enjoyable for me to read because I like seeing how people think and justify self-conflicting behaviors … thanks again!

    • Name

      In short: where do you place that fine line between pragmatism and hypocrisy? Is there even a division?

      • Joshua Kennon

        For me, the only test that ever satisfied both my intellect and my heart was the old line from my grandparents’ generation that you hear quoted fairly often in the media: Never do anything that you wouldn’t be perfectly happy to see on the front page of a newspaper, written by an tough, impartial, and fair journalist, to be read by your friends, family, colleagues, old classmates, former professors, potential employers, employees, pastor, dentist, accountant, and librarian.

  • Joshua Kennon

    P.S. Jackpot! Only a few paragraphs in:

    ““Our church is very much opposed to alcohol and we’re probably one of the biggest sales engines of liquor in the United States. I don’t drink. We serve a lot of liquor. You’re in business. You’ve got to make money,” he said. “We have to appeal to the masses out there, no matter what their beliefs are.””

    This is going to be a winner. Thanks again. I love stuff like this.

  • FratMan

    Thank you so much for your taking the time to outline your thought process on the situation for me, Joshua. I really appreciate that. I do have a couple follow-up questions for you:

    You mentioned: ”
    If I were on the Board of a public company and this were happening, I’d probably give the executive a chance to resign.”

    How would you feel if Chick Fil-A was a public company and they were making a more favorable moral stand-up for something of equal stakes. For instance, what if you were the CEO of a Southern chicken sandwich company in the 1820s and you thought blacks should be allowed to eat at your restaurant. Should the CEO say what he believes to be morally right, or do whatever is popular (and consistent with making profits) with society at the time?

    In the comments below, you like the quote from the Marriott guy: “. I don’t drink. We serve a lot of liquor. You’re in business. You’ve got to make money.” Does that mean that a CEO should abdicate his own personal beliefs if he the general society lives in a way much different than he does? If you owned a golf course/club (say, 100 years ago or so) and 80% of the white participants threaten to leave if you let in a black man, should you let in the black man?

    In the case of the Chick-Fil-A, I’m wondering if you take intent into account. If someone reaches the conclusion that gay marriage does not gel with his religious beliefs, would you feel comfortable considering him a bigot? To me, there’s a difference between a little old lady who tries to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church to the letter and a young man with a Ty Cobb mentality (namely, someone who hates just about every minority, women, non-Protestant, etc.). Would you reach a negative evaluation about the little old lady based on the conclusions she ultimately reaches, or would you be less objectionable due to her upbringing, social environment, Catholic beliefs, etc.?

    In some ways, I feel like Cathy is better than the Marriott guy because he feels so strongly about how he feels that he’s willing to make less money to live in accordance with his beliefs. For the Marriott guy, he seems to be engaging in rationalizations that allow him to make more money by stretching his personal economic philosophy to match his religious beliefs. As usual, I’m curious to hear your thought process.

    Thanks so much Josh!

    • Name

      Naturally, Josh’s opinion is what we’re both looking for, but my two cents is this: if you reach out to strike (either physically or figuratively) against those whose beliefs are different from yours, then you’re a bigot. However, if you live and let live, even if you think those beliefs are unfathomably stupid/crazy/whatever, you’re not a bigot. You just have a different opinion, a strong one at that.

      Of course, if the other party strikes first or they’re doing something that will harm you indirectly (e.g. honoring Cthulhu by releasing eldritch horrors into the world), that makes them the bigot and you’re just defending yourself by striking back. So in this case, Marriott says “I won’t drink/watch porn/worship Allah, but you can,” which makes him a non-bigot and everyone’s happy. On the other hand, Cathy says “I’m going to continue donating to groups which aim to suppress marriage equality,” which makes him a bigot (maybe a passive-aggressive bigot), and people are retaliating by boycotting their waffle fries.

      Must…resist…waffle fries…

      • http://twitter.com/SMcTwelve Scott McCarthy

        You don’t think the Marriott CEO makes private donations to religious groups – many of which may oppose gay marriage? Really, what’s the difference between a public-company CEO making a private donation from his wages vs a private company’s sole-owner donating his money through the corporate account because it happens to be more tax efficient for him? It’s the same net effect, is it not? In both cases, the only reason the CEO has the money is because people frequent the company.

        • Robby Cannon

          The difference is when done from ones own wages, one is declaring it as a personal belief; when one does it as a representative of a company utilizing company funds, one is declaring it as a company belief/mission.

          Intent and Context shape Perception; and in my humble opinion, that is very powerful stuff socially speaking.

        • http://twitter.com/SMcTwelve Scott McCarthy

          But in the case of a family-owned business, there is absolutely zero difference between “company funds” and “personal funds”. It’s the exact same money. From the exact same source. Does having an extra wire transfer in the process really make that much of a difference?

      • TheLonelyHumanist

        If I may extend your invitation to myself as well… I do not think it is the duty of corporations to stay ahead of the social curve. A restaurant here that served whites AND blacks equally 60 years ago would have been a senseless waste of capital. A company serves the public and is only as good as that public.

    • Joshua Kennon

      I’ll send you a private response to the email on file with your username. It would be easier.

  • Sean

    The tragic part about this in my opinion is the collateral damage caused but the CEO’s comments. Since it is a franchise there are many franchisees that have poured their efforts into the business and their capital. I can’t say for certain but I’m sure there are many franchisees that find him and his remarks appalling. Now they have to suffer the economic damage because of his beliefs. I suppose that is a risk that you have to take when you go into a franchise. It is also unfortunate that the company is a private company so the don’t have the same controls that are built in with a public company.

    • James

      Judging by the line outside my local chik-fil-a yesterday it seems like the franchisees are going to make out like bandits. Personally I think the whole “social media boycott” has gotten out of hand. People need to calm down, take a deep breath and not get so hysterical about everything.

      If people really get that upset, then they need to create a questionnaire and send it out to every owner of every store they frequent and every supplier of that store. Make sure you have a “For” or “Against” bubble for the owner to fill out for every hot button social issue you hold near and dear to you. But I guess ignorance is bliss is a good excuse.

      Also, if you own a business you need to make a sign and hang it on your window or your website and make sure to let people know if they don’t agree with you on XYZ then your money is no good there.

      And as for not going to chik-fil-a ever don’t think for a second you are hurting the Cathy family. You are hurting your neighbor who owns the local franchise, you are hurting the local little league that gets contributions from their local chik-fil-a store, and you are hurting your neighbor’s son or daughter who has a nice little job that keeps them busy and off the streets.

      And people wonder why Congress and the President can’t get anything done. If you don’t agree with someone you are called a bigot, a racist, an unpatriotic communist, a socialist, a capitalist pig. Did I miss anything?

      • Joshua Kennon

        Economically, the second to last paragraph is not true. You are ignoring the concept of economic substitution in finance speak.

        If Tom, Dick, or Jane stop going to Chick-fil-A, they don’t stop eating. They still have the same dollars to spend, meaning those dollars will get re-allocating to existing food suppliers in the metropolitan market area. Over time, the free market will adjust the employment situation so that the chicken place has one less job, but McDonald’s and Wendy’s has one more. There is no destruction in the aggregate money supply, it merely flows through different channels as part of that year’s GDP figures.

        • James

          Fair point. I was just trying to make a larger point about unintended consequences about these boycotts.

      • Joshua Kennon

        Hey! I didn’t realize this was you, timmerjames. Come across anything interesting in the markets lately? It’s been awhile since I’ve seen you in the comments but that could just be my schedule the past few months; I haven’t been doing a good job of people coming and going.

        Other than the somewhat unexpected run up in Walmart, I haven’t been paying attention to many “new” companies (as in, adding to the ones I watch) because we had a private business use of capital come up that was far more attractive. I’m hoping to get a good 3-4 weeks of random research in the Value Line reports and a few databases this September or October.

        • James

          Hey JK

          Yeah, pretty much just lurking lately. I missed a lot of the run up in Wal-Mart because I wasn’t comfortable with the whole bribery thing. I imagine it went on in other countries too and they will end up with a billion or two in penalties. I probably overreacted to the whole thing but transferred into an overseas grocery chain that is in Buffett’s portfolio.

          I was getting into the international oil players but then found devon and figured I would rather have a company with all north american assets and leave the international oil plays to my diversified vanguard etf (VEU). I like the conservative stewardship of the management of devon.

          Other than that just trying to figure out a way to get out of my career and work some place outside like a golf course or something. I’m tired of sitting at a desk all day.


        • Joshua Kennon

          You sound like my brother :) He swears that if he can find a way to survive working in, on, or around a golf course, he will radically transform his career plans because he’d be happier with a lower income and being outside on the green all day.

    • Joshua Kennon

      My mom and I were talking about that yesterday when I stopped by her office for a visit. You have all of these people, who have invested millions of dollars in their own family’s savings, work to build a business, and now have to deal with this distraction. My guess is it will temporarily work out very well for those in the Midwest / South due to a spike in traffic as a show of support, and terribly for those on either coasts, with long-term detriment to the brand equity due to the age differential between the two sides. In fast food, you cannot alienate a decent portion of the youngest customers. Well, you can, but there is a reason market share for places like Country Kitchen is much smaller than for places like Sonic or Burger King.

    • FratMan

      “Honey, I told you we should have gotten a Jimmy John’s franchise.”

  • Jacob Mast

    Quote from above. “There is no doubt the founders of Chick-fil-A have a “right” to have
    their beliefs but their beliefs are now offensive to much of society,
    myself included. The folks with whom I work, as well as several of my
    family members, have made it abundantly clear that we will never eat at
    Chick-fil-A again, which is sad because I enjoy the waffle fries and
    cole slaw. From our office alone, the local franchise lost tens of
    thousands of dollars in sales over the coming years.”

    It does not matter that you find offensive the belief that homosexuality is sinful. What matters is what God says about the issue. Your or my feelings on an issue count for nothing if there is a clear right or wrong. Here there is a clear right and wrong: homosexuality is sinful. As far as I can tell Dan Cathey didn’t even say that. All he said is that he supports the traditional idea of marriage…big deal! Frankly, I find it beneath you to boycott something because of that.
    That is my opinion. :)

    Home Depot supports the “gay rights movement” but I still shop there.

    It is a slippery slope to make your own opinion the benchmark on any issue. Everybody has an opinion and few agree. My belief is in the Great I Am and His word.

    If you think that is an antiquated belief then I would ask; what is your ultimate authority? What is the benchmark for what you believe?

    This issue with Chick-Fil-A is yet one more step away from American style freedom. Governments prohibiting people to operate businesses simply because of what they believe. Individuals have the right to boycott any business they wish to, no loss of freedom there. However; when government agents do it that is totalitarianism/fascism which is not the same as American style freedom.

    I support the right of anybody to express their views within the bounds of the law as you said in your article, “my right to swing my arm ends at the point of impact with your face.” I beg the same consideration of you.

    You may not agree with Dan Cathey’s statement but surely you don’t support the actions of mayors in response to it? Government agents are people. If they can use their opinion in place of
    the law then to that degree we no longer have a democratic republic.
    Tomorrow it may be something you believe in which they choose to

    Quote from above: “Personally, I think it is baffling how a major majority can scream,
    without any sense of irony, that they are being oppressed because their
    right to oppress a minority is being taken away from them.”

    That is utterly ridiculous! Again, you fail to see that there is a right
    and wrong. Christians are not oppressing gays, they are simply stating
    truth. How is Mr. Cathey’s statement “oppressing” anyone?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000579070616 Dragonwind’s Spirit

      Christians ARE Oppressing gays by telling them that they are wrong, evil against god etc. You want everyone to respect YOUR beliefs and way of life while simultaneously refusing to accept others beliefs and way of life. And then when you get backlash for it your scream and yell that YOU are being oppressed!

      How is two guys or two gals marrying oppressing you? How? Did they come into your house and dance a jig on your bed while you and your spouse had sex? Did they tow your car away for being Christians? Did they refuse to sell you an airline seat? Did they come into your church and do bad things to the Eucharist?

      No, they simply want the same rights YOU already enjoy, the right to marry, and enjoy life with the person they love. Something that YOU and people LIKE YOU are working hard to deny them.

      You are welcome to your beliefs, you are NOT welcome to force others to live by your beliefs. Or would you prefer the tide to be turned? How would you feel if it became against he law for heterosexuals to marry? Right, you’d hate it, you’d be oppressed. You’d want to fight against it.

      And you would be right to do so. So why do you fight to oppress others? You have no right what so ever to force your religious beliefs on anybody. None. And yet you and people like you continue to try to. You and your ilk sicken me beyond belief.

      Oh and before you try to dismiss me and go saying “well he’s Gay” Sorry cupcake. I’m straight, and married and support marriage equality and equal rights for everyone 100%. My friends who are Homosexual have as much right as I do to marry and enjoy all the rights and privileges that come with that. Something YOUR kind continue to try and deny them.

      • http://twitter.com/SMcTwelve Scott McCarthy

        How are Christians oppressing gays “by telling them that they are wrong…”? If I tell you that I disagree with your position/lifestyle, how exactly is that oppression? I disagree with new mothers who only feed their babies formula – am I oppressing them if I say that out loud? It continually amazes me how hateful and angry the people who promote tolerance are lol. Surely your argument doesn’t hinge on hyperbole – there’s no need for it here.

        As far as “how does gay marriage affect straight people?” Look up public accommodation laws. Catholic churches will be forced to perform ceremonies in direct violation of their faith if gay marriage is adopted as a national right. You might as well tell a Jewish Temple that they have to wed a Catholic and a Muslim. That’s the problem with activists – they do stuff like this just to tick people off (see the Chick-fil-A “kiss-in”).

        This is a religious liberty issue for a lot of folks out there. The right to maintain some standards in their religious practices is important. Heck, as I recall, this issue in particular was enough to get a very pro-gay-marriage state Senator from California named Leno (no not Jay, though that’s the only reason I recall the name, I’m sure) to introduce legislation that would specifically protect churches who wanted to deny access to gay couples, so the churches wouldn’t lose their tax status for upholding their faith.

      • http://twitter.com/SMcTwelve Scott McCarthy

        “You want everyone to respect YOUR beliefs and way of life while
        simultaneously refusing to accept others beliefs and way of life. And
        then when you get backlash for it your scream and yell that YOU are
        being oppressed!”
        Which side are you talking about there? It seems equally applicable to the pro-gay-marriage side.

      • Jacob Mast

        I am not forcing them to do or not do anything! I am only speaking truth…how is that forcing them to do anything? They are demanding that I accept their lifestyle which I cannot do.
        If states decide they want to give “marriage equality” to homosexuals there’s little I can do about it.
        So where do you draw the line? Is it ok for 3 men to be married? Is it ok for a man to marry his son or daughter? For a man to be legally married to a horse? Do you want “marriage equality” for them too?

    • Joshua Kennon

      Do the Jews have the right to force you to stay home on Saturday and make you only eat Kosher food? They believe just as much as you do that God commands it.

      Do the Muslims have a right to make you pray to Allah, facing Mecca, several times a day? They believe just as much as you do that God commands it.

      Do the Taliban have the right to cut off the lips of a woman who wears makeup? They believe just as much as you do that God commands it.

      Likewise, you can believe homosexuality is a sin based on your interpretation of the Bible. You can preach that from your church. You can believe, in your heart of hearts, that God said it and is up in heaven, watching society with a clipboard to determine if it complies with this regulation. You can think that all other feelings on the matter are inconsequential. You can donate money to causes that publicize this point of view. You can join book clubs that discuss it, picket organizations that don’t agree with it, and throw pot-luck dinners to raise money for it.

      You can do these things because you are an American and our forefathers died to secure that right in our form of government.

      You cannot, however, go the ballot box and force others to live by your own, private convictions, then be upset when a significant portion of society considers you an intolerant bigot.

      Frankly, we aren’t even discussing gay marriage, which you keep going back to for some reason. It’s not about gay marriage. It is a symptom. We are discussing the much bigger issues, which are 1.) the legal right of one group of people to force others to live by their convictions and, 2.) the economic and social ramifications of holding once-popular beliefs in the face of shifting ethical mores.

      • Jacob Mast

        Thanks for clarifying that you don’t support government sanctions based on somebody’s beliefs…somehow got the idea that you did.
        I agree wholeheartedly that nobody should force anybody else to believe something!
        I can never support “marriage equality” for the same reason I can’t support abortion. You see it differently and you certainly have the freedom to do as you see fit.

  • Lindsay

    I keep hearing about Chic-Fil-A and marriage equality, but the issue is not just marriage rights. The CEO publicly supported the Boy Scouts in their recent treatment of an openly gay Eagle Scout here in northwest Missouri. I know people who are more upset over this particular issue because it shows a direct judgement against someone who was clearly welcome before coming out. Why is this not a bigger issue in the debate? When I bring it up to people supporting Chic-Fil-a, they immediately go back to the marriage issue. Is this not a general equality debate? Also, people claiming the first amendment as the reason for their support do not incorporate the separation o church and state into their political arguments or acknowledge the religious groups who are pro-marriage equality. (My apologies for being a little scattered. I just had an insane discussion on Facebook, myself.)

    • Joshua Kennon

      The big problem I have is, as much as I find the behavior of the Boy Scouts repugnant, as long as it remains privately funded, there is no way to force equality without massive collateral damage to individual freedoms. That leaves only one solution: Tolerant, decent people, parents and children alike, need to either continue pressing the organization to change, or start a newer, more relevant boy scouts that reflects modern American culture and values. God knows I wouldn’t let my kids take part in the scouts as they are now any more than I would have joined a country club in the 1960’s that banned Jews. I couldn’t live with myself and be a part of a petty, backwater organization that founded part of its identity on exclusion, hatred, and fear.

  • Just watching

    Mark 8:36King James Version (KJV)
    36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

    • Joshua Kennon

      That is a good, and true, statement. How is it relevant to the situation? It has nothing to do with the conversation we are having because we aren’t talking about marriage per se. We are talking about whether or not one person has the right to force others to live by their beliefs.

      Dan Cathy has every right to believe whatever he wants about marriage. So do you. So do I. He, and we, can financially, politically, and socially support whatever beliefs we want. He can attend a church that is consistent with those beliefs, just as Catholics do not permit remarriage after divorce and some denominations do not permit interracial marriage in their religious ceremonies because they think it is immoral.

      However, the moment we cross the line and try to force society, or our neighbor, to behave as we think God wants them to behave, there is a problem. That has nothing to do with the verse you posted. It is a red herring. It is not my job, or your job, to tell everyone else how to live.

      As I posed a question to another reader in a different comment:

      Do the Jews have the right to force you to stay home on Saturday and make you only eat Kosher food? They believe just as much as you do that God commands it.

      Do the Muslims have a right to make you pray to Allah, facing Mecca, several times a day? They believe just as much as you do that God commands it.

      Do the Taliban have the right to cut off the lips of a woman who wears makeup? They believe just as much as you do that God commands it.

      They can behave how they want to behave based on their own idea of salvation. The moment they try to make me eat Kosher, or you pray to Mecca, there is a line that crossed.

      Cathy isn’t being boycotted for his personal opinions, he is being boycotted because he is a financial source for a literal, honest-to-God Southern Poverty Center certified Hate Group that tracks activities of people like the KKK. He gives money to organizations that try to take freedoms, benefits, and protections away using the law as a weapon.

      • TheLonelyHumanist

        However, the moment we cross the line and try to force society, or our neighbor, to behave as we think God wants them to behave, there is a problem. That has nothing to do with the verse you posted. It is a red herring. It is not my job, or your job, to tell everyone else how to live.”
        Love this, Joshua. This Chick-Fil-A thing has been eating me alive. It haunts me and I can’t escape it. I have had dear, disabled family members call me up and offer me money to take my family to go support CFA for them… “to fight the queers.” I shouldn’t be surprised: slavery is still defended Biblically here (not that anyone I know would go out and enslave someone but it is used to justify the path of our ancestors). Traffic here was backed up for miles in front of the CFA on Wednesday and my FB was full of “First Amendment” defenses. But where does the First Amendment protect your right to have YOUR religion provide the model for all citizens? “Traditional Marriage” in the Hebrew or Muslim tradition is very different from the Christian one. I kept thinking of your post here:
        I am an atheist and my marriage and family are the meaning of my life. I respect Cathy and his cohorts for being married to their first wives. I really do. I share his value of family! But who am I to tell some troop of polys that they better make up their minds? To tell a Muslim Sheik to let the other three wives go?
        I am even allowed to despise them for not doing what I like. I am free to hate them if I so desire. But in the Constitution, I don’t see anything about taxing them extra or providing them with less Rights…

      • Just watching

        The scripture does not refer to marriage,it refers to what a believer in Christ is willing to suffer for the sake of the gospel. I posted Mark 8:36 in reference to the comment regarding the loss of revenue in the business. Regarding the comments of the company supporting hate groups I know nothing of even though you say it is true. I also believe that homosexuality is a sin, but I don’t hate anyone who lives that life style. One of the major problems in this world is that when someone does not support what you do or believe it is immediately catagorized as hate, especially when it comes to homosexuality. We are destroying each other daily. God is keeping a record and everyone whether they believe in God or not will answer for their actions.

      • http://twitter.com/TheLordsRoom Dan Beliveau

        I like how you managed to take a group like Southern Poverty and make it seem as if it’s not a left wing anti religious [mostly christian] group, just like the ACLU. This isn’t about any of that. Mr. Cathy only stated where he stands, the company plainly states that they don’t discriminate, but they hold Christian values. You want to accept and promote homosexual marriage or any other lifestyle like beastiallity, or anything else that goes against what God calls an abomination. Thats certainly up to you. You can disguise the words in your blog to try and make it sound like you are only being objective, but you are sharing things like the video to make your anti Christian views known . Ignore what God wants, many people do, but someday God will have an accounting for defiance of His Word. Ancient Israel did the same thing and there are many examples of what happened to them because of it. In your article you call people standing up for what the creator of the Universe has declared as hate. Thats an interesting take.

        • Joshua Kennon

          If you had a Biblical world view, your post would be acceptable. However, you don’t. You are also intellectually dishonest. Dan Cathy is not being boycotted because he believes marriage is between a man and a woman. He is being boycotted because he gave millions of dollars to groups that want to make being gay a criminal offense in the United States (even going so far as to admit the desire to overturn Lawrence v. Texas on national television).

          You can tell me all about how you have a Biblical world view when you send me pictures of the slaves you own, photographs of your protests of the “abomination” that is Red Lobster, force your daughter to marry her rapist (make sure to get your 50 pieces of silver), refuse to accept interest on your bank balances or certificates of deposit, share the interesting stories of your chemically induced abortions (fun fact: the Bible contains the very first ‘morning after’ pill for cheating spouses in Numbers 5:12-31), and how you’re totally fine with ritual human sacrifices, like when Jephthah murdered his daughter and gave her as a burnt offering to the Lord in Judges 11 in exchange for victory in battle. You can talk to me about your Biblical world view when your church bans all men who have survived testicular caner (after all, Deuteronomy 23 says that men who aren’t fully functional can’t enter the assembly of the Lord), and don’t forget illegitimate births either. If a child is born out of wedlock, he or she, and 10 generations of descendants, can’t go to Church either (Deuteronomy 23, as well). That might be problematic when 60 out of 100 births in the United States are outside of marriage, meaning that you really can’t begin to recruit most people for church membership until somewhere around the year 2320 when this restriction has worn off, assuming an average age of child bearing of 28 years old.

          Like too many people in the world, you pick and choose what you want to believe, can’t think for yourself, and cloak your cultural biases in the shroud of religion because you are too ignorant to have actually read the book upon which you have staked your soul. Fifty years ago, you and your cohorts would have been posting on the Internet about how the “coloreds” (I doubt you would use that word) were separated by God as a different race and using the slave verses in the Bible to justify your stupidity.

          You are not being persecuted because you believe in Jesus Christ (personally, I do, for the record, not that it is any of your business). You are being persecuted because you are an idiot.

          My feelings toward your post can best be summed up by Condescending Wonka.

  • Anon

    New Rule.

    Before supporting marriage equality, you are required to watch a 15+ minute long gay porn video. If after watching you still support marriage equality, you have my respect and attention, and can call yourself a bona fide marriage equality advocate.

    On a slightly more serious note, the Chick-fil-a brouhaha is about two things. On the one side, supporting a company with similar values and supporting a company that is being threatened by government entities for its values and outspokenness. On the other side, boycotting a company over its values and where it donates its profits.

    Lesser intelligent people are free to boycott businesses over superfluous qualities that have nothing to do with the good or service being purchased. Boycotting a company over its values is the EXACT SAME, I repeat, the exact same, as refusing to hire an employee because he or she is not attractive, refusing to shop at a company because the cashier is a minority, etc. The only legitimate reason for refusing to shop at a company over something other than quality of product or service is that their profits go to terrorism. I shop at places and from people with whom I disagree. But they offer the best goods or services, so I shop there. People have the freedom to be stupid and boycott over politics. Doesn’t make you smart and it’s not something I would publicly share with others.

    • Anon

      Quick modification to correct a huge, glaring flaw in my modest new rule. 15 minutes girl-on-girl AND 15 minutes guy-on-guy.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Thomas/100000044965204 Mike Thomas

        Why is a 15 minute lesbian scene any different than a 15 minute gay scene? They’re both homosexual couples having consensual, loving sex with each other. You can’t separate the two. You’re just a bigot, plain and simple.

        • Anon

          No, you’re a bigot AND a racist! I love throwing words around. Makes ’em lose their power real fast.

        • http://twitter.com/SMcTwelve Scott McCarthy

          If you think porn shows people who are in love with each other, you haven’t watched much porn…

    • Joshua Kennon

      My favorite line: “People have the freedom to be stupid”.

      That’s what makes a democratically inspired republic so frustrating, but it’s worth it compared to the alternatives.

      One question: Is it possible that your economic model isn’t expansive enough? You are looking solely at the quality of the product or service itself. Brands and brand equity, which is what started all of this, are so much more. For example, a few hours ago, I was in men’s department at Hall’s department store in Kansas City. Some of the products really just are better – if you have ever seen a $3,500 Brioni jacket in person and worn it, you can tell that it took a lot of people using extraordinary materials a long time to make it. Other products are not … such as the $100 Prada flip-flops that were very comparable to ones you’d find at Target except for the logo blazoned on the side. Someone buying those flip-flops are not just buying the product. They are engaging in an economic transaction known as “signaling theory” that broadcasts certain things about them to the world.

      For many people, not all but at least a significant minority of society, signaling theory is a powerful influence on the purchase of products and services. Me? I tend to focus on the quality of the item itself. I’m somewhat obsessed with quality. But there are a lot of people who care more about subconsciously reinforcing who they are. People dress a certain way, shop at certain stores, eat certain foods, and speak in certain dialects as extensions of their self-perceived identity.

      In short, what would exempt a chicken sandwich from that equation? How is it any less prone to those economic / psychological forces as, say, Prada flip-flops?

  • http://www.facebook.com/GoGoGoblin Bob Lyons

    halfway down through the blog, there’s a google ad for a free chick-fil-a sandwich coupon on my screen. lol

    • Joshua Kennon

      Yeah, the Google Ad script analyzing the content on the page and displays the most appropriate context-specific advertisements, and then adjusts for the individual browsing history of the reader. You may have seen a Chick-fil-A ad, most of the ads I see when working on the site are for Saks and things like Merrill Lynch. It’s personalized. That sometimes leads to interesting results.

  • Joshua Kennon

    As to your second point, I think the evidence overwhelmingly persuades to the contrary. A year or two ago, I examined those concepts here and here.

    The man you met, Joe Hallet, may choose to remain celibate or he may choose to marry a person of the opposite gender, which is fine if those are his religious beliefs (personally, I’m all for people living how they want even if I don’t understand it and think it irrational), but he is still a gay man, even if he chooses not to act on his orientation. In the past few years, it has now become possible to identify gay men by looking at MRI scans and, a few days ago, a study came out showing that you could now tell which men are gay by controlling for pupil dilation in certain settings. Involuntary responses in the brain that can be identified and that consistently manifest across a minority of people throughout the world are genetic manifestations, possibly caused by an interplay of genes and environment. I’d be willing to bet $500 cash that this particular man you mentioned would still be gay under MRI and pupil dilation tests. He was gay, he is gay, and he will always be gay, he may just choose not to act on it.

    As for the bad relationship with father theory: Social science gives a convincing argument for why it appeared that older generations (people 50 and older today) would have had bad relationships between gay sons and straight fathers because that certainly isn’t the case today (all of the gay men I know have fantastic relationships with their dads, save for one, and that is because they are both high-performing personalities in the tops of their respective fields, which doesn’t blend well together). Back then, the only people who “came out” were those who could not hide it; the smaller percentage of gay men with feminine characteristics. The Rock Hudsons of the world stayed in the closet because they could, while maintaining the privileges of being perceived as straight. When a young boy manifests non-gender behavior at a young age, 2 or 3 years old, the typical father in the 1950’s or 1960’s wouldn’t have known how to deal with that, nor how to relate to a son who wasn’t interested in sports, girls, beer, or whatever else was part of the social bonding rituals of the time.

    Thus, in sociological terms, the fathers were distant BECAUSE their sons were feminine. The sons were not gay because their fathers were distant.

    If the absent father theory of homosexuality were correct, the largest group of single-mother households in the United States, in this case African American children, would be wildly, disproportionately homosexual, which isn’t the case at all. That group displays the same manifestation of homosexuality you would expect in any genetic population.

    • rhv70

      I should have mentioned that I can’t take your bet. Joe died in 1997 after having full blown AIDS for several years. He lived for many years with a T cell count below 40.

      • Joshua Kennon

        That is incredibly tragic. To have a life filled with such pain, conflict, and ultimately, to have it end after years of that kind of disease … such a pointless waste.

  • Joshua Kennon

    Do you think it is because the United States has less than 2.6 million Muslims compared to 66.3 million Christians? That is my guess, personally.

    If a local Muslim-owned business were doing something my group of friends and family found offensive (e.g., advocating laws requiring women to shield their head or the death penalty for gays), they would be protested and boycotted just as much as any other group advocating those policies, not because of, or in spite of, the fact they were Muslim.

    Is it possible devout Muslim businesses engaged in social advocacy are just too small percentage-wise to get noticed? I think that probably explains the seeming disparity. In sheer numbers, for every 1 boycott of a Muslim business, you would expect at least 25 boycotts of a Christian business. That may make it seem like Christians were getting boycotted more but the proportion is the same based on the total followers in the United States.

    • rhv70

      The numbers can be different – it’s still an incredible double standard that the media ignores.