The other night I attended the grand opening of Westwood Village’s newest restaurant, a Chick-fil-A. C.R., the young owner (all, or most of the brand’s restaurants are privately owned), welcomed us with warmth and excitement at starting his own business in a friendly new—to him—city.
After speeches and music we were treated to a sampler of all the wares, from three kinds of chicken sandwiches to salads, yogurt parfaits, and finally the richest chocolate chunk (not measly chip) cookies to send us on our way.
But when I told my daughter Lisa about the event she scowled and proclaimed that she wouldn’t patronize a homophobic business like Chick-fil-A.
I protested that the views were those of the company president, Dan Cathy, not of the corporation, and I’d be shocked if individual store owners like C.R. harbored anti-gay sentiments.
But now I wonder, is it ethical to patronize a business whose owner promotes views that are abhorrent to me?
Cathy was brought up in the Bible belt with biblical warnings about the evil of homosexuality, so perhaps he deserves some slack, and he has the same right to freedom of speech that we all have. My first reaction to Lisa’s strong feelings was to give Cathy—and Chick-fil-A—a pass. Just like most Jews now give Ford Motor Company a pass from the virulent anti-Semitism of its founder.
But Henry Ford is long dead, and the company doesn’t celebrate his ugly “values.” Chick-fil-A, on the other hand, is a perpetual celebrant of the Cathy family values. All stores are closed on Sunday so Christians can attend to their religious obligations. And the chief responded to this week’s Supreme Court ruling that the federal Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, by tweeting,
“Sad day for our nation; founding fathers would be ashamed of our gen. to abandon wisdom of the ages re: cornerstone of strong societies.”
A company spokesman tried damage control by issuing this statement:
“Dan Cathy, like everyone in this country, has his own views. However, Chick-fil-A is focused on providing great-tasting food and genuine hospitality to everyone.”
But as long as Cathy keeps up his drumbeat of fundamentalism it’ll be hard for me to get his views out of my mind and enjoy the chicken. So no more Chick-fil-A for me.