Nading: We didn’t invent the chicken, just the misdirected backlash

Mackenzie Nading

Jesus Christ and chicken sandwiches. Who would have thought somebody would have put those two together?

It seems like an unlikely, almost laughable, concoction of concepts to correlate. But these two words have been used very frequently in the same argument over the last couple weeks.

Chick-fil-A, a popular fast food restaurant specializing in fried chicken entrees, has taken heat hotter than a deep fryer recently. According to ABC News, the company’s president and chief operating officer, Dan Cathy, made a statement on the radio saying, “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’”

To set the record straight, this column has nothing to do with gay rights or marriage and lifestyle choice. It also has nothing to do with religion or religious affiliation. It does, however, have everything to do with freedom of speech and religion.

The First Amendment states government (including state and local governments, by way of the 14th Amendment) “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.”

It’s no secret that Chick-fil-A has based its company around Christian beliefs, morals and beliefs. All Chick-fil-A restaurants around the nation close every Sunday to honor the Sabbath, a weekly day of rest or time of worship observed in Christianity. Participating restaurants are also known to give discounts and specials to those who bring in their church bulletins on certain days of the week. This restaurant chain very strongly asserts its religious affiliation, and it happens to be that of a Christian persuasion.

So why does this statement come as such a shock that it causes major cities to forbid Chick-fil-A to open up shop on their territory? The mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, has boldly stated “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values,” and he has banned the opening of the franchise in the first ward of Chicago. Thomas Menino, mayor of Boston, was first to take a tyrannical stand against the company, making a decision to ban Chick-fil-A from opening up a restaurant in the city of Boston solely because he didn’t agree with Cathy’s statement about marriage.

Menino himself proved the tyrannical nature of his original order by withdrawing his threat after receiving so much negative feedback over the decision from his constituents, rather than asking for their input in the first place. If that isn’t putting the cart before the horse, I don’t know what is.

Every citizen in this country has the freedom of expression, speech and religion, protected by the First Amendment. We yell, fight and scream about our First Amendment rights every day, especially those who consider themselves a minority whose rights are being infringed, like the LGBT or ethnic communities.

But here’s the cold hard fact: Presidents of companies have those rights, too. Cathy is just as American as the rest of us and subsequently has been born with freedom of speech and religion. Therefore, he can state his beliefs, thoughts and opinions openly and honestly. Whether those views are reflected through the way he chooses to run his restaurants, or by speaking it proudly over the radio, he has that right. But another important thing to remember is that the fried chicken sold from Cathy’s restaurants isn’t tainted with his opinion.

Anyone has the right to, or not to, walk into a Chick-fil-A and enjoy their food. You don’t have to be a Christian, and you don’t have to agree with Dan Cathy’s opinion to eat the food prepared by the restaurant. Chick-fil-A is in no way discriminating against anyone, especially those who are gay. Just because you choose to live your life a certain way doesn’t mean you’re banned from the restaurant.

Penalizing the entire Chick-fil-A franchise for a statement made by their president is like penalizing a child for a statement made by their parent, and refusing to eat at Chick-fil-A because you disagree with their company president’s personal opinion is like two parents not letting their child go to the neighbor kid’s birthday party because they don’t like the breed of rose bushes in their neighbor’s garden.