Would You Boycott Chick-Fil-A?

by Elizabeth on August 27, 2012 · 5 comments

Ahhhh, I remember the days when the only thing you associated with Chick-Fil-A was a sandwich, some waffle fries, and the best damn lemonade in the South. That, of course, was ages ago – two weeks, to be exact – and times have changed for the home of the original chicken sandwich.

Last week, news reports hit the airwaves, the papers, and the Internet simultaneously celebrating and denouncing Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s announcement that he supports traditional marriage as the law of the land. While many in the conservative Christian community lauded Cathy’s proclamation, supporters of same-sex marriage were left flummoxed, flabbergasted, and searching for a rebuttal.

They found it, in the form of a boycott.

The Boycott Debate

Perhaps ironically, the boycott itself has become a hot-bed issue. Those on the left are saying that Chick-Fil-A is intolerant and bigoted, while those on the right say those on the left areacting intolerant and bigoted. As an unbiased journalist – who reports on things from an apolitical perspective – I see the merit in both claims. It’s kind of like that old saying that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” – or, to use another cliched adage, “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Whether you’re talking about a business boycott or economic sanctions on a nation, the point is to affect change. The goal is to get the business or country to reverse its policy. That’s exactly why a boycott of Chick-Fil-A would never work – because, according to the research I’ve done, there isn’t evidence that Dan Cathy’s anti-same-sex marriage opinion is trickling down into how his company treats its customers or hires employees. Maybe supporters of gay marriage would hope to convince Cathy that all men and women deserve to marry their partner, regardless of gender, by boycotting his restaurant chain, but I don’t think abstaining from lemonade and waffle fries necessarily equates to a change of heart.

Most Businesses Have A Cause

The thing is, very few businesses – or businessmen and women, for that matter – are completely isolated when it comes to politics. It’s almost impossible to insulate the business world from the political one these days. There’s Warren Buffet, who is a staunch promoter of the Democratic agenda; on the other hand, there are businessmen like former GE CEO Jack Welch, who proudly back Romney and the Republican party.

Other examples of this lack of insularity come from within the same-sex marriage debate itself; however, these went more or less unnoticed by the mainstream press (please, no comments about the liberal media; as someone who worked in TV news for years, I can attest to the fact that there were just as many Republicans in every newsroom I ever worked in as Democrats). I’m talking about Google’s launch of the “Legalize Love” campaign, to bring global awareness to same-sex marriage rights. And let’s not forget Starbucks, who’s board of directors publicly supported a same-sex marriage referendum in Washington state to legalize these unions. Both of these companies faced opposition from same-sex marriage opponents, including threats of boycotts, although no serious repercussions resulted from either.

But Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s actions most closely parallel Dan Cathy’s and Chick-Fil-A’s. Earlier this year, Bezos made a multi-million dollar donation to that same Washington state referendum Starbucks supported. I say this parallels the Cathy announcement because, unlike the two examples outlined in the above paragraphs, this was an individual, not a company launching a campaign or taking a public position on a hot-button issue. While Cathy’s business has been threatened with a boycott and revocation of zoning permits for his stance, Bezos’s Amazon has been largely immune from a similar backlash.

What’s The Point?

I’m not trying to make a political point here, or to promote any agenda – gay or straight. Rather, I’m trying to get into your brains; under what circumstances would you support a boycott of a business? Does the Chick-Fil-A boycott make sense to you? Why or why not? Take the politics out of it, and stay true to the meaning of this blog – as a professional, how do you view Cathy’s comments and the backlash they caused from a business perspective?



{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kim August 27, 2012 at 10:43 pm

I think for big business, any publicity can be good. When else has Chick Fil A been in the news so much? While I don’t agree with his beliefs, you do have to respect someone who speaks their mind and backs it up. Chick Fil A has long been a bit against the fast food grain by closing on Sundays. In the long run, people who like chicken sandwiches and peach milkshakes are going to go to Chick Fil A.


2 Roshawn @ Watson Inc August 28, 2012 at 9:04 am

Elizabeth, Dan Cathy is a private citizen who was asked his opinion about a polarizing topic. The interviewer and most other people already suspected his position on the topic given the Christian framework, he’s publicly operated by. He answered truthfully, and the thought that he or his business would be crucified for it is unfathomable. I don’t think he intended to offend anyone, but even if he did (unlikely), he’s still protected. People have every right to disagree with him, just as he has a right to voice his opinion. That’s what living in a free country means. Thankfully, we have no laws that say you are entitled to an opinion as long as it agrees with mine. An aside is that he may be out of touch with many, but he was also in sync with many others.


3 Wealth Artisan September 9, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Hi Elizabeth,

I don’t see what the big fuss is about. OH NO! Someone doesn’t agree with your moral/ethical/business/lifestyle/cultural/[insert any other trait], boycott them! I’m not boycotting Amazon or Google for voicing their opinions, nor would I boycott Chick-Fil-A.

The fact of the matter is, there are people who don’t agree with me, and people who have opinions that differ from my own. I suppose people can boycott Chick-Fil-A if it outrages them that they don’t agree with them, but we’d live in a pretty boring place if everyone believed the same way or were afraid to voice their beliefs.

Great article, and good job trying to remain as objective as possible. Have a great night.



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