Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cheap & Greasy: Fast-Food Morals

     First it was the Muppets, when the Jim Henson Company posted on their Facebook page:
"The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD."
     This redistribution of wealth was a refreshing change from the estimated millions of dollars in donations Chick-fil-A has sent to underwrite anti-gay organizations, most notably Focus on the Family and the notorious Family Research Council. Above and beyond the publicly stated opinions of the company’s President, it was these (albeit Constitutionally protected) activities that the business engaged in which was objectionable for many consumers and activists.

     Now while initially it may have seemed rather pathetic to look up to a bunch of puppet characters as role models for ethical responsibility, in retrospect that absolutely shines in comparison to rallying around a corporate fast-food chain as a shining beacon of moral leadership and religious nationalism. Consequently this became a cultural flash-point (well, deep-fried at least) and aroused the righteous wrath of yet another former-candidate-turned–FOX-sycophant Mike Huckabee, who then proceeded to arrange one of the biggest events for indignant patriots across America to waddle around: August 1st’s “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.”

     The mounting backlash continued with some over-zealous elected officials attempting to close off their communities from a perceived crusade of polyunsaturated Christianity - although the chain has an established pattern of being charged with workplace discrimination. And the ensuing melodrama has shaken the tree for like-minded holy opportunists such as Santorum and Franklin Graham. There were even pastors calling for the death penalty for Kermit… if you thought it wasn’t easy being green, try being gay sometime. The Quitter herself, still desperately latching on to any remotely compatible conservative issue like this one, did a photo-op so as to slow down her inexorable circling around the drain of relevancy.

con·gen·i·tal (kn-jn-tl) adj.
1. Of or relating to a condition that is present at birth, as a result of either heredity or environmental influences: a congenital heart defect; congenital syphilis.
2. Being or having an essential characteristic as if by nature; inherent or inveterate.
3. Doesn’t fall far from the family tree.

     But despite the continuing side-show in the media circus, there are a couple points that shouldn’t get lost after all the feathers stop flying. One is the very real effect these issues have with real people, best exemplified by Wayne Self’s poignant essay “The Chick Fellatio” that appeared on his website Owldolatrous Productions. After reminding us that in twenty-nine states it is perfectly legal to fire someone based on sexual orientation, he frames the debate in no uncertain terms:
“This isn’t about mutual tolerance because there’s nothing mutual about it. If we agree to disagree on this issue, you walk away a full member of this society and I don’t. There is no “live and let live” on this issue because Dan Cathy is spending millions to very specifically NOT let me live. I’m not trying to do that to him.
Asking for “mutual tolerance” on this like running up to a bully beating a kid to death on the playground and scolding them both for not getting along. I’m not trying to dissolve Mr. Cathy’s marriage or make his sex illegal. I’m not trying to make him a second-class citizen, or get him killed. He’s doing that to me, folks; I’m just fighting back.”
     Nevermind the disingenuous attempt by right-wingers to co-opt such terminology as “intolerant” when someone refuses to tolerate intolerance, or similarly throwing around the charge of being “bigoted” when one is called out on their hypocrisy. This self-martyring victimhood of an oppressed majority would be laughable if it wasn't predicated on pure ignorance.

     Speaking of hypocritical disconnect, a second core issue here which escapes most folks is the obvious cognitive dissonance that occurs when claiming to defend so-called “traditional marriage.” What’s surprising is that in the case of Chick-fil-A, everything is admittedly hinged upon scriptural basis, as in the strict, literal “biblical” definition of family and marriage. On a Facebook page which was subsequently shared by thousands, Bradley Hartman wrote an ”Open Letter to Chick-fil-A” to addresses the trouble with this dogmatic interpretation, mainly in picking between the numerous examples as explicitly set forth in the bible:
· Marriage consists of one man and one or more than one woman (Gen 4:19, 4:23, 26:34, 28:9, 29:26-30, 30:26, 31:17, 32:22, 36:2, 36:10, 37:2, Ex. 21:10, Judges 8:30, 1 Sam 1:2, 25:43, 27:3, 30:5, 30:18, 2 Sam 2:2, 3:2-5, 1 Chron 3:1-3, 4:5, 8:8, 14:3, 2 Chron 11:21, 13:21, 24:3).
· If a woman cannot be proven to be a virgin at the time of marriage, she shall be stoned to death (Deut 22:13-21).
· A rapist must marry his victim (Ex. 22:16, Deut. 22:28-29), unless she was already a fiancĂ©, in which case he should be put to death if he raped her in the country, but both of them killed if he raped her in town (Deut. 22:23-27).
· If a man dies childless, his brother must marry the widow (Gen 38:6-10, Deut 25:5-10, Mark 12:19, Luke 20:28).
· Women must marry the man of their father’s choosing (Gen. 24:4, Josh.15:16-17, Judges 1:12-13, 12:9, 21:1, 1 Sam 17:25, 18:19, 1 Kings 2:21, 1 Chron 2:35, Jer 29:6, Dan 11:17).
· Women are the property of their fathers until married and the property of their husbands thereafter (Ex. 20:17, 22:17, Deut. 22:24, Mat 22:25).
· Inter-faith marriages are prohibited (Gen 24:3, 28:1, 28:6, Num 25:1-9, Ezra 9:12, Neh 10:30, 2 Cor 6:14).
· Divorce is forbidden (Deut 22:19, Matt 5:32, 19:9, Mark 10:9-12, Luke 16:18, Rom 7:2, 1 Cor 7:10-11, 7:39).

One might think that all this plucking out of offending eyes would eventually result in a serious blind spot. But aside from attempting to establish normative social behavior, if one is going to base an entire business upon biblical edicts, such as not opening on Sundays, perhaps some consistency is in order:
"And the swine, though it divides the hoof, and is cloven footed, yet it chews not the cud; it is unclean to you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you." Leviticus 11:7-8
When it comes to serving Traditional Family Value meals, abominations don’t make for much of a moral menu, but what the hell, have another bacon egg & cheese biscuit.

     As a final addendum to these double-standards, let's not forget the single most damming piece of evidence that the “Eat Mor Chikin” chain is morally bankrupt. Exhibit “A”: the overlooked controversy behind “Eat More Kale.” Last year the corporate lawyers from Chick-fil-A began threatening Vermont folk artist Bo Muller-Moore for supposedly infringing on their trademark slogan with his rallying cry for local organic agriculture. As if anybody would ever confuse the images of a healthy, wholesome food source with one that is factory-farmed, pumped full of antibiotics and containing high fructose corn syrup and tasty chemical additives like monosodium glutamate.

     So in the end, a lot of folks wound up getting suckered into one of the greasiest marketing and publicity scams ever devised, once again duping the religious by co-opting the persecution complex of the indignant - even if well-intentioned - believer. One theory for these mass public displays of stupidity can be attributed in part to a sort of cultural last gasp for a way of life that is rapidly being eclipsed. Technically labeled an “extinction burst,” these societal spasms occur as the old guard effectively shrivels up and blows away, along with their ossified and fundamentally frightened outlook on the world. One can only hope that with the upcoming elections, our level of national intellect does not get so unhealthy and out of shape as to prevent us from exercising that basic right: the freedom to think for ourselves. Then again, we do have drive-through voting now.

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