Chicken sandwich, with a side of stupid

I apologize for how I keep going on and on about Chick-fil-A.  I know the whole ordeal is just another tedious way station in the long slog toward marriage equality in this country, and a particularly silly one at that.  I know I’ve already shared my thoughts about the issue… twice!  Those of you who are bearing with me in this vexatious time, I thank you for your patience.

But God help me, something about the way my peeps are reacting to this controversy is working my very last nerve.  So — it’s my blog, and I’ll rant if I want to.

First of all, who could possibly have seen this coming?

All day long Wednesday, restaurants were packed largely with conservative Christians who showed up for a Chick-fil-A appreciation day, an event organized by former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas after the company was targeted as being antigay.

When is a chicken sandwich not a chicken sandwich?  When it’s a deep-fried mouthful of religious liberty, that’s when.  Suddenly one can make an angry political point and harden one’s arteries at the exact same time.  (If there is a more fitting metaphor for today’s America, I’d love to hear it.)  Now all right-thinking liberal politicians can preen about keeping nasty bigots out of their cities, and all right-thinking social conservatives can pride themselves on eating the most morally-upright fast food on the market.  Everyone’s a winner!

As I’ve said already, even though I was almost certainly not going to be eating there anyway, I won’t be buying myself any Chick-fil-A anytime soon.  That’s how boycotts work, and I happen to think it’s perfectly legitimate to withhold one’s custom from a merchant who will use his profits in part to fund causes one opposes.  On the flipside, people who hold the opposite view can show their support for said causes by flocking to said merchant’s stores.  It remains to be seen whether anything even remotely meaningful comes from this flurry of buying/not buying, but I don’t find either response annoying.

What do I find annoying?

People who support same-sex marriage and oppose the company’s position are organizing a kiss-in on Friday at the restaurants.

Boom, annoyance a-go-go.

I will give you a shiny nickel if you can explain to me what organizers of this “kiss-in” hope to accomplish.  (Note: “feeling good about ourselves” does not count as an accomplishment.)  Maybe my dark tar heart is too riddled with cynicism to see the inherent beauty in this protest, but from my perspective watching gays and lesbians necking during lunchtime will do little to change the minds of restaurant patrons.  I guess if that doesn’t work, they can just throw glitter on them.

As delicious as Chick-fil-A partisans seem to find the food, I am actually quite glad that there do not seem to be any franchises in the state where I currently reside.  Why?  Because we have a marriage-equality referendum coming down the pike, and while the poll numbers certainly look good the very last thing we need is to get lazy or arrogant.  And frankly, I’d just as well pass on any asinine, pointless stunts that might piss off undecided voters right now, thanks all the same.  It’s all very courageous to play tonsil hockey for the cause, and I wish the saliva-swappers well on their self-congratulatory voyage to Herotown, but actually changing people’s minds and getting them to side with you at the ballot box takes much more time and effort.

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. The local station that broadcasts Hannity and other conservative talk shows out of NYC sent someome all the way to Paramus, NJ (closest locale to NYC… About an hour from midtown with no traffic) to buy “boxes” of chicken sandwiches. This staffer called into the Hannity show, where he was celebrated. This happened in the midst of Hannity insisting that folks opting not to buy from Chick-fil-A ammounted to silencing thought. This was done with zero sense or irony.

    A college roommate summed it up thusly: “I can understand-ish the general support for Chick-fil-A. That’s a frustrating inevitability. But these photos of people gleefully waiting in line there today are genuinely hurtful. Man, people are excited about showing just how much they don’t like gay people.”

    He’s a younger man than you, fwiw.

    • Oh, I don’t have anything especially nice to say for people who felt their time was best spent making an equally-pointless gesture of standing on line at Chick-fil-A for hours, either. I happen to think it says something unpleasant about a person that he or she would be willing to do so. But people are free to behave like assholes on both sides of the aisle, and I’m proportionately more peeved when the people acting like morons are on my side.

      • The sick thing is that I really, really like Chick-fil-A, and while I’m sort of on the fence about whether I think I’m willing to boycott them (I probably am, but it’s not a given), now if I do eat there, I’m going to feel like a complete jackass. Like I’m rubbing in my hatred of the gays.

        • Tangential, but I always prefer this approach to the “Sour Grapes” approach. “Their food was never good anyway.”

          Boycotting CFA is easy because, well, there isn’t one for hours and hours as far as I am aware. If that weren’t the case, I probably would have trouble eating there at least next to people who are eating there to Make A Point I vehemently disagree with. Maybe at some point in the future when eating there isn’t Making A Point. But right now it is. I don’t want to be a part of that.

          But their food is good. Dangit.

          • So I guess what I’m saying is that I am not the active boycotting type unless it’s something particular egregious. But anti-SSM folks have made eating there a political point. With that line in the sand, I know where I am.

          • I’m really conflicted. My girlfriend and I love chick-fil-a, but I’ll probably not want to go there until the controversy dies down. It’s all purely for selfish reasons–I probably should to boycott them, but I like the chicken.

          • Go there, kiss frequently, and make a point of addressing her as “Dave.”

  2. If they wanted to demonstrate the true and deep realities of gay marriage, they should have a couple go up to the counter and have one order a sandwich and a side of waffle fries and have the other one exhale through his nose and the first one can say “what?” and the second can say “nothing” and the first can say “you think I should get a salad!” and the second can say “I didn’t say you had to get a salad” and the first can say “I have had a really bad week this week and I thought that the highlight of my week would be sharing this meal with you but you’re dead set on ruining that for me too!” and the second can say “IF YOU WANT FRIES THEN GET FRIES AND I CAN GO TO YOUR FUNERAL AND SAY AT LEAST HE ENJOYED THAT MEAL TWO YEARS AGO BEFORE HIS HEART ATTACK”

    and so on.

    Play the long game.

      • kiss ins are so 80s – a quarrel-in, however…that has promise.

    • Every now and then there is a comment so delicious, I wish I wrote it.

      This is one of those.

    • Jaybird wins. He also owes me a new tie. Coffee sputtered all over.

      That’ll teach me to read LoOG at work.

    • (Of course, I didn’t mean to imply that the “true and deep realities of gay marriage” meant passive-aggressive bickering but instead that the interactions between any two married people can pretty much be swapped out between any two other married people because, at the end of the day, any two people are any two people. The dialog could have just as easily ended with one of them getting the giggles and being unable to complete his order from a “I’d like a chicken sandwich.” “Like that time at your sister’s?” exchange.)

      • Just admit it… You think gays are catty. Don’t hide your hate. Douhat taught us all about that recently, no?

  3. Yeah the entire episode makes me want to slap everybody invovled. Eating fast food to make a political point=oy. Not going to a fast food joint to make a point= well good for you but the resturant isn’t going to notice so…oy. A kiss in= oy and sounds like a way to get some free kisses but it will make everybody self-rightous and proud.

    oh yeah for america.

  4. I know that a lot of people disapprove of middle-aged men leaving their wives for 20ish supermodels. I consider this medieval and narrow-minded, and I’m strongly considering organizing a kiss-in in protest.

    • Tell it to Mrs. Rupert Sanders, who has ordered ol’ Rupie not to work with Kristen Stewart.

  5. “I will give you a shiny nickel if you can explain to me what organizers of this “kiss-in” hope to accomplish. (Note: “feeling good about ourselves” does not count as an accomplishment.)”

    To make an overtly homosexual demonstration in a manifestly anti-gay establishment that provides a clear, visible demonstration of the business lost by Chick-Fil-A’s financial contributions to anti-gay organizations. To discombobulate patrons who dislike gays or are uncomfortable seeing same-sex affection. To promote a sense of activism and unity among the LGBT participants. The aim isn’t to win hearts and minds. Rather, the aim is to provide a means of self-empowerment and to galvanize future activism.

    “It’s all very courageous to play tonsil hockey for the cause, and I wish the saliva-swappers well on their self-congratulatory voyage to Herotown, but actually changing people’s minds and getting them to side with you at the ballot box takes much more time and effort. ”

    Question: do you have this much opprobrium for kiss-ins in general, or is there something about this particular fight that irritates you so? Would you be more amenable to a protest of this nature in some of the prior cases, where the restaurant/business owner/employee threw out a gay couple for expressing overt affection?

    • Hello, Nat. Thanks for commenting.

      I’m going to use the last sentence of your first paragraph above as a summary for the whole thing, since it seems to encapsulate a sense of the whole.

      Rather, the aim is to provide a means of self-empowerment and to galvanize future activism.

      To me, that is a loftier way of saying “feel good about ourselves.” If you’re not out to change hearts and minds, then what actual progress are you making? What is the point of “discombobulating” anyone? How does that get us any closer to marriage equality? I don’t see it at all.

      As for this:

      Question: do you have this much opprobrium for kiss-ins in general, or is there something about this particular fight that irritates you so? Would you be more amenable to a protest of this nature in some of the prior cases, where the restaurant/business owner/employee threw out a gay couple for expressing overt affection?

      Until this whole brouhaha erupted, I had never heard of a “kiss-in.” Since my benchmark for supporting something at this point in my life is “accomplishes a tangible goal I want accomplished,” and since I have no clear sense of how a kiss-in would do such a thing, I am disinclined to support them generally speaking. In the hypothetical situation you describe, there would at least be a more direct connection between the protest and the action being protested, so I could at least see the sense of it. But in this case, I see no particular sense at all. Boycotting the restaurant, as I’ve tried to make as clear as I can, makes sense. Kissing in it? No.

    • I’m old enough to remember Queer Nation, are you? There are positive assessments of what Queer Nation accomplished through its street theater tactics in the early nineties, but I remain skeptical.

      Throwing vials of blood that were at least called “AIDS-tainted” at members of the SFPD didn’t seem well-calculated to me to win a lot of friends or allies for the gay rights movement.

      When Queer Nation toned it down to crashing Pete Wilson’s gubernatorial inauguration while wearing the most outrageous and shocking costumes from the Gay Pride Parade, and then playing super-sloppy-tongue-twister-PDA games during the Governor’s speech and chanting “We’re here! We’re queer! Deal with it!” all seemed calculated to shock and offend rather than to persuade and appeal. (Pete Wilson also wasn’t exactly the most rabid of gay-baiting Republicans, IIRC.)

      And involuntary outing always seemed kind of disrespectful too, even if the subject of the outing had behaved like a hypocritical ass.

      I suppose one could argue that the gay rights movement needed a “good cop bad cop” sort of phase, and that Queer Nation filled the role of bad cop. But even if that was true, that was twenty years ago.

  6. You really are a reincarnated British spinster scold, my friend. And I mean that in a very awesome way.

    • Calling that guy a self-righteous, pompous douchey idiotic asshole would be a compliment.

      Also, I hate Karl Marx.

      • They fired the dude. I expect he doubles his salary elsewhere, mebbe gets elected to something. It’s the American way.

        The actions of Mr. Smith do not reflect our corporate values in any manner. Vante is an equal opportunity company with a diverse workforce, which holds diverse opinions. We respect the right of our employees and all Americans to hold and express their personal opinions, however, we also expect our company officers to behave in a manner commensurate with their position and in a respectful fashion that conveys these values of civility with others.

        • He showed extremely poor judgement. His actions were riddled with fail…

          He waited in line for an extended period of time (1) so he could get free water (2) under the assumption this would cost the company a meaningful amount of money (3), proceeds to berate a young women for her company’s owner’s remarks (4), gets visibly upset when she rightfully refuses to engage him (5), records the whole thing (6), and posts it online (7). Did he deserve to get fired? I dunno… I don’t know the specifics of his work place but the quote offerd makes it seem justified. I hope to god he doesn’t parlay it into a career, as all he did was make his cause look horrible.

          • We have up on the board the top 5 feelings Russell is feeling… Survey says!?!?!?

            Fwiw, he obviously made himself look even worse than he made the cause look. I’m curious how often he gets held up as what’s wrong with teh gayes, despite the fact that he’s straight.

          • The employee deserves kudos for maintaining her composure and pleasant demeanor.

            The douche was right about one thing; she did deserve better.

          • Indeed. Chick-Fil-A would be wise to promote her. Even its opponents should commend her.

  7. I am a little unclear on something. What, precisely, does a kiss-in consist of. Other than the obvious, I mean. Is it just that you’re going to go there, kiss, eat a sandwich, kiss, and leave? Or is it something more conspicuous than that?

    • I’d venture to guess that folks are going to mob the store and, on a given cue, all kiss at the same time. I’d also venture to guess they will not be buying sandwiches. Their behavior may, MAY, cross into trespassing at some point. Though, as pointed out in Burt’s post on Pussy Riot, Chick-fil-A would be wise to not pursue action, simply ignoring whatever it is the kissers do.

      • Ahhh, doing it in concert. That was what I was missing. I think it’s unclassy to go into a restaurant and not buy food unless nature is calling, but other than that, that’s not nearly as bad as I had feared.

        I agree that CFA would be smart to just let it go.

        • That’s just my guess, mind you. But that is immediately what I thought of when I first heard about it. Which I hope isn’t because of some subconscious association with gays and flash mobs… If so, I blame “Modern Family”.

          “You cheated on me… with choreography… and that is the worst kind!”

  8. I agree with your sentiments, Russell. But, you know, but for all we might rationally decry the reaction to Dan Cathy’s comments, the fact is, Dan Cathy started all this. If he had just kept his damn yap shut in the first place none of this would have gone down.

    Which begs the question, Was that his intention all along? Was he looking for this kind of response and the counter-response that has ensued? Even more cynically, was business flagging?

    Culture wars suck.

    • I don’t have a whole lot of love for Mr. Cathy, Rod. Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s perfectly legitimate for LGBT people and those who care about their legal equality to choose other places to buy their fried chicken. Insofar the choice has not already been geographically foreclosed for me, I will make similar dining decisions myself. I’ve tried to be clear that I think the boycott makes sense.

      But the kiss-in? It strikes me as a self-congratulatory stunt that will do diddly-squat to advance the equality agenda. All it will do is piss off people who already disagree, and make the lives of the people working in the restaurants just a little more difficult.

      • and make the lives of the people working in the restaurants just a little more difficult.

        My sis-in-law is one of those insufferable, wear-it-on-sleeve uber-Christians and she has worked at CfA for many years, specifically because they’re so in-your-face Xtian.

        I have to confess to a bit of pleasure at the thought of her mildly suffering through this. That’s uncharitable of me, I know, but it is what it is.

        • If I could somehow guarantee that the only employees of Chick-fil-A who would be put out by this would be of your sis-in-law’s ilk, then I would be marginally more supportive of this protest. Since I suspect most of them are probably just trying to get by the best they can working an honest job, I’d err on the side of “no.”

  9. On a tangentially related note, at the suggestion of many commenters here, I had me some Popeye’s chicken today. The spicy kind. The kind that people say makes KFC superfluous. My feelings on KFC are on record (I’m unimpressed). So after reading so many laudatory comments about Popeye’s, finding myself in that neighborhood after running an errand at lunch, and secure in the knowledge that buying fried chicken at Popeye’s was an entirely apolitical decision, I figured, “Okay, I’ll try it!”

    So… Umm… What’s all the fuss about? That was nuthin’ special.

    • Whole Foods frequently does specials where a bucket of chicken is priced reasonably. (OK, *almost* reasonably.) Has anyone tried it?

      • How could Whole Foods chicked possibly be apolitical? Simply being at Whole Foods in the first place screams “I’m a crunchy green progressive going in to my organic food collective! This is my tribe, these are my peeps, this is our crib, yo!” You might be able to wear that badge with pride, Mike, but I’ve gotta get by in a town divided roughly equally between conservative people who hire my firm, and very conservative people who hire my firm.

        • If only Whole Foods could get the Chick-fil-A treatment, your neighbors would know that John Mackey totally hates unions. Then you’d have tons of cover.

  10. Does the US have Nando’s Flame-Grilled Chicken? I’ve heard very good things about it.

  11. I line with the above, I have heard stories that Church’s Fried Chicken is even better than Popeye’s. Sadly, there ain’t no Church’s in Colorado Springs.

    Can anyone out there confirm or not?

Comments are closed.