How do you feel about the Chick-Fil-A controversy? Which side are you on? Do you get riled up? Know someone who is? I used to get so riled up about many issues. It didn’t occur to me that maybe there’s another side to the story.
I rarely write articles about controversial issues like this because they are so negative. In spite of that, I felt compelled to weigh in with a yet a different angle. See if this makes sense to you. Feel free to disagree with me. It’s America.
If you are better than I am this time at avoiding the news you can Google it to learn more. In short, Dan Cathy, the owner of Chick-Fil-A, who runs his business based on biblical beliefs, said that he did not believe in gay marriage.
Dan was answering an interview question, a perfectly good place to express an opinion. With 60,000 employees if he was discriminating against any of them, I’m sure they would speak up. If you have ever employed people, as I did when I owned my Subway shop, you know there are also some “less than honest” employees out there. What if it was your dad or your best friend’s dad who said it? Ever been embarrassed by something they said. Does that mean you lash out? I’m all for the freedom of speech and the right to boycott, but what is the intention of that? Is it not to hurt someone’s business? What does that do to yourself if you get riled up? Just a thought.
Here is something else that cracks me up. All these political leaders “weighing in” to get votes from haters and anti-haters for them and against their opponents. Ironically, I guess I’m weighing in, but I’m not looking for votes. What I’m a fan of is “the truth.” How about you? Please bare with me before you judge where I’m going with this.
What I appreciate is Dan Cathy is open and honest. If he treated or discriminated against employees or customers that would be a problem. Isn’t this America, the place where you can have freedom of speech? Here is a guy who closes all of his 1,600 retail locations on Sundays to honor his beliefs and a day of rest as a Christian. These days how many business owners put their beliefs before profits? Can you imagine how much more they might earn if they were opened on Sundays? This is a retail food operation no less. He believes people should have a day of rest and to be with family, however you define it. I was shocked and felt refreshed years ago when I learned that from my friend Bill, who owned a Chick-Fil-A in the Philadelphia area.
Do you know the personal views of the owners of all the businesses where you spend your money? Do you really care? Do all owners tell all? Would most owners rather not “go there” for fear of losing business or losing friends? Can’t we all get along and respect people’s opinions even if they disagree with our own?
Being from Boston I heard that Tom Menino, Boston’s Mayor (who isn’t perfect but I like him), said something that cracked me up. He said, There is no room in Boston for Chick-Fil-A…
“We are indeed full of pride for our support of same-sex marriage and our work to expand freedom to all people.”
Freedom to all people? What about business owners, who happen to be people too, by the way. Freedom to all people? Unless you have an opinion that disagrees with mine, then we can’t include them? I respect both sides of this. Just cracks me up that he said in Boston we are “inclusive.” How can you be inclusive and exclude someone with an opinion or belief? I’d be willing to bet there are disagreeing opinions right in his own office. This is why I’m not into politics.
Whatever your view is I respect it. I’m not here to judge. Sometimes we get all worked up over things that strike a cord with us, yet we sometimes can’t strike our own cord to do the things we know we should do like help others, take care of our health and wealth. What if people who are getting all riled up on both sides did something better with that energy? What could we do? What could they do for their own lives?
If you are a fan of the Law of Attraction, you know that even negative energy is energy. People who are adamant against something are actually bringing energy to what you don’t want. All the people who are picketing are giving great PR to the exact company they are against. I’m sure there are negatives repercussions to Mr. Cathy, but I bet he’s also getting millions of dollars worth of publicity because of the controversy.
Where do you put your energy? In the past, when you got “riled” up about something, do you use that energy for good or….? Next time will you catch yourself and reconsider what you are doing and why?
Are you glad I weighed in on this one? Do you wish I had not? I’d love to hear your thoughts? Should I weigh in on current issues? Should I stick to speaking topics? Agree with me? Disagree? SPEAK!
I think we have reached such a low level of civility in this country and around the world for that matter that there is no cooperation, no understanding for opposing views, or opinions. We invade countries and tell them to run their lives by our standards or else we wipe them out of existence. At the same time we jump on this guy personal views and protest because we do not agree with his opinion. Slowly (actually rapidly ) we are descending into fanatics on one side or the other – We shoot a bunch of people in a temple just because we do not like their religion. We bomb a Building full of government employees and kids just to protest the government we elected. When will this madness stop or is our civilization marching on a fast track to sell destruction?
I had an uncle who always said: “I don’t agree with what you say; but I’ll defend you right to say it.” You don’t hear that anymore. Everyone, it seems, is ready to put a lawyer on speed dial because one is offended by what someone else says. It was a fun exchange, since (I believe) no one was hurt.
I am a great believer in free speech AND a great believer that any and all freedom comes with responsibility. When we have one without the other, we have chaos. What was Cathy’s responsibility? Benjamin Franklin said one of the most profound things I have ever heard. He said, “It’s far better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt”.
PS I am sure you meant ‘bear’ with me. 🙂
There is yet another angle and it comes from Mike Adams. Please read it at the following URL: http://www.naturalnews.com/036653_Chick-fil-A_anti-boycott_ingredients.html
Mike is coming from a different angle even though he is a christian and believes in free speech
Enjoy reading !
Very thoughtful article. Thank you! I’m glad you wrote it, though I’m not sure that some “true believers” of whatever stripe will be awakened to greater civility by it.
Just two items I disagreed with in the whole thing:
“bear with me” – not “bare with me” – and – “strike a chord” – not “strike a cord.”
Nits that wouldn’t have shown up if you’d spoken it.
That’s the trap of writing your eloquent thoughts on paper: spelling may be noticed.
I like “bare with me.”
Maybe Darren is a nudist. If so, living in Las Vegas, I hope he uses sunscreen.
I’m glad you weighed in on the topic. But that’s because I’m also a fan of the truth. I’m sure there are others who would rather you be silent because that’s how lies gain strength… in the absence of truth.
I just love Dan Cathy’s defense “guilty as charged” which opened the door for many other credible individuals to come to his defense. It reminds me of another One who was falsely accused but didn’t open His mouth in His own defense.
The Truth is good news worth sharing and defending because it changes lives. While people may claim you are intolerant or bigoted for standing for truth, it is not you with whom they have the problem. Their problem is with the Truth. The only solution is to avoid responding to the personal attacks and continue to Speak the Truth in Love.
I”m glad you weighed in on this topic. I enjoy hearing the opinions of people I respect and who I believe will be level-headed in their comments. You “score” on both points Darren. Also, your comments and those of others I’ve heard/read become content about which I might create a speech. As such, this IS a speaking topic. Many thanks!
I agree. I feel we sometimes get so wrapped up in what we think we want others to think about us that we forget the real purposes in life and we fail to think through the entire issue before acting.
So Mr. Cathy’s opinion differs from someone else. It’s his opinion. Agree or disagree, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is when someone forcibly attempts to apply their principles and paradigms on others. Express your well thought out opinion. Even have a lively discussion if you want. But build a bridge and get over it.
Hi Darren and thanks for being brave enough to put your opinion out there. I know that a large part of your following is from Toastmasters (I am one of them) and in Toastmasters we are told to stay away from politics, religion and sex. You have taken a stand for freedom of speech and I thank you for it. While I don’t agree with Dan Cathy’s opinion, I will always support his right to express it. This is one of the corner-stones of a free society and you have my vote to keep on expressing your own opinions. What is the use in learning how to communicate better if all we communicate about is “Mom and apple-pie” issues that we all agree on already?
I agree with Dave and Daniel above. Keep up the good work
I experienced classic liberal thinking for the first time in my Junior year of High School. My teacher insisted that everyone – everyone – be allowed to express their personal ideas on any subject. It was one of the rare moments in my life when civil discussion actually took place. She shut down the heckler when I stated something he found ridiculous.
This article appears to be a call for freedom of speech – not just freedom to hold views without the freedom to express them. I believe our founding fathers would applaud you if they were here.
Wow… I guess I hit a nerve! Awesome…
Thanks…. I would not be here without my founding fathers!
Darren, thanks for having the courage to state your beliefs. I admire that.
As a gay man who wants to get married… I nonetheless applaud you for saying what I believe to be true – that in this country, we all have freedom of speech, and even if I vehemently disagree with Mr. Cathy’s views, I rejoice in knowing that he can express them, and his customers are allowed to eat all the fried chicken they want. I shudder at the “with us or against” attitude some people have adopted on this issue, and that many gay marriage supporters have lost sight of the fact that people can and do have differing opinions on the issue and that doesn’t automatically make them a bigot.
While I agree with your sentiments, I must point out that no one has ever seriously questioned Mr. Cathy’s right to express his opinions. As I understand it from several friends in the LGBT community, although his comments were not happily received, there was no real underlying anger until information turned up which alleges that Mr. Cathy donated several millions of corporate dollars to groups opposing same sex marriage, and that at least one of those groups has expressed a rather extreme negative position relative to homosexuality.
Note that this is the allegation; I do not have access to Chik-Fil-A’s corporate records and can neither confirm nor deny the veracity of the claim. However, it is this which raised the concerns of the LGBT community, not the opinion itself. As an article I read the other day pointed out, there are 22 nations where homosexuality is punishable by immediate imprisonment, and 9 nations in the world where the penalty is death; the concerns of the LGBT community are founded in a real fear for their safety and liberty. As I followed it, the goal of the boycott was to deny funds to those groups; not to condemn Mr. Cathy for expressing his beliefs. His action of expressing those beliefs triggered the initial attention which led to the discovery and dissemination of the allegations.
Thanks for writing this. I agree with Gerald, not a lot of folks will be “awakened” by this, but it does provide some thought.
What I thought interesting is the response in light of the known practices of Chick-fil-A. The Cathey family has always spoken of Christian values and one would have to be completely detached from the media to not know this. So, why the surprise when he speaks (to a small Christian publication) and expresses his opinion.
I see this as the extremist group of pro gay population grasping at an opportunity to make the headlines again. Even many in the gay community saw this as grandstanding.
How can free speech only apply if one agrees with that speech?
Good point, Darren. On the other side, boycotting is also a form of free speech, a powerful voice of dissent. Everyone had their say.
Boycotting is not speech it’s an action that is discrimination against his freedom of speech.
The controversy had nothing to do with his expression of a belief of one kind or another. It stems from his monetary support of among other things, the Family Research Council and its lies and distortions and support of the Ugandan anti-gay laws including the death penalty for homosexuality. You really should dig a little deeper.
I agree, The media is focusing on what was said but didn’t go far enough to expose his bigot actions taking place underneath what was said!
Every once in awhile it’s OK for a columnist to discuss an off-topic subject. Heck, everyone has opinions. And sometimes a person feels the need to express them.
When doing so, it’s best if the writer can discuss the topic within the context of the theme of the blog or other platform. This one was tough, because Dan Cathy wasn’t giving a speech when he made the comment. Even so, Darren, you touched on the core issue here: freedom of speech. Yes, it’s a bit ironic for certain individuals to declare, through their freedom of speech, that others should be denied the opportunity to conduct business based upon their personal opinions. But, that’s America. We can be hyper-sensitive at times.
You also run the risk of alienating people. No matter how hard you try to appear neutral, some will accuse you of having an agenda. Remember that visitors turn to you to learn how to be better presenters. Anything apart from that may not be appealing.
In the blog world we talk about keeping focused on the theme. It’s one area where I’m struggling a bit, because I like to write about various topics. In your case, Darren, you could use those kinds of examples as teaching tools when they involve speaking or presenting. If you like to get things off your chest, you might consider starting a personal blog. Good luck!
P.S. Incidentally, I stand beside Dan Cathy, espeically in light of the uproar.
So much going on with this story. This latest controversy (ironically kept alive by all the media attnetion to the reaction) has more than one cause. Here are just a few:
* The technology of the Internet allows us all to speak before we think, and share our raw, unedited thoughts with millions in an instant.
* That same technology allows us to speak anonymously, or at least from a safe distance. When communication is primarily face-to-face, or at least between people who are likely to someday meet face-to-face, enlightened self-interest imposes a certain civility on things. (If I’m too rude, you might sock me ), Talking to people you’ll never knowingly encounter in person emboldens people to be ruder.
* Everyone seems to want to view their ideological opponents as not merely incorrect, but downright evil. Maybe it’s because incorrect people can be educated and persuaded, but that takes work on my part. Evil only needs to be denounced, preferably in ALL CAPS, and that’s not only easy to do, it makes me feel good (self-righteous) doing it.
Mix all of this into the fact that many people’s ideal of tolerance and inclusiveness does not extend to diversity of opinion, and you have a perfect storm, continually fed by media coverage of it. The good news is that this too will pass. They’ll find another spectacle du jour soon enough.
Interesting. How would this be different if Dan had said he didn’t agree with women having the right to vote or interracial marriage?
Then he’d be breaking the law which would not be okay. It is lawful for women to vote and for people to intermarry. It IS however NOT lawful in many states (and according to the constitution) for homosexuals to marry.
Actually, no, he’d still be expressing his opinion, not breaking the law.
I weighed answering this for a full day. Venetia, a couple of points:
1. At one time it was illegal for women to vote. The justification and arguments against Women’s Suffrage were in part Biblical . Since that time, the flaws in the argument have rendered it moot. However, this issue isn’t safely put away yet 
2. Until the 1960’s, interracial marriages were illegal in many states. The justifications and arguments were in part Biblical . The site I have cited points out that the older arguments were flawed. In spite of this, however, a recent poll  determined that roughly 30% of voters in two states believe that interracial marriage should be illegal.
3. The Constitution of the United States does not, never has, and technically can never legally make any commentary on marriage . The Constitution is the legal framework of the Federal Government; not a body of laws regarding citizens.
4. As Abel points out, there is nothing illegal about expressing an opinion.
Given this is a public forum, I felt compelled to ensure that another side to this picture was presented.
Darren, very good arcticle and good read.
It’s interesting that those that are looking and requiring others to be tolerant of their views seem to refuse the samething for others. I believe the real issue isn’t yae or nay on same sex marriage. It is issue of the freedom of speech and the right to hold/have your own opion and be respected for it (wheither or not anyone agrees with it).
Thank you and please keep asking questions and sharing your views.
To tell you the truth Darren, I was pretty surprised to see you weigh in on this because it IS such a controversial and divisive issue.
I agree though, the bottom line is freedom of speech. There is a lot of stuff out in the world because of freedom of speech that I don’t agree with but I’d rather have it than not.
Wasn’t it Voltaire who said he may not agree with what one says, but would defend to the death one’s right to say it?
Gutsy move LaCroix. I applaud you.
BTW, I’d never HEARD of a Chick-fil-A until a few weeks ago. We don’t have ’em in Canada. But we do have free speech! (for now)
Interesting view points… I agree that all of us should have freedom of speech but I think the media forgot to mention the different hate groups this organization supports. To me that’s the real issue. Voice your opinion that fine. Go out of your way to support hate groups is another.
Good for Mr. Cathy for standing for the truth! He has made a HUGE impact on this world and God sees that! People are forgetting that Mr. Cathy is not simply stating his “opinion” on gay marriage, as a Christian this is wrong and wicked in the sight of our Holy Lord. Even though God is totally against gay marriage, because that’s not his intended purpose for us, he allows us to make our own choices and if someone wants to be gay, he will allow them to do just that. He gives us the free will to be whomever we want to be. The bottom line is that we will have to answer to the choices we made (while living ) when we face judgement after we die. This is inevitable whether we like it or believe it or not! I have friends who are gay and I love them dearly. They do know that I feel their lifestyle is ungodly but I still treat them with dignity and respect.
As a non-American I had to read your opinion piece more than once to figure out what the controversy was all about, actually three times. Only when I put on an “American hat” did I realize the controversy was based on — intolerance to sexual orientation. Aside from this I’m still unclear as to the magnitude of the issue. Your view is more of a non-event in my eyes. Actually if the Chik-Fil-A issue was based on VIOLENCE or CORPORATE GREED that would have caused more of a stir outside the USA.
Why are you guys so hard on yourselves? Lighten up. Learn to compromise, not polarize.
I am thinking and hoping that Dan Cathy is an elderly gentleman who means well but maybe, just maybe, didn’t realize that he pushed buttons of some in the LGBT community who with all fairness have a reason to be concerned at what they see as another attack on them – direct or indirect – that can have unintended consequences in a society that has no shortage of intolerant groups. With all the stories about bullying in schools and the suicides of young gay people, we should all be concerned about what we are teaching our young people. I am sure there are those who don’t see the connection, but that’s probably because they don’t care to. As Veronica & Venetia mentioned or implied, if Dan Cathy had said he was against women voting or interracial marriage, most of us would be outraged. But he is against Gay marriage, and that frankly does not offend the many in our country and we can let that go. May be in future, Mr. Cathy can say something like, I am a not a fan of gay marriage but I love my gay customers as much as I love my straight customers and I welcome all of them into Chick-Fil-A. As a celebrated public speaker, Mr. LaCroix, I am sure you will agree that it is not what you say, but how you say it that can make all the difference. Peace!
It always amuses me that people think that the right to free speech is a right to consequence-free speech (hint: it’s not). If you want to stand up for bigotry, get ready for the consequences. If you want to stand up for hate, get ready for the consequences. If you want to…you get the idea.
And those here saying that “GOD WILL GRAHHH HULK SMASH” – allow me to quote Ted Alexandro:
“Some people say homosexuality is a sin. It’s not. God is perfectly cool with it, and He feels the same way about homosexuality as He does about heterosexuality. Now you might say, ‘whoa, whoa! Slow down…you move too fast. How could you have the audacity, the temerity to speak on behalf of God?’ Exactly, that’s an excellent point, and I pray that you remember it.”
Best line: “How can you be inclusive and exclude someone with an opinion or belief? ”
I keep going back to the basics of the issue. He was asked a question during an interview. He could have lied. He didn’t. He could have avoided the question. He didn’t. He answered it honestly. He didn’t say he wouldn’t hire anyone from the gay community; he didn’t say he wouldn’t serve anyone from the gay community. He merely answered a question that was put to him. It’s HIS opinion. If you don’t like Chick-fil-a because of the chemicals, don’t go there. If you don’t like Dan Cathy, don’t go to Chick-fil-a. Simple. Life is not hard. We make it that way. Thanks for the thought-provoking article, Darren.
Right on….it’s been a long time sinced we bumped into each other at Johnnie’s hideaway in Orlando..you were having dinner on the Tiki deck and you shot a video with me in it…….I’m very proud of you my man, I think you nailed it…you truly have a God Gift in being able to articulate thought provoking topics.
“No one person has all the answers, if they believe they do …they need a second opinion”
Thanks for stepping out of your speaking zone and challenging people’s “grey matter” stay well …Michael
Thank you, Darren, for raising more than one hot topic: first, the right (or is it responsibility?) of speakers to voice their own opinions, the Chick-Fil-A fuss with its various layers of controversy and even the nutrition angle as evidenced by that link to a blog about the fast food franchise’s menu and MSG. What a buzz-kill that one was! I haven’t felt this deflated about a drive-thru since I watched “Super-Size Me.”
After many years in PR, I sometimes struggle with giving myself the freedom to voice an opinion without jeopardizing business or business relationships. Add to that the training I got being a “nice girl” groomed to please people vs. shake ’em up. However, staying centrist or neutral can strip us of our authenticity, of texture, color and sometimes content. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from you, Darren, and from NSA, authenticity is vital to a successful speaking career and content is king (or queen).
For those who noticed Darren’s typos, fuggedaboutit. I recently heard Darren say on an audio that in spite of not considering himself a great writer, he makes more money writing than he does speaking. There are lots of folks out there who can spell, but not everyone has the persistence and tenacity to get his thoughts out there, typos and all, through the written word. Along with stage time, stage time, stage time, I hear Darren say write it, write it, write it. Thanks for your inspiration, Darren. Great to see you in Indy!
This was very brave of you. That’s what makes you a great speaker.
Of course Mr. Cathy can express his views. He has that right. However, there are a couple of things you should know:
1) He was asked that question about whether he discriminates against employees because he has had at least 12 lawsuits against his company by employees who said they were discriminated against. One was a Muslim man who was fired after he wouldn’t “pray to Jesus” at a company meeting. Another was a woman who was fired “because she should be a stay-at-home mom.” Several were by women who were sexually groped by a supervisor at work and the company wouldn’t address it. So you may feel he has the right to say anything he wants, but the facts are that his company was discriminating in ways that are illegal. Google “Chick-fil-A discrimination lawsuit” to get more information.
2) It used to be considered acceptable to discriminate against black people, citing the Bible. Take what Dan Cathy said and instead of it being anti-gay, let’s say that he was anti-black. Do you see why that would upset people? While you may not think you know any gay people, you certainly know African Americans. Would you still think it was a good idea if his company supported “the white traditional family” and said that blacks were “inviting God’s judgement on our nation”?
Of course Dan Cathy can say what he wants. However, pretend for a moment that he was discriminating against you personally. How likely would you be to support him then?
Someday Dan Cathy will look as out-dated as the people who discriminated against blacks. In the meantime, those who are repulsed by his comments can avoid his company. You can see how that’s worked for the Susan G. Komen Foundation on a different issue.