Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Vote For Chicken Is A Vote For Family Values

"I hope (chicken place) will make gazillions of dollars. This is a still free country and people will vote with their money." (August 2, 2012, Facebook, Author Withheld)
I will never craft a response to the "chicken thing" that could surpass the wisdom and clarity of Wayne Self's July 30th essay in his "Self's Fulfilling Prophecies" blog. And so I won't even try to do so. Mr. Self has accidentally emerged as a voice of my generation, and I applaud and appreciate the man.

Like Mr. Self, I too acknowledge the absurdity of this debate, and chances are that if you are like me, you want to roll your eyes with every muscle in your body. You've read all the papers and the blogs, you've watched the news coverage, you've gaped at the clever chicken-themed Facebook memes. You've spent days debating whether or not to place any long-view importance on this, or attempt to vocalize what it could all mean for society. You've asked yourself where will the chicken thing (no, I'm not going to use the company's name) land in the history books? How will it rate? As a mere footnote? Or will it show up at all. Or will it occupy the same historical spotlight, however insignificant those living through it might have deemed it, as the East India Company tea that ended up in the harbor just a few miles from where I sit right now? Would those two hundred or so participants in the Boston Tea Party be astonished to know that history finds their surge of dauntless action standing as a watershed moment in the birth of a nation?
It's just tea!

I know, right!? 
Well, chances are that if you are like me, all of those reactions went through your head at once. It's just chicken! I know, right!? But hold on...

Though you knew there was something vaguely wrong, there really weren't the right words, in the right order, to respond. And the reason that Wayne Self's essay went viral was that he found the words. If you're like me, you read it, you told someone about it (or many someones if you're a blogger) and you felt some degree of closure. After Wayne Self spoke out, when one of the chicken supporters taunted you, you had an answer in the form of "Self's Fulfilling Prophecies."

So I'm not addressing all of YOU. I'm with you,there is nothing I'm about to say that you don't already know, so go back to and keep reading because we're going to need all the information we can find. About everything. Supreme Court, Supreme Court, Supreme Court needs to be our mantra in the next three months. So thank you for reading this far, but I'm not addressing you.
"I hope (chicken place) will make gazillions of dollars. This is a still free country and people will vote with their money." (August 2, 2012, Facebook, Author Withheld)
I'm addressing YOU. 

So, let me see if I understand this, Chicken Guy. You heard a story, most likely on Facebook, saying that the guy who owns the place where you get your lunch wants to criminalize homosexuality.

Criminalize, as in, align American tolerance with the 75 countries in the world where a gay person can be imprisoned or put to death.

You heard that, and you said, "Let's go participate in that! I want chicken!"

No? That's not what you did? Oh, you wanted to show that this is a 'free country," I see. It's because of -- not in spite of -- your devout patriotism that you wanted to outwardly show your support of that guy who owns the place where you get your lunch. Because in a free country he can do whatever he wants with his money.

You know what, love? You're right. No one is taking that away from you. That guy who owns the place where you get your lunch can absolutely donate five million dollars to the Family Research Council and the Marriage & Family Foundation, organizations that work tirelessly on a platform that same-sex behavior is wrong and should be abolished and even criminalized. He can. It isn't illegal. Heck, he can get on TV and announce his new organization that will seek to unravel every equal right since the 14th Amendment. You know that one. That's the "due process" one. That's the one with the pesky "No person could be denied equal protection of the laws" one. Boy, do your conservatives get all aflutter whenever that one is brought up. Equal protection! Due process! For black guys? Oh no! But whew, at least it says guys, not women...wait, they fixed that in the 19th Amendment! In 1920. Oh yes, did you forget that part? That until 1920 not all of the "constitutionally protected privileges of citizenship" outlined in the 14th Amendment extended to women? That guy who owns the place where you get your lunch can absolutely donate five million dollars to unravel all of that. Reverse the Reconstruction! THAT could be what he CALLS it! The "Reverse the Reconstruction Research Council." Make it ten million, all from profits made from your lunch. For Family Values! Think of the Children!

Yes, he has every right. Every right. His right. But you didn't have to condone his opinion. You had the right to say "I agree" or "I disagree," and when the choice was presented to you, what you chose to do with your right was to stand with intolerance.

To wave the "it's a free country" flag in this instance is insulting.

You didn't eat chicken to promote "free speech." You ate chicken to throw your support behind the effort to abolish another group's freedom, in this case it's the LGBT community. Who'll it be next time?

It's frankly astonishing that we're still having these kinds of debates. It's 2012. We have the whole of history at our fingertips to learn from; enter any search term into any search engine using any browser and you have access to great, important writings in which people just like you, just like me, have engaged in just this kind of discourse. We are greeted with -- no, saturated with information every single day, and we are completely free to read every word ever written on any topic. It is easier than it has ever been since the dawn of time to become well-read in world history. You don't even have to leave your house. What does it mean that there are people who choose to remain this ignorant in this time and place, where "information" is infinitely available to every American, at no charge, any time of the day or night. "Information" should be our most valuable currency. With it we can look and learn exactly what happened at many, many points in history the world over where a "few" insisted upon abolishing the freedoms of "the many."

Just how did that work out for the oppressors?

And isn't there a bitter irony in this country regarding how the continued mission of hate groups campaigning to spread and promote their message -- the only way they could stage such demonstrations in the first place is because, as you say, it's a "free country."

But when the content of that "free speech" has one intent, one intent only, and that is to spread hatred and promote inequality, in effect eliminate freedom for a specially-targeted group, I'm sorry but all bets are off. The "free country" thing either goes both ways, or not at all.

How many more times does the revolution need to be fought before "ignorance" will no longer be accepted anymore as "policy?"

On how many fronts do the real patriots need to fight for acceptance before the entire nation finally, at last, becomes enlightened?

Chicken guy, are you truly unable to look back at history's revolutionaries in this and other countries, and declare that you have learned nothing? Just by supporting the effort to keep your neighbor from enjoying the same rights as you, you should lose the right to wave that "freedom" flag.

What you're doing is not promoting free speech.

It is discrimination.

And you are emphasizing your position with every crispy bite.

If that's your position, enjoy your lunch. You have every right, and I will go off in the other direction away from you and help fight for you to keep those rights. Enjoy them, and you're welcome.