Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Chick-fil-A not OK in Massachusetts

Last month, the fast food restaurant Chick-fil-A, specializing in various chicken menu items including sandwiches, may have only been known to most UMass students via its popular advertising campaign, a group of cows urging the public to “eat mor chikin.” After all, the mostly-Southern based chain only has two locations in all of Massachusetts, in Peabody and Burlington, both on the North Shore.

That will have changed with the restaurant launching itself into the news, though not for its sandwiches, with Chick-fil-A’s President and Chief Operating Officer, Dan Cathy, going on the record criticizing same-sex marriage.

“As it relates to society in general, I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’” Cathy said on the Ken Coleman radio program. “I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.”

Cathy’s comments are deplorable for their hateful and homophobic nature, and the response from supporters of marriage equality was swift. Aug. 3 was declared “Same-Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A,” with scores of gay and lesbian couples photographing themselves kissing in protest at Chick-fil-A restaurants. In response, opponents have launched campaigns in support of the restaurant: former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee declared Aug. 1 to be “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.”

Events took an overtly political turn when the mayor of Boston, Thomas M. Menino, sent a letter to Cathy telling the Chick-fil-A executive that the chain was not welcome to open restaurants in the city. “I was angry to learn on the heels of your prejudiced statements about your search for a site to locate in Boston,” Menino said in the letter, which was posted on the city’s Facebook page. “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.” Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emmanuel similarly came out in opposition to the restaurant locating in his own city.

However, as deplorable as Cathy’s comments were, Menino’s hints in the letter that Chick-fil-A be kept out of the city are also out of line for a political leader. It is Cathy’s right to make the comments, and Chick-fil-A’s right as a private company to give money to groups and politicians that take prejudiced, homophobic stances on marriage equality. An easy way to understand this right is to flip Cathy’s comments around. If he had instead come out in support of same-sex marriage, and was thus subject to attempts by the mayor of Atlanta to keep him from operating in the city, many of Cathy’s detractors would be mobilizing to defend him. Menino himself eventually admitted this, telling the Boston Herald, “I can’t [block Chick-fil-A]. That would be interference to his rights to go there.”

That being said, Menino’s comments that the people of Boston “are indeed full of pride for our support of same-sex marriage and our work to expand freedom to all people” are spot-on and righteous. As Menino writes, it would be an insult to the city and to its efforts as a leader on equal rights to have a Chick-fil-A restaurant open in the city limits. Therefore, it is the duty of the people of Boston to prevent this from happening.

Through boycotts and direct actions like “National Same-Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A,” the people can make it clear that Chick-fil-A is not wanted in Massachusetts. By not eating at the chain’s locations in Peabody and Burlington, the message can be sent that the chain’s views are unacceptable.

Students across the country are already mobilizing against Chick-fil-A. Students at Davidson College in North Carolina have temporarily banned Chick-fil-A meals at student-sponsored events. Other students have been attempting to have actual Chick-fil-A locations removed from their campus.

Students at the University of Massachusetts can take similar actions. UMass students from the South can, if they choose, avoid eating at the chain when they are home. Similarly, students from the Peabody/Burlington/North Shore area can avoid eating at the locations in Massachusetts. All students can work to protest against the chain.

Where elected leaders cannot, students can. Working to change Chick-fil-A and rid Massachusetts of the chain will make the state better off, and a place its residents can be prouder to they say they live in.

Billy Rainsford is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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  • J

    JaySep 6, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I am from Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The most liberal place in the world. We were the first country to have gay marriage.

    You know what I do not understand about Americans? Why make so much noise about the opinion of one CEO? Hundreds of others do support gay marriage. Why spend so much time and energy on this restaurant?

    This man is opposed to gay marriage. So what? He’s entitled to his opinion, I thought that was the First Amendment you Americans always were so proud of.

    But what strikes me most is, what he actually said. He called the new generation of Americans “prideful, arrogant”. Is that spreading hate? Well, I’ve seen lot worse.

    And if you do not believe in God, why care about what he says about someone that doesnt exist? “we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.”

    Is thát unacceptable speech by American standards? Wow. I am glad I live in Europe.