Chick Fil A
I saw a photo on Instagram of a teenage girl at Chick Fil A flipping the bird to those standing in line. The caption? “Stop the hate.”
I think that displays perfectly the double standard that is evident in our country after the whole Chick Fil A debacle. It is not okay to disagree with and attack gay marriage, but it is okay to disagree with and attack religious beliefs.
The term gay marriage was never used, the word hate was never used.
For reference, the word hate means to feel intense or passionate dislike for (someone). Dan Cathy never relayed this sentiment in this article, or any of his statements. He never said he hates homosexuals or denies them food, or jobs, or fair and equal treatment at his restaurants. What he did say, was that he believes in traditional marriage, with the implication (never actually said) that he opposes gay marriage. For reference, the term oppose means to disapprove of and resist. He has that right, and so do people who oppose the belief that marriage should not be limited to a man and a woman.
What Mr. Cathy did convey in that article was his religious beliefs. Beliefs that are protected in our country, as well as his right to express them.
To me, the root of the whole fiasco is CNN and their twisting of his words and choosing to attach a headline to a story that just flat out wasn’t there. If anything should be taken from this article, it should be that there is a company out there that won’t sacrifice it’s core values for the sake of a dollar and is still profitable and providing valuable jobs to our economy. That’s the real story in the article, not a few paragraphs at the end that reflect a more traditional view of family values, which a lot of people in America believe in (as evident from the turn out on Wednesday).
Freedom of Speech
The Chick Fil A Appreciation Day was not organized when CNN ran the story repetitively on a slow news day and it fired people up. The event was organized once government officials like the mayors of Boston and Chicago made bold statements to block a company from their cities based on the religious beliefs held by a company executive.
When have you ever heard of a company being ran out of a city by it’s mayor because one of their executives was gay? If that ever happened, it would be so wrong and unacceptable. And the people leading that charge would be flat out wrong. In that same vein, have you ever heard of a company being ran out of a city by it’s mayor because one of their executives was Muslim and believe in traditional Muslim values? No. Because that would be wrong.
The reason I went to support Chick Fil A on Wednesday was because I refuse to accept that I live in a country where someone can be publicly bullied and punished by our government officials because of what they believe. And I refuse to accept that someone should fear for their livelihood and company well being because they choose to exercise their right to free speech.
In my career as a social media consultant, I encourage the businesses I work with to be themselves. To not become so general and dull that they don’t stir the hearts of anyone or build a loyal customer base. That does not mean being vocal and taking strong stances on controversial subjects just for the hell of it.
What it does mean, is sticking by core beliefs and values that you and hopefully your target audience shares. This makes you more effective, authentic, and relatable – which fosters the emotional bond that leads to loyal customers.
That’s part of the reason why I love working with small businesses, and why I believe they have the advantage over larger brands. Because they understand and are able to relate to their community, and share similar values – and can find common ground when they do disagree.
What I think is really awesome about the whole situation, is that this is a great case study to support my advice to small businesses. Chick Fil A has not shied away from their core beliefs and values, and over the years have developed an extremely loyal customer base. And when they needed it the most, that loyal customer base came out in droves to support them with a record day of sales.
I’d call that a success.