Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Issue With Chik-Fil-A Is Not About Free Speech

This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.  Many of you are  familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky.  

I’ve been trying to avoid the internet lately to try and avoid both the Olympics and the whole Chick-fil-A bullshit. But, alas, the Chick-fil-A bullshit is even more all-encompassing than the Olympics with an inordinate number of clueless straight people rallying round the poor poor oppressed Dan Cathy and his hate chicken. And you’ve got to love how many of them are so desperate to say how much they’re not homophobes, no, really, honest.

Yeah, I don’t believe them either.

In the face of the sheer mass of the bullshit straight folks are flinging here, I feel obliged to say something, to vent if nothing else.

First of all, the most common crap people are slinging is: “He only spoke out against same-sex marriage”. 

It’s not actually true – but even if it were, and? Marriage is a human right – one that has been upheld repeatedly on both sides of the Atlantic. Denying human rights to marginalised people, deciding we don’t deserve human rights, is not a defensible position and is more than grounds to avoid this vile bigot and his nasty hate chicken. Of all the pro bono legal services I have provided GBLT people, the most common is my “partner pack” a big sheaf of legal documents that try try try to give same-sex couples the same protections  as straight couples – knowing that a) no amount of documents would give them the protection straight couples take for granted (including unmarried ones for that matter) and b) there’s no way the vast majority of them could have afforded this without pro-bono and you know there’s no legal aid for this. They faced no small amount of legal fees for something straight folks can get at registry office – OR not have to do a thing because the straight world gives them status automatically. (Oh and lookie here, Civil Partnerships can cost 12 times more than weddings. I’m shocked, shocked I say)

And don’t tell me denying the human right of marriage doesn’t have cost. Tell this poor sod whose much loved partner died and his would-be-in-laws put him through hell that it doesn’t cost. Tell these women who are going to be separated against their will after being together for 10 years that denying the human right of marriage doesn’t have a cost. Tell their 2 children who will lose a mother. Or this man who had to leave the US to be with his husband. Or the gay man who was kicked out of the hospital and barred from visiting his partner for kissing him goodbye. It matters.

Also, let’s be clear here – if he WAS only “speaking against gay marriage” then GBLT people and people who value our humanity would in no way be censoring him or denying his freedom of speech by criticising him or not going to Chik-fil-A. I boggle at the very idea that this has anything to do with freedom of speech.

Your freedom of speech is not being violated when people tell others what you said.

Your freedom of speech is not being violated when people use THEIR freedom of speech to call you a bigoted arsehole because of what you said.

Your freedom of speech is not being violated because people decide not to buy chicken sandwiches off you. Honestly –  do you think people are oppressing this man by not buying his nasty hate chicken?

Your freedom of speech does not demand others be silent. Your freedom of speech does not demand others not react to what you said. Your freedom of speech does not grant immunity from criticism or consequences. Your freedom of speech does not mean people have to eat your damn hate chicken.

But y’know what? Freedom of speech, freedom of religion and even marriage equality are all red herrings here. Because this is the real truth:

Chik-Fil-A gives money, a part of those profits from all the hate chicken, to hate groups. Yes, hate groups named by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as such, including the Family Research Council, led by Tony Perkins, one of the worse bigots you could ever meet, who calls gay people paedophiles and terrorists. The Family Research Council  has not only fought against marriage equality, but has sunk money into fighting against any anti-discrimination laws, any anti-bullying laws, has fought the day of silence and even spent a ton of money lobbying Congress to NOT condemn the kill-the-gays law in Uganda. These people literally want GBLT people dead. Literally. And if you bought some of that hate chicken, you’re paying for that. You’re also paying for torturous ex-gay therapy since Exodus is another of their beneficiaries.

Freedom of speech? Let me repeat, Chik-fil-A is spending a whole lot of money supporting organisations that want to remove all the human rights of GBLT people around the world.

And you expect GBLT people to put their money into this? You object to GBLT people telling other people where their money is going? You think GBLT people shouldn’t be hostile towards people buying and eating hate chicken? You think GBLT people shouldn’t use THEIR freedom of speech to protest the funding of hate groups that are trying to strip us of our rights? Really?

This isn’t violating someone’s freedom of speech. This is basic self-defence.

And I don’t even know what to say about “Chick-fil-A appreciation day” or all of the people who have flocked out to defend the hate chicken. GBLT  people and their allies decided “no, we’re not going to pay for hate groups” and “yes we’re going to protest hate groups.” And these straight folks showing their arses with their hate chicken sandwiches and their rallying round Chick-Fil-A? What are they doing? Announcing that, actually, yes they do want their money to go to hate groups! They do hate the human rights of GBLT people! Or are they rallying to say no, actually, they don’t think GBLT people have a right to protest people who attack us. That we have no right to boycott?

Because I can’t think of any other message all these fools are trying to send. And that applies double to the two-faced liars who are swamping facebook and twitter and every damn where else to say how much they love GBLT people BUT… BUT BUT BUT they’re supporting Chick-Fil-A. They love us, no, really – but because we’re *gasp* being so meaaaan to the hate groups, they’re going to give them money so they can campaign against our basic humanity some more.

At least these vile bigots are open and honest about their bigotry. The rest of you? By your actions we will know you. Because when you’re not just buying the hate chicken, but deciding you need to take part in this Chick-fil-A appreciation crap and rally round to support them? You’re no better than those bigots or the hate groups they support.

And I wonder, I really do, what the world would be like if these damn fools spent even half the effort and money to support minorities that they do to hurt us.