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Gang Style Chicken

Randy Potts

August 17th, 2012

08 Nov 1964, Atlanta, Georgia, USA --- Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. eats lunch with his family after church services and learning that he won the Nobel Peace Prize. --- (CORBIS)

As much as I’d like to ignore it, Floyd Lee Corkins, II, has forced me to think once more about Chick-fil-A and the food fight between the left and the right.  Dan Cathy’s remarks several weeks ago opened up a fault line – suddenly, instead of staying safely within our left-wing and right-wing echo chambers, Americans are debating the First Amendment and boycotts and marriage rights.  Many in the LGBT community report that once-silent family members are now sending them emails, proudly posting pictures of chicken on Facebook, and calling them late at night to quote Bible verses about death and destruction.  Just two days ago, Mr. Corkins shot a security guard at the Family Research Council and fifteen Chick-fil-A sandwiches were found in his backpack; it’s safe to assume he wasn’t delivering Tony Perkins’ lunch.

Although food has loomed large in touching off historical debate (see the Boston Tea Party, Gandhi’s march to the sea to make salt, or four college students sitting implacably at a Woolworth’s lunch counter), the food is only a foil for a larger, more important debate – what constitutes our community’s values, how do we define those values, and which of those values can bring us together rather than tear us apart?  The single common denominator throughout all these “food fights” is that in each instance a community stood up to protest its second-class status.  The same holds true for today’s debate.

The question at hand is this – can LGBT people and the unions they form, the children they raise, the families and community bonds they form, be truly accepted into American society?  Can the American dream accommodate a group once pegged by the majority as alien and subversive?  Now that, in 2012, it seems clear that the majority has begun to respond with a resounding yes, how do we deal with the not-insubstantial minority that is left angry and upset?  How do we deal with those within our own ranks, as it appears Mr. Corkin was, whose rage at those who refuse to “see the light” may translate unforgivably into violence?

In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center designated several anti-gay groups as “hate groups” for the first time.   Their research of FBI documents over the previous fourteen-year period revealed a little-publicized fact:  LGBT people are overwhelmingly the largest target of physical attacks inspired by hate in the U.S.  Our status as second-class citizens is second to none.  Coming from a conservative family background as I do, my first reaction when I heard that Mr. Corkins had attacked an organization labeled as a “hate group” was this – is that label helpful in any way?

Reading up on how the FBI discusses groups that inspire violence it became clear that labeling the Family Research Council and other organizations like it as hate groups is simply a recognition that the violence occurring against the LGBT community has a real, concrete source and a real, concrete voice.  When Tony Perkins talks about the “homosexual agenda” and Dan Cathy triumphantly says “guilty as charged” when asked about the millions of dollars he contributes to anti-LGBT causes, their words fall dangerously close to the dividing line the FBI has established between rhetorical violence on the one hand and physical violence on the other.  Identifying seven distinct stages along this spectrum, the last stage between rhetoric and physical violence is Stage Five when

“the hate group attacks their target without weapons . . . prowling their turf seeking vulnerable targets.”

This is what America saw on Mike Huckabee’s “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day”: a community rallied together to attack the idea that the LGBT community – our unions, our families, our places of gathering, our places of worship – is worthy of first class citizenship.  Chick-fil-A restaurants and its packaging has become home turf, a veritable gang sign, and Mr. Corkins’ deplorable attack two days ago was simply a confirmation of that fact.

In our national gang-style fever, calling out hate is not only justifiable but critically important.  Keeping up the fight for marriage equality, for equal protection laws, for first class citizenship in a calm, rational manner is the most effective way to take the long view and play it out in full.  In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, pictured above eating fried chicken with his family,

“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”

Comments

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Jonathan
August 17th, 2012 | LINK

Beautiful post. Thank you!

SharonB
August 17th, 2012 | LINK

Sad, but for me, Chick-fil-a is “hater chicken.”

Regan DuCasse
August 17th, 2012 | LINK

Randy, excellent!
That is the point. Gay people have been treated to not just discrimination, but serious physical, career and family RISK.

To simply show casual affection could result in a major assault and even being killed!
To have a relationship of the same sex, could open you up to custody battles and profound loss of a relationship with your own child. Your parents and siblings.

The RISK assessment here, and who has the socio/political advantage isn’t stressed enough.
Dan Cathy suffered no real risk, in what he said nor what he financially supported.
There is no RISK to anyone, even when gay people get married.

There is no RISK in being Christian in America. Any litigation, or boycotts or even job losses, were from breaches of civil or private non discrimination contracts, not because of any anti Christian sentiment from the gov’t.
And even litigation and boycotts ARE A LEGAL RIGHT, it’s not fascism or terrorism, even on the part of gays and lesbians.
Because equal treatment of gay people, cannot and does not restrict the rights of others.

And those who say it’s offensive or wrongful to compare being black with being gay, in the misery scale…
Remind those who say that, you’re not comparing color with sexual orientation, but comparing the injustices inflicted for a singular, morally neutral attribute.

And that the venerated warriors of the Movement, like Coretta King, Rep. John Lewis, Julian Bond, Andrew Young, Mildred Loving, Maya Angelou and so on, KNOW DIFFERENTLY.
So what do THESE anti gay people think THEY know about social injustice, that the aforementioned didn’t or don’t?

Trust me when I say, that shuts them the hell up every time.
But, unfortunately, playing the victim doesn’t.

It’s the lack of proportions here. They really don’t know how to weigh them rightly, and they SHOULD. And for that, we can’t hold them accountable enough.

Chuck
August 17th, 2012 | LINK

Great post. We are coming to a tipping point. We are now too visible to ignore, and a good chunk of the population understand that continuing to discriminate against the gay population is in no way the right thing to do. Conversely, we have people whose drive to hate and discriminate, and the increasing visibility of the gay community and lean towards our acceptance is forcing them to fight back even harder, and attempt to assert their will on the rest of the population.

The logical arguments have all been made, and all that’s left is a heavy and violent shift that’s looming in the air.

I think I can guess that what’s to come won’t be easy, but it’s going to happen.

AlexH
August 17th, 2012 | LINK

Excellent Post! The Chicken in Chik-Fil-A is just a “MacGuffin” as Hitchcock would say.

JohnAGJ
August 17th, 2012 | LINK

Interesting post, Randy, with some points for me to think about more. Thanks.

As an aside, glad to see you here at BTB! :) Your video about your late uncle was moving and inspirational to me. Thanks for making it.

Richard Rush
August 17th, 2012 | LINK

Randy, this is an excellent post.

Chuck said, “We are coming to a tipping point.” You must be young. I’ve been living as a gay person since the summer of Stonewall (1969). Trust me, we are now well beyond the tipping point. The final outcome is assured. The only remaining question is the timing until the final cleanup.

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