Chick-fil-A and the First Amendment (and mobster movies)

I had no respect for chicken sandwiches. I’m a burger addict, and a proud one at that. If ever given the opportunity to write about food for a living, I’d beg for a month-long tour of the country’s burger joints. Then off to Vietnam for some real pho in the streets.

Chick-fil-A was damn good. I was utterly disappointed when I first sampled the “original” chicken sandwich- at American University’s cafeteria The dry, semi-hot specimen with two pickle slices was a disgrace to my tongue and esophagus. But I guess that was just an AU fluke. In Fairfax, where the real action is, the fresh, steaming protein on a bun was delightful to say the least. Paired with the Chick-fil-A sauce, the experience was divine, beautiful.

Then the man expresses his belief in public.

There are different ways to say things. Some of us are blunt and unashamed, at times using our socioeconomic positions to better deliver our message. Like a blunt blow to the side of the head with a cast iron pan. Some of us are more reserved, crafting our message and subtly implanting it like a microchip in the brain. Dan Cathy chose the former method. Arguably, In-N-Out Burger (by the way, when will we ever get one of those on the East Coast??) chose the latter. Enthusiasts of their animal-style fries, like me, would have surely noticed “John 3:16” on the bottom of their soda cups and fries (on a separate note, the “John 3:16” message is a more profound, complete statement of one’s faith, more so than anything Cathy said).

Then some mayor, surely without consulting his lawyers, thinks he can ban a legit American business from his city’s boundaries. Sure, he has retracted and modified his statement since then. But hey, the guy should’ve read his How to be a Mayor for Dummies before speaking in public. Some say Cathy is an ignorant bastard, right? It doesn’t really matter who is right or wrong. Mayor Menino is an equally ignorant bastard. An eye-for-an-eye, so to speak.

Mayors and CEOs have a First Amendment right to voice their opinions, because they are just that, opinions. One should be able to say (even a CEO), with relative ease, “I don’t approve gay marriage”. One should not, however, be able to say (and carry out as proclaimed) “I don’t approve gay marriage and now will slap you silly with my cast iron pan because you approve gay marriage”. A mayor, governor, president, or your Italian mother-in-law should all be allowed to say “I approve gay marriage”. A mayor, governor, president, or your Italian mother-in-law, however, cannot set up barbed wire and electric fences around city hall because you don’t want to sink your teeth into a mouth-watering, savory filet.

We live in a civilized democracy. Or maybe we live in such an illusion. I thought “political muscle” was only appropriate (and beautifully portrayed) in The Godfather or any other mobster movie. “If they need licenses in this city, it will be very difficult…” What the hell?! This statement is absurdly uneducated, and quite offensive. I understand if you think homosexuals have the right to marry. I understand if you think marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman. But who the hell are you, as mayor, to decide which businesses get licenses based on personal belief? Isn’t this America? Didn’t we try to (and still do) brainwash developing countries into carbon-copying our ever-successful model democracy?

Oh the fleeting images of Marlon Brando, dim cigar smoke-filled rooms, bada bim.

Political muscle belongs in mobster movies, period. I thought it was embarrassing to constantly read about Korean presidents and politicians being arrested and indicted for using their political muscle. You can (kind of) forgive them though- their democracy is only sixty-years old. But I thought this was the U.S. of A.

So, my friends, let us be free to enjoy the food we enjoy, regardless of what the restaurant owner says, thinks, or sleeps with at night. Food, after all, is food.

Chick-fil-A for lunch, pho for dinner. Why not.

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