Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Eat Mor Chikin: Freedom of Speech

When the CEO of Chick-Fil-A was asked in an interview about his views of gay marriage, he gave an honest answer.  As a conservative and Christian, he simply stated he believed in the "Biblical definition of marriage."  Well, that sent some into a frenzy. Stating "how dare Mr. Cathy say such a thing," "that isn't politically correct," and starting demanding a boycott of the fast food restaurant.  Yet, maybe many missed the point that Chick-Fil-A has always operated on biblical principles and is closed on Sundays to allow its employees time to fellowship with family and attend church.  Mayors from primarily from Boston and Chicago jumped on the bandwagon telling Chick-Fil-A they were not welcomed in their cities as Chick-Fil-A's values didn't match those of their cities.  (source from CNN: cited that it enforced the discrimination many in the LGBT communities feel.

When the former governor of Arkansas and now talk show host, Mike Huckabee, proposed that August 1st to be "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day" (source from Huckabee's webpage: many choose this day as a day to stand for freedom.  So like many other Americans, I drove to my local Chick-Fil-A today.  When I arrived, I was blown away.  The traffic getting into the restaurant was mind boggling, not to mention the line wrapped around the side of the restaurant of people and the chaotic but organized line in the place itself.  I had originally thought, "I'll just do the drive thru," but I couldn't even find where that line begun.  So I parked in a neighboring retail store, since there was no room at Chick-Fil-A.  As I walked closer to get in, I could just feel the buzz and energy.  With those in their cars, there was no honking, no lights flashing, no road rage, but just people letting others in & out as needed.  When I got to the restaurant, the line was already outside.  I had yet to see the organized chaos that awaited beyond the doors.  At the doors, I was greeted by the manager.  He attempted to explain how the line was moving. Once inside there was an assistant manager taking drink orders and bringing out the drinks.  Then as I waited, I began to hear the reasons why people were coming out...elderly, youth groups, nurses, business owners, teachers, and families.  It wasn't because they were for or against what Mr. Cathy had said, but it came down:  FREEDOM OF SPEECH.  The feeling of patriotism was alive and well in my Chick-Fil-A.  One fellow even suggested there should have been a table set up to register voters.  The talk in line was "we have to stand up for our rights and freedom."  In what could have been a very chaotic moment while waiting in the snaking lines and over an hour just to place an order.  I never once heard any whining or complaining from those in the line.  People were helping each other, having a positive discord on politics, offering suggestions on their favorite Chick-Fil-A food. What truly amazed me was the staff of Chick-Fil-A.  In a moment of utter chaos with a never ending line of customers from the time they opened, the entire staff was smiling, pleasant, and courteous. That my friends will keep customers going there, in my opinion.

Then the moment I will not forget, after waiting in line for about an hours.  A gentleman further up in the line from me announced, "May I have your attention please.  As we wait in line, maybe a song is in order.  How about Amazing Grace? Okay?  1-2-3" and the crowd broke out into song.  It was a beautiful moment. 

That is why I am an American.  That is why I went to Chick-Fil-A and stood in line for 90 minutes to order.  That is why I cheer on Team USA during the Olympics.  That is why I never miss an opportunity to vote.  Why? My answer is a simple one word response:  freedom. As an American, we should be able to freely express our beliefs. There is a reason our Founding Fathers included it in the First Amendment. There are other companies I may not agree with, but I respect their freedom to express their ideas. As the French philosopher Voltaire once said, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

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