I work on a Chick-fil-A campus.
And a Pepsi campus.
Oh, and let’s not forget: A Northrop Grumman campus.
You, too? Yeah, welcome to the neoliberal university. I’m not a big fan of any of these companies, all of whom (yes, whom — because corporations are persons) either make crappy, dangerous products or engage in practices that are at odds with my own values and commitments, even when they aren’t flat out illegal. Only one of them is currently being targeted by a petition aimed at booting them off campus, and I’m guessing you know it isn’t the one that once employed Scooter Libby as a consultant.
Here is a link to the petition to remove the homophobic chicken purveyor from the sacred space of the food court in the student union at QTU. (Attention, new readers: “QTU” stands for Queer the Turtle University. It’s the pseudonym for my employer that I started using on Roxie’s World several years ago. The pseudonym is explained here.) I imagine there are similar drives being launched on campuses all over the country. There are, for example, at least two going on in that hotbed of homo-enablement, Kansas. By all means sign or launch one of these petitions if you feel moved to do so. I haven’t and I doubt that I will. On the other hand, I’m delighted to support the effort by QTU grad student Brian Real to get folks to donate the cost of a Chick-fil-A value meal (about $6.50) to LGBT causes and organizations tomorrow, August 1. That effort is a response to former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s call to make tomorrow national “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” in support of Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy’s recent declaration that the company supports “the biblical definition of the family unit.” Cathy said in a radio interview in June, “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’”
Raising money for causes such as marriage equality or anti-bullying is an excellent way to shake our collective fist at Cathy’s bigotry, because it will materially help to counter the more than $2 million his company has contributed to anti-gay groups and causes over the years. That’s a positive tactic and one likely to be of significant political value, particularly in places like Turtle Country, where marriage equality will be on the ballot in November. (Hey, Turtles, if you’re looking for someplace to send your $6.50 [or more!], click here.) I would also support a boycott, but that would be pointless in my case because I haven’t eaten at Chick-fil-A since I escaped the malls of my Midwestern girlhood. I can’t, however, get behind the charge to kick the company off campus because, as the opening of this post suggests, the outrage here seems selectively applied. QTU did not, for example, kick ROTC off campus during the Vietnam war or over the military’s discriminatory policies on sexual orientation. As far as I know, there’s been no serious opposition to the university’s doing business with any of the other companies mentioned above, though I’ve heard rumors of contraband Cokes stored in top-secret refrigerators in rogue offices on campus. That is strictly entre nous, of course.
Look, consumers have every right not to give their money to companies whose policies or practices they find objectionable. Such withholding does not infringe on the company owner’s freedom of speech or religion, contrary to what the shrieking idiots of the right might want us to believe. I assert my own freedom by refusing to do business with homophobes, though, like a lot of bourgeois lefties, I manage to turn a blind eye to the labor practices of companies like Whole Foods and Apple because they sell stuff that I want a whole lot more than a fried-chicken sandwich. I would be delighted if Chick-fil-A would leave my campus because customers decided they would rather take their business elsewhere. I would feel uncomfortable booting them off campus for failing to represent the values of the university when it’s clear we don’t hold the vast majority of companies who do business with the institution to anything like that standard. We — and by “we” I don’t mean the administration; I mean all the consumer-citizens of the university community — turn a blind eye to the banks, cable companies, and defense contractors on campus either because they seem too big to fight or because they supply goodies we want. There are very serious questions here about who universities are doing business with these days and how we might pressure our schools to be more transparent about where money is coming from and how contract and licensing arrangements are made. We don’t look serious, however, if we target one chicken-$hit bigot and conveniently ignore the missile manufacturers in our midst.
Tell me if you think I’m wrong about this, Madpeople at your Laptops. Should I, as an official BDOC (you know — Big Dyke on Campus) be leading the charge to get the chicken-$hit purveyor of fried-chicken sandwiches off my campus? I’ll go pour a cold, frosty glass of unhealthy, illicit Coke while I await your replies. Remember, though, that tomorrow you are going to send $6.50 (or more!) to some totally gay cause or group as a way of annoying Dan Cathy, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and assorted other chicken-$hit bigots. Need help finding a cause or group? The Madwoman likes this one, because she wants Turtle Country to be the first state in the nation to win a vote on marriage equality. You choose your own, though. It’s a free country, right? Peace out.