Wednesday, July 25

If You Look Away The Monster Can't Eat You

David Weigel, "Leave Chick-fil-A Aloooooone". July 24

IT'D be one thing if Weigel tried to downplay all the insanity on his end of the political spectrum (it'd also be a full-time job). That, of course, would brand him as something other than the objective observer and independent thinker we all know him to be.

Instead Weigel has an interesting, oh, let's call it tendency to treat religious-based crackpottery as though the market had already permanently discounted it, freeing the urbane thirty-something to promote his own thirty-something, urbane social reasonableness as the real soul of the real Republican party. Whereas the Teabaggers were a real, sui-generis grassroots political movement which just happened to look and sound precisely like the Republican party since the mid-1970s, a brand-spanking-new organization free of the unpleasant whiff of back-dated culture war and the fetor of racism, and single-mindedly focused on lowering taxes for the successful, urbane, thirty-something.

Maybe it's age gives one a different perspective. Or maybe it's that I live in Indiana, where I've been laughing off snake-handlers and kerosene-drinkers for forty years, and they're poised to win the Governor's office this fall.

Wish 'em away, Dave:

The Chick-fil-A controversy has been confounding from the outset. Who eats at that chain and doesn't know about its founder Truett Cathy's conservatism?

You mean aside from the 85% of our fellow citizens who're utterly oblivious to politics?

Has nobody walked there on a Sunday and seen the message from Cathy, explaining that the restaurant is closed because the company honors the Sabbath?

Funny thing about that: I first became aware of the joint maybe twenty years ago or more, when one turned up at the local mall. I refused to eat there because of the atrocious spelling (swear to God!), then, later, because they did enough business that the aroma of plastic food was unmistakable. I had, however, spent about a decade or so giving them grudging respect for the Sunday closing thing. Hey, at least they put their money where their faith was, unlike the vast majority of faith-spewers. Then I learned the closing was designed "to give our employees the opportunity to go to church." Which is a little less noble and a little more "that oughta keep 'em subservient for six days worth of split shifts a week". Do you suppose Jews are guaranteed Saturdays off? Or Muslims Wednesdays? Hey, just kiddin'.

Did nobody notice how Cathy got an honorary degree from Liberty University the same day that Mitt Romney did?

Boy, I guess I'm not the keen-eyed observer of the American political scene I thought I was.

I'm gonna guess here that people eat at that joint for the same reason they eat at most joints: the car was traveling past it. It helps, of course, that few if any Americans know what a chicken is supposed to taste like when it isn't raised in an industrial ant farm. I've been astonished by the number of liberal commenters who've praised their crap in the interim. "Their chicken sandwich is really good." Take it from someone who'll never have one: No, it isn't. It's the processed body parts of a bird pumped with chemicals to avoid dying of any of the hundreds of diseases God in His mercy would visit on the simplest of creatures rather than see them "live" like that. What's "really good", apparently, is the fat they fry that crap in, if you go for that sort of thing.

Which is beside the point; like any modern progressive I'm Kantian about food and a free-thinker about sex. The point is that closing on Sunday, admirable or not, does not signal that the whole operation is devoted to close-minded bigotry. Yes, getting a statue from Liberty U does, but I missed that.

So I concur in part with Terry Mattingly's head-scratch about the start of the controversy. He points out that K. Allan Blume's original, soft-focus interview with Dan Cathy (Chick-fil-A operatures on a primogeniture management style) never actually got into gay marriage. This is the key section:


Mattingly points out that the word "gay" never appears. "While the story contains tons of material defending traditional Christian teachings on sexuality," he writes, "the controversial entrepreneur never talks about gay rights or gay marriage. Why? Because he wasn’t asked about those issues in the interview. This raises an interesting journalistic question: Is a defense of one doctrine automatically the same thing as an on-the-record attack on the opposite doctrine?"

The interesting thing here to me is that this fabulist hair-splitting is remarkably similar to the attitude which allows us to call that stuff "chicken" in the first place.

To be fair, Weigel objects:

"Traditional family," in this context, was a way for the Baptist Recorder to avoid the word gay in an article about a company that uses some of its profits on campaigns against gay marriage. Maybe the meme-ing was lazy, but the story was fair -- an example of the media using context to figure out code words and report out a pretty slippery statement.

But what made the "meme-ing"--from the same degradation of language which gives us "Chick-fil-A"--lazy? What th' hell else can "support for 'traditional' marriage" possibly mean? Do we really need to parse every sentence of Dan Cathy's statements to make sure we don't unfairly lump him with the rabid Bronze Age superstitionists he funds? Or just to make sure we don't make the Republican party sound too crackpotty an' all?


Kathy said...

Oh, its chick fillet. All these years I thought it was chick filla, you know, like 'filled-up".

I'm glad I never tried their food. I did have some Col Sanders once, and was thirsty for several days afterward. A friend told me the stuff had a tablespoon of salt per "piece" of chicken.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I don't think Weigel makes it his business to promote the Republicans. He did, after all, lose his blog at the WaPo for saying mean things about them on the listserv.

(Obviously, Slate is owned by the WaPo, so they let him back on the payroll after the public hiding and apology.)

Belvoir said...

Weigel is the worst sort of awful weasel Slate loves.

I especially love the end:

"Meanwhile, a Twitter follower passed on this photo of a disclaimer at a Chick-fil-A franchise.

(It's a photo of a posted notice in all Chick-Fil-a's that Jim Henson's toys will kill your kids.)

"That's just not true. The Jim Henson Company announced at the start of this that it was bailing on Chick-fil-A because it "celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness." Such is the pattern of these controversies: The restaurant chain, uncomfortable with advancing in the culture war now that everybody's looking."

I love how the chain's rather viciously meanspirited lie that the Henson company's Muppet toys they previously distributed are now a hazard and menace to children is described by Weigel as a "disclaimer", and merely "just not true". UH, it was a fucking slanderous lie, saying the toys we used to distribute will probably kill kids. IT's kind of monstrous actually!! And vindictive, and terrible in every way.

Weigel covers for them, softens it, like he softens that "supporting traditional marriage" doesn't mean a rather wicked hatred for gay people and marriage equality. He is the worst.

Brookston John said...


Which Chicken Sandwich Would Jeebus Eat?

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

@daveweigel: Unless Romney brings bacon-wrapped shrimp to the Wailing Wall, I guess this'll be the worst day of the trip.

whetstone said...

DR, the reason people like Chick-fil-A is that it's fast food boiled down to its essence: fat. The (literallly) tasteless chicken is a feature, not a bug, and by "bug" I mean "fast food beef."

It's not quite as heroically tasteless as my favorite food simulacrum of all time, the McRib (might as well just use TVP, if you think you're fooling anyone), but it's close on the spectrum.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Cathy say he supported "Biblical marriage", which includes polygamy!

Frankly Curious said...

As reasonable as he often seems, Weigel is nothing more than an apologist for the right. He is a "leftist" libertarian, which may make him a little more tolerable, but still mostly insufferable.

Socially conscious libertarians like him have a desperate need to make everyone out to be reasonable (e.g. Weigel's Tea Party reporting). When one is lobbying for the elimination of the state, he has got to believe that we really can all just get along. The fact that we have anywhere from several thousand to a million years of evidence to the contrary must weigh heavily in the back of Weigel's libertarian mind.