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In the US, one chicken dish now symbolises either traditional families or rank homophobia: on the left, there’s an Orwellian campaign against marriage

In an American election year issues become fascinatingly over-the-top

By on Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Gay Marriage Corporations

America, during the year running up to an election, is for a European observer a most fascinating spectacle. The issues are the same: but the chance is enormously increased that they will become so heightened as to reach utterly surreal heights. I am now an addict of Fox News between 6 and 8pm, our time, when the wondrous Megyn Kelly presides over the most fascinating news show on television. She is relaxed, beautiful, intelligent, well-informed and funny. She is a former courtroom attorney with a mind like a razor. Forget Jeremy Paxman: this is real forensic interviewing, without the slightest element of Paxman’s unpleasant hectoring. And she has a wonderful sense of the absurd.

But that’s not where I discovered the most absurd story of all so far (absurd but also deeply sinister): that was in The Times, yesterday:

One of the worrying things about modern America is just how politicised daily life has become. The clothes you wear, the church you attend, the things you eat – in the paradigm of the culture war, everything becomes a statement about political values…

In mid-July, Dan Cathy, the president of fast food chain Chick-fil-A, told an online Baptist journal that his company was “Very much supportive of the family – the Biblical family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family led-business and we are still married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”

…. when the quote hit the national media, the LGBTQ lobby went wild. The Jim Henson Company (of The Muppets fame) severed an agreement to make children’s toys for meal deals. Nearly 6,000 people signed up online to boycott the chain and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation called for a kiss-in at local stores.

There was a lot more of the same kind of thing, of which more presently. First, though, the views of Dan Cathy, who is now being portrayed as the embodiment of all that is homophobic, repay a little more study: for as far as I can discover, all he has ever done is to defend the traditional, biblically defined, family and therefore to oppose gay marriage.

He has for some years supported organisations which oppose gay marriage. Chick-fil-A, For instance, last year co-sponsored a conference on marriage, together with the Pennsylvania Family Institute, an organisation which has campaigned in favour of California’s Proposition 8, the ballot title of which you no doubt remember was Eliminates Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. Its proponents called it the California Marriage Protection Act, and it was passed in the November 2008 state elections and subsequently challenged in court. After being overturned in several courts it was finally appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday: so it’s a particularly topical issue in the US (as gay marriage remains here, indeed: the online petition against the wretched Cameron’s plans has now reached 589,946 signatures—if you haven’t signed, do it now here).

So, that’s where Dan Cathy is coming from on this issue, and it’s exactly where the Catholic Church is coming from. We are not against gays: we are in favour of marriage as God instituted it. This is precisely the view which Mr Cathy feistily defends. But he is interpreted—or wilfully misinterpreted— by the gay lobby as being explicitly and with deliberation homophobic. But he isn’t; he’s just not mealy-mouthed. On one syndicated radio talk show, he rather splendidly said “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’. I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about’.”

Earlier this month, the [ital] Biblical Recorder [end ital] quoted him, when asked about the opposition to his company’s support for the traditional family, as saying “Well, guilty as charged. We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. … We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that. We intend to stay the course. We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live.”

Well, good for him, say I: but is it still true, as once it was, that he does live in a country where he can share his values and operate on biblical principles? Not if various potentates of the Democratic party have their way. Following this interview, Thomas Menino, the Mayor of Boston, stated that he would not allow Chick-fil-A to open franchises in the city “unless they open up their policies.” In Chicago alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno announced his determination to block Chick-fil-A’s bid to build a second outlet in the city. Moreno received backing from Chicago’s Mayor, Rahm Emanuel: “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values,” Emanuel said in a statement. “They disrespect our fellow neighbours and residents.” The Mayor of San Francisco last week tweeted that “Chick-fil-A doesn’t share San Francisco’s values & strong commitment to equality for everyone.”

But what was all that stuff we have been hearing over here for many years about America’s superior commitment to freedom of speech? What about the First Amendment? For the Mayors of Boston and Chicago to threaten to refuse business licences because of the political views of a firm’s CEO is surely mindbogglingly un-American: it’s more like Putin’s Moscow. And can it really be true that a Southern-fried chicken sandwich on a soft white bun with a couple of pickle slices (see, I’ve done my homework) has come to symbolise in such an absurdly confrontational way one of the country’s major social and moral issues?

The really sinister thing about all this is the way in which what was yesterday a normal and universal view—that marriage is between one man and one woman—has been subverted by an Orwellian process of language manipulation and consciously engineered distortion of the truth. What was the consensus has been redefined as “bigotry”; the term “homophobia” has simply been attached to the old consensus: and the job is done. If you believe in marriage as it has always been understood you are now, it seems, consumed by hatred for homosexuals and practise cruelty and discrimination against them. What was thought by everyone positive and wholesome has become cynically redefined as a foul and loathsome prejudice against decent and tolerant values. Those like Dan Cathy who hold fast to what they have always believed are not to be argued with: that would give them the dignity of respect for their views. Whatever happened to Votaire’s “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”?

Meanwhile, the Republican right is having a field day with all this. Mike Huckabee is organising a Chick-fil-A appreciation day; Rick Santorum has urged his supporters to visit their local Chick-fil-A outlet as soon as possible: “Help us fight for traditional families”, he says, “and eat chicken at the same time.” Sara Palin has posted a picture of herself on Facebook tucking into some Chick-fil-A, and even introduced the stuff into a speech, saying to her aide, Jason Recher, “We drive by a Chick-fil-A. We don’t have that in Alaska. Love me some Chick-fil-A. So we’ll go there, Jason, on the way, OK?”

Liberal opinion in the US, however, is by no means universally happy about the actions of Mayors Emmanuel and Menino. “Which part of the First Amendment does Menino not understand?” asked an editorial in the Boston Globe last week; “Chick-fil-A must follow all state and city laws. If the restaurant chain denied service to gay patrons or refused to hire gay employees, Menino’s outrage would be fitting. And the company should be held to its statement that it strives to “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation, or gender.” Well, there’s no reason that I have been able to discover to doubt that those who run Chick-fil-A are entirely sincere in that declaration. They just believe in the family, and they believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. That’s all.

But as Catholics have known for some time, if you don’t accept some militant gays at their own valuation they just won’t believe that you don’t hate them. The only thing they will accept is your abandonment of all your own beliefs and values. Well, sorry, that’s not going to happen: and that’s why they hate us. But we don’t hate you. Got it?

Extreme irritation is another matter.

  • Alexander VI

    No, because the law in the UK is made by Parliament. 

  • Andrew

    No it is not.  Oddie’s views are very, very interesting and we will determine where they come from soon……………………….

  • Jjjpepe

    “There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles…” APA, 2008
    The academic literature do not agree about the origin of homosexuality. Yet the agree on that the homosexual lifestyle leads to meany health problems and that it reduces the life expectancy.

  • Andrew

    absolutely not.  this is a blog that Oddie created – he has a duty to respond publically and not under the protection of personal e-mails…………………..

  • aearon43

    Exactly what scientific advances or knowledge are you talking about? Children still come from the union of one man and one woman, do they not? I don’t really see how this is such a complex issue.

    In general, I am suspicious of exhortations to go “forward.” It is difficult, for me at least, to avoid unpleasant Marxist associations, e.g. Mao’s “Great Leap Forward,” which resulted in the greatest massacre in human history.

    As you say, the Holy Father himself has called for faith and reason to work together, as indeed have many popes and religious authorities over the centuries. The fact that you have come to a different conclusion regarding marriage and homosexuality doesn’t necessarily mean that you are more intellectual.

  • Andrew

    oh yes you do.  the anti-gay marriage arguments are absolutely full of fundamentalist ideologies.  if people value honesty and transparency they should say:  i am writing what I write because….  and mean it.

  • Andrew

    No, they are free to help the Church reform.  Saying that they should leave is to oppose proigress good for the Church in the modern world.  Let me be clear: I would go back to 1920 tomorrow in terms of Liturgy but now way in terms of the Church’s inability to assimilate how moral theology should be informed by modern science……………

  • Andrew

    I agree with you absolutely!  It is a psychopathology which is deeply ingrained in Catholic thinking, defending itself by claiming adherence to non-science supported understandings of human sexuality and its varied manifestations as part of our earthly life……………….

  • Andrew

    Can you not do better in terms of argument?  If you are a scientists of any stature you will of course known that science evolves and that hypotheses are either proved or disproved and that even a proven hypothesis is subject to revision.  The overwhelming understanding in science is that homosexuality and indeed bisexuality are naturallt occurring phenomena and that a coherent exaplantion of this is really most convincingly achieved by understanding them as mechanisms of populatiopn control.  Certainly, if all of the homosexuals in the world started procreating tomorrow, we would have 5 – 10% more of a problem than we have today, a problem that in part people like Melinda Gates have styarted to addres geographically! Ah, but of course, Gates muist be a complete witch for doing so, right?

  • Andrew

    well, I would agree that Oddie is ignorant, his comments and reaction do seem to suggest the veracity of that comment.  But I wouldn’t agree with your comments on Dawkins who I see as one of the most opiniated and arrogant people in public life. 

  • Andrew

    Nice try, but, sorry, doesn’t work as an intellectual (even bigoted) argument…… The Vatican prelates – and the place is infested by ‘bitter, adversarial queens’ I am told by 3 close archepiscopal friends who live there - don’t act to suppress their self-proclaimed ‘intrinsic moral evils and grave offences against the natural order’ (sorry, excuse me while I fall to the floor laughing at such archaic and hysterical prose), in any ‘noble’ fasionj, but rather take it upon themselves to attack in other people what thjey hate or cannot cope with in themselves.  This is pretty evil stuff and indicative of psychological illness.

  • Andrew

    ODDIE?  Where are you?  I – and I assume all other readers and bloggers with an interest in the debate that you yourself have created – are awaiting your detailed and formal intellectual response.  Are you afraid of something?  I have forwarded the blog page to my Anglo-Catholic friends, many of your own age who know you very well from your former Anglo-Catholic existence and who will soon weigh in on this debate.  WHERE IS YOUR RESPONSE ODDIE?  Or as you so arrogant as to imagine that no response from you is required, that you can loftily stand aside from explaining yourself? 

  • Andrew

    oh God….  more nonsense.  Where is the data to support your assertion.  There is none.  Ok, prove me wrong and give us the links to the peer-reviewed medical literature please……………………….

  • Jjjpepe

    Who defines progress, you? Who estates the tenets of the faith, you? Who defines moral theology, you again?  An yes, they can stay and “tray to help” the Church, but then they will have to follow the rules of the Church.

  • theroadmaster

    The current campaign to emotionally browbeat the CEO of Chick-Fil-A into towing the ideological line concerning the legislative redefinition of marriage, demonstrates that we are in the age of Big Brother.  Ruling elites across the western world are determined to bully critics of their socio-political programmes to redefine and thereby distort marriage, the family, gender and sexual morality.  They usually resort to public denunciation or legal sanctions to neutralize those who oppose their ideology.  People now must stand up and be counted in relation to stopping the legislative bandwagons that threaten to loosen and fatally weaken the moral underpinnings of western societies that have held them together for centuries.

  • Jjjpepe

    The evidence is there, by the APA and homosexual magazines. It is your right to reject it, but it is still there to whoever wants to see it.

  • Andrew

    No they do not.  We can create children in test tubes should we wish to.  Catholic concepts of ‘natural’ are extraordinarily naive and in many ways of a peculiarly ‘aesthetic’ character.  Just because I have a kettle, doesn’t mean I have to boil water in it only, I can, for example, use it instead to grow a plant in,departing from one use to create another of significant value.  This reasoning, which most modern mpeople can understand, devastates archiach Catholic understanings of the ‘Natural Order’.  We a re free to manipulate Nature according to the knowledge that God gives us.  This means, really, that Catholic Bioethics, is utterly ridiculous in the way it seeks to limit Man’s capabilitiers.

  • Kevin

    “subverted by an Orwellian process of language manipulation”

    In this context, the first example of that would be the invention of the word “homosexual” in the nineteenth century. There is no such thing: only male and female. Catholics cannot be against something that does not exist. (The Catechism, as much as the Bible, must be read in the light of scientific truth.)

    What we ought to be concerned about (speaking of males) is that, owing to the unopposed “normalisation” of non-existent “homosexuality”, there are men who are confused and losing the opportunity to find a loving and fruitful relationship with a woman. In all charity to such men we must abhor such a situation.

    There are many contributory factors that we need to combat. One of these is to avoid labelling a boy as “gay”, which could cause terrible damage. Another is to oppose the selling of “lads’ magazines”, which are equally damaging to men’s perceptions of women.

  • JabbaPapa

    Where is the data to support your assertions.  There is none.

  • JabbaPapa

    What a load of pole-dancing bollocks.

    Anyway, congratulations I suppose for your successfully completed indoctrination course !!!

  • JabbaPapa

    Oh shut up you mincing twerp.

  • JabbaPapa

    Cripes, it’s the poof brigade — run !!!!!

  • JabbaPapa

    En voilà encore un qui cherche à péter plus haut que son cul.

    Pitoyable.

  • JabbaPapa

    To continue the evolving arguments in the hope that they may generate more light than heat…..

    This would be most swiftly achieved were you to throw your keyboard into a shredder.

  • Recusant

    So now we have to keep up with recent discourse to discover how words are evolving. So, words mean what you want them to mean? How Orwellian can you get?  

  • JabbaPapa

    Bloody ponce

  • JabbaPapa

    Cripes you’re an arsehole

  • Recusant

    What tinpot institution marks a PhD thesis? Where I went they are defended in a viva. Do give your student a gold star though.

  • AmericanusNovus

    Why should modern philosophy be accepted and classical philosophy rejected? 

    I think that really, deep down, the difference of opinions has to do not so much with Christian values, but simply with whether one recognizes things as having a nature or not.  As this notion follows from Aristotle’s first principle of philosophy, which you dismiss (given your stance on what truth is), I don’t think anyone commenting here can have a beneficial discussion with you.  Most Catholics are Aristotelians whether they know it or not, and if I had to guess, I’d say you were a Hegelian.  So common ground is lacking for a efficacious debate.

    Also, snide comments are unbecoming of a student of philosophy.  Just sayin’.

  • JabbaPapa

    In fact, about 1.5%

    Most of whom are interested in sex, not “marriage”.

  • JabbaPapa

    tosser

  • Jjjpepe

    The 
    American Psychological Association is not good enough for you?

  • JabbaPapa

    In fact you’re just a bunch of homosexuals blinded by your own prejudice.

  • Jjjpepe

    Who decided that the research that was published before 1990 is not valid? 

  • JabbaPapa

    cripes you’re shallow !!!

  • aearon43

    Modern philosophers may do that, I’m not however a modernist. (And anyway, aren’t we in the postmodern era now?)  I don’t feel the need to keep current with whatever trends are popular at the moment. You don’t have to be a Platonist to recognize that any attempt at proof implies that such is, or at least should be, valid for all people at all times. That’s sort of the whole point of proving something. Our understanding of particular proofs can change over time, but the fundamental nature of rationality doesn’t. 

    Just because Derrida and his acolytes said otherwise doesn’t make it so. Fashions do change, I’ll give you that.

  • karlf

    Ooh jabba! You are awful!
    I thought you were supposed to be a Christian?

  • JabbaPapa

    Can you not do better in terms of argument?

    Well you obviously can’t !!!

  • JabbaPapa

    This is not true — homosexuals were in fact ridiculed and shamed during that period — except of course by themselves.

  • JabbaPapa

    You are wrong sir.  Modern philosophy rejects Platonic notions that ‘Truth is incompatible with change’.

    Well then how on Earth can he be “wrong” ???

    You haven’t the faintest clue what your gibbering on about, have you.

  • JabbaPapa

    Fascist to the core, yes.

  • JabbaPapa

    I am not at all interested in your a priori bigotry.

  • JabbaPapa

    Why don’t you just bang your head against the wall then ?

  • aearon43

    Yes, we can “create children in test tubes” in a certain manner of speaking, but that still requires the initial egg fertilization, doesn’t it? And that means that every child still has exactly one mother and one father.

    The idea that using a kettle to grow a plant in has “significant value” strikes me as odd. Why not just use a pot, since the pot is designed for that purpose? (E.g. it has a hole on the bottom to drain excess water and is shaped properly for a plant to grow in — it also doesn’t look ridiculous.)

    The fact that “most modern people” can understand your reasoning doesn’t make it correct. I can understand it too –I just think it’s wrong. So, yes, in a sense we are free to manipulate nature, insofar as we possess the power to do so. Not disagreeing with that.

    The more pertinent question is whether it is a good idea to manipulate nature in certain fundamental ways. As it may be a good idea to grow plants in containers designed for that purpose, rather than in kettles, it may also be a good idea to respect and accept the given biological characteristics of human beings, rather than manipulating them unnecessarily.

    Isn’t it better for children to be born through their real mother, rather than through test tubes? Isn’t it dangerous to turn human life into just another material resource? You don’t have to be Catholic to think so, ever read Brave New World?

  • Ghengis

    Keep in mind that the 60′s elites that have created the politically correct religion have one crucial weakness: they expect people to fear their insults;  lose that fear and stand up for Reason as Courage is the answer to tyranny. As they procreate less, they will not inherit the earth unless we submit (or allow our children to be brainwashed by TV) to their ever dwindling numbers.

  • JabbaPapa

    It’s to do with sex.

    You continue to be the ONLY person in here with an obsessive desire to discuss fucking.

  • JabbaPapa

    Cripes you don’t half talk bollocks.

  • aearon43

    … which is supposed to be a democratic body. Parler is “to speak,”  a parliament is where discussions are held.

    The suppression of dissent that you seem to desire would be more characteristic of fascist form of government, that is where the discussion is stopped short by state coercion.

  • karlf

    What priori bigotry? It sounds like you are still smarting from when I replied to you earlier.

  • Alexander VI

    “The suppression of dissent …..”  As in the Papal States perhaps?