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East County Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012 5 years ago

Observed: Celebrate your rights; keep it civil

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

It started with a phone call.

An East County resident had called to tell us we should get over to the State Road 70 Chick-fil-A location Aug. 1. The lines, he said, were extraordinary.

I had a few minutes between appointments, so I grabbed my purse and camera gear, and started out on my five-minute commute. On the way, I heard my phone “ping” with a text message from a work colleague: “Omg! Chix filet on SR 70 is crazy backed up!”

At that point, I knew it would be a madhouse, but I still wasn’t fully prepared for what I saw. As I turned in by the BP gas station, I wasn’t quite sure what to do. The line heading left into Chick-fil-A’s parking lot was moving, but it was backed up to the entrance of Starbucks. I maneuvered right, turned left, parked my car in front of Bealls and walked over, passing numerous patrons who, now clutching white-and-red, to-go Chick-fil-A bags, had come out to support “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.”

As I neared the building, I bumped into a colleague from another paper, who gave me a look and, under her breath said: “I can’t believe all these people came out to support hate.”

Since I still wasn’t 100% sure about the purpose of the day’s events, I held my tongue.

So, here are the details, and then my point. The event was created by former presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, through Facebook, in response to criticisms of Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy, after an interview he did with The Baptist Press July 16. During the interview, he said: “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.”

The statement immediately drew negative reactions from supporters of same-sex marriage, and Huckabee, on Facebook, responded by saying he was upset by the “vitriolic assaults on the Chick-fil-A company” because of Cathy’s statement. He went on to commend the company’s decision to remain closed on Sundays, so employees can go to church, if they wish, and other principles.

“There’s no need for anyone to be angry or engage in a verbal battle,” he posted. “Simply affirm appreciation for a company run by Christian principles by showing up on Wednesday, Aug. 1 or by participating online — tweeting your support or sending a message on Facebook.”

Now, my question to you is this: Is supporting a business that shares your values really an expression of hate? If you don’t share someone’s values, principals or ideas, does that make you hateful, or does it just mean you disagree?

You can treat people with hate, or you can treat them as you would anyone else, even if you don’t agree with them personally. From what I can tell, Chick-fil-A does the latter.

I think the use of the word “hate,” in many cases, has been manipulated, just as the word “tolerance” has been misused.

Same-sex marriage advocates responded to Cathy’s statements by organizing a “Same-Sex Kiss Day” Aug. 3 and now have launched campaigns to get businesses to withdraw their support from the company. They also planned to hold “Starbucks Appreciation Day” Aug. 7, to show support for the company’s efforts to make gay marriage legal.

I commend both sides for using their First Amendment rights to express themselves, but let’s be sure to keep it civil. There’s no need to respond to an opinion with malice, or with plans of sabotage.

Don’t forget Aug. 14 is the primary election. Many of our local races will be determined at this time, so don’t forget to head to the polls!

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