I have been thinking about the controversy that the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Trangender (GLBT) community has engineered over Chick-Fil-A. Like many family oriented, conservative Americans, I drove to Chick-Fil-A today to spend my money there in order to support the values I hold dear.
I could not get in. The place was packed. I took the picture above from my car on the side of the road (see the little red Chick-Fil-A sign). Apparently I was not the only one that had this idea. Chick-Fil-A did not have this many patrons when they gave away free food last month on Cow Appreciation Day (I was there and my children were dressed as cows). Why such a reaction?
It struck me that the faux-controversy that the GLBT community has generated will do something to excite their base, but it will also inadvertently have the unintended consequence of adding to Chick-Fil-A’s bottom line. How do I know this? I have read Sun Tsu. “Every battle is won before it is ever fought.”
But what inflamed the GLTB community? Dan Cathy, son of the founder and COO made the following inflammatory, bigoted, and hate-filled remarks in an interview with the Baptist Press:
“Some have opposed the company’s support of the traditional family. ‘Well, guilty as charged,’ said Cathy when asked about the company’s position. 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 operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that”
Chick-Fil-A has not done anything new. They have always held to biblical values–values that the elite thought to be foolish, like closing every Sunday. Yet, Chic-Fil-A’s profitability has continued to rise year after year.
Liberals have come out of the woodwork to condemn Chick-Fil-A. The Mayor of Boston, in a generous display of liberality, stated he would prevent Chick-Fil-A from opening a restaurant in his city because of “prejudiced statements” and “Discrimination.” Yet, he does not seem to notice the irony of his statement.
He fails to recognize that his own position is deeply prejudiced against anyone who holds the Biblical position that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. What the Huffington Post labeled as anti-gay, the rest of us call traditional marriage.Chick-Fil-A is the epicenter of a proxy-war against those who hold Biblical values.
The Mayor of Chicago also took a hard line against Chick-Fil-A, though he has no qualms about working with Louis Farrakhan (you simply must see the video here) in spite of Farrakhan’s blistering denunciation of President Obama on gay marriage. But that is different. Farrakhan is Muslim. Somehow, that makes it OK.
The good news is that this tactic is going to backfire.Take a good look at this map of the 2010 congressional election.
Notice that the distinctive Democrat Blue is pronounced in the North East and the rim of the Left Coast. Now, let’s compare this with a map of Chick-Fil-A locations.
Do you notice any pattern? Chick-Fil-A is a largely Southern and mid-western enterprise, frequented by families. Yes, the GLBT community plans to show up on August 3rd to kiss in Chick-Fil-A restaurants.I suppose this will gross out people who eat there, but assuming that they have paid for their meals before they lose their lunch, it will not hurt the bottom line. It might have a minor effect on revenues on the 3rd, but they were already covered today.
Now, you may have noticed that I have called this a faux controversy throughout this post. That is because it is. Dan Cathy has not gone out of his way to offend, but the GLBT leadership has made this an issue.This was a tactical error. The GLBT leadership has overreached.
In 1989, Marshal Kirk and Hunter Madsen wrote After the Ball: How America will Conquer its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 1990s. The tactic was simple: position yourself as the oppressed minority and you will gain acceptance. This tactic worked brilliantly for the last 20 years. In this case, however, the GLBT leadership got off message.
Now, Chick-Fil-A is being attacked for being anti-gay (or perhaps we should say pro-Biblical values). The majority of those who eat at Chick-Fil-A believe that they are the victim. Moreover, Chick-Fil-A does not depend on its one restaurant in New York or the 2 stores in Massachusetts for revenue. The franchise was born and raised in the Bible-belt. Yet GLBT leaders are attacking their enemies on the metaphorical high ground. As a result, the GLBT community will sponsor Chick-Fil-A’s best quarter ever. To paraphrase Sun-Tsu, their battle was lost before it was fought.
Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University.