Why Josh Ozersky Should Boycott Chik-fil-A.

Been awhile since I wrote a food politics post, but Josh Ozersky got the juices flowing with his latest article "Why I Wont Be Boycotting Chik-Fil-A".  In the article, Josh talks about something that probably won't surprise you.  Chik-fil-A is one of the few companies that identifies as Christian and has a charitable arm that donates money to organizations that promote Christian values.  In some number of cases, these organizations actively oppose same sex marriage.  While he does not support these organizations, he has decided not to boycotr Chik-fil-A, and here's why:

Chick-fil-A, the fast-food outlet, has one plane of interaction with the public: its sandwiches, sodas and waffle fries. The prices are fair, its employment practices not onerous, and the food is good, especially if you are as devoted to MSG as I am. You could make a strong argument that the suffering their chickens endure prior to becoming sandwiches constitutes a kind of original sin; and that’s something you have to think about. But businesses should be judged by their products and practices, not by their politics.
This feels like a cop-out to me.  There are arguments I can relate to, but this is not one of them.  When a business donates money, that is a practice, not some abstract political belief.  When you spend money at a business that will take some portion of that money and donate towards a cause you morally oppose, it evidence of a hypocrisy.   Oddly enough, I don't take issue with hypocrisy.  It's human.  Especially in food.

I also believe there is a place where if the dial were turned, Josh probably wouldn't spend money at Chik-fil-A.  Say they were 100% owned and operated by an organization dedicated to fighting same sex marriage, and every dollar earned would go towards fighting same sex marriage.

If Josh were to say that he feels that the amount of money he inadvertently funnels to organizations he detests is small enough that it is within the noise of his comfort level, I don't know if I would argue that.  I suspect that this is actually what is going on, and would actually be a reasonable argument.  I am sure that everyday, some portion of the money every consumer spends will go towards a cause they detest. If he had just clearly stated that, I probably wouldn't have written this.   But, he didn't.  He came up with some really odd logic and poor comparisons.  For example:

But, just as with JC Penney and DeGeneres, it doesn’t seem fair to me. Should you boycott the Grammys because they put on the guy who beat up Rihanna? Then you would have missed Adele. When I was a kid, it was taken for granted that Jews should never drive Fords or go to Disney World, since both Ford and Disney were notoriously anti-Semitic. My father’s reasoning was that, since everyone back then was anti-Semitic, picking on Ford and Disney was arbitrary and pointless.  There are none righteous, not one, as St. Paul said; businesses should be judged on what they do — to their customers, their employees, their suppliers and their chickens — and not on what they do with their profits. That’s part of living in a free society too.
I have no comprehension on what fair has anything to do with anything.  Fair to Josh?  Fair to Chik-fil-A?     I actually think that the boycott might just be the only fair interaction between consumers and corporations.  Don't like how an organization behaves, don't spend money to support it.  If enough people agree with you, the business can make the decision about what is in its best interest.  If their principles are stronger than their desire to make money, then they can downsize accordingly.  If they would rather profit, then they can change their spending habits.  

The comparisons to JC Penney and the Grammy's are just bananas.  One Million Moms wanted to organize a boycott until JC Penney fires Ellen Degeneres for being a lesbian.  They are basically boycotting JC Penney until JC Penney decides to break the law by terminating a spokesperson because of their sexual preference.

I don't know if you should boycott the Grammy's because of the their decision to have Chris Brown perform.  But I definitely know missing the Adele performance is the worst reason to not boycott the Grammy's if you think they are in the wrong.  Following that logic through suggests that you shouldn't boycott Chick-fil-A for opposing gay marriage because then you don't get to eat a chicken sandwich.

The only time anyone stands for their principles is when there is a cost associated with it.  That is why people who actually stand by their beliefs in the face of adversity, deserve our respect.

Even when adversity is as simple as not eating a chicken sandwich.


  1. A perfect response to this amoral attempt to justify hypocritical behaviour for the sake of self indulgence.


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