Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Muppets, Chicken and Tolerance


Chick-Fil-A is a fast food restaurant specializing in chicken.  They have no stores where I live, but I have been into a couple while on travel.  They seemed to be clean and friendly with good food and service, so long as you did not want to eat on Sunday.  Chick-Fil-A is owned and operated by Christians who support Christian charities and traditional family values.  Anyone is welcome to eat at Chick-Fil-A’s, and, as far as I know, employment laws would prevent them from discriminating against people seeking employment based on sexual preference.

The Jim Henson Company is in the entertainment business and is most closely associated with the Muppets, although they have sold their rights to those characters to Disney.  The Jim Henson Company is a long term support of homosexual rights.

These two companies have been business partners for some time, with Henson making the toys that are included in the Chick-Fil-A children’s meals.  This relationship came to an end a few days ago because of public comments made by the Chick-Fil-A owner, who has expressed company support for traditional families and a belief that homosexuality is sin.  The Henson company responded by breaking their partnership and expressing support for homosexual rights.

Many others have piled on in the debate concerning Chick-Fil-A’s recent public stand, including the mayor of Boston who has refusing to allow Chick-Fil-A to open a store in his town because of their discrimination practices.  He makes it sound like they are monitoring who can come in and buy a sandwich, something that would land them in hot water should they try it.

Tolerance is a word that is bandied about quite a bit today with many calling Chick-Fil-A intolerant and holding up the Henson company as champions of tolerance.  But is that a fair assessment? The word tolerance, at least when used in this context, means: a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.

Both sides of this ‘dispute’ have opinions that vary from the other, although I am not sure how much their practices actually vary; I do not believe either company can discriminate based on sexual preferences.  I have yet to see anything that would suggest that Chick-Fil-A has not had a permissive attitude toward those with different opinions in this arena than their own.  They did, after all, partner with and supply toys produced by a company that was a strong supporter of the homosexual rights movement.  They serve anyone who comes in, no questions asked.  Their only crime, as far as I can tell, is having an opinion that is not popular in some circles.

On the other hand you have the Henson company that now refuses to do business with a former partner because of their opinion.  You have mayors and other prominent individuals roundly criticizing and opposing Chick-Fil-A for their opinion.  The media and Facebook have been filled with condemnation against Chick-Fil-A over the past few days because of their beliefs.

So who is being intolerant here?

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