Larry In Atlanta

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Should a business be punished for an owner’s beliefs?

In 2012, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy, the son of founder Truett Cathy, made a comment in a Southern Baptist publication that the company supports the “biblical definition of a family unit.” That comment and others he made ignited a boycott of the family owned business. ( I work down the road from the original location, the Dwarf House. Ironically, the day the boycott was to start the line of cars ordering circled the building. Twice).

Hobby Lobby, also a privately owned Christian oriented company has come under fire for opposing the company’s health care coverage of some forms of birth control.

And on the other side there have been calls to boycott Starbucks because of comments that it’s then CEO, Howard Schultz, made regarding President Trump’s proposed ban on immigration from certain countries, most of which are majority Muslim. Or calls to avoid Ben & Jerry’s because of their founder’s liberal views.

This week, Texas governor Greg Abbott signed into law a bill that prohibits governments from “taking adverse action” over a company for their affiliation to a religious organization after the City of San Antonio banned Chick-fil-A from it’s airport.

I know people have strong beliefs, some far left, some far right, some in between. But should those beliefs translate into our purchasing decisions? I for one don’t think so. Do we do the same for everyone? Do we vet the owner of the roofing company that we hire to repair our roof, or the plumber that we get to to fix a leak? Do we check out what church they belong to? Look to see who they’re married to? That sounds absurd doesn’t it? But just let a high profile CEO of a large company say something we don’t like and the calls for boycott come a flyin’. Look at some of the staunchest advocates of whatever the “cause du jour” is: George Takei, Susan Sarandon, Ted Nugent, Charlie Daniels, on and on and on. Are they OK with us boycotting their films and music simply because of their support for boycotting some company because they got their knickers in a bunch over something someone said? It’s getting ridiculous.

And who gets hurt? Is Dan Cathy going to go without supper because a few thousand people don’t eat a chicken sandwich? Would Howard Schultz have to miss a car payment because some folks didn’t buy a half-caf non fat pumpkin spice soy latte with a shot of vanilla topped with cinnamon and no high fructose free range whipped cream? I don’t think so. The people getting hurt by these boycotts are the lowest ones on the totem pole (I hope I don’t get accused of cultural appropriation for that one): The hourly wage employees. Those are the people who could wind up missing a meal or a car payment because a bunch of wannabe do gooders decided to not patronize a particular company.

People, think before you act. Stop letting politics get in the way of doing the right thing. Look at what harm your calls to boycott some company might do to people who might just have the same beliefs as you. That guy in the back of a Chick-fil-A might be married to another man. The barista who would be making your coffee at Starbucks might be a devout Muslim from one of the forbidden countries. Are you OK with hurting them because of what the CEO said? Bet you didn’t think about that.


Hold On!

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