Rarely do we get to see two competing viewpoints this explicitly matched against each other, with enough separation to judge the strength of each side. After leading politicians in three of America’s largest cities threatened to block Chick-fil-A from operating because of the political and religious beliefs of its ownership, customers flooded into Chick-fil-A locations across the country — not to overtly protest, but to show support for the fast-food chain in the face of, well, intolerance. Same-sex marriage advocates arranged for a “Kiss-In” protest to counter the “Appreciation Day” organized by Mike Huckabee and scheduled it for two days later — yesterday.
Couples sent in photos of themselves kissing at restaurants around the nation to various gay-rights websites. But the protests appeared to draw far fewer people than an event earlier this week in support of the chicken chain.
Huge crowds turned out Wednesday in a show of support for company President Dan Cathy, who ignited a national debate by publicly expressing his opposition to same-sex marriage. Critics have also said the company supports causes harmful to gays and lesbians.
The scene on Friday was much quieter at locations across the Southland.
The protests got mainly ignored, and none of them apparently disrupted business. Actually, the only complaint made to police by a Chick-fil-A location was to clear the media away, when they began interfering with business. However, that wasn’t the only involvement by police. Someone vandalized a Torrance, California location by spray-painting “Tastes Like Hate” on the outside wall of the restaurant, which turned out to be the only significant “protest” all day:
At a Chick-fil-A in Torrance where vandals painted the words “Tastes Like Hate” on the side of the restaurant Thursday night, the “National Same-Sex Kiss Day” was off to a slow start.
A steady parade of cars made their way into the parking lot as diners strolled in and out of the restaurant. Some held signs that read “Jesus is the only answer.” Many said they were there in support of Chick-fil-A and denounced the vandalism.
“It’s a civil debate; it has nothing to do with defacing someone’s property,” said Alfonzo Rachel, 40, a Torrance resident who said he dines at the restaurant regularly.
Otherwise, the protests garnered little attention, even in Hollywood, where one might expect to see the zenith of a national gay-rights protest. Via Zombie, Ringo brought a camera and took some pictures at that location, with protesters in the foreground — but with many more customers behind them, not paying the protesters any attention at all. Z captioned the image I used for the front page: “I’m Barack Obama, and I’m not yet sure if I approve this message.” Take a closer look behind the protesters, though; the place looks packed with People Not Really Giving A &*^%. In Hollywood. Ringo gave an explanation on his Facebook page:
This was taken in the heart of Hollywood, at the corner of Sunset Blvd and Highland – and I am happy to report that there were cars lined up down the street and around the corner waiting to go through the drive-thru. And the patio was packed with smiling customers eating chicken sandwiches and laughing at the handful of obnoxious protesters.
In one sense, this was a victory for free speech. Both sides of an issue have had their say. People now can choose whether or not to patronize Chick-fil-A without having politicians demand that a business adhere to their own views on religion or politics. Bullies like Thomas Menino and Rahm Emanuel should take a lesson from this exercise of free speech and free choice, a point that Chicago’s famed improvisational group Second City drove home with this skit (and believe me, this is Not Safe For Work):
However, for the Kiss-In protest organizers, this is a humiliating defeat. They should have shelved this idea after seeing the overwhelming turnout on Wednesday, knowing that they could never hope to approach that level of support. The juxtaposition of these two protests made very clear which view is mainstream, and which view is fringe — another lesson that Menino and Emanuel should heed.
Update: How did I miss that the man quoted by the LA Times in Torrance was PJ Media’s ‘Zo? At least, they have the same name and the same age, I believe.