What Hath Chick-fil-A Wrought?

Original Chick-Fil-A | Photo: hectorir/Flickr/Creative Commons License

It has not been an easy week for Chick-fil-A, to say the least. The once-beloved restaurant chain -- and make no mistake about it, if you were around L.A. in August of 2010 when they opened their first store in the city proper, you know they were cherished -- has morphed into a much-hated institution.

While there were general murmurs of disgruntlement cast in their direction over the past few years after it was made known the company had donated massive amounts of money to anti-gay organizations -- including, in our own backyard, having ties to pro-Prop 8 entities -- the dissent was generally reserved to rants at parties and memes on Facebook. But that all changed last week, when company COO, Dan Cathy, decided to open his mouth to the Baptist Press when confronted with a question of whether or not his company does, indeed, condemn same-sex marriage.

"Guily as charged," was his response. Costly words.

Since, it's been a whirlwind of disaster. The Jim Henson Company, which had custom-created toys for the chain's children's meals, decided they wouldn't work with them again. (Hilariously, Chick-fil-A responded by pulling the toys, blaming a "safety issue.") The mayor of Boston urged them to back out of plans to move into the city. Chicago quickly joined in. And then, in a final blow of embarrassment, they were accused of going on Facebook and pretending to be a teenage girl in some sort of attempt at viral marketing.

Chick-fil-A better hope that old saying of "there's no such thing as bad press" is true, because that's all they're getting.

But leaving the specifics aside for a moment -- really, your own personal opinion about whether or not you should eat at Chick-fil-A isn't going to be swayed by me -- the more interesting question to delve into at the moment is this: Should we take into account a restaurant's politics when judging their food? If they make a delicious chicken sandwich, should anything matter besides our taste buds?

It's essentially an argument about the artist versus the art, specifically how much the former should influence the latter. Should there be a separation between the product and the thing creating the product? To answer that, let's have fun with a little theoretical, shall we?

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Let's say you have a favorite film director. You've been a fan since their debut, and their movies have only gotten better. You were there for opening night for each, own the soundtracks, and are in the middle of deciding which kidney to sell in order to afford a signed copy of their latest script. You're a huge fan, in other words. But then a friend calls up and alerts you to the fact that the director is a huge proponent of killing the whales. Not just some. All of them. (Their parents were killed by a crazed whale, let's say.) They spend a large portion of their fortune on whaling boats and holding fundraisers for scientists working on the latest spear tech. But they've also made a vow to keep that opinion out of their movies. Your friend then closes out the phone call by saying that they have tickets to a sneak preview of the director's latest movie tonight. They cost $12 a piece, and the movie is rumored to be their best work yet.

So, then: What do you tell your friend?

Now, it's not a perfect one-to-one comparison (Chick-fil-A, anti-gay vs. fake film director, anti-whale), but the point is there: Should your eating habits be dictated by opinions of the business owner?

(In the meantime, while you're deciding, feel free to use our list of five chicken sandwiches that better than Chick-fil-A. In fact, go ahead and feel free to use that after your decision.)

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