Of Chicken Sandwiches and Gay Marriage

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Alright, I wasn’t going to write about this topic since it seemed pretty open and shut to me. But I can’t get on facebook, listen to NPR, or even spend time with friends without hearing about the incident with Chick-Fil-A. So here’s what happened for those who may not know.

Chick-Fil-A is a fast food chain that specilizes in chicken sandwiches as opposed to burgers. The founder and CEO of the company has stated many times that he uses christian values in the founding of the company, which is why the restaurants are closed on Sundays.

Recently, there has been a surge in the media in regards to the religious views of the company’s management due to their support of “pro-family” organizations, and the death of one of the management team.

Naturally, the company’s religious, anti-gay, views have angered many people who support the rights of gay people to get married. This anger has reached a boiling point however, with politicians swearing to prevent Chick-Fil-A restaurants from being built in the cities they govern. This has naturally angered the conservative right, who support the company’s pro-family views.

In my mind, this issue is actually very simple. I do not agree with the religious views of the company’s president, but he has every right to hold those views. At the same time, people who do not agree with the positions of the company have every right to refuse to buy their product.

Now the movements to ban the restaurants from building new franchises is unconstitutional. The company was founded on christian values, but they do not discriminate in their hiring or service policies. A gay man can get a job at these restaurants and would not be fired for their sexual orientation. Therefor, the banning of these restaurants would violate the first amendment rights of the owner.

I hope that this controversy dies down soon, and that the president of Chick-Fil-A will be able to build his franchise wherever he wants to without legal trouble, despite my disagreement with his viewpoint on marriage.

But what do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the attempts to legally ban this chain in major cities? Do you agree or disagree with Dan Cathy’s views on marriage? Leave a comment and let me know.

[edit]  I now love the Jim Henson Company more than I ever thought possible. I just learned that they severed their promotional deal with Chick-Fil-A and are donating the last check they got from Chick-Fil-A to a pro-gay rights group.  It may not be easy being green, but I love you for it.

A Look at Misogyny in The Skeptic Community

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Alright, so there has been a lot of talk about sexism in the atheist/skeptic community lately. Most of this has taken place online and at skeptic conferences. Before I go into my opinions about this issue, I feel like I should give you a brief history about how this controversy started.

About a year ago, a prominent atheist blogger, Rebecca Watson, posted a video about her experience at a conference in Dublin. She talked about how she was drinking with some friends until 4 A.M. She left the bar and took the elevator to her room with a man who asked her if she would like to come to his room for “coffee.”

Rebecca Watson said that this event made her feel uncomfortable and sexualised. She said that the issue of sexism in the atheist/skeptic community needed to be addressed in light of this incident.

Several bloggers in the community addressed Rebecca’s position as an overreaction. They said that while the man in the elevator didn’t have the best judgment, Rebecca overreacted to the incident and that sexism in the atheist community was not as big an issue as she made it out to be.

Rebecca then called out one of these bloggers during a keynote speech she gave at another conference. This triggered more debate online, which drew in the attention of the bigger players of the community such as P.Z. Myers and Richard Dawkins. Myers agreed with Rebecca, while Dawkins pointed out that sexism in other parts of the world was far worse than the incident that Rebecca experienced.

This controversy caught the attention of many others in the community, including youtubers, The Amazing Atheist and Thunderf00t. The Amazing Atheist talked about the stupidity of the entire debate, while Thunderf00t brought up the over-exaggeration of sexism in the community.

Now I will give my opinion on these events. I would like to note that I do not hold any of these ideas in stone and am willing to debate and discuss these opinions with anyone who is willing to debate rationally.

First off, I am in the camp that says that Rebecca overreacted to the event.  I do feel like the man in the elevator was an idiot for hitting on her in an elevator, where she couldn’t walk away easily.  But, this man didn’t seem to push the subject, so I feel the subject could have ended at that moment.  I also think that Rebecca should have taken the high road when bringing up the issue.  This seems to be a simple case of social stupidity that could have been addressed as such in Rebecca’s videos and speeches.

Now in regards to the negative attention that Rebecca has received in light of this incident, I am sickened that people would mock her with threats of violence and rape.  That behavior is unacceptable in a civilized society.  However, in the internet culture, that behavior is relatively common these days; I myself have received a few threats of rape for my post about sexism in the GOP.  If these threats seem genuine, if the person making them gives personal information that shows serious intent, then they should be dealt with by contacting the proper authorities.  But, Rebecca addresses these as all being genuine to further an agenda.  I think that a little bit of common sense would show that there are other issues and causes to the behavior of these internet trolls.

Now when it comes to the opinions of other bloggers such the The Amazing Atheist and Thunderf00t,  I think that everyone is entitled to their opinion.  I also believe that opinion should never have any effect on policy or action when it comes to social issues.  Logic and reason must overcome opinions and feelings when it comes to issues like this.  And on that note, I wish to address a small but important issue that has recently arose from this debate.

P.Z. Myers has a blog called Freethought Blogs.  He recently banned Thunderf00t from this blog for rationally discussing this issue on Freethought Blogs.  Now while I understand that having a new voice come into a debate and criticizing a strongly held view can be upsetting, P.Z. Myers sunk to the level of an ignorant bigot in banning Thunderf00t through strawman arguments and gut reactions.  If issues like sexism are ever going to be worked out and solved, it is going to be thought rational debate and logical arguments.  Not knee-jerk reactions and emotional outpouring.  I am ashamed to call myself a future teacher if people like P.Z. Myers can hold the same title that I will soon hold.

In the end, I think that the issue of sexism in the skeptic community is something to be looked at so that people of all genders, creeds, sexuality, and races can be welcome.  But I feel like this issue has polarized the community, turning free thinking individuals into pluralized mobs that only react on empty emotion.

But what do you think?  Am I right, wrong, or neither.  Is sexism a rampent problem in the atheist/skeptic community?  Leave a comment and I’ll be sure to join in on the debate.

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