The “buycott” of Chick-fil-A on Wednesday produced what the company will only describe as an “unprecedented day” for business. Today, we get the counter-protest (it was announced first, but arrives second) in the form of a “kiss-in” by gay couples angry about remarks made by company president Dan Cathy.
Will it be as successful?
Boycotts have a revered place in American history as an effective form of protest, in large part because of the role they played in the civil rights movement. Lately, however, the tactic’s record is much more spotty. Looking at one list of current boycotts, I don’t see many, if any, that I’d count as successful.
Will today's "kiss-in" by gay couples at Chick-fil-A restaurants be successful?
Total Voters: 3,428
Now, a “kiss-in” isn’t exactly the same thing as a boycott; I have no idea how many of the reported 15,000 people nationwide who say they’re participating in today’s protest will buy a chicken sandwich while they’re there. But it is similar in that it’s an attempt to shame a company into a certain action by applying public pressure.
My own theory about this is that activists are reaching a point of diminishing returns when it comes to pressuring corporations, in large part because they have succeeded in pressuring many companies into some form of “corporate social responsibility.” (My sub-theory is that, contrary to the mantra of “think globally, act locally,” most of this CSR pressure has the effect of shifting businesses’ philanthropic efforts from local activities to more visible, globally promoted activities — often leaving local communities in the lurch. But that’s a topic for a different day.)
So according to my theory, even setting aside the Cathy family’s obvious and longtime commitment to their beliefs, a company like Chick-fil-A feels less pressure to acquiesce to one group’s demands because it can point to a long list of corporate “good behavior.” The company and its owners stood on higher moral ground, so to speak, to start with.
All that is a somewhat long-winded way of getting to this week’s Poll Position question: Will today’s “kiss-in” by gay couples at Chick-fil-A restaurants be successful? Define success however you want: Changing the Cathy family’s position; dissuading other businesspeople from voicing similar opinions in the future; winning public sympathy for same-sex marriage; having an effect on Chick-fil-A’s business; or anything else. Just vote in the nearby poll and explain yourself in the comments thread below.
ADDED: I doubt this kind of action, while unrelated to kissing, will engender much sympathy for the cause of today’s protesters.
NOTE: Commenting on this thread has been closed.
– By Kyle Wingfield