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Chick-fil-A Protests Leave Many Hungry for More

Tom Pennington, Getty Images

An all-out culture war has broken out over Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy’s recently expressed support of traditional marriage. The comments drew criticism from gay marriage advocates, who staged a same-sex “Kiss-In” Friday at the fast food chain. Traditional marriage supporters had earlier held a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” ordering thousands of cow-friendly meals on Wednesday.

Hoping to give their voices more bite, political activists throughout history have conducted boycotts and counter boycotts, so there is nothing new to see here in that respect. It seems that the public’s appetite for shaping public policy is not easily quenched by scant opportunities for voting and letter-writing.

But is consuming fast food a relevant contribution to the national dialog? And what’s next? Hotdogs for military spending? Quesadillas for world hunger?

At best, the picketing is pointless, because it will have little or no impact on the position of the two leading presidential contenders. In fact, Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama share virtually the same viewpoint: that gay marriage is a state’s rights issue. So the protests must presumably be aimed at state, rather than national policy makers. In other words, those hoping for some sort of national leadership on the issue are bound to be left hungry for more.

It strikes me that this futile disavowal of (or enhanced consumption of) the chicken sandwich is just another vulgar cultural phenomenon reminiscent of truck nuts and peeing Calvins. These tasteless displays enjoy popularity among a relatively unsophisticated few.

Politicians have all but lost their appetite for cultural issues, and this controversy seems to have been fed largely by the general public. Newsflash: Gay marriage is not the most pressing issue facing us, and Romney and Obama are correct in leaving it to the states to digest. In light of an ongoing recession, a historic drought, the Eurozone crisis, and deficits as far as the eye can see, whether you eat, or do not eat, a chicken sandwich at a fast food joint is not going to hasten our looming legislative priorities: water management, government spending, revenue, and tax reform.

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