Why I will not be appearing on The Ken Coleman Show (regrettably, I might add)
Hey, hope you are well. Id love to have you on my show tomorrow. It is live from 2-4 pm ET.
If you can do it I'd love to chat briefly today so you know what the conversation would be like - which is friendly.
I'd have you on between 2:30 - 2:48
Look forward to connecting.
Syndicated Radio Host, The Ken Coleman Show
Author of forthcoming Simon & Schuster book One Question
Absolutely not and I will tell you precisely why. You are more than welcome to read my statement on your show, as long as it is verbatim (or only edited in a reasonable way).
When I posted the initial clip from your show—which, I should remind you, is the only reason why any of this turned into an incident—I coupled that mp3 with little more than a short intro, the audio clip and transcript, and then an open question about how this might affect the fast food chain's customer base. The facts, as they landed on my ears on that fortuitous day, were of a man, a public figure, who chose to make a press appearance on your show, ostensibly to promote his brand, his image, and the Chick-fil-A culture. I helped him disseminate his intended message by putting it out to a larger audience—a *very* large audience, as it turns out.
But what happened? All of a sudden, those of us who brought attention to these words and then proceeded to have our own opinions about how these thoughts that Mr. Cathy put into the marketplace of ideas might affect our decisions in the consumer marketplace, were (as we always are by anti-LGBT voices) turned into angry, bigoted, intolerant militants (for the nicer labels). People began injecting their own biases and began turning towards their personal wants or needs to defend their own political stances, coming at the expense of the intellectual purity of what was (and should have remained) a very straightforward matter. The Chick-fil-A and/or "traditional marriage" defenders began twisting the entire thing, pulling the conversation off merit and onto side arguments about the engagement itself ("slander"; "toxic bile"; etc.). Or, in the more offensive and messenger-shooting turns, people like Dan Cathy himself started accusing us of cutting up and twisting his words. That aggressive anti-intellectualism is not okay, especially from the crowd for whom bearing accurate witness is a biblical mandate.
The reason I will not appear on your show, specifically, is because you, in your appearance on CNN yesterday, fostered the very problem I stated above. Sizing up the situation for CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin, you said of those of us who have brought light to this matter:
"people that preach tolerance are being awfully intolerant right now with a good man who has a track record of servant leadership and being a real, authentic man."
Well let's dissect this. First, let's start with whether or not Mr. Cathy is a good man or whether he has a servant's heart in other areas. That, my friend, is a total sidestep—an opportunistic dance around the situation. Virtually no one who is speaking out in a professional capacity is denying Mr. Cathy of his strengths in other areas. Whether or not he is a good-hearted person does not change his stated comments one iota! If he smiles when he says marriages like mine bring forth God's judgement, it affects me just the same way as if he disseminates those views through a clinched jaw.
Which brings us to the monolithic "people who preach tolerance…" label that you negligently chose to use. This is the same sort of crass (mis)characterization game that LGBT people and allies know all too well. Sure, there are some people who are calling Mr. Cathy names, just as there are the same number of people (or more) who viciously knock LGBT people in just about any comments forum or social media stream that makes up our vast internet. But the meat of this story, as it were, lies in the facts. As someone who brought those facts to light—just as I brought the earlier Chick-fil-A matters to light—and yet who has not once called Mr. Cathy any name (as I never place character labels on any oppositional voices), I can't help but feel both sadness and rage towards a "both sides of the story" media environment that casts every single matter of human interest as if it's a "let's agree to disagree" situation. And I refuse to have on-air pundits like yourself reduce this, a very straightforward matter of a corporate executive who chose to say that the participants/supporters of certain marriages are shaking fists at God, into another one of these left/right, red/blue, religious/not, so on/so forth debate—one where scrutiny is tantamount to intolerance.
You then went on tell Brooke Baldwin, when asked to interpret Dan Cathy's statements:
"That's for others to decide. I'm not here to defend Dan. I will tell you this, though. I will defend his right and anyone who disagrees with him to have an opinion."
Well that first part strikes me as a responsibility-shirking canard, since you have been defending Dan Cathy on social media, as well as in this very same CNN appearance. But moreover, when Mr. Cathy delivered his thoughts, right there on your radio show, you followed them up by saying "mmmm, sobering but powerful words from Dan Cathy…" Really? Sobering? Powerful? That's what your instincts chose to go with? Because I'm sorry, but neither myself nor my husband saw it that way. Quite frankly, we're not all that fond of messages that tell our neighbors that they should pray for God's mercy because we, the married gays next door, were "arrogant" and "prideful" enough to think we deserve to get married!
Then as for the defense of speech thing? Well again, if Mr. Cathy stands by his message, he should be sending me gifts for helping him share his good word (though not chicken please; I'm a vegetarian). And if you, Mr. Coleman, truly do support those of us who disagree with his opinions, then you should respect the conversation enough to not instantly characterize concerned voices of pushback as being "awfully intolerant." That's lame.
Which brings me back to the heart of this matter, and why I won't be appearing on your radio show. In a perfect world, people like me and you really wouldn't be a part of the main story at all. Our editorializing notwithstanding, we are both little more than vehicles here. You disseminated his message, then I did the same. That message—Dan Cathy's message, I should say—is the only thing I care about. All else is noise, really.
What strikes me about these situations (and I've experienced several of them) is the stark contrast between the way they play out when the message is pro-equality versus when it is condemnatory. When a company head like Starbucks' Howard Schulz states his staunch support for equality, yes, people on both sides of this contrived "culture war" of ours weigh in on the stated support. But with pro-equality companies—even those that face criticism, denunciation, and boycotts—we see very little attempt to waver on the initial wording, much less twist and turn in a million different ways so as to distract from the matter at hand. With anti-equality companies? We see this EVERY. TIME.
Just yesterday, Mr. Coleman, you retweeted a message from Dan Cathy that stated:
With all due respect, this is a major crock of chicken grease! Yes, the main thing Dan Cathy (and his board) surely want to talk about is the quality of the Chick-fil-A experience. And yes, I've even say that in the grand scheme of Chick-Fil-A as an enterprise, the business is the main thing. Obviously. None of us are saying that the "Shaking your Fist At God" platter is going to go on the menu for the holiday season.
But the "main thing, the main thing," Mr. Coleman, in terms of what Dan Cathy said on your radio show? Well, it's that we now know, in undeniable language, that Mr. Cathy believes same-sex marriages like the one I call a reality are "are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say 'we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage'," and we also know that he "pray(s) God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about ." That is the story here. That is why this is a story at all. Telling us that we should enjoy some fried fowl on a pickled bun rather than address a prominent American COO's statements in his capacity as business executive is like saying we should enjoy the taste of our gum but not also dare to take a walk at the same time. We can do both, thankfully.
I appreciate the invite to appear on your show, and I sincerely regret that my judgement tells me to turn it down. But since people like yourself and Dan Cathy seem to believe (or at least continue to state as part of a defensive PR tactic) that those of us who've involved ourselves in this story are getting in the way of what matters, I am choosing to instead confine my efforts in terms of Chick-fil-A to the company's documented record—a documented record, in case you are not aware, that not only includes these latest comments, but also the fact that the company has held several strategy retreats featuring anti-equality speakers, has expressed policies against gay couples (married or otherwise) staying at its WinShape retreat centers, and has provided considerable financing of organizations that work to fight equal civil rights for LGBT Americans.
I wish you well!
Good As You
*I can report, happily, that Mr. Coleman received my message in the spirit in which it was intended, opening up the kind of key growth opportunity that I so doggedly seek. I have also made my self available to do his show at another time, on another topic.
comments powered by Disqus