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A Chick-fil-A Exposé

March 24, 2019
by Mark David Siegel

Hi everyone,

We reached JFK on Friday night after traveling eight and half hour from Copenhagen. That’s a long time to sit in the dark, but with Heide and the girls a row away and hard to hear over the engines, I was functionally flying solo.  

I filled the time- starting with curried chicken on a baguette procured at the airport and some red wine and cappuccino ordered on the plane. I answered emails, slept a bit, watched “Dunkirk” and three episodes of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” listened to an offline Pandora playlist and an audible magazine piece on immigration, and started reading “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I also read an exposé on Chick-fil-A, which is the topic for today.

I like Chick-fil-A sandwiches, though I’ve only eaten them twice, and just at residency functions. The meat is juicy and the sauce tangy. The long lines at lunch tell me residents like them too. 

So here’s the problem. Chick-Fil-A has a long history of supporting anti-LGBTQ causes, donating large sums to organizations that opposed marriage equality and to groups like Exodus International, which promoted “conversion therapy.” Following public outcry earlier in the decade, Chick-fil-A pledged to stop giving to “anti-gay organizations,” but as recently as 2017, the company continued to support anti-LGBTQ groups, for example donating more than 1.6 million dollars to an athletic organization that required its employees to pledge not to engage in “homosexual acts.” 

After reading the expose, my first thought was that we should stop doing business with Chick-fil-A, immediately. But after reading more and getting feedback from some of you, I think we should answer some questions first. For example:  

  • Do we have consensus that Chick-fil-A’s activities warrant a boycott? I’ve learned, for example, that at least 4 LGBTQ people, all members of or closely connected to our residency, like Chick-fil-A, despite its anti-LGBTQ stance. Maybe there’s more support for the company than I realized. If so, we need to hear from dissenting voices.
  • Would a boycott impact their policies? We’re just one residency and we don’t order Chick-fil-A that often. There’s no way they’d notice our little boycott in isolation. If so, should we ask other residencies to join us? Would correspondence with company leadership be more effective than a boycott?
  • Why single out Chick-fil-A? What do we know about other companies we do business with? 
  • What are the implications of a boycott? Could a boycott hurt Chick-fil-A’s employees? Do we risk compromising their jobs without affecting company policy?
  • Is Chick-fil-A so bad? Even if we disagree with this one policy, what about the company’s other charitable donations, for example to soup kitchens and college scholarships? Do these gifts mitigate our concern? 
  • What kind of precedent does this set for our residency? If we’re going to boycott companies, what criteria should we use? How do we avoid being arbitrary?  Which causes should concern us? What kinds of harms demand our attention?
  • Should this issue concern a medical residency? While this is certainly a social issue, it isn’t strictly medical, like pharmaceutical companies charging too much for insulin or drug stores selling cigarettes to children. Are we inviting more charges that we should “stay in our lane?” 
  • How should we proceed? That’s the easiest question to answer. We need your input, so please share your thoughts. At this Thursday’s Executive Council, I’d like to discuss whether we should boycott Chick-fil-A, so let me know what you think before then. All opinions are welcome, no matter where you stand. 

It’s good to be back in the States, everyone. I’m heading into the MICU for two weeks, starting tomorrow. But today’s weather calls for a bike ride, the first of Spring. 

See you soon,

Mark

Submitted by Mark David Siegel on March 24, 2019