Tag Archives: Jim Kenney

Chick-fil-A and Convenient Protesting

When The Curmudgeon was a teenager there was a “women’s center” in his part of town that was little more than an abortion clinic.  This women’s center went about its business without interruption or fuss Mondays through Fridays, but on Saturdays, a polite, well-dressed group of about twenty people would show up with protest signs to express their displeasure over the center’s activities.

It was all very civilized.  As far as The Curmudgeon could tell, the protesters never raised a great big fuss or harassed the center’s patients, and  women who wanted abortions came to understand that they shouldn’t visit the facility on a Saturday.  The protesters were neither loud nor obnoxious, didn’t curse people, didn’t try to flag down passing cars, didn’t throw blood on the health care professionals who worked in the building.

Just in case there were any problems, though, the Philadelphia police department’s civil affairs unit always sent a van on Saturdays to monitor the situation.  The police would park the van along the curb of a nearby building, just out of sight of the clinic and its protesters.  Around six officers would stand around or sit on the curb, sipping coffee or soft drinks, while one among them would separate from the group and peer discreetly around the edge of the building so he could keep an eye out for any activity that might require intervention.

The Curmudgeon always thought this was a very strange approach to protesting.  Here you had people who believed very deeply that something going on inside the women’s center was profoundly wrong, that it violated their moral and religious beliefs, yet they could only muster the will to protest about it when it was convenient for them:  on Saturday, their day off from work.  The Curmudgeon recalls finding it awfully hard to respect people who were only willing to stand up for their beliefs when it fit into their schedule.

This situation came to mind recently because of the Chick-fil-A controversy that started when Dan Cathy, the company’s president, stated publicly that he opposes gay marriage.  The man’s entitled to his views, of course, just as people are entitled to choose not to patronize his business as a way of expressing their displeasure with those views.  Chick-fil-A is owned by a deeply religious man, and The Curmudgeon has always respected that man’s willingness to put his money where his mouth is by closing his stores on Sundays.  Truett Cathy, the company’s founder and owner, could make a lot more money by selling his food on Sundays, but he chooses not to out of respect for his sabbath.

Of course, every big mouth and his brother (and now, including The Curmudgeon) has seemingly felt compelled to put in his two cents’ worth about this little tempest in a teapot, and among those big mouths is Jim Kenney, a member of Philadelphia’s city council.  Mr. Kenney, readers may recall, was taken to task in this space earlier this year after it was revealed that he had hired a consultant to administer his Twitter account because he admitted he was not intelligent enough to learn how to tweet for himself.  The Curmudgeon respectfully – well, let’s be honest here, not-so-respectfully – suggested that a man not intelligent enough to tweet might not be well-suited to participate in the formulation of public policy for a city of 1.5 million people.

In a letter to Mr. Cathy, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Kenney wrote, “So please – take a hike and take your intolerance with you.  There is no place for this type of hate in our great City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.”  The Inquirer also reported that Kenney will introduce a resolution at the next Philadelphia city council meeting condemning both the man and his company.

Of course, as any real Philadelphian knows, and as The Curmudgeon saw coming a mile away even before he read it in the paper, Mr. Kenney will have to cool his heels for a good long time because that next council meeting won’t be anytime soon.  You see, Philadelphia’s city council doesn’t work during the summer.  Like a bunch of third-graders, its members take a summer vacation so they can play stickball, go to the beach, and watch lots of television.  By the time the next council meeting takes place, on September 13, the controversy will have died down and people will have moved on to other, presumably more important matters than the political views of a fried chicken salesman.  Even if the council passes the resolution, no one will care anymore and the members who vote for it will look like they are wasting time on the public’s dime.

So it looks as if, just like the anti-abortion protesters of The Curmudgeon’s youth, timely action on a matter in which he supposedly believes deeply is just not convenient for Mr. Kenney.  Instead, he’ll get back to us when it becomes more convenient, in about six weeks.

If anybody still cares about it by then.