If you have a Facebook account, you've probably seen posts and arguments about whether the fast food chain Chick-fil-A should be boycotted for anti-gay comments made by its president Dan Cathy. If not, you may have seen reports in the national news, especially since multiple cities and municipalities have retaliated against Chick-fil-A.
In an online article, Weekly Standard writer Mark Hemmingway claimed that this entire controversy was "invented" by the "stunningly dishonest" liberal mainstream" media, even though the president of Chick-fil-A "never actually said anything condemning gay marriage." If Hemmingway's claims were true, they would vindicate multiple conservative talking points at once. That's why they have spread throughout online conservative media.
And, at first glance, the Weekly Standard's article appears to have a point. Hemmingway correctly notes that Cathy never used the words "gay marriage." And it's true that Chick-fil-A tried to backtrack, claiming it was not "anti-anybody."
Here's the problem, though. Hemmingway acknowledges that Cathy said "I think we 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.'" As Hemmingway's Weekly Standard article would have you believe, "if you listen to the interview he doesn't utter the words "gay marriage," and it's clear that in the broader context Cathy is speaking about many different issues leading to the general breakdown of the family."
This seems like a creative interpretation, if you've never listened to a single pundit attack gay marriage anytime over the last decade. But let's take a look at that "broader context" (you can listen to more of the interview here). Following, note the words by Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy:
"Beyond that, there's some essential, emotional DNA that God intended us to get from a mother and a dad, that we observe over life, as children and as infants growing up, that we can only get from our dad, and we only get it from out mother, and we're to get it in a home dynamic environment where they're interrelating together to build the stability and the self-esteem that God wants us to have to get through our teenage years. Now, when we don't have one side or the other, you know, I just have to tell you, I think we're just emotionally handicapped." [Emphasis added.]
Does anybody still think he wasn't talking about gay marriage? This quote was less than a minute before the section that the Weekly Standard quoted, where Cathy tells us that our generation "has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about." Clearly Hemmingway didn't listen to even a few minutes of the interview himself before publishing an article accusing others of leaving out context. The National Review has put out many well-argued conservative articles, but where was their copy editing on this? Why has nobody noticed this blatant lie yet?
It's not like this is the only problem with the article. Another important bit of "context" Hemmingway leaves out is Chick-fil-A's corporate donations to anti-gay groups, which occurred at least two years in a row. One of these groups is "Exodus international," which supports dangerous and unethical therapy to "cure" gays, despite a lack of evidence that homosexuality is even a disease or that it can be "cured."
Speaking of evidence, did I mention the rock-solid scientific consensus against Cathy's claims? Dan Cathy needs to brush up on his science almost as much as Mark Hemmingway needs to brush up on his journalistic integrity. Cathy could start here, to avoid more painfully wrong analogies.