Life used to be a lot simpler. When you were hungry or needed to buy some pens, you simply bought a sandwich at a deli or went to the stationery store. The notion that where you ate or bought pens might be a politically significant act didn't cross your mind.
Unfortunately, that's no longer the case.
This fact of life is illustrated by two recent stories. The first is a partnership between Office Depot and Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" foundation. Proceeds from the sale of certain items including "Kindness Sticks," "Bravery Bracelets," and "empowerment" gift cards with slogans such as "Be Brave," and "Be Yourself," will go to support the foundation's mission.
That stated mission is "to foster a more accepting society, where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated." Which is really another way of saying that the mission is to actually promote homosexuality as a positive, healthy lifestyle.
The second story involved a very different kind of company: Chick-fil-A. The company's president, Dan Cathy, ignited what CNN dubbed a "social [media] storm" when he pleaded "guilty as charged" to being characterized as supportive of the traditional family.
Do I need to tell you what happened next? The company, which openly espouses biblical values, was called "hatemongers." Hollywood, not surprisingly, got in on the act. Ed Helms of "The Office" joined those calling for a boycott. And now the mayor of Boston has vowed to keep Chick-fil-A out of his city.
Over at the Atlantic Monthly, Jonathan Merritt criticized those calling for a boycott of Chick-fil-A. After citing examples of Chick-fil-A's service to communities and its dedication to its employees, Merritt asked, "In a nation that's as divided as ours is, do we really want our commercial lives and our political lives to be so wholly intermeshed?"
In a better world, the answer might be "no." In that better world, buying pens and eating lunch would be a politics-free experience. All that would matter is whether we're getting value for our money.
Unfortunately, we're stuck with the one we have. In this one, big corporations like Office Depot will embrace all sorts of fashionable and politically correct causes if they think it will help their stock price. They are asking us to patronize them because they "care" about the politically correct thing. This is why Office Depot publicly joined forces with Lady Gaga and her campaign for "empowerment."
And this is why Kraft produced an Oreo cookie with rainbow-colored filling. Unfortunately, I'm not kidding.
In other words, they, not consumers, introduced politics into the equation, thus running the risk that people might object to the politics they were embracing.
Now, I'm not calling for a boycott of Office Depot. But there's no reason why we shouldn't take their "advocacy" into consideration when we need office supplies; is there?
And let's be clear: The people who turn buying pens and eating Oreos into a politically-significant act have no ground to complain when a privately owned business like Chick-fil-A publicly proclaims that it is pro-family.
So the next time you're hungry, by all means feel free to take into consideration Chick-fil-A's commitment to the traditional family and giving back to the community. After all, it's still a free country.