While on practicality alone, Glenn Greenwald's insight is an effective rebuttal to the controversy surrounding Chick-Fil-A and outraged liberals everywhere, the whole debacle stirred a few passions in me with less practical but no less political consequences.
My experience of the controversy, like many here reading this, was mediated primarily through social networks: Facebook, Twitter, and community email lists. And lo, I was witness to outrage. What began with calls for boycotts and permit denials turned quickly to various forms of payback: calls for homosexuals to organize flash mob make-out sessions at Chick-Fil-A and a plan to release pink chickens into a location or two.
Now, perhaps my knee-jerk contrarianism would have a different kick were I living in the Bible Belt, but as I surround myself with Big City Liberals, my fraught position is to reconcile a smug, self-righteous progressivism with friends that I know and respect. I thought payback and punishment were tools of those childish right-wingers? I thought the government should stay out of religious debates? I thought that one is entitled to an opinion, whether or not that opinion clashes with your own?
That's not to say that all of these issues aren't complex, with considerations that reach across the whole history of our political and social praxis, hence evading any easy answers. But isn't this what liberals insist upon? That there are shades of grey, and exceptions to the rule, and variations in context? One could hardly think that when confronted with the swift personal, political, and moral denouncement, words backed up by actions, against a business whose crime it is to support dogma incompatible with their own.
But this, I must suppose, is the character of the culture wars. The personal is political and all that mumbo jumbo. Thus historically contingent practices take on dogmatic import, metastasized and crudely simplified by mass media into great big banners that our politicians can wave to claim representative authority, even as they rob our children of future and past alike. As just causes clash, trust the mercenary professionals to make an unjust killing.
So lead on noble culture warriors; for if you don't shout so loudly, others might suspect it's all just a charade.