Homophobolicious! Or, hatred, deliciously prepared, and laid lovingly on a bun
I’ve been warning about this for years: the surrender of meaning to committed and politicized interpretive communities — which can only come about once we as a society have legitimated an incoherent idea about how language functions — will lead inevitably to a kind of coordinated mob effort to play at victim in order to turn anything they find unpalatable into potential objects of “hate” that “threaten” them, with that purported fear of feeling threatened taking interpretive preference over whatever intent generated the original “text” by which these disingenuous activists pretend to be molested.
In this case, the offensive object that is being rewritten by a motivated political interpretive community into an emblem of hatred, intolerance, and unwholesome eating is a Chick-fil-A logo (or perhaps it’s the waffle fries) — which, though those who produce these items retain as their intent the retailing of delicious, country-inspired foodstuffs, are nevertheless trumped in the interpretation of that intent by those who wish to find in fried chicken breasts, lightly buttered and toasted buns, and delicious dill pickle chips, the searing hatred of homosexuals by devout Christians who have no right to their beliefs, because holding those beliefs is intolerant.
Whereas allowing that others can hold religious beliefs and still sell scrumptious chicken sandwiches to New Mexico students is not tolerant, because, well, intolerance of intolerance is the height of progressive tolerance. And holding certain beliefs while peddling chicken shan’t be tolerated. Because tolerance.
Now, I’ve presented the linguistic and hermeneutic underpinnings that lend credence to this kind of “protest” in a rather cheeky fashion, but in truth, there’s nothing here to laugh at — save for how surreal and ridiculous it all is, particularly the part where the University itself has to pretend to consider seriously the charges that a chicken sandwich served by some of the nicest fast-food employees one is likely to meet anywhere ever makes anyone feel threatened or uncomfortable.
Because the truth is, this argument by the protesters maps perfectly onto arguments about what comes to constitute “racism” in, eg., Great Britain, where racism is anything that makes one feel like they’ve been the victim of racism, be it the overdetermined display of garden spades, or perhaps the portrayal of an animated Indian by Hank Azaria. Or to put it another way, you have been victimized whenever you claim to have been victimized, and it is up to the victimizer to prove a negative.
— And this, incidentally, is the stance Michele Obama has taken on what comes to count as racism.
I’ve spent years here going over the faulty (intentionally so) linguistic assumptions that allow for this kind of tyranny over expression, so I won’t rehash it this morning other than to remind people that once we take away the right of the individual to determine his own meaning — by producing the signs that turn mental expression into public expression to be passed along a communicative chain — we have surrendered individual autonomy to motivated majoritarianism, and turned the individual into a subject of the whims of a politicized collective. And the only way out is to reassert intentionalism, which takes its legal form in originalism (though, given the specialized circumstances of legal interpretation, there are conventional necessities layered atop, which I’ve also discussed at length).
So while we may laugh at the sad, misguided “activism” of New Mexico students looking to thwart the evil that is a chicken breast on a bun, we should be cognizant of the fact that the same thinking that animates and (to the liberal university administration), justifies such protests over what the Chic-fil-a logo means to the protesters, is the very same thinking that is often used in reaching court decisions that ossify into law the very kind of linguistic incoherence that leads inevitably, by way of precedent and repetition and normalization and institutionalization, to collectivism, wherein the will to power and a consensus is all it takes to overwhelm an individual’s meaning and replace it with that of the group who has claimed ownership and ultimately stewardship over it.