Is the media guilty of distorting Dan Cathy's remarks?

Chick-fil-A COO Dan Cathy was interviewed, and a report of that interview was posted on the Baptist Press wesite

My take is that Mr. Cathy is expressing only support of a traditional marriage by supporting “family”. Some in the media seem to take his remarks and read an anti-gay stance.

He may very well hate gays with all of his heart, but that is not the idea that he expressed. At least as far as he is quoted in the post. His quote “Guilty as charged.” seems to have been perverted into hate speech against gays.

Hence my question, is the media guilty of distorting his remarks here?

Many think opposing gay marriage is anti-gay.

I think this is reasonable- in the same way that those in the '60s who opposed voting rights for African-Americans could be reasonably characterized as anti-black- even if they didn’t think so themselves- and even if they used some euphemism like “supporting traditional voting”.

Here is a previous thread on the subject. it contains a link to the whole interview.

Thanks for the link Czarcasm. Just the same that was in the MPSMS forum and the post did not contain a debate question, hence this post. Further it doesn’t quote the entire article. It quotes the relevant part to be sure, but as usual there was more to the article.

I contend that you have to read into the quotes to get to any anti gay message. So unless you follow the creed “If you are not for us, you must be against us” how do you get an anti gay message here. He state clearly that he supports traditional marriage and never even mentions gays or gay marriage.

I see.
Please define “Traditional Marriage” as you understand it to be.

Is there some other perceived threat to “traditional” marriage? Is he speaking out against it because of the sudden rash of people who want to marry their vacuum cleaners?

Or maybe you have to know that the reason the interview even happened was because the Chik-fil-A has been getting a ton of crap recently for the millions it has donated to oppose SSM. Maybe that has something to do with it.


Just like “pro-life” in common parlance means that one opposes legalized abortion, supporting “traditional marriage” means opposing legalized gay marriage. I think he’s made it pretty clear that he opposes gay marriage.

Here’s the problem with that:

“Traditional marriage” is a misleading use of rhetoric, because marriage has evolved and been redefined so many times over the years.

If you read the full passage it’s not clear that he is talking about gays and it actually sounds more like he’s talking about “supporting” marriage and opposing divorce. While people do spout a lot of bullshit about “traditional marriage” when they are denouncing gay marriage, it’s not clear that Cathy was doing that. We also don’t know what question he was responding to, so it’s not fair to assume gay marriage was part of the topic. For example the use of “guilty as charged” in reference to Cathy/the company’s views on gays is a little unfair. It doesn’t sound like he was being asked about gays there. On the other hand it’s obvious his comments about ‘knowing better than God’ what a marriage is were made in reference to gay marriage. It’d be a real stretch to read that as referring to divorce or single parenthood, I think. And it’s worth noting that the commentary about divorces is also dumb on its own.

Considering his donation history, I think the context becomes a bit more clear.

The guy is obviously a Christian conservative Republican. I could tell you that without looking into his political donations. That doesn’t mean it’s fair to make big assumptions about what he says, and in particular it doesn’t mean the press can do that. In that sense, attacking him for being anti-gay because of comments that appeared to be about divorce is unfair. The ‘knowing better than God’ thing was more likely about gay marriage.

I think there is more than enough evidence in both his quotes and donations to suggest that he’s likely anti-gay marriage. The “knowing better than God” line is pretty much a dead giveaway short of an outright confession. Very much fair to make this assumption.

Examples of where he donated to:

National Organization for Marriage
Focus on the Family
Marriage & Family Foundation
Family Research Council

We’re not discussing his “likely” views, we’re discussing what he said. His comments to the Baptist Press were attacked for being anti-gay marriage, but it’s not at all clear that he was discussing gay marriage there. It sounds to me like he was making a comment - about equally dumb, but much less hateful - about divorce.

It’s close, although even there you could argue he was not specific. You might think people would want to know for sure that he said what he was accused of saying before calling him a bigot and launching into calls for boycotts and stuff, but I guess assumptions are good enough if you’re in a hurry.

Cathy’s remarks have received insane amounts of media coverage. They are currently the #2 story on Google News, just behind Romney’s travels. His company is facing not only boycotts, but also denial of permits in numerous U.S. cities. If Mr. Cathy wasn’t taking an anti-gay-marriage stance, it would be a simple matter for him to step forward now and say so.

When the Susan G. Komen Foundation faced a similar media crisis because of their policy toward Planned Parenthood, they immediately did everything in their power to quiet the furor. If he really has been misinterpreted, Mr. Cathy should do the same.

Oh, yes…why don’t the gays just stop being so shrill and thin-skinned that they have to read things into someone’s words, just because they’re AWFULLY familiar with what those words actually MEAN when said by certain people…

Enjoy your privilege.

Yes, and he said this a week ago. I agree it would be easy for him to clear it up if he were interested.

I’ll point out here that the permit thing is probably not going to stand up. Cathy appears to be a dick, but denying them permits on this basis is probably not legal.

True, I just meant that if people were going on about denying me permits based on something I didn’t say and didn’t mean, I’d be explaining myself rather than calling the lawyers.

You’d be doing both, but yes, if his views were being that badly misunderstood you’d think he would just say he’s not opposed to gay marriage. And I know somebody commented on this earlier, but I wasn’t aware of it- this story makes it clearer that the company was already in hot water for donating $2 million to “groups that actively lobby against” LGBT issues. That puts Cathy’s statement to the Baptist Press in a different context.

I think you should read up more on his history before forming your opinion. I don’t think any reasonable person would have any doubt of this man’s bigotry when given the facts. It’s not just “likely.” It’s about as close as you can get short of a full confession.