Rider University, a New Jersey college, is refusing to allow Chick-fil-A to be a part of their campus food choices, just one recent example of those who feel obligated to tell others how to think. The story is full of irony that would be comical if it weren’t true.
Irony #1: Administrators surveyed students to see what restaurants they wanted and CFA was the top pick. They weren’t asking for Hooters. They wanted chicken sandwiches. But Rider administrators, just the latest in the suppression of free speech and free market that doesn’t fit their politics, said no.
The administration apparently wants to allow students a choice as long as they choose what the administration likes.
Irony #2: Rider’s reasoning for the veto was their objection to “CFA corporate values.” I’ve been a consultant with CFA for decades, I knew Truett Cathy and I know two of his children well. Among many things, CFA values family, children, respect of others, quality products, and ethical financial practices.
Because of a commitment to religious faith, not greed or the financial bottom line, CFA long ago made a commitment to closing on Sunday’s even when financial sense advised otherwise.
CFA offers on-site child-care, free meals at headquarters, and a free health club for employees. CFA values its independent franchise operators, doing everything it can to help them succeed.
Through their foundations they have given away millions of dollars and helped thousands of families around the world.
Which of these values is offensive to Rider University? Perhaps they would be happier if CFA neglected or ignored its members interests (like Rider did) and only thought about money.
Irony #3: Undoubtedly, Rider would refer to a statement made years ago by Dan Cathy in an off-the-record interview regarding homosexuality. He gave his personal opinion, not a corporate value, and he was quoted out of context.
Even so, is Rider opposed to personal opinions? Do applicants for work at Rider or prospective students have to demonstrate they have the correct personal opinions on varied topics to be hired or admitted? Apparently the Rider thought police are alive and well in this regard with current students.
Irony #4: Rider appears to believe it is OK to exclude people if they aren’t part of Rider’s special interests. By excluding CFA they are engaging in the very failure to be inclusive for which they accuse CFA.
Perhaps Rider’s idea of “lack of inclusiveness” means they believe homosexuals don’t feel welcome at CFA. That is sad and unnecessary, but suppose a spokesman for CFA had said his personal opinion was for open relationships — gay, lesbian, hetero. That would be inclusive according to Rider — except for persons who disagree. Someone will always be excluded.
This isn’t about Rider University. I wish it were because it would be a much smaller problem. It is a bigger issue than a unknown school in New Jersey. This is about a cultural shift toward ridiculous irony that seems lost on those promoting it.
I have often teased my students saying, “You don’t have to agree with me. You are free to be wrong if you want.” The difference between Rider and my statement is I mean it as a joke.
Thinkers like those at Rider believe we should be free to do or say what we want — as long as it is something on their approved list. We should be free to think what we want, as long as what we think is approved by the thought police. There are no absolute values, unless your values are popular talking points. You can’t tell people what to think, unless you are non-religious and non-traditional.
No doubt this column will get criticized as anti-gay, anti- this, or anti- that. To such critics, you aren’t listening.
My discourse is about how we develop rhetoric rather than the specifics of the argument. Our positions should be based on logic, not righteous indignation. Unlike Rider University, I’m not telling anyone “what” to think. Believe what you wish. Rather, I’m talking about “how” we develop our arguments and force them on others. Those are very different things.
In early history, non-religious people were considered heretics, not based on logic, but simply by disagreeing with Church doctrine. For example, Galileo was convicted of heresy because he said the earth orbited the sun instead of supporting a geocentric doctrine.
Heretics were ostracized and publicly shamed. Self-righteous religious people were indignant that anyone would have the nerve to question them.
The same thing is happening now, except it is self-proclaimed thought police of modern culture telling us what to think instead of religion.
[Gregory K. Moffatt, Ph.D., is a college professor, published author, licensed counselor, certified professional counselor supervisor, newspaper columnist and public speaker. He holds an M.A. in Counseling and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Georgia State University and has taught at the college level for over 30 years. His website is gregmoffatt.com.]