I’m not playing games of political chicken

Director Joss Whedon was the man behind a quaint little film you may have seen this summer. That film, The Avengers, is currently the third highest grossing movie in history, due in no small part to my having seen it three times.

A few weeks ago, Whedon decided that the world needed some of his wisdom, so while speaking to a confab of adoring fans at Comic-Con, he launched into a mini-tirade against capitalism.

“We are watching capitalism destroy itself right now,” he said, adding that America is “turning into Tsarist Russia” and that “we’re creating a country of serfs.”

Whedon’s parents taught him that socialism was a “beautiful concept,” and he has said that he traces the decline of America to none other than Ronald Reagan and the rebirth of right-wing economics.

I find his entire rant insulting and offensive to everything I believe. I also find it more than a little hypocritical from a man who just made untold millions from a single movie and no doubt made hundreds of times more than the production staff he leaned on to make it.

Whedon is hardly the only Hollywood director I disagree with. I dare say nearly all of my favorite directors, producers and actors believe the opposite of what I do.

And you know what? I couldn’t possibly care less. I will happily fork over more overpriced movie tickets for anything that Whedon does in the future.

You know where I am going with this, I trust. In the middle of the worst economy since the Great Depression, when we are faced with economic, cultural and foreign policy challenges greater than anyone has faced in generations, we are talking about … chicken?

When, exactly, did we decide that politics had to infect every single part of our lives, to the point where we base consumer decisions on whether or not a business owner agrees with our political worldview?

I am strongly in favor of gay marriage, and I happen to firmly disagree with Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy in his position on the issue. But I refuse to contribute to the increasingly obnoxious, ineffective and counterproductive boycott culture that exists now in this country.

These protests are futile distractions from real issues. The entire thing is an exercise in pompous self-important sanctimony.

Liberals hardly have the market cornered on this nonsense, though. Conservatives tried this same thing when Kraft showed their support for Pride Month by posting a picture of a rainbow cookie on Facebook.

Crusading commercial boycotters have a lot of soul searching to do about the standards they hold themselves to. Playing this foolish game of, well, chicken with companies over their political engagement only exposes one’s own inconsistency.

If gay marriage is so important that you base your food choices around it, then I have to ask: Do you still go to church? Because I can guarantee that your church does more to fight against gay marriage than your local chicken restaurant.

Do you pump gas into your car? Because the middle eastern countries you are buying that petroleum from have a nasty habit of putting homosexuals to death.

Did you vote for President Barack Obama in 2008? Because, until a couple months ago, his stance on gay marriage was basically the same as Chick-fil-A’s.

Starting to see the problem?

How far are we supposed to take this Jihad against political disagreement, anyway? Am I supposed to ask my son’s karate teacher who she plans to vote for? Should I screen my mechanic? My dry cleaner?

Come to think of it, what am I to do if I learn that the manager of the local Chick-fil-A disagrees with Dan Cathy and supports gay marriage? That is a universe-ending paradox.

Do you really want to live in a country where citizens refuse to do commerce with those who have belief systems different than their own?

We are all free to live our lives with such hypocrisy and confusion, of course. Free market economics, after all. But is that honestly the world we want to live in?

I’m not playing this game. Politics infects enough of my life already, and in this divided country, I refuse to narrow my world to only people who agree with me. So let’s stop talking about chicken and start talking about things that matter. Like bringing back Whedon’s TV show Firefly.

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Matthew Gagnon

About Matthew Gagnon

Matthew Gagnon, of Yarmouth, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a free market policy think tank based in Portland. Prior to Maine Heritage, he served as a senior strategist for the Republican Governors Association in Washington, D.C. Originally from Hampden, he has been involved with Maine politics for more than a decade.