I have an issue on my hands that I don't know how to handle with class. Let's dive in.
As many of you remember, Chick-Fil-A was a trending theme over the summer. Dan Cathy (the COO of Chick-Fil-A) made some questionable remarks about gay people and gay marriage. Many on the left reacted quite negatively and many on the right stood up for his First Amendment rights.
Fast forward three months. The issue is still brewing in the only place it can survive- academia. I'm on a college campus and there are some students within student government who want to sit down with the ownership of the local Chick-Fil-A and they have some demands. They want to present a letter to the ownership, and get them to sign it, that calls for Dan Cathy to apologize for his remarks, retract his remarks, and promise to stop funding anti-gay "hate groups" (I'm not saying Chick-Fil-A is completely innocent but they aren't as bad as some people make them out to be). They are also demanding that a "pride" flag be placed in the Chick-Fil-A store.
As far as I'm concerned the issue over Dan Cathy's remarks are a First Amendment issue. If this case were to go to court the petitioners would get laughed out. Thus, I think their demands are not only completely unrealistic, I think they should be called out on them. I understand that they are offended but there is absolutely no reason they should demand what they are demanding. How can I politely point out the problem here without sounding like a homophobe? I think they need to be taken down a notch. How can I put them in their place with class?
Don't expect they would. You have to have some kind of smarts to run a university.
Those who can do...
Often give back to the community by teaching others how to as well?
Yes. Quite often there are educators who have had a successful career in the private sector. I had a couple of outstanding professors in my Bachelor's program who started their career outside of academia. Most of the faculty of my Masters program had practical experience in the real world.
Administrators on the other hand...
I'm pretty sure DJ's at a particular, large, private university very used to playing political games. I wouldn't have said what I did about the administration for any university. But I have some inside knowledge on this one, as well as following its public image closely.
Rebekah stated a lot of the things I was thinking, so I'll skip those.
1. This is not a First Amendment issue, in that no one is violating another's First Amendment Rights. CFA and it's COO can take any position on any issue they wish, as can your SGA and it's individual members.
2. This sounds like a bunch of kids who won't let something go. If they are zealots, you very well may not be able to do anything to stop them, but I would look at your SGA's procedures and organizing charters for some beaurocratic way to stop them.
3. You mention wanting to call them out, or take them down a notch. If you want to do that, and be polite about it, I am ever the fan of the Socratic Method. It runs circles around people in short order. Beware, this method, no matter how polite you are, will make most people angry. No one likes to realize they know nothing about anything, and that realization tends to cause resentment.
4. You can always voice your opinion and leave them to the consequences of their actions. Marcus Aurelius' Meditations has a few notes on how to say things carefully, and Dale Carnegie's How to "Win Friends and Influence People" is an authoritative work on this subject. I look to both of these often.
One more meme here: OP's whole attitude isn't good statesmanship. Yeah, yeah, it's just the ASB of a private university, not the U.S. Senate or English House of Lords. He should be more focused on calling out the ridiculous idea, on getting the idea dismissed. Sure, even Senators and Lords resort to the ad hominem. But that's not the classy thing to do, or even, often, most effective.
I think you're right about my attitude but that's only based on the information provided. What I want to do is point out to them that they don't have a basis for these demands, and I want to do it with class.
These colleagues of mine are very self-righteous when it comes to "justice" campaigns like this. Sometimes they're on to something; often times they are not. This instance is of the latter. I just wanted to address this the right way.
Thanks for the input.
What do you mean by "basis"? As I said before, patrons can ask businesses to do any number of legal things. There's nothing illegal about the proposed requests of your student government. It gets into some messy contract issues, and I consider contract issues to have a moral dimension, but customers can ask a business to take any kind of political stand.
You suggest this political stand isn't worth taking. The original remarks weren't explicitly business-related or political. This particular local business owner personally supports the student government's position. So, challenge your colleagues on why this local business, why now? Are they going to go after all local businesses with unsavory connections? All the old businesses that had racist ads "back in the day" (including Coke and Pepsi; a new kind of soda ban on campus!)? All the businesses that support charities that disagree with the school's dogmas? [Let's see an anti-Salvation Army campaign]
They're stupid, inexperienced college kids with too much time on their hands and nothing functionally productive to do.
Just let it go. Let them have their little sense of self righteous outrage.
The problem with that approach is, DJ actually takes it seriously, though likely not that he takes the Student Government seriously, I think he takes the practice of it as such.
Ignoring my natural inclinations to let my opponents fail spectacularly on their own, I would challenge them on the floor. Ask them to what end they want to take these actions. Ask if it is a proper use of Student Government resources. Ask if it is a pressing issue amongst the student body. Challenge them as to who brought the issue to the attention of the SGA. Find out if it was a student led petition of the SGA, or something ginned up by the council itself. Point out the issue is long since passed. Point out the proposed actions will come to no avail, and why. Point out there are more pressing issues the SGA should be focusing on at the moment. Point out the student body is already free to buy or not buy crappy chicken sandwiches as they please.
They will, of course, not listen to you. Your speech and challenges will likely incense them and move them to even more radical action. Do nothing.
Then when they fail to heed your advice, and when Machiavelli rises up from his grave to kick those hippies in the balls; make your move.
Great response. Especially the part about Machiavelli. +1 to you sir.