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  • Protesters hold signs and shout slogans Thursday outside a Chick-fil-A food truck in Washington, D.C., during a midday demonstration organized by the Human Rights Campaign.
Protesters hold signs and shout slogans Thursday outside a Chick-fil-A… (Getty Images )
July 26, 2012|By Ryan Smith, For RedEye

The waffle fry dangled from my fingertips, suspended halfway between the table and my mouth.

I had to ask: "How do you feel about gay marriage?"

The golden and greasy crosshatched potato remained steadfast in its silence, leading me to conclude that this was a Libertarian french fry with neutral feelings about same-sex unions. It seemed safe for consumption.

OK, obviously this fantasy premise of quizzing my chicken strip combo meal is ridiculous, but not so much if this boycott of Chick-fil-A is taken to its logical extreme.

Here's a recap: Dan Cathy, president of the popular fast-food chain, recently created a Southern-fried firestorm of controversy after telling the Baptist Press that he supports "the biblical definition of the family unit."

Many in the progressive community have passionately advocated for a boycott of the restaurant, and Chicago Ald. Joe Moreno says he will block construction of a new Chick-fil-A in Logan Square over Cathy's "bigoted beliefs." Christian conservatives, in turn, predictably returned fire—and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee went so far as to declare a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. (It's on Wednesday, so make your party plans fast.)

I disagree with Cathy's backward beliefs, but I also have a beef (sorry Chick-fil-A) with turning chicken into political fodder and boycotting a company that espouses views that differ from my own—especially because the application of this principle is inconsistent.

Let's face it: Chick-fil-A is an easy target for liberals. It's a chain restaurant born and bred in the Deep South that's closely identified with food courts and shopping malls. It's run by a brazenly outspoken bigot. It's the opposite of vegan-friendly. We're not exactly talking about Bleeding Heart Bakery here.

Meanwhile, progressives seem to have more trouble boycotting companies they tend to like better. Few people I know tossed out their iPhones or iPads after an investigation earlier this year revealed the Chinese factories that produce Apple products were guilty of all sorts of human rights violations.

I'm also not sure many consumers stopped seeking cheap furniture at Ikea or ordering shirts from L.L. Bean after they made the International Labor Rights Forum's Sweatshop Hall of Shame in 2010. And if you care about companies that donate to anti-gay organizations, why not tear up your ATM card from Chase or Bank of America? Both banking giants have made significant contributions to the campaign for Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential candidate who opposes gay marriage.

But forget intellectual consistency for a moment and ponder this: Do we really want to foster a commercial culture in which the politics of the executives behind the products matters just as much as the quality of the product? Imagine if we get to the point where a company's political leanings are stamped on the box next to the nutrition information.

"Look, honey, no trans fat ... and they believe in global warming!"

I'm just not ready for Pro Choice Pizza or Free Market Franks.

RYAN SMITH IS A REDEYE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR.

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