I am a Jon Stewart fan even though I only occasionally see clips of the Daily Show. Stewart was Larry Sander’s permanent guest host on the Larry Sanders Show, which earns Stewart high marks in the Hart household, the Sanders Show being a brilliant homage and parody of the late night talk show genre. Stewart also makes a cameo appearance in Wordplay, a witty and charming documentary about the culture of New York Times crossword puzzles’ editors, designers, players, and competition. For these reasons I was heartened to see thanks to my headlines feed at Google Chrome that Stewart had poked fun at Democratic mayors for saying that Chick-Fil-A was unwelcome in their cities. Here is the clip.
Stewart, as you might expect, dishes it out both ways, which is fine since using a sandwich as a form of political identity does not exactly seem what the Greeks had in mind when thinking through representative government. But (spoiler alert!) when he concludes that Chick-Fil-A’s and gay marriage’s products are both good, I demur. For one, has Stewart really considered how healthy a fast-food fried chicken sandwich is? I’m sure that dressings, fat, and steroid drenched chicken breasts make such meals a challenge to good health. For another, how do we know that gay marriage is a positive social arrangement? In fact, one objection to this change in law is that we have no idea what the consequences — positive or negative — of such a change to millenia of legal arrangements and cultural expectations will be. Though we do have some data from social scientists on the benefits of regular marriage.
(For instance, we have enough time to say that the National League is superior to the American League because the former does not use the designated hitter.)
So maybe the way to resolve the kerfuffle over Chick-Fil-A is to be doubly contrarian. Both Chick-Fil-A and gay marriage are unhealthy for America.
Then again, has anyone noticed that homosexuals are among the leading defenders of marriage at a time when marriage is at an all time low in the United States? Could it be that folks who used to thrive on an anti-bourgeois, urban, and culturally and politically radical identity have now embraced a convention associated with white-bread, middle-class, suburban life? Or is gay marriage simply a way of flipping the bird at all those Chick-Fil-A eaters who made family values a political slogan? You want family? You got it.