The Berenstain family is distancing itself from tie-ins with Chick-fil-A, the fast food chain that is perhaps better known for the anti-gay marriage stance of its president Dan Cathy than its chicken patties.
A statement posted to their site Berenstainbears.com said that the family “does not at this time have control over whether this program proceeds or not,” saying that questions should be directed to the publisher HarperCollins or the fast food chain. On Monday, they also posted a statement from HarperCollins saying that the publisher was “disappointed to hear recent statements made by Chick-fil-A. After much consideration, we have decided to honor our previous arrangement, with the chain. We have no plans to work with them in the future.” But the HarperCollins statement was removed from the Berenstain website by this morning. A spokeswoman for the publisher did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Jim Henson Co. also had a promo deal with Chick-fil-A, but also vowed not to do any more business with the fast food chain in a protest over Cathy’s comments. A few days later, Chick-fil-A posted notes in its restaurants saying that the Henson Co.’s finger puppets were being pulled over “possible safety issues.”
A counter protest is being waged by GOP politicos such as Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum. Mike Huckabee has declared Aug. 1 as Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.
Meanwhile, a First Amendment attorney writes at CNN that the whole controversy has created a whole new level of misinterpretation of free speech rights.
Marc Randazza writes, “Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, proudly proclaimed his opposition to marriage equality and drew flak from politicians and citizens nationwide, who said Cathy’s position made the chain unwelcome on their turf. Some of the condemnation crossed the line, offending the First Amendment. Some did not. Many don’t understand where the line is, and now a population already sharply divided over same-sex marriage is collectively less informed about the First Amendment.”
His point is that the First Amendment doesn’t protect Cathy from criticism, boycotts and protest over his controversial comments, but it may very well protect the chain from some politicians’ vows to use their power of zoning to prevent Chick-fil-A from entering their neighborhoods.