Food Freedom

Anthony Bourdain: "I support your inalienable right to say really stupid, offensive shit."

CNN host understands people have the right to hold incorrect politics and still do business in the U.S.

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Anthony Bourdain
Lwp Kommunikáció / Flickr

Anthony Bourdain — author, chef, TV travel host, libertine, and self-described left-wing liberal — defended the rights of people to say and believe "really stupid, offensive shit" in a recent interview with Adweek.

Interviewer Lisa Granatstein asked the host of CNN's Parts Unknown the not entirely accurate two-part question, "How about government getting involved in where and how we eat? Mayor Bill de Blasio called on New Yorkers to boycott Chick-fil-A given the owner's anti-LGBT views."

Factually, de Blasio didn't call for a boycott of Chick-Fil-A. What he said was "I'm certainly not going to patronize them and I wouldn't urge any other New Yorker to patronize them. But they do have a legal right."

However, other mayors did choose to get "involved in where and how we eat," such as the late former Mayor of Boston Thomas Menino, who reportedly told the Boston Herald in 2012 he would try to block the opening of any business (such as Chick-Fil-A) "that discriminates against a population," despite lacking the legal authority to do so.

Also in 2012, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel backed a city alderman's stated intention to block the opening of a Chick-Fil-A franchise in his district. Emmanuel later tried to walk the statement back, when his press secretary said, "If they meet all the requirements, they're welcome to open a restaurant here."

It's been somewhat lost in the fog of recent history, but the controversy over Chick-Fil-A was not about whether or not the company practiced anti-discrimination against its employees or customers, it was simply a matter of the company's CEO Dan Cathy expressing his public political opposition to gay marriage, a position also publicly held by President Barack Obama (Emmanuel's former boss when he was White House Chief of Staff) until May 2012.

Bourdain seems to get the difference. Responding to Granatstein's question, he said:

Are we looking for nice people to run our companies? We're going to be looking pretty hard. I'm not going to go eat at that restaurant or I'm not going to patronize that business because I don't like what they institutionally support—I don't like the chairman of the board, I don't like who created the company, whatever. There's a whole lot of reasons to just make a personal decision and not go eat at a business and give them your money. I come from a restaurant business where you're lucky if the guy working next to you isn't like an armed robber. I support your inalienable right to say really stupid, offensive shit and believe really stupid, offensive shit that I don't agree with. I support that, and I might even eat your chicken sandwich.

In 2006, Reason contributor Baylen Linnekin conducted a fun interview with Bourdain based on the premise that the celebrity chef was a secret libertarian. Linnekin asked him questions pertaining to the nanny state ("Probably a sign of the apocalypse"), corporate social responsibility ("People should be teased and humiliated for eating at McDonald's…I don't think we should legislate them out of business"), drug legalization, regulation, immigration and more.

When Linnkein informed Bourdain that he scored a B+ in the former's assessment of the latter's libertarian bona fides, Bourdain replied, "I'm flattered. I guess I am. I'm very libertarian on many things." Bourdain added that he is "Embarrassed by the excesses of the left, because that's very much where I came from. And, for a million good reasons, horrified by the excesses of the right."

You can watch a very early Reason TV video featuring Bourdain talking about Chicago's foie gras ban here.

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  1. “t’s been somewhat lost in the fog of recent history, but the controversy over Chick-Fil-A was not about whether or not the company practiced anti-discrimination against its employees or customers, it was simply a matter of the company’s CEO Dan Cathy expressing his public political opposition to gay marriage, a position also publicly held by President Barack Obama (Emmanuel’s former boss when he was White House Chief of Staff) until May 2012.”
    Lies.

    It was about Chik-Fil-A’s “charitable” donations to anti-gay groups, including to one that specifically lobbied congress *against* condemning Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill. At no point was it “simply” about Cathy “expressing his public political opposition to gay marriage”.

    1. It was about Chik-Fil-A’s “charitable” donations to anti-gay groups, including to one that specifically lobbied congress *against* condemning Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill.

      I’m gonna need a link for this.

      1. Too bad. I have zero confidence that you would trust a single link I posted. So here’s enough information that you can look it up yourself.

        Chik-Fil-A (or rather their Winshape Foundation) donated to many anti-gay groups, including FRC.

        FRC lobbied congress against H.R. 1064, which condemned Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill.

        FRC claimed that it just wanted to change the language, but if you trust *that* you haven’t been paying attention to what FRC has done over the years.

        1. Oh well that’s a great big nothingburger. No links, just your own interpretation and personal bias and spin.

          1. Look, you can disagree about whether FRC was really lobbying just to “change the language” of H.R. 1064 or trying to kill H.R. 1064 all-together.

            But the actual point was that the opposition to Chik-Fil-A was not “simply” about Don Cathy’s personal bigotry. It was about Chik-Fil-A’s charitable donations (via the Winshape Foundation) to groups that had a long history of anti-gay advocacy.

            And frankly, I have given more then enough information that you can do a quick google search and confirm the details to your satisfaction. Expecting more then that is not reasonable.

            1. You brought it up – it’s your job to post the links.

              1. He will not allow you to enact his labor!!111!!!

            2. *than that

              1. ^gratis

            3. Lobbying to stop a bill that does nothing is pretty boring.

    2. For that matter, you can only say “a position also publicly held by President Barack Obama” if you expect people not to understand the details. In 2008 Obama was for civil unions, against Prop 8, against a constitutional ban, against DOMA. Was he actually *for* gay marriage? No. But he wasn’t doing anything to stop it.

      Cathy, on the other hand, was against gay marriage, against civil unions, and publicly supported (through millions of dollars in donations) advocacy groups that have publicly wailed about the “wrong” Lawrence v. Texas decision, supported Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill, have since worked in Russia to encourage more homophobia there, and so-on.

      The two positions are only the same if you think in sound-bites.

      1. oh look, here’s one of these insufferable dopes right now, still fighting the Chik Fil A fight. Is it because it gives a fulfilling sense of self righteousness?

        1. Hey, Fisher is the one that drudged up the Chik-Fil-A kerfuffle, not me. But so long as he’s going to lie about what it was about, I have no problem correcting the record.

          1. Your own interpretation and spin unsupported by evidence isn’t really “correcting” the record.

            1. Funny how that works, eh WTF? Now stop getting in the way of this guy’s emotional response to an issue he doesn’t understand. It’s what makes the world go around.

          2. ‘Correcting the record’ without evidence.

            Okey-dokey.

            1. More “evidence” then the article provided with enough details that anyone interested can look it up on sources they trust.

              Stop being so entitled.

      2. If the distinction between civil unions and gay marriage was nonexistent, why was there such a huge fight about it?

        supported Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill

        Again, links plz. And supporting an organization that lobbies congress to go against condemning something is fucking MILES away from supporting said thing.

        1. Didn’t say it was non-existant, saying that Obama’s position was substantially different in many important ways from all the people that supposed had the “same position”.

        2. Glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed that quick sleight of hand.

          1. I’m pretty sure the “sleight of hand” is pretending that two people with positions that only superficially resemble each other are the “same” is the real sleight of hand.

            Summarizing one point in a list? That’s only a “sleight of hand” if you lack the short term memory for what I wrote two lines above (more now admittedly, but I did try to tack on the second thought before anyone else could get in a reply).

            1. So, saying Chick-fil-a supported a bill killing gay Ugandans = “summarizing a point”, but saying Obama opposed gay marriage = “wrong, so wrong, nanny nanny boo boo!!”

              1. Ha ha, ironically a good summary, WTF

              2. If any of these “same position as Obama” claims was ever proceeded by “aside from support for civil unions, gays in the military, opposition to a constitutional amendment, against prop 8 […]”, I’d find the comparison more apt.

                As is, I gave the full details on the Chik-fil-A/Uganda connection, and *then* summarized it.

                1. You gave your unsupported opinion; it was quite lacking in factual details.

      3. You’ve now gone from “donation to a group that lobbied against Congress condemning the Uganda bill” to directly “supported the Uganda bill”. Emotional simps like you always overstate your case and you did it within two minutes.

        1. Gee, you’re right, I already made the detailed accurate statement. Clearly I should never shorten it ever after because trusting people’s reading comprehension is a sin.

          1. no, because they aren’t the same thing.

            1. I’m not even sure this one’s sentient.

              1. I think it registered just to relitigate Chik Fil A.
                Probably was a big moment in its “activist days.”

    3. Actually it wasn’t “Chick-Fil-A” that made the donations, but IIRC, one of Chick-Fil-A’s executives, out of his personal income.

    4. Meh, so what? It was still about the CEO’s personal politics, not about the company itself doing anything bad to anyone.

      1. And the article is wrong. It was *not* about the “personal opinion” of the CEO, it was about the millions of dollars in “charitable giving” to anti-gay groups. Pretending it was just about Cathy’s personal opinion is to ignore what people’s actual complaints were.

        You can disagree on whether or not it’s reasonable to blame a person for what their non-profit does, and whether it’s fair to boycott the primary source of income for that person and their non-profit. I’m not debating that. I’m pointing out is that the article misrepresented people’s motivation.

        1. Yawn. Now if you’ll excuse me I think I am going to get a delicious Chik-Fil-A grilled chicken club. In fact, I think I’ll do that every day this week to show my support of an executive’s right to express his opinion via political donation of his own personal income.

          I don’t share the opinion by the way, but I support its expression.

          1. Jake: If you don’t have the Chik-Fil-A app, you can download it now and get a free sandwich. It expires soon, so don’t delay!

          2. If you think I’m going to care about that, then you’ve made some unsupported assumptions.

        2. were they Cathy’s million’s to give? If i buy television time where I go on screen and express my personal opinion, is it no longer my personal opinion being expressed because I spent money to express it?

          and if it instead was company money, then that’s really between them and the shareholders. You own any CFA stock? Then why would you care?

          oh, because you don’t agree with the opinion being expressed. which is totes cool, I withdraw my questions.

          1. I love commentary like this.

            Libertarians/libertarians constantly tell gay people that they shouldn’t be suing anybody, that instead we should be using social pressure to get people to change (at least superficially).

            And then when we do exactly that, we get bullshit responses like this.

            Yes, it’s Cathy’s money to do with as he pleases. And people are free to look at what he does with his money and say “I don’t want to support this man”. And they are free to look at how he gets his money and say “and here is the business that I will refrain from supporting to do so”.

            That’s how the Free Market works.

  2. I find Parts Unknown to be insufferably navel-gazy. No Reservations was a fun, cynical show. He’s just become garbage since he moved to CNN.

    1. I like Parts Unknown, but you’re right, No Reservations was better.

    2. I disagree. I’m finding Parts Unknown entirely entertaining. His show in Libya was less about food and more about the country’s stability (or lack thereof), but Bourdain alluded to that by explaining the difficulty of filming there.

      His show on East L.A. and Korea Town was excellent.

      1. The only one I’ve really enjoyed so far is the Russia one. He went in-depth with anti-Putinistas and pro-Putinistas. The rest are all so existential crisis-oriented: “why are we here? what is our purpose in life?”. Blech.

        My favorite shows of his were always the SE Asia ones. He clearly has an affinity for the region, but still made fun of some of the sillier elements, like eating “squeasel” or the James Bondian “Island of Mr. Sang”.

        1. The “squeasel” episode (Laos?) was fucking hilarious. And (I hate this word, but it’s all I can think of) poignant, when they got to the landmine eradication part.

          Beirut (the original) was one of my favorites, as well as Dubai (mostly because I had actually been there repeatedly – and the “Ozymandias” opening). Any with his recurring Russian fixer, too.

          I don’t see Parts Unknown mostly because I can’t stand CNN enough to even show it on the guide, but when I’ve stumbled on it I’ve found it pretty damn good. Of course I always appreciated the travelogue aspect of No Reservations at least as much as the food.

  3. It’s self defense. I’m sure the douchebag can see the firing line swinging in his direction in the future.

  4. I concur with Bourdain and said so at the time: the eating of a chicken sandwich should not be politicized and it’s a shame it became that way. There’s no reason to punish the guy working the register or the manager trying to handle stock orders and personnel decisions because some chairman somewhere is kind of a yokel.

    1. “the eating of a chicken sandwich should not be politicized and it’s a shame it became that way.”
      Sure, when you put it that way it sounds silly, but what we’re basically talking about is a boycott.

      And last time I checked, boycotting a business for the political groups it donates to was uncontroversial.

      1. Which is why boycotts are generally silly, and in the case of Chik Fil A, counterproductive.

        1. I’m a little confused about this. If the owner is funnelling chicken sandwich money into anti-gay causes and one is against that, a boycott seems natural to me. The fact that they don’t tend to “work” is beside the point.

          1. OK, I see someone is saying he put his “own” money into it.

            Not sure how one makes that distinction?

            1. snopes has a good breakdown of it all.

              Fast and dirty answer: Cathy funded Winshare, Winshare donated to FRC, FRC lobbied against the Ugandan bill, FRC says they just wanted to keep the bill from declaring homosexual conduct a human right. (Which, of course, it is.)

              It all depends on how charitable you want to be toward the FRC, an organization with a clear anti-homosexual bias and anti-gay marriage stance.

          2. because what’s next? You going to boycott 7/11 if the owner of your local franchise is a Muslim? If the guy running the register at your Burger King is mean to his wife? Where does the inquisition end?

            1. It “ends” wherever the person wants it to end.

              You decide that you are entirely unconcerned with who is supported by your money. That works for you.

              Dave in bum-fuck Georgia decides that he only wants to support Christian businesses. That works for him.

              Some guy in San Francisco decides that he only wants to support businesses that scored about 80% on the previous years HRC Equality Index. That works for him.

              This isn’t complicated.

            2. It “ends” wherever the person wants it to end.

              You decide that you are entirely unconcerned with who is supported by your money. That works for you.

              Dave in bum-fuck Georgia decides that he only wants to support Christian businesses. That works for him.

              Some guy in San Francisco decides that he only wants to support businesses that scored about 80% on the previous years HRC Equality Index. That works for him.

              This isn’t complicated.

              1. No, but it is a stupid, counterproductive, air-sucking waste of time and leads the politicization of everything. What works for me is telling bullies to stop being bullied and to just eat chicken if they like the chicken.

                1. Actually, you’re telling me that I’m doing “Free Market” wrong by including moral decisions in my economic ones.

          3. If, as reason has pointed out before, my vote isn’t worth the time spent casting it, for the same reasons me boycotting a restaurant doesn’t send a perceptible signal back up to the CEO. Ergo, I’ll take the 12 piece nuggets please.

            1. And not everyone is that nihilistic.

              1. Whatever man, keep wailing away. I’m sure you’ll convince someone soon.

        2. You do realize that following the Kerfuffle, Chik-Fil-A backed off on their donations to anti-gay advocacy groups, right? Their donations to such group dropped by orders of magnitude.

          So sure, FRC’s boycott of Starbucks over it’s LGBT positions has been ineffective. Doesn’t mean everyone else is as ineffective as them.

          1. Not due to lost business. That all occurred allegedly because Cathy made friends with a gay guy. And if you have proof that his personal donations went down, please provide it. Cathy basically said he didn’t want his business to be your political football to kick around anymore.

      2. Everything is controversial.

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  6. Not sure if this was already covered in a previous post, but Neil Tyson gave Maher the vapors over a similar point about the “excesses of the left” a few days ago.

    Neil Degrasse Tyson takes on anti-science Liberals

    Maher practically has a nervous breakdown over it.

    1. He apparently doesn’t understand just how much they fucking love science.

    2. Yeah, and he tried to talk over Tyson and persisted in making the point that Republicans are worse.

      1. HURRRDURRR WHY WERE THERE MOSQUITOS ON NOAHS BOAT HURR DURRRR

    3. Tyson’s rep just went down a few points on reddit.

      1. oh well I hope he’ll be able to recover from such a terrible blow.

      2. Good, he’s a douche.

      3. Hahaha.

        I don’t like you because you said mean things about anti-GMOers! Waaaaa! Downvote! Downvote!

    4. Speaking of anti-science Lefties, it was Tyson himself the other day regurgitating the bad science history regarding “flat earthers.” The fact is most people in history knew the Earth is round.

      1. I have a friend who recently became “enlightened” to the fact that the earth is flat. Because, if you look at a globe, Australians live upside down and Christopher Columbus never got lost until he used a globe.

      2. True. IIRC it was proven by the ancient Greeks.
        I doubt it was common knowledge though. Probably just known to the relatively educated.

        1. Yes, in Columbus’ time, the dispute was not over the earth’s shape, the dispute was over how big its circumference was. Which Columbus grossly underestimated.

          1. WTF- I believe there is also some question regarding how much of Columbus’s underestimate was based on salesmanship.

    5. I would respect Tyson a lot more if he weren’t an evangelical atheist.

      1. Of all things, that’s what would make you respect him more?

    6. Because global warming is the only thing that matters.

      That improves my opinion of Tyson a little, tiny bit. Too bad no one could finish a sentence.

      1. I thought it was kind of funny how often in de Grasse’s cosmos the commonly accepted science would be fervently disputed by a few scientists who would later be proven correct. BUT THAT CAN’T BE THE CASE WITH GLOBAL WARMING because the science is settled, you know.

  7. “such as the late former Mayor of Boston Thomas Menino”

    Smited by god himself.

  8. What a stupid post.

    Let’s go read some interview with random trendy lefty guy, and highlight the one paragraph out of a giant interview in which he says something vaguely libertarian.

    Look people, a leftist said something we can agree with! They love us! They really secretly love us! Let’s promote this leftist guy and give him some free publicity, maybe if we promote more leftists who are trivially in agreement with libertarians on one tiny issue, we can advance the libertarian cause so much faster. Everything depends so much on leftist approval of libertarians.

    1. I think you might be putting a bit too much meaning into the existence of a blog post.

      I think it’s kind of nice to hear that some lefties still give a crap about tolerance and diversity of opinion and free speech.

      1. I’d rather read interviews with libertarian thinkers. Maybe Reason could go out and do some interviews with Tyler Cowen or Bryan Caplan or something.

        Why should we give a crap what Anthony Bourdain says?
        What makes him so important?

        1. Start your own blog then.

        2. he’s a really fucking good writer. some people think really good writers have deeper insights into things, I think.

      2. I think you might be putting a bit too much meaning into the existence of a blog post.

        Perhaps. That said, there does seem to be a bit of a pattern.

        That said, it’s probably best to just acknowledge it and move on. Magazine columnists tend to live in major metro markets and consequently have more of an affinity with people on the left. Unsurprisingly, that applies to writers for libertarian magazines, as well. It doesn’t mean they’re any less than honest. At worst, it means they have blind spots. So, we all do.

  9. You people must lead really boring lives. I mean, basing your choices of entertainment on the politics of the entertainers? That’s just dumb. That leaves you with what? Kurt Russel and that’s about it. Fucking hipster douche bags.

    1. The name’s “Plissken”.

  10. a position also publicly held by President Barack Obama (Emmanuel’s former boss when he was White House Chief of Staff) until May 2012.

    Yeah, but like FDR and the Japanese internment, he didn’t really believe in it, he was pressured into this position by powerful outside forces.

    1. Pressured by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, no doubt. Or maybe it was the illuminati. Or the Jews.

      1. You say that like they’re differ…

        Never mind, nothing to see here.

  11. . I support your inalienable right to say really stupid, offensive shit and believe really stupid, offensive shit that I don’t agree with.

    How reactionary!

    1. For a leftist, that’s downright heretical these days.

  12. I boycott Chik-Fil-A because their sandwiches are dry, bland, and disgusting.

    1. You must not have taste buds. Their spicy chicken sangwich is delicious.

  13. Is he trying to suggest that being an armed robber is somehow worse than being a homophobe? Are you sure this guy’s a liberal?

  14. Being an atheist, I feel so deliciously naughty when I eat at a CFA. I enjoy every wholesome bite.

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