Now We're Punishing Cops Over Fast-Food Bags. That's Pretty Chickenshit.

Wait. I'm a libtard. I'm politically correct. I hate bullies. I despise people who make fun of a co-worker for being different from them. But they sent a Dallas police sergeant to deep nights at the jail because he came back to his division with a bag from Chick-fil-A?

You know. First place, I also believe in due process, especially where the charges involve controversial fast food. And maybe in addition we should think about our need -- and I refer to all of us -- not to be so extremely thin-skinned that we have difficulty leaving the house in the morning.

The thing about Chick-fil-A bags; they are EVERYWHERE. You have to worry in general about people being driven into a rage by the sight of a Chick-fil-A bag. You have to worry in particular about armed police officers being driven into a rage by Chick-fil-A bags. When they pull you over, is it like declaring your concealed handgun? "Officer, I have a Chick-fil-A bag on the floor of the back seat."

The underlying issue in this week's Dallas police Chick-fil-A incident is persecution of employees based on their sexual orientation, and that's not a joke. A boss or supervisor who ridicules homosexual underlings is right in the same pocket with the boss or supervisor who tries to force subordinates to have sex with him or her.

If this is a difficult concept, just try shoving your own dainty foot into the same shoe. Somebody who has ultimate control over your economic well-being comes along and says, "Take your clothes off and give it to me, sucker." Or makes fun of you because he or she does not find you sexually hot. We all get this. I especially get the last thing.

But in the Dallas incident, whatever sexual messages may or may not have been conveyed by a sergeant to his staff seem to have been communicated through the medium of a politically controversial fast food bag, which does, it seems to me, leave an awful lot of room for interpretation -- enough that maybe you don't immediately slap the 12-year veteran officer with a humiliating transfer until things get sorted out better.

Sergeant Mark Johnson was sent to deep nights at the jail a week ago after two lesbian officers complained he had been looking at them funny while delivering roll-call orders related to policing recent demonstrations at the anti-homosexual fast food chain, Chick-fil-A. Later, the officers said, Johnson came back from lunch and brandished a Chick-fil-A bag in front of them in a threatening manner.

I despise that CEO dude from Chick-fil-A who used his post as a rich fried chicken mogul to stir up hatred of gay people. He's scum. That said, I just don't quite get how we're going to manage a world in which fast food bags are treated as weapons.

Let's say your boss is known to be anti-gay, and let's say we know he eats at Chick-fil-A as a political statement, and we know he brings his Chick-fil-A bag back to the office and puts it on his desk and snaps it with his fingers and rolls his eyes at us on purpose, doesn't all of that fall into the realm of what is commonly called, excuse my French ... tough shit?

Some things are righteous cause. Other things are tough shit. When something falls within the category of tough shit, isn't it our task, our challenge, perhaps even our calling -- and I speak of all of us, together, as one humanity -- not to rise to the bait? Are there not some circumstances in which you just have to not rise to the bait?

Here is where it gets complicated. People have a right to their own opinions. Some people think the dude at Chick-fil-A is a hero. They have a right to feel that way.

But more pragmatically, if you advertise that you have this big button that people can push, people will push it. I don't know what that particular principle of human nature is called. Call it, "I have a button."

When I say button, I'm not talking about just and fundamental issues. "I'm gay" is not a button. It's a truth, just like, "I'm Christian" or "I'm Native American."

A button is, "Show me a Chick-fil-A bag and I'll go postal." Why is that a button? Well, for one thing, it's just too good. Nobody can resist it.

I have already said eight ways to Sunday how much I despise sexual harassment, but if you told me there were these two cops and all I had to do was wave a Chick-fil-A bag in front of them and they'd have a melt-down, a terrible truly bad enormously immature shameful element in me would want to try it just because ... it's too good. Like cranking a jack-in-the-box.

Oh, wait. Did I just say something bad?

See. Now they've got me in it. Fast food persecution. It's a bottomless pit. Gosh I just thought of something. I probably have co-workers I could get to go postal just by waving a McDonald's bag at them. Next question: Once having thought of this, is there any possible way on earth I can resist doing it? Give me the wisdom to know that which I cannot self-control.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze