Hostipitality hos·ti·pi·tal·i·ty, — n, pl -ties
1. A term coined by French philosopher Jacques Derrida, meaning unconditional hospitality.
2. Engaging respectfully in conversation with those of differing opinions.
3. Seeing the opposition as human and treating them as friends.*
I didn’t want to write this blog. I hate politics. I don’t like being inflammatory. I happen to know that a lot of people I love and respect disagree with what I have to say. I’m afraid they’ll think less of me. But sometimes it becomes necessary to enter uncomfortable conversations. As a communicator, I have a responsibility to do so.
So why was I willing to stand in line at Chick-fil-a for three hours tonight and miss the Olympics, all the while knowing that I wouldn’t ever make it up to the cash register to order? Simply put, because this has become an issue of Voice.
As Americans, we all have the freedom of expression. As with any freedom, this comes with responsibility. Part of our responsibility here is to think critically and make sure we’re accurately informed. In a recent slew of unreliable and irresponsible reporting (I’m talking misreporting on the healthcare bill, taking the comments of the Aurora shooter’s mother out of context, and perhaps even the selective coverage of the gymnastics competition last night that excluded a major wipeout by one of the Russian girls), this is more important than ever. We cannot just believe everything we read. We must be willing to dig for the truth ourselves, looking to primary sources for context.
Here’s a bit of context to the Cathy controversy you might be unaware of. Two interviews are currently being cited in articles. The first took place on June 16, on The Ken Coleman Show, where Coleman and Cathy discussed the impact of fathers (the comment in question is part of a much larger conversation that starts at 29:23). The second was an article published by Baptist Press on July 16. Most of the articles I’ve read have mixed up a lot of these facts and left out a great deal of context. Please educate yourself by listening to the whole story.
Dan Cathy has a right to his opinion. After hearing the whole story, you and I have the right to agree or disagree with that opinion. But we never have the right to mute or slander him simply because we do not agree. And furthermore, it is wildly unethical (not to mention illegal) to censor a business based on the beliefs of its president.
At the end of his interview with Baptist Press, Cathy said, “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.” I want everyone to be able to share their values with others. So that’s why I have to use my Voice to defend a fellow human who is being unfairly attacked, which I find intolerable.
That’s my opinion, anyway. Yours may be different. And that’s ok. I won’t argue with you, but I am willing to have a respectful conversation. That’s what hostipitality is all about.
For more eloquent thoughts on the Chick-fil-a Case, check out Ken Coleman’s response in the Huffington Post.
*this definition was written by me, based on class discussion in COM 370: Symbols and Imaging, Spring 2011 at Indiana Wesleyan University