Anthony Bourdain — author, chef, travel host, and avowed libertine may have said the most American thing ever in a recent interview for AdWeek, defending the right of people to say and believe “really stupid, offensive shit”.
During the interview, the host of CNN’s Parts Unknown was given a 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.”
Technically, Mayor de Blasio did not call for an outright boycott, but he may as well have when he said, “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.”
Yet other mayors and government officials across the nation have been all to happy to get involved in where and how Americans eat. Former Mayor of Boston Thomas Menino told the Boston Herald that he would do everything he could to block the opening of Chick-Fil-A or any business “that discriminates against a population,” despite a complete and utter lack of legal authority to take follow through on the threat. Former Obama lackey and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel similarly backed a Chicago city alderman’s attempts to block the opening of a Chick-Fil-A in his district, something Emmanual would try to walk back after an outcry from fans of the conservative restaurant chain.
Ironically, all of the controversy and uproar over Chick-Fil-A has nothing to do with the company itself or whether there are any documented cases of discrimination towards employees or employers. Instead, it was social justice outrage over CEO Dan Cathy’s personal political opposition to gay marriage – a view similarly held President Obama and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the time.
Bourdain easily sees through the semantics and knocks it out of the park with his answer:
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 an earlier interview, Bourdain answered questions about the growth of the nanny state (“Probably a sign of the apocalypse”) and the social responsibility of corporations (“People should be teased and humiliated for eating at McDonald’s…I don’t think we should legislate them out of business”) among other topics.
Part of Bourdain’s appeal is his libertarian outlook on the world and his unending ability to enjoy whatever is going on around him, such as a unique stop in Cambodia:
It’s not just what he eats that makes Bourdain so engaging, but where and how he does it. His account of dining at the Gun Club in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, stands out as undoubtedly the most startling mealtime exhibition since Caligula.
“Drinks are free at the Gun Club,” Bourdain writes in A Cook’s Tour. “Ammunition, however, you pay for by the clip.” Chew on that for a moment.
Finding oneself at a combination open bar/automatic-weapons range alongside former Khmer Rouge fighters and other psychotic drunks — including a hammered, grenade-tossing Japanese businessman — any reasonable person would have headed for the exit.
He opened up his picnic lunch of sausage and a baguette, added some beer and ammo to his bar tab, and locked and loaded.
“I favored the AK-47,” he writes, “as the M16 seemed to jam anytime I put it on full auto — and my marksmanship was better with the heavier gun.”