COLE: Southern fried CEOs and politics


see-ee-oohz R stoopid.

Chik-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy doesn’t only serve a lot of fried chicken, he also shared the mental capacity of one when he got on a radio show broadcasting from the middle of nowhere and spewed politics instead of Chick-fil-A sauce.

This, of course, should surprise no one.

That’s because considering the average age, income level, ethnicity and social circles of most Fortune 500 CEOs, it’s a reasonable guess that Cathy isn’t alone among his peers when it comes to his political views. He wouldn’t be the first powerful CEO of a multi-billion dollar business to come out and say something stupid, nor will he be the last. (See Welch, Jack vs. women).

Until the composition of C-suite executives looks more like America and less like the member’s list at Augusta, viewpoints like Cathay’s will be common — whether spoken or unspoken.

But if there’s a race to the bottom when it comes to collective intelligence, politicians take the tape — by a nose. A recent wave of councils, mayors and city sanitation workers have taken to the airwaves to denounce Chick-fil-A and halfheartedly ask them to leave their town and come back when they’ve had a chance to think about things.

Mayors of Boston and San Francisco, councils in Philadelphia and others have said to Cathy that his buttery buns, fried chicken and pickles won’t be welcome unless he changes his mind. That’s the wrong move.

If politicians were in charge of dictating which businesses were welcome based on the actions of their CEOs, we probably couldn’t get much in the way of food, drinks, cars, services, shopping, tires, radios … you can see where I’m going with this. Instead, moves like the Jim Henson company’s and others are the appropriate response: Don’t like it, don’t play with them.

We can’t legislate taste or intelligence. We can only say, “This is how the world works now. Learn to be tolerant or we’ll leave you behind.”

In other words: “Ketchup.”