The Story: A minor Internet sensation erupted this week when Adam Smith, former CFO and treasurer of medical supplies manufacturer Vante, videotaped himself bullying a Chick-fil-A drive-thru employee. Smith was fired by his company because of his behavior, but the young woman he harassed provided a model in how to respond to hateful speech.
The Background: In the video, initially titled “Reduce $'s to Chick-Fil-A's Hate Groups,” Smith orders a “free water” from the Chick-fil-A drive thru for the purpose of insulting and harassing the young service worker. “I don't know how you live with yourself and work here,” he tells the employee at the window. “I don't understand it. This is a horrible corporation with horrible values. You deserve better.”
“I'm a nice guy, by the way . . . totally heterosexual,” he continues. “Not a gay in me, I just can't stand the hate.”
The company that Smith works for issued a press release announcing that Smith is “no longer an employee of our company” and that they expect their “company officers to behave in a manner commensurate with their position and in a respectful fashion that conveys these values of civility with others.”
Why It Matters: Unfortunately, Smith's actions are neither remarkable nor surprising. Such behavior has become all too common among those who support homosexual rights and will likely occur with increasing frequency in the future. But what makes the video noteworthy is the gentle and kind response of the Chick-fil-A employee.
I don't know if, Rachel, the young woman in the video, is a Christian, but her response provides a helpful model for believers. Caught off guard in an uncomfortable and demeaning situation, she responds with civility and gentleness, expressing a desire to serve others. There's a time to respond with arguments and persuasion and there are times when all that you can do is respond with kindness. Rachel has obviously developed the type of character that would allow her to quickly realize what response was needed.
“A soft answer turns away wrath,” Proverbs says, “but a harsh word stirs up anger.” I don't think that was the lesson Smith thought would come from his experience at the drive-thru, but it's one that we can all learn from.
UPDATE: Mr. Smith apologized to Rachel and answered questions about his actions.