From the Yorktown Crier/Poquoson Post, August 9-15 2012.
Who Burnt the Popcorn?
Number 1: “Let Them Eat Chicken”
In an office break room somewhere on Route 17. Or, is it Wythe Creek Road?
“Who burnt the popcorn?” asked Mary, the office manager.
“Uh, that’d be me, I quess,” said Tom. He pointed to his gray head.
“You guess?” Mary popped open the microwave. A small cloud of popcorn smoke puffed out. Ceremoniously, Mary threw the blackened, smoking bag in the sink.
“I set it on ‘Popcorn’,” said Tom.
“I saw him,” said Gabriel, smiling weakly.
“Everyone knows that setting for this microwave is too long,” said Mary.
“I didn’t know,” said Phil through a full mouth of food.
“Well, you know now. It stinks up the whole office,” said Mary.
“Sorry, Mary. Can I make it up to you with this extra box of chicken nuggets. It’s Chick-fil-A™,” said Tom.
“Oh, please. Why would you get their food?” asked Mary.
“Food’s good,” said Tom.
“Service is good and fast,” said Phil.
“They close on Sunday for church,” said Gabriel.
“Oh, please. They’re so anti-Gay. Their food tastes like hate. You should understand that better than anyone, Gabby,” Mary pulled her yogurt out of the refrigerator.
“Mary.” Gabriel took a deep breath. “I should understand because I’m Black? Do you think being Gay is like being Black?”
Mary’s body stiffened. “Well, yes, Gabby. Minorities have always been discriminated against. It used to be against the law for African-Americans and Whites to marry in the South. Here in Virginia.”
“It’s not the same,” Gabriel hesitated.
“People are born Black. Or, speak another language. You can always tell minorities,” Tom got up and walked to the sink.
“People are born Gay,” said Mary.
“Maybe or maybe not. Regardless, how do you know someone is Homosexual?” Tom eased by Mary to clean up the popcorn mess.
“You mean Gay. Gays suffer discrimination. They’re a minority,” Mary said confidently.
Tom spoke over his shoulder, “Homosexual is a behavior. It’s a sexual behavior. Like adultery. And, like incest and bestiality. And pedophilia. And polygamy.”
Mary winced, “That is so hurtful to Gays. We don’t allow homophobia in this office. You know Corporate’s personnel policies,” Mary turned on her heel to face Tom. She crossed her arms.
“We allow free speech, Mary,” Tom turned to face her. He opened his hands, holding the air, like a basket of bread. He smiled kindly, “If I’m not yelling fire in a theater, inciting to riot, communicating a threat, conspiring to commit a crime, committing libel or slander, or, here in Virginia – cussing, then no one can limit my free speech. No one.”
“You can’t cuss in Virginia?” asked Phil through another mouthful.
“It’s an old law,” said Tom. “The first Right in the U.S. Constitution is free speech. It was written by Mr. Mason for free religious speech first of all. For Christian speech.”
“Mr. Mason?” Gabriel arched her eyebrows.
“George Mason of Virginia,” said Tom.
“Whoa,” Phil grabbed up his two bags of food. “I’m getting outta here before Tom starts another ‘Virginia first’ speech.”
Gabriel and Tom laughed. Mary couldn’t stop her smile.
“It’s all about free speech. Not homosexual marriage. Or, minority rights. It’s about who says what I can say or not,” said Tom. “And I say I can say my piece. I’m a free man. So, can Chick-fil-A™. So, can you, Mary.”
Mary relaxed. “Let’s leave it at that for now.”
Tom went back to cleaning. “It’s in the Constitution.”
By Silence Dogood Nelson