The Chick-Fil-A Controversy
Well, once again I am at odds with some of my progressive friends. Maybe all of them, I don’t know. And this visual distributed by the National Organization for Marriage Equality pushed me over the edge, I just had to post about this controversy. Don’t get me wrong, I think any two consenting adults should be able to get married; as has been demonstrated in court any times, the only objections to gay marriage are religious in nature. This means they aren’t objections, they are bigotry. Theists don’t want to hold gay wedding ceremonies in their church, no problem. They want their religious beliefs mandated by public law, big problem.
Moving right along, this graphic is a wonderful example of tortured logic. How, exactly, does a chicken restaurant offend a community’s sense of morality and fairness? It doesn’t of course, so the comparison to strip clubs and porn shops is both misleading and odious. What people are upset about is that the owners of the Chick-Fil-A chain contribute to causes that many people find offensive. Illegal causes? Well, no. Is the Chick-A-Fil chain illegally discriminating against anyone? Again, well, no. So basically the Chick-A-Fil chain is run by people whose political opinions are unpopular with some. Great, boycott them, picket them, complain about them on line. Heck, why not just don’t let them have a business permit to operate in a city where they aren’t welcome, why shouldn’t the mayors of Chicago and Boston refuse business permits to Chick-Fil-A?
Because it’s illegal, it’s unconstitutional, and it’s wrong. Yes, the owners of Chick-Fil-A give money to causes some people find offensive. They are exercising what the old people call … freedom. It used to be important to progressives, sometimes now I wonder. Yes, in America people are free to express whatever opinion they want, no matter how offensive, and the government is forbidden, by the constitution, from stopping them. It’s in the very first amendment, and there was a reason it is in the first amendment, because it’s fucking important. Please though, don’t take my word for it, here’s what Susan Bloch, a professor of constitutional law, had to say on the topic: “If they’re complying with laws, but as an institution espousing political beliefs, there’s a constitutional problem with the government withholding benefits from them based on a political stance.” I note though that since this news broke, the mayors of both cities have waffled and backed off some. No doubt because they got an email from their legal staff saying “Um, boss … you can’t really do that.”
Or to look at it from another perspective, if a mayor could deny a business permit based on the political stance of the business owner … business permits could be (and would be) denied routinely over whatever a mayor found objectionable. Mayors could basically decide what businesses could or could not operate in their city. Maybe some people don’t have a problem with that, but I do. And the courts and the ACLU are on my side. Living in a free country means that there will be people who have opinions that many other people find loathsome. It’s a price of freedom, and one I am happy to pay. Don’t like, it … as I said earlier: boycott Chick-Fil-A, picket them, write letters to the editor. What people can’t do, is use the power of the state to discriminate against them. Which is at the root of this whole marriage thing to start with, churches using the power of the state to sanction their idea of marriage.
Basically NOMEUSA thinks it’s OK for the government to do to the owners of Chick-Fil-A what they decry having done to gays. I guess because their cause is “just,” it’s OK? Sadly I’m seeing this sort of attitude more and more coming from the left, the idea that since they are right, anything goes. It’s an attitude that used to be confined to Fundies and the far right, now it seems increasingly common across the board. Or maybe I’m just noticing it more, in either case it scares me. It scares me because throughout history that’s how leaders have manipulated people into following them, and once people are convinced that their side has the moral high ground, they can be convinced to do anything, no matter how heinous.
Am I claiming that gay marriage is heinous? Of course not, I’m decrying the idea that “anything goes” since my side has the moral high ground. It’s not exactly an attitude conducive to debate and compromise. And, frankly, this attitude is why so many progressive Americans are now supporting our imperialistic, violent, and intensely misogynistic foreign policy. That’s for another blog post though.
“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” —Voltaire
(The above image is all over Facebook so I’m assuming its been released into the Public Domain. If not, I’m claiming it as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, and the graphic above is the topic of this blog post, let alone being central to it. Credit and copyright, if it exists: NOMEUSA.)