Much hullabaloo recently over Chick-Fil-A and its owner’s bigoted statements about same-sex marriage and gay folk. I’m sure you’ve gotten the memo! I’m sure you have your opinion about Jesus Chicken and the boycotts and whatnot.
So I’m going to talk about the handwringing. Oh, noes! Boston Mayor Thomas Menino discouraged Chick-Fil-A from opening a franchise near the Freedom Trail! Philadelphia City Councilman Jim Kenney told Jesus Chicken Boss Dan Cathy to take a hike and take his intolerance with him! New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn asked the president of NYU to boot its campus Jesus Chicken franchise!
Businessy people are troubled, because FREEDOM:
As a gay man, I’m disheartened by statements like Mr. Cathy’s, with their limited conception of what it means to be a family. “Family” is a treasured — I’ll say it, sacred — word in the gay community. Through decades of modern-day oppression, gay men and lesbians have created families against all odds. Love, loyalty, commitment, mutual support: these things are family. They are scarce virtues that our society should do everything in its power to foster.
But that’s my opinion. And a society that truly believes in individual freedom will respect Mr. Cathy’s right to his views. Those who disagree with him are free to boycott Chick-fil-A in protest. But if our elected officials run Chick-fil-A out of town, they are effectively voting for all of us, regardless of our respective beliefs, and eliminating our individual freedoms.
And freedom, after all, is at the heart of the controversy over same-sex marriage. True individual freedom includes allowing consenting adults to marry the partners they choose, regardless of gender. To those for whom same-sex marriage is personally objectionable, their free choice is simple: Don’t enter into one. But don’t impede the freedom of others to do so. As long as Chick-fil-A operates within the boundaries of the law, municipalities and institutions should leave the decision about whether to eat at Chick-fil-A to individual consumers.
Leaving aside the rather ignorant surprise that elected officials in a representative democracy are voting on behalf of the population at large (were you asleep that day in Social Studies? Were you not allowed to watch Schoolhouse Rock?), this is all handwringing by a business guy.
No one’s taking actual official action to block Chick-Fil-A from opening anywhere as long as they’re in compliance with the law. Wal-Mart’s been blocked from opening in NYC before because of noncompliance with local labor laws, but not because of the Walton family being composed of jackasses. Whole Foods is helmed by a jackass, too, but they’re allowed to operate.
No, what these elected officials are doing is posturing. Politicking. Blustering. Showing their gay and gay-friendly constituents that they don’t approve of Cathy’s comments. Each of them admits that there’s not much they can do to prevent the company from opening or operating a store in their cities, but all of them are entitled to express an opinion. Just like the public figures who’ve supported Cathy are entitled to their opinions.
And each of the letters to Cathy have been pretty careful not to threaten official action against the company, beyond a condemnation of the views of the owner as against the values of the city.
Now, if any of them did take action against Chick-Fil-A, then, yes, I’d have a big problem with them. But none of them are.
So unclench. Your freedom to choose to eat crappy chicken is safe. But you can’t get it on Sundays.