Saturday, August 4, 2012

Crying Fowl over Free Speech

Crying Fowl over Free Speech
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
August 4, 2012

It’s not about Chick-fil-A. Chick-fil-A is merely the conduit to a larger dust-up – that of the First Amendment right of free speech and the denial by fascist mayors of legal institutions to conduct business in “their” cities.

The backstory is about Chick-fil-A and its president, Dan Cathy, expressing an opinion early in July that marriage is a Biblically-based institution and his commitment to marriage being a man-woman union sanctified by G-d.

“We are very much supportive of the family – the Biblical definition of the family unit,” said Cathy in an interview with the Baptist Press, according to commentator Cal Thomas in his July 29 editorial “Chickening out on free speech.”

That quote was widely unnoticed for several weeks until it was “discovered” that Cathy and Chick-fil-A contributes financially to conservative organizations such as the Family Research Council. As if Chick-fil-A’s conservative credentials were ever in question. After all, the 1,615-plus-restaurant chain, headquartered in Atlanta, and spread liberally throughout the Bible Belt has been closed on Sundays since its inception in 1967.

However, once the homosexual lobby and liberal media determined that Cathy shouldn’t contribute money his company earned to organizations of his choosing, the culture war entered yet another front.

The liberal mayors of liberal cities Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, DC – yes, that’s two liberals in the same sentence, three if you count this one, but those mayors and cities are just that far to the left, have vowed to keep Chick-fil-A out of “their” cities.

“Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in support of a city alderman who declared he will block any proposed Chick-fil-A in his district.

Yes, Chicago values include murders on an almost daily basis, illegal drugs as available as aspirin, out of wedlock birth reaching epidemic proportions and a public school system on the verge of imploding.

“There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it,” wrote Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to Cathy.

Chick-fil-A is not discriminating against any group. All paying customers are welcome – gay, straight, black, white, yellow, brown.

Additionally, in what could be viewed as a threatening tweet, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee wrote that “the closest Chick-fil-A to San Francisco is 40 miles away, and I strongly recommend that they not try to come any closer.”

The words of those mayors smacks of fascism. Yes, fascism, because they are single-handedly attempting to thwart potential efforts of a legal enterprise to conduct business in cities where all they need do is apply for the proper permits through the city departments that handle such applications. As in most typical American cities, mayors serve alongside a city council and all members have but a single vote.

In the case of Emanuel, his brand of hypocrisy goes pretty deep. As chief of staff under the Barack Obama administration that was opposed to gay marriage, Emanuel did not stand on principles and resign his position.

Now that Emanuel has come out of the closet in favor of gay marriage, is it only restaurants he opposes? Why has he not spoken out against the virulently anti-Semitic and anti-gay Louis Farrakhan who is negotiating with the city to help reduce the out of control homicide rate? Farrakhan is OK, but Cathy is not?

Reverend William Owens of the Coalition of African-American Pastors declared his own and his organization’s fervent support of the Biblical definition of marriage a la Dan Cathy and there has not been a single word of protest against the Pastors group. They have as much right to opine on this or any other issue as does Cathy without recrimination, threats of boycotts or threats of being barred from an entire city.

Are the economies in the cities of Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, DC thriving to such an extent that their mayors can afford to turn away business? And steady, stable, popular business at that. In fact, franchisees are local owners, not a corporate executive. Chick-fil-A hires thousands and thousands of people, serves thousands and thousands of people regardless of race, creed, or religious affiliation.

This is not about chicken, but about standing up for one’s rights as people of faith. Recently, Catholics came under fire over the issue of free contraceptives being mandated by Obamacare. Now Christians are being harassed and bullied by so-called tolerant liberals – tolerant, of course only to their own opinions. And this is not just a Christian issue. Observant Jews also subscribe to the Biblical view and definition of marriage.

This is an issue of freedom of speech, something guaranteed in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Cathy has the right to opine on his belief of the definition of marriage. The mayors of the aforementioned cities have their rights of free speech as well, but they do not have the right to deny commerce opportunities to businesses with whose owners they disagree politically and religiously.

There is a fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives. When liberals don’t agree with a business or television or radio program, they call for it to be shut down or cancelled so no one has access to it. When conservatives do not like a business or media program, they simply patronize another business or change the channel. They believe in the rights of businesses to conduct business and for people to enjoy their First Amendment rights.

No one seems to be calling for the elimination of Starbucks, Apple, or Amazon – all of whose owners contribute substantially to gay causes. If someone finds Howard Schultz’s contributions to gay causes offensive, they are welcome to not patronize Starbucks.

Don’t agree with Cathy, don’t go to Chick-fil-A – it’s that simple, but you have no right to demand the business cease to exist. Go patronize a business with whom you do agree and contribute to their causes, or those of your own beliefs. Build up your causes, don’t tear down others’ causes.

But, if a statement is to be made to the mayors seeking to bar Chick-fil-A from their cities, how would they feel if conventions suddenly shifted from Chicago to Indianapolis, from Boston to Providence, and from San Francisco to Sacramento? What if people from all across the United States who shared Chick-fil-A values suddenly decided to take their vacation dollars away from the cities whose mayors said Chick-fil-A values are not Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, or Washington, DC values? Surely those cities would feel the bite and all the mayors would be left holding is an empty bag and ousting on Election Day.

As Chick-fil-A goes, so goes the nation. The company had its best single day in history on Wednesday, August 1, thanks to former Arkansas Governor and current Fox News Channel host Mike Huckabee, who called for that day to be Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. Restaurants were filled with patrons lined up around blocks, corners, stores, waiting to support a business with which they share values or simply support the right of free speech, even when they may disagree with the values.

As a response, a “kiss-in” was held two days later. This was a plan for members of the homosexual community to arrive en masse at Chick-fil-As and demonstrate their objections to Cathy and his beliefs by kissing at the restaurants. Thousands were expected, yet mere dozens showed up, turning the kiss-in into a kiss-off.

Noting the huge turnout at Chick-fil-A, perhaps to ensure victory in November, Chick-fil-A should begin applying for permits to sell sandwiches at the polling places – of course provided they are the requisite distance from the entrance so as not to be accused of influencing voters. They make money and the voters have a snack while waiting to oust Obama. It's a brilliant combination of democracy and capitalism in action. Oh, and have an iced tea as well.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

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