Odd to find myself defending Chick-Fil-A, but I’m forced to do so because of all the wrong-headed moves by opportunistic politicians to block them from doing business on account of their political views. If somehow you haven’t heard, it recently became public knowledge that the owner of the Chick-Fil-A empire donates enormous sums to anti-gay groups who seek to deny the LGBT community equal rights.
Adam Serwer at Mother Jones has already articulated the reasons this is so dangerous, so I’ll just quote him.
Menino and Moreno have it wrong. Blocking construction of Chick-fil-a restaurants over Cathy’s views is a violation of Cathy’s First Amendment rights. Boston and Chicago have no more right to stop construction of Chick-fil-As based on an executive’s anti-gay views than New York City would have had the right to block construction of an Islamic community center blocks away from Ground Zero. The government blocking a business from opening based on the owner’s political views is a clear threat to everyone’s freedom of speech—being unpopular doesn’t mean you don’t have rights. It’s only by protecting the rights of those whose views we find odious that we can hope to secure them for ourselves.
It is simply not the job of the government to dictate protected political speech in any form. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the ACLU help represent Chick-Fil-A if they decide to fight the issue. In the meantime, the consumers are speaking with their wallets. They have already organized a strong consumer boycott. In recent days, Chick-Fil-A supporters have organized in opposition to the boycott. This is the way a free society, and even the free market, is supposed to function.
It’s now up to Chick-Fil-A to decide whether their political and religious beliefs are more important to them than their profit margin. In either case, the First Amendment guarantees them the right to do so and should not be abridged under any circumstances.
Addendum: I’ve just heard on twitter that Chick-Fill-A’s Public Relations VP died of a heart attack today. My sincere condolences to his family, friends and co-workers.