Opinion: I Support Chick-fil-A Because of the First Amendment
Friday, August 03, 2012 - 12:36 PM
I have a confession to make that may hurt my standing as a true-blue conservative. And no, it's not that I'm for gay marriage, which I am. It's that I've been to Chick-fil-A one time, in Georgia, and didn't like it at all. Everyone in my office were big fans and I was excited to try the best chicken sandwich (and waffle fries) in the known universe. I found that fast food is fast food, no matter how much "better" it is than other fast food (the exception to this rule - obviously - being In-n-Out burgers).
The Chick-fil-A controversy was awkward for me at first because of the two reasons above: I'm a conservative, yes, but I don't like the food and, oh yeah, I'm fine with gay people marrying (a third issue is that I hate companies getting involved in politics at all but this seems unavoidable these days).
But then something happened which put me firmly in the Chick-fil-A camp and opposite my natural "side" on this issue. Elected officials decided to flex their democracy granted muscles to threaten Chick-fil-A with banishment from their cities - and this I could not abide. Mayors in Boston, Chicago and, our very own follower Christine Quinn, who hopes to be the next mayor of NYC, openly threatened a private business for having the wrong opinions.
So many anti-Chick-fil-A people say "this is not about the First Amendment" but I can assure everyone reading this that for me, and for many other people, it's specifically IS about the first amendment. The first amendment grants us freedom of speech. Sometimes people misinterpret this to mean that they can say anything they want with no repercussions. That's not so.
Had Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy's comments merely led to a boycott of his businesses by private citizens, that would not be a violation of his freedom of speech. However, when government officials threatened to harm the business because of what he said that was, indeed, a violation.
There are always going to be businesses who support causes with which you disagree. I really liked the soap company Lush some years back but then I started reading about how they support groups I consider anti-Israel, my most hot-button issue, and that was the end of my lotion and bath-bomb buying at Lush. I stopped shopping there.
But I didn't think they should be shut down, I didn't think the mayor should kick them out of our city or do anything to stop new stores from opening. The idea that anyone would ban them would enrage me. If that were to happen I would likely return to shopping there because I support freedom above all else and the freedom to say what you want, and use your money as you want, are principal to me.
So I get it, why people lined up to support Chick-fil-A, and maybe if I liked the food, and there was more than one location in NYC, I would have too. No, the caricature of these people as bigots simply doesn't hold. Even if the buyers disapprove of gay marriage, that only makes them the same as president Obama six months ago.
Was he a bigot then? Was he a bigot when you voted for him in 2008? Much more likely is that many of the people saw the government intrusion the same way I did: completely unacceptable and something that needed to be answered.
Reasonable people can disagree on all the issues of the day. The moment the government butts into that, the same reasonable people on both sides must fight back. Our freedom depends on that.