Thursday, July 26, 2012

A couple thoughts on Boston, Philly, Chick-Fil-A and freedom

I need to say something...but before I start, take a step or two away from the torches and pitchforks. Maybe set 'em down a bit out of reach and pull up your favorite chair. Comfy? Good. This may not be pretty or popular, but let me get it off my chest then feel free to tell me I'm crazy or stupid or wrong. 

I'm concerned about the whole Philly/Boston Chick-Fil-A thing. Please don't get me wrong here, I'm as outraged by Dan Cathey's statements and Chick-Fil-A's political contributions as anyone. I'm just not sure I feel comfortable about government (state/local/whatever) stepping in to curtail some asshole's free speech. Yes, we should not support businesses that promote things we believe are wrong. Yes, we should be vocal in our disapproval of things we find reprehensible. And it could even be argued that the state has an interest in controlling what types of organizations can set up shop near public parks and landmarks, as is being done in Boston. But it really makes me uncomfortable when we start thinking it's okay for the state to jump in and denounce someone for their beliefs, reprehensible as those beliefs may be. It seems to me that the state has an obligation to ensure that the assholes have the freedom to be vocal...otherwise how can the state legitimately ensure that you and I have the freedom to be vocal and drown them out?

One more thought: how is the Philadelphia city council's public posturing against Chick-Fil-A any different than the 33 ineffectual "repeal Obamacare" public posturing votes in the US House of Representatives? Both are "message" votes that have no real legal implications other than to pander to a segment of the constituency. And both take valuable time away from the business of governing. Worse, one implies a state sanctioned curtailing of someone's free speech rights--to what effect? It seems to me it does nothing but give the bigots legitimate ammunition. Those spewing hate and homophobia tend to naturally undermine their cause with their closed-minded rhetoric. But when the state steps in to curtail their right to freedom of expression, suddenly they have a legitimate complaint.

No, I don't think this fight is one that's appropriate for our government to take up for us. I think this is one issue we need to handle ourselves. Gays and lesbians are being denied basic human rights and we can't win the argument by denying the opposition their basic rights. So let's be vocal and battle bigotry with truth and integrity and respect for EVERYONE's basic human rights.. The momentum is on our side anyway.