Free Markets, Free People

Whether you agree or disagree with Chick-fil-A, government has no role in the debate

Frankly, I think Chick-fil-A has jumped the shark by taking a position at all on a social issue.  The purpose of their business, I assume, is to sell sandwiches. 

However, they have taken one and it is controversial.

Viva la free speech.  Welcome to America.

What is just as controversial however, are government entities deciding to take action based on the company’s exercise of its right to free speech.

This is where I totally disagree.  This is none of any government’s business.  None.

I think Mike Krempasky has it just about right, and this is one of those “let’s put the shoe on the other foot” moments where you have to do a little thinking about how you’d react if such a thing was done to an entity which said something you agree with:

For those of you cheering the mayors of Boston and Chicago for taking such a courageous stance against the creeping horde of Chick-fil-A stores because of the speech and beliefs of its leadership – WHAT THE H#!! IS WRONG WITH YOU?

I presume you’d be outraged and maybe even scared of your government if some arch-conservative mayor or city manager just declared that Ben and Jerry’s stores would no longer be granted building permits.

I’m sure you’d head to the barricades if a governor of state decided that only Republicans or only Democrats were allowed to operate businesses in that state just because of how the voters choose politicians.

If *you* don’t like the values of a company, than *you* shouldn’t shop there. And then you should spend your energy, attention, and yes – money (yay Citizens United!) to encourage your friends and community not to shop there. But enlisting the help of government to punish your competitors, your enemies, or even just those you find distasteful? Rewarding the politicians willing do so so? Might as well just start distributing Little Red Books.

I disagree with the Chick-fil-A stance (and from a business standpoint, find it abysmally stupid, but hey, it is their company and in a free society, they, like Ben and Jerry’s, are free to do stupid things). As Mike points out, I disagree with much of what the owners of Ben and Jerry’s have publicly said.  I also have the ability to do something about that and have.  Because, the right to free speech doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences.  It just means government can’t levy them.

One thing I have never done nor would ever condone is government action or intervention –at any level – in reaction to a social stance by a business.  Instead, I have simply never, ever knowingly put a spoonful of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in my mouth nor bought a single ounce of it.  I’ll most likely punish Chick-fil-A the same way.  There are lots of choices out there.

But government at any level has no business at all involved in this – none – and anyone who says they should be involved has got to realize the ramifications of such a demand.  It could, at some point, be used against some business you support.  And you wouldn’t have a moral or ethical leg to stand on in protest against such action.

Freedom of speech is there to protect the speaker from government.  Its biggest test comes with speech we don’t agree with.

In the case of Chick-fil-A the calls for government action (and the threats by government against the business) are in contravention of that right and fail that test.

Those calling for government action against speech they don’t agree with be should be ashamed.


Twitter: @McQandO

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46 Responses to Whether you agree or disagree with Chick-fil-A, government has no role in the debate

  • What did ‘Filet do that “jumped the shark”, McQ?  I mean, exactly.

    • The same sort of thing Ben and Jerry’s did.

      • “We don’t claim to be a Christian business,” Cathy told the Biblical Recorder in a recent visit to North Carolina. He attended a business leadership conference many years ago where he heard Christian businessman Fred Roach say, “There is no such thing as a Christian business.”

        “That got my attention,” Cathy said. Roach went on to say, “Christ never died for a corporation. He died for you and me.”

        “In that spirit … [Christianity] is about a personal relationship. Companies are not lost or saved, but certainly individuals are,” Cathy added. “But as an organization we can operate on biblical principles. So that is what we claim to be. [We are] based on biblical principles, asking God and pleading with God to give us wisdom on decisions we make about people and the programs and partnerships we have. And He has blessed us.”

        And here’s what Cathy says about marriage:

        The company invests in Christian growth and ministry through its WinShape Foundation ( The name comes from the idea of shaping people to be winners. It began as a college scholarship and expanded to a foster care program, an international ministry, and a conference and retreat center modeled after the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove.

        “That morphed into a marriage program in conjunction with national marriage ministries,” Cathy added.

        Some have opposed the company’s support of the traditional family. “Well, guilty as charged,” said Cathy when asked about the company’s position. “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. …

        “We are very much committed to that,” Cathy emphasized. “We intend to stay the course,” he said. “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

        There is no “shark jumping” there.  The press has corrupted the guy’s position, and you ate it up.
        Saying you personally are pro-marriage (in the traditional sense) is not an anti-gay slur, and not a “shark jump” moment.

        • That’s your opinion. I don’t share it. Thus the post. The point of the post is everyone has a right to their opinion, and I have options if I don’t agree. See Jane Fonda. However, what should never happen, ever, is government using it’s power to punish a business or person for what they say.


          • Okay Bruce, I totally agreed with the point you are making about government getting involved. Please explain just what Cathy said that was “anti-gay”.
            And, by the way, this is not something that just came about, Truet Cathy was saying this stuff for years, why the outrage all of a sudden?

          • I never said anything he said was anti-gay. I said I don’t agree with him on his stance. And as such, I have every right to act on my disagreement.


            Whether or not you believe anything he said is worth that is irrelevant to me and my decision to act. You may think it to be frivolous, or irrational, or any of a number of things. Irrelevant.

            That’s how freedom, at an individual level, works.

        • This stance to my mind is equivalent to a company saying we are only going to buy Fords for our fleet.
          Then out of the blue, a group of GM lovers says that they are somehow “evil”

  • I agree with the McQ on this, however, as to whether the business has gone too far, I guess that is up to the customers. If this hurts their business, and the company is okay with that, I have no problem with it. It’s a private company, so the owner can drive the business into the ground if he wishes.

    I won’t boycott them, though I rarely eat there. I understand people’s desire to do business or not based on expressions by the company (or person), but personally, if a company has a good product and I don’t like the politics of their owners, I don’t care.

    Heck, I will still buy Ted Nugent albums and I have loved his music since I was a kid, even if he is a raving psychopath.

    • even if he is a raving psychopath.

      Really? Care to elaborate on that?

      • The Nuge engages in some extreme rhetoric. Seriously dude, the guy was holding up a machine saying he would like meet Hillary Clinton so he could tell her to “suck on this” (machine gun).

        But like I said, I like the guy, and honestly, I think he just does the extreme stuff for effect, it’s kind of his Schtick.

        I’m heading out to lunch now, I think blast Wang Dang Sweet Poontang on my way.

  • Talk about jumping the shark.

    Does Chik-fil-A employ queers? Does Chik-fil-A serve queers? Yes, and yes, but never on Sundays?

    I’d say they just haven’t applied the required amount of grease to open their newest restaurants in Chicago and Boston. I’m betting Cathy doesn’t much care because there is no such thing as bad publicity.

  • As it is they elect NOT to do business on Sunday.  Presumably because of a christian/family commitment.
    I don’t think people are necessarily going to rush into Chik-fil-a because they support heterosexual marriage, although there may be a support backlash against attempts to harm them financially.  They are a community oriented chain.
    Still, it’s their business.   Their choice, so long as they’re not criminally discriminating.
    All in all, this sexuality thing is getting very tiresome.  Why in the hell are we even having discussions about who’s putting which part in someone else’s where.  How the hell is that part of an identity that needs to be flaunted on main street?  What the hell does sexual preference have to do with chicken sandwiches?  How the hell did we GET here?

    • Cathy never said anything REMOTELY anti-gay.  He affirmatively, positively stated his donations support traditional marriage.
      It would make as much sense for divorcees to throw a hissy-fit as it does the militant, ultra-sensitive gays, based on that innocuous stand.

      • “militant, ultra-sensitive gays”
        Thereby explaining the issue.  Which, as I say, is why I find this getting tiresome.
        I support same sex couples enjoying the privileges and responsibilities society affords opposite sex couples.
        I also support Cathy’s right to donate his money as he chooses.
        McQ is right, government has no place in punishing Chik-Fil-A when they’re not discriminating.

        • I support same sex couples enjoying the privileges and responsibilities society affords opposite sex couples.  I also support Cathy’s right to donate his money as he chooses.

          But is Mr. Cathy’s money being used to influence elections and legislation, which results in government infringing upon more rights?
          I support his right to decide whom to hire and whom to serve.  I also support his right to speak his mind and promote ideas.  But when his money gets into the paws of a politician, it’s not just a debate of ideas.  It’s about who gets to dictate to others how to live their lives.

          • Alas, not an ideal world, I can’t forbid him to donate his money if I disagree with where it’s going.  I agree with your sentiment though.

          • So, you support free speech unless someone employs it to effect society?

          • Got it Elliot. Only those holding the correct views should have the same political advocacy rights we enjoy

          • So, you support free speech unless someone employs it to effect society? Huh.

            Money isn’t speech.  If I give money to a thug to go take a baseball bat to your car, that isn’t me engaging in speech, debate, or association.  Hell, if I tell a thug to go do it and he does it without compensation, then I’m also responsible.
            Likewise, donating to (bribing) politicians isn’t just paying people to get up and give speeches until pretty colored balloons fall on them, at which point everyone goes home for the next three years.  It’s paying them to get into office, whereupon they will craft laws.  When those laws violate our rights, hasn’t the politician violated our rights?  And, if that is so, hasn’t the contributor, or even voter, done likewise, by proxy?  At best, a contributor or voter can plead ignorance, claim to be duped.
            That’s the main reason I choose not to vote.  I can’t be duped into being a proxy for evil by not playing that game.

          • Normally, you make sense.  Today isn’t normal.

          • I get that you don’t want politicians to be for sale.  That what they are when they vote is what they told us they were when they ran, not what they were purchased to be after the fact by money or some other, generally corrupting influence.
            However, Cathy need not donate his money to a politician, I’m not sure that’s what he does with it.  But it’s his money, and his to donate, not mine to tell him where it can go.  It’s the down side of freedom when he doesn’t send it where I like.

          • However, Cathy need not donate his money to a politician, I’m not sure that’s what he does with it.  But it’s his money, and his to donate, not mine to tell him where it can go.  It’s the down side of freedom when he doesn’t send it where I like.

            I don’t know what he does with his money, either.  So long as he’s not hurting others, he gets to do what he wants.  Giving money to a politician or a PAC, however, most likely does enable politicians who infringe upon the rights of individuals.  From where I sit, that’s not a case of “not hurting others”.  You could argue that lots of people do it.  Sure, as Bruce points out, there’s Ben & Jerry, and a million others.  So, at best you could ask, “Why pick on this one guy?  Look at all the others.”  Fine.  I don’t take special exception to Mr. Cathy.  But I don’t consider him donating money to a politician or PAC (if, in fact, he does so), to be just another exercise of freedom.
            Democracy isn’t the same thing as freedom.  In fact, it is most often harmful to freedom.  It only appears to be a good system of government because the visible alternatives are worse.  But look what happened in 1932 Germany, Iran, Turkey, Venezuela, Egypt, etc..  People can vote for a regime which will deprive them of rights.  Once in place, it’s near impossible to simply vote your way back to freedom.
            But even more than that, why does a party which gets 51% of the votes get to make policy for 100% of the people?  Why do people who don’t work and don’t pay taxes each get the same vote as a person who works like crazy, pays oodles in taxes, provides jobs to others, etc.?  For that matter, why do people living in one part of a state (or city, or county) get an equal voice when they are nowhere near the location where a given conflict occurs?  That sort of political outcome bears no resemblance to freedom, reasoned debate, etc..  It’s a winner-take-all system, a license to butt into other people’s business.

          • But we’re talking about Cathy here, not some random hypothetical person contributing to a politician.  As a basic premise I can’t assume he’s going to do something with his money that I don’t like, nor can  I assume that I have any business in dictating to him what he does do with it.   I can agree I don’t want him to cause harm, but I don’t see how potentially donating to some cause that merely supports the nuclear family causes harm to same sex couples, or infringes on any rights they may have.   His property, his right to do with it as he wants, I can’t automatically assume that just because he supports traditional family values that that must necessarily harm homosexuals.

          • …I don’t see how potentially donating to some cause that merely supports the nuclear family causes harm to same sex couples, or infringes on any rights they may have.

            I don’t think anyone has a right to have some “authority” define their relationship with a label.  When the “authorities” discriminate between various relationships to give one type special legal status but not others, I may see that as unfair, but I would argue that the harm isn’t necessarily in the discrimination, but in the entire system itself.  Connecting actions to rights violations when a majority of the population has its paws in the bank accounts of everyone else, or its nose in everyone else’s business, is a Gordian knot, if there ever was one.
            That said, I’m not impressed by pious claims of “protecting family values”, “defense of traditional marriage”, and other such propaganda.  Such values and traditions are not in danger at all, except perhaps by people who abuse or neglect their spouses and children, or who engage in adulterous affairs.  In the vast majority of cases, I see these phrases as code words for “keep the queers down”, much in the way that white supremacists during Jim Crow felt tremendous pressure to “keep the negroes down”.  The vast majority of my family, friends, and neighbors are conservative Christians, and I used to be one, too.  I still respect family values, but I don’t feel obligated to join in the Three Minute Hate against the queers and I don’t see those two having any rational connection, whatsoever.

          • “In the vast majority of cases, I see these phrases as code words for “keep the queers down”  ”
            Again, that may be, but I don’t know enough about Cathy to say that that’s his intent.  And regardless, it’s within his rights to hold views that I don’t agree with.
            We’re arguing an ideal versus a reality.  Ideally we all get along, ideally we don’t tread on each other’s rights.  If he is discriminating, we have laws to deal with that.   Right now his right to have an opinion contrary to others in power is being violated.   Where’s the complaint against Menino or Emmanuel for going beyond what they are legally empowered to do?  Buying politicians?  they are already bought then, are they not?  They have tried him and found his view wanting and are prepared to attempt to use their ” “authorities” (to) discriminate between various relationships to give one type special legal status but not others…”.
            Why not try to use city permit power to prevent churches from being built because they have the wrong view of homosexuality?  Why not forbid housing permits to people who tithe to such churches?   Why not levy oppressive property taxes on them to punish their incorrect thinking?
            What they proposed (theory now, I understand Menino at least has already backed off on this) to do is worse than what he’s done.  He merely expressed an opinion and uses his money to back it, they actively talked about using the government you think he’s buying to prevent him from doing an otherwise legitimate business.  One that doesn’t have a thing to do with anyone’s sexual preferences, based on supposition of what he MIGHT support.

          • I don’t disagree with you, looker.
            Many libertarians fall for the Democrat fear mongering that Republicans are going to impose religion and build some authoritarian theocracy if voters don’t elect Democrats to save them.  But virtually no Republican ever does anything substantive towards such ends, no matter how fired up they get in speeches on the topic.  It’s theater, and the religious “conservatives” who would actually welcome theocratic legislation are dupes for voting for these politicians, most of whom are just playing the part of the devout believer just to get votes.
            The anti-free-market Democrats, however, constantly do follow through on their rhetoric in legislation, regulation, policy, and court decisions.  And, they generally fail to follow through on promises to do other things libertarians would favor, like Obama’s pledge not to interfere with states which legalize medical marijuana, or to shut down Guantanamo.
            Thus, I am far more concerned with the likes of Menino or Emanuel than I am with Mr. Cathy or any of the Republicans he might support.

          • Heh, I know – it’s theoretical – I can see your view and I don’t disagree with you either.  I’ve read enough of your stuff to get a sense of where you stand and never for a moment thought you were appreciative of Tiny Dancer or Menino’s activities.

  • Still, one has to chuckle – top of the page as I post this offers me Chik-fil-a coupons from
    And ‘tiny dancer’ ought to focus on fixing Chicago’s crime, not altering evil Chik-Fil-A’s opinion.

  • “And you wouldn’t have a moral or ethical leg to stand on in protest against such action.”  McQ, you”re talking about liberals! If it weren’t for double standards, they wouldn’t have any!

    • Well, speaking of double standards, I recall the whole rap debate in this country with the Hannities and O’Reilly’s coming down hard on rappers because of their obscene and female demeaning lyrics, while at the same time they embrace folks like the Nuge (Hannity calls him a “friend of the show”) and Huckabee jammed Cat Scratch Fever with him on his show. I am not offended by either rap or Nugent, I just happen to think that rap sounds like crap. But when you adore a guy with lyrics like the Nuge writes (I got you in a Stranglehold Baby, gonna crush your face), you can’t decry the lyrics of rap with a straight face.

      “The first time that I got it I was just ten years old…” Isn’t that child abuses? (no, it was just a kitty cat) LOL

      • Cap, Do you really want to use Hannity as an example? Most conservatives I know can’t stand the whiny little girl.

      • Rock culture has always been pretty savagely misogynistic.  Very few exceptions.

    • Heh … I understand that, Gunwise, but the principle still applies.

  • The mayors of NYC Boston and Chicago are three bottom-feeding fascists. As for Chik Fil A, they’re the latest examples of what happens when you deviate from approved thought

    • “the latest examples of what happens when you deviate from approved thought”

      Yeah, ask the Dixie Chicks, JC Penney, 7-Eleven, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Airlines, American Girl, Blockbuster Video, Burger King, Calvin Klein, Carl’s Jr., Clorox, Comcast, Crest, Ford, Hallmark Cards, Kmart, Kraft Foods, S. C. Johnson & Son, Movie Gallery, Microsoft, MTV, Mary Kay, NutriSystem, Old Navy, IKEA, Sears, Pampers, Procter & Gamble, Target, Tide, Walt Disney Company, and PepsiCo

      I will concede that the government getting involved to use the power of government to stop a business from opening is much worse than a boycott. However, at the moment, it is just idle talk, and I would hope that nothing like this  would actually be allowed to happen. If it does, I’m on your side on this.

      • Explain how the Dixie Chicks are even REMOTELY like this. I’ll wait

        • The guy is a complete moron, shark.  According to that “logic”, we have no business voting politicians out who do outrageous crap.
          Individuals voting with their dollars are PURE DEMOCRACY, not the fell hand of power.

        • Explain how the Dixie Chicks are even REMOTELY like this.

          By the logic of those who were OUTRAGED at the reaction of those angry with the Ditzy Chicks, you are obligated to buy their albums and radio stations are obligated to play their music.  How else can a choice not to buy or play their screechy music make them into victims?  Disgustingly, they allowed themselves to be whored out as the poster children for a huge strawman (censorship).
          I don’t care for George W. Bush’s reckless deficit spending, his misuse of military force, or his Patriot Act.  Since he and his family were transplants from New England, there’s no reason for any real Texan to be ashamed–annoyed, perhaps.  But I’ll be damned if I’ll ever feel the need to appease the anti-American sentiments of foreigners by obsequiously playing the role of the embarrassed American.  None of that was noble or brave, but craven.

  • Bruce obviously gets quick results …

    Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino repeated today that he doesn’t want Chick-fil-A in Boston, but he backed away from a threat to actively block the fast-food chain from setting up shop in the city.
    “I can’t do that. That would be interference to his rights to go there,” Menino said, referring to company president Dan Cathy, who drew the mayor’s wrath by going public with his views against same-sex marriage.
    The mayor added: “I make mistakes all the time. That’s a Menino-ism.”

  • The ACLU “strongly supports” same-sex marriage, Schwartz said, but noted that if a government can exclude a business for being against same-sex marriage, it can also exclude a business for being in support of same-sex marriage.
    “But we also support the First Amendment,” he said. “We don’ think the government should exclude Chick-fil-A because of the anti-LGBT message. We believe this is clear cut.”

  • But for public officials to penalize people because of their expressed beliefs—well, I wouldn’t go as far as blogger Elizabeth Scalia does when she titles a blogpost “this is how fascism works,” but it’s pretty nasty stuff.
    Mayors Emanuel and Menino are treating opposition to same-sex marriage as something akin to Hitlerism or Stalinism. But it’s not. My own observation is that the large majority of people taking stands on both sides of this issue do so because they believe their policy would be good for people and good for society. Yes, you can find anti-SSM people who hate homosexuals (though precious few in this country, I think, who support Iran-style capital punishment for them) and you can also find some advocates of SSM who seem to hate those who take other views and call for undermining the institutions of marriage and the family. But such people are very much in the minority. I think we would do well to start off assuming that those who disagree with us on this issue do so out of good motives and to treat them with respect, as  I think both Barack Obama, both before and after he changed his position on this issue, and Mitt Romney have done.