Free Markets, Free People
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.