Chik-fil-A and Free Speech – Eat More Chikin, Not Crow

The Chik-fi-A issue is not about gay marriage.

This may seem like a strange statement, as the controversy over comments by CEO Dan Cathy about gay marriage led mayors in Boston, Chicago, the District of Columbia, and San Francisco to make radical statements about blocking new stores from opening in their cities.

At first this seemed like a massive crisis communications problem that could damage the growth of a very successful American brand. The company is known for its founder's Christian beliefs - they do not operate on Sundays or Christmas, for instance - but has never faced a firestorm of criticism as it did from the left immediately after the CEO's comments.

In response to the verbal threats of these big city mayors though, masses of supporters flooded into Chik-fil-A stores on “Chik-fil-A Day” on August 1, an idea started by former Arkansas Governor and TV commentator Mike Huckabee, leading to possibly the biggest sales day in the company’s history.

Like many issues in the public discourse, the reaction to this issue is so demonstrative not because of the issue itself, but because of extreme hypocrisy.

On the same day that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel condemned the statement by CEO Cathy, he was embracing Louis Farrakhan in his city, a quixotic gadfly who has a very clear record of discriminatory, inflammatory rhetoric against Jews, women, gays, and other groups in our society. Yet Emanuel did not discourage or condemn Farrakhan. He embraced him. Then he attacked a very successful CEO for expressing his personal views that are in conflict with a part of the Democratic base that has risen in influence in the party.

The leftist media are very likely to confuse this issue, and the large and peaceful demonstration of support for Chik-fil-A. They will likely portray the demonstration as anti-gay, anti-gay marriage, and homophobic. Yet you are likely to find that the real motivation for most people who advocated with their feet and their money at Chik-fil-A was freedom; the right for people in a free society to express themselves without threats of retribution.

It is important to note that no one has claimed that Chik-fil-A discriminates against any groups because of their beliefs, race, or sexual orientation in their sales practices. The pro-Christian company does not turn Muslims away at the door, for instance. Many of the same supporters of the company on August 1 would be the first to condemn such action by any business.

Yet, if this was a southern mayor threatening companies like Apple, Amazon, and Starbucks because their CEOs have contributed large sums of money to the gay marriage cause, according to former Governor Huckabee, the hue and cry from the left would be deafening.

Sure there are those involved in this issue based on gay marriage and some with a less noble agenda, but the reaction to this issue is significant because of people in positions of power like Mayor Emanuel who practice an extreme hypocrisy and threaten illicit, punitive action against those expressing their constitutionally-protected beliefs.

Let’s debate the issues of the day based on their merits and keep hyperbolic condemnations that threaten free speech out of the public discourse - and let's hold public officials accountable for hypocrisy of the highest order.

To do so may mean there is less chicken consumed, but also less crow.


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