Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A, recently made waves when he stated his views in favor of traditional marriage and expressed his opinion that gay marriage "is inviting God's judgment on our nation." Now cities from Boston to San Francisco are getting their battle gear on to make sure the fast food chain is not allowed anywhere near their streets.
Boston mayor, Thomas Menino, said, “You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against the population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion. That’s the Freedom Trail. That’s where it all started right here. And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-fil-A or whatever the h*** the name is, on our Freedom Trail.”
San Francisco and Chicago soon jumped on the bandwagon, with Chicago mayor, Rahm Emmanuel, saying that "Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values" and that, unless they change their discriminatory ways, Chick-fil-A can forget about sharing waffle fries with the Windy City.
Putting aside the fact that Chick-fil-A is not actually discriminating against anyone (as far as I've been able to ascertain, homosexuals are welcome to eat and work there), does anyone else see a glaring irony here? You have the mayor of Boston saying, "We're an open city... a city at the forefront of inclusion..." and yet he feels just fine discriminating against an entire company because of the owner's religious beliefs.
Let me be clear: I have zero problem with someone choosing not to eat at Chick-fil-A because they disagree with its mission or policies (although, as I said, my research has shown me that Chick-fil-A does not discriminate against people because they are gay, nor do they have policies in place that would promote such a thing). I also have zero problem with The Jim Henson Company severing its ties with the restaurant over the views of its president. But I have a big problem with government officials stepping in and saying someone is not allowed to open a business in their town because the owner's beliefs do not pass the PC religion test.
Last time I checked, this was America.
When it comes to situations like this, you can't just immediately side with causes you agree or identify with. For the sake of fairness you have to perform a personal bias check by shuffling the cards a bit. For example, for those who think the mayor of Boston is justified in his actions: What if a business owned and operated by a homosexual woman (who used her profits to make regular contributions to gay and lesbian causes) wanted to open a restaurant in a small southern town? And what if the mayor stood up and said, "Her values are not our small-town values. We are God-fearing people and I'm going to block her permit so she can't open a restaurant here." Would you be fine with that?
Try it again, this time throwing new cards in the deck. What if a Muslim wanted to open a restaurant? Or an atheist? Would you still think that a government official is within his rights to block that person from opening a business, simply because of that person's beliefs or lifestyle?
If you don't like what a business is spending their profits on, that's fine. You can register your dislike by withholding your money and encouraging others to do the same. You can write letters and protest and take to the internet. But the government has no business withholding a permit in this situation. Especially not when they justify it by waving it under a banner of "freedom" and "inclusion".
Perhaps it's time for those who are screaming for tolerance and understanding to start looking in the mirror.
They might be surprised at what they see.