Everything You Need To Know About The Chick-Fil-A Outcry
So you want to talk about free speech?
Free speech is a pretty awesome thing.
So awesome, in fact, that the Framers of the U.S. Constitution gave us a guarantee that we would be free from government interference in our right to freedom of expression and speech, and this right is now considered to be a cornerstone of our national identity.
We’ve heard a lot (and I mean a lot) about free speech just this week alone, what with the “Free Pussy Riot” movement in Russia (just a hint: for those of you brought here based on that searchable term, it’s not what you think) and the stand taken by the patrons of one fast food chain here in the U.S.
Chick-Fil-A, Inc. is known the country over for their waffle fries, being closed on Sundays, and by now, for the COO’s views on same-sex marriage.
On July 16, Chick-Fil-A’s president and COO Dan Cathy said in an interview with the Baptist Press, a news wire service with a “Christian perspective,” that he was “guilty as charged” in his support for the “traditional family.”
LGBTQ rights activists and same-sex marriage advocates reacted with swift outrage, calling for boycotts of the company claiming to be driven by biblical principles, including the “one man, one woman” definition of marriage.
Perhaps the nails in the coffin on this controversy were Cathy’s previous comments on “The Ken Coleman Show,” a weekly syndicated radio show:
We’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage… I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude that thinks we have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.
The backlash was also provoked by Chick-Fil-A’s financial support – to the tune of $5 million – of groups campaigning against LGBTQ rights and of anti-gay organizations purporting to use religious means to alter someone’s sexuality, including the Family Research Council, which is classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.
The outcry from the LGBTQ community provided former preacher and Fox News host Mike Huckabee with the divine inspiration to proclaim Aug. 1 as “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day,” encouraging his fellow Christians and same-sex marriage opponents to go out and patronize a company that abides by “biblical principles.”
There was something else about fighting for Cathy’s right to free speech (which was apparently in danger of being trampled upon by renegade gay rights activists moonlighting as the politically correct thought police), but it appeared to be little more than a gleeful “in your FACE, gay agenda” than a celebration of one man’s right to freely proclaim his religious views.
Coverage of the record profits for the company and lines out the door at many stores occupied much of the day on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
“Can’t say anything anymore without somebody getting offended, what ever happened to freedom of speech?” was the overall tone, accompanied by photos of people with their chicken sandwiches and waffle fries.
Now, this is where Chick-Fil-A’s supporters lose me.
I fervently believe that Cathy (and everyone else) is not only permitted but ought to be encouraged to say whatever he wishes without provoking the thought police to lock him up and throw away the key.
Sure, there was a backlash. There were picketers with signs and “kiss-ins” at Chick-Fil-A stores nationwide.
There were articles upon articles and Facebook status after Facebook status – people on both sides posting in reaction to the original comments as well as the multiple waves of ensuing backlash.
With so much text and so many conversations going on about this issue, I’m left wondering: where is it exactly that people think our right to freedom of speech went?
Looks to me like we’ve still got it.
But they won’t actually do that. Such actions are quite clearly unconstitutional and would be struck down by the courts in a minute if a hypothetical court case ever even made it before a judge.
Free speech is a funny thing, but when people cry foul because one group comes out criticizing what another group says, it doesn’t really seem like they fully grasp what free speech is all about. Free speech means that dissent is welcomed.
Dissent isn’t counter to free speech – it is the embodiment of free speech.
One last thing: freedom of speech doesn’t mean you are immune from criticism. It just means you have the right to fire back against that criticism in your own defense.
Did you go eat at Chick-Fil-A on August 1st? Are you boycotting it? Join the discussion in the comments section!
Opinions stated in our editorials do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Feminspire and its staff as a whole, but instead reflect the opinions of the writer.
Header image courtesy of Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times.
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