Thursday, July 26, 2012

In Reply: The Answer to Speech is More Speech

Revised and extended, in reply to No More Mister Nice Blog: WHAT WOULD BE THE OUTCOME OF THE WAR WE MAY BE STARTING HERE?, about Chick-fil-A, and the aldermen and mayors making threats to use their political power and legal means to keep them out of their area:

It's one thing to say "don't eat there" (or even to say "I'm opposed to your setting up shop in my city," though that's right on the line). It's another to use political/legal might to forbid them from doing business in a particular city/town...

If they were stopping gay folks from eating or working there--which I'm pretty sure is ALREADY against the law--I could see trying to run them out of town unless they stopped doing that.

But really, all the guy did was express the opinion of his faith which, like it or not, sees homosexuality as a sin. While I don't share that opinion myself, and will do all I can to avoid financially or otherwise rewarding those who believe and express it, religious freedom and the right of conscience allow him his beliefs, just as they allow me mine.

One has to meet speech with speech and action with action, which is to say, as long as Chick-fil-A and their CEO is using speech--talking about his beliefs, donating to political and religious organizations in furtherance of his beliefs--political figures should respond the same way; speaking out, and donating/urging donations to organizations and groups in favor of his/her goals. Chick-fil-A has every right to speak, and should not face official government punishment for what they say.

If Chick-fil-A were violating anti-discrimination laws, THAT would be the time for government action. I am aware of no evidence that they are, though the company must be aware that many eyes will be on them and that it isn't only the right who engages in video stings.

Nothing prevents citizens (including elected officials) from speaking out or protesting in favor of or against marriage equality or any other issue. Companies who take a stand on controversial issues--even if they do nothing more than send out a press release--have to know they're going to gain some customers and lose others, whatever stands they take. There is nothing wrong with "voting your values" by spending more money with companies who share your values and less with those who do not. If money is speech, there's no reason yours shouldn't help you say the things you think need saying.

As an exit question, though... How is what these mayors are threatening to do ANY DIFFERENT from what certain republican legislators and governors are doing as regards abortion providers, setting up trap laws that regulate every aspect of the clinics and providers in such a way that they cannot meet them, and thus will have no choice but to close... The answer, of course, is that there's ZERO difference, except that these Republican governors and legislators have actually done what these anti-chickfila mayors are only threatening to do, even if some people choose to stick their fingers in their ears in a desperate attempt at willful misunderstanding and denial...

Finally, there is a line between religious beliefs and bigotry, on both sides of this issue.

As I said above, the interviews Dan Cathy gave expressed his support for the religious tenets of his faith. While my faith and my personal moral compass don't agree with those tenets, he didn't say anything hateful or bigoted. (I have since learned about donations Cathy and the Chick-fil-A corporation have made to more extreme anti-homosexual causes, whose stated beliefs and concrete actions go further than much of Cathy's religion has chosen to go, and yes, I do find those donations more problematic.)

On the other hand, not every person who speaks out against Chick-fil-A is an anti-Judeo-Christian bigot, either. It is possible to say "I disagree with the church on this issue" without actually hating God and everything Jesus stood for. Even being an atheist isn't an expression of hate. (Some folks claim it's another kind of faith, and thus should be protected by religious freedom.)

As I've said elsewhere, I have no problem with 99% of what faiths other than mine preach and teach. People can believe as they wish, and live according to the customs of their faith, with my blessings. The tolerance stops when you try to legislate aspects of your faith into secular law, forcing those to don't share your church's understanding of God and morality to nevertheless live as though they do. It's fine for individuals to choose to live according to what their Bible and preacher tells them. It's also fine for individuals--especially individuals who don't go to your church--to reject the teachings of your Bible and preacher, whether in favor of what their preacher teaches, or in favor of their own moral code. Religious freedom goes both ways.

Posted THURSDAY, JULY 26, 2012, 7:23 PM

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