Thursday, July 26, 2012

Of gay-hating chicken sandwich slingers and free speech ...

Rahm Emanuel’s dangerous free speech attack -

"You can shove your over-rated chicken sandwich up
your ass and stay the fuck out of my city."
 - Rahm Emanuel [paraphrased, by me]
Greenwald writes:
Obviously, it’s perfectly legitimate for private citizens to decide not to patronize a business with executives who have such views (I’d likely refrain from doing so in this case). Beyond that, if a business is engaging in discriminatory hiring or service practices in violation of the law — refusing to hire gay employees or serve gay patrons in cities which have made sexual orientation discrimination illegal — then it is perfectly legitimate to take action against them. 
But that is not the case here; the actions are purely in retribution against the views of the business’ top executive on the desirability of same-sex marriage ...
Well, I blogged in general support of Menino telling Chick-fil-A to get bent, so I should own up if I've gone off the deep end and stepped on the top of the slippery slide into Liberal Fascism. Let's see if I need to walk it back.

First, I should explain my assumption was Menino's letter was basically political grandstanding, not a ban on Chick-fil-A with the force of law. Just like I am fond of shaming Chick-fil-A's founder and current CEO, I see no problem with a politician doing so. The article read at didn't report that he had actually forbidden Chick-fil-A from opening, or that he was saying he would. Menino's most forceful statement was: "I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston." An urging is not a ban, or even a threat to ban. A threat to ban would look like this: "I will ban you."

Let's take a side step and answer the hypothetical, what if Menino had banned Chick-fil-A, assuming he has the authority to do so.

Greenwald, sagely, points out:
If you support what Emanuel is doing here, then you should be equally supportive of a Mayor in Texas or a Governor in Idaho who blocks businesses from opening if they are run by those who support same-sex marriage — or who oppose American wars, or who support reproductive rights, or who favor single-payer health care, or which donates to LGBT groups and Planned Parenthood, on the ground that such views are offensive to Christian or conservative residents.
Yes. No dispute here. If this were Governor Romney of Massachusetts saying, "I urge Hippie Vegan Fake Burgers-R-US to stay out of my commonwealth because their support of Planned Parenthood which the good Christians I represent find offensive," I'd say, "Whatever, asshole." But I wouldn't say he has no right to say that. However, if he said, "I forbid Hippie Vegan Fake Burgers-R-Us from opening a store here," then I'd have a problem.

Back to what politicians are really saying and doing about Chick-fil-A. The difference between Menino and Emanuel is that Emanuel, from what I've read, is supporting an alderman who does in fact want to ban Chick-fil-A from his neighborhood. There seems to be real intent to say, because of your support for hate groups, your business can't open here. (And, make no mistake, the Family Research Council, despite its protestations, is a hate group.)  So, while I encourage and support them in calling out Chick-fil-A for supporting the Family Research Council and other groups I think are either openly hateful or just silly and irrelevant, I don't think they can ban those businesses on those grounds.

To answer my own question, communities do have the right to say "not here" to businesses, but they need a valid reason, some identifiable violation of zoning rules, or support of illegal groups ("terrorist" organizations, organized crime families), being hateful idiots is not reason enough.

Even hateful idiots have the right to make a living. We have the right to call them hateful idiots and not spend money at their businesses. Let's do that.

[Update 7/27/12]
"If a man can't manage his own life, he can't manage a business," says Cathy, who says he would probably fire an employee or terminate an operator who "has been sinful or done something harmful to their family members." 
The parent company asks people who apply for an operator license to disclose marital status, number of dependents and involvement in "community, civic, social, church and/or professional organizations." ["The Cult of Chick-fil-A," by Emily Schmall in Forbes, 7/23/2007]
We already know they consider being gay "sinful," so it raises the question, do they discriminate in hiring and firing? Did "probably fire" ever become "fired"?

"Chick-Fil-A Faced 12 Employment Discrimination Suits Since 1988" | Liberaland

Aziz Latif, a former Chick-fil-A restaurant manager in Houston [who] sued the company in 2002 after Latif, a Muslim, says he was fired a day after he didn’t participate in a group prayer to Jesus Christ at a company training program in 2000. The suit was settled on undisclosed terms.
OK, you guys, now how do we feel about Rahm Emanuel's position?


  1. Intellectually I agree with you, they should not be banned. But discrimination makes my blood boil, so I hope he succeeds in driving Chick-fil-A from Chicago. Since my Congressman is gay, I’m pretty sure they will not be welcome in RI either.

    1. They might find a warm welcome in Cranston! :)

      I don't generally worry about the personal bigotry of the owners of a business when I'm deciding which business to patronize, UNLESS they have made their bigotry a part of the way they operate the business. The founder of Chick-fil-A has stepped over this line, and so I'll not be eating any more of their crappy chicken sandwiches. (Honestly, the only condiment on the sandwich is a pickle?)

      Should we be able to legislate them out of certain areas? If they are using discriminatory hiring practices, then sure. Or maybe we would have to power to put in local laws that restaurants must be open seven days a week, so then they wouldn't be willing to follow that. I'm not sure that their giving money to hate groups should be a legal reason to shut them down, but since their hateful idiocy affects more of their business practices than that, we can look for other more legitimate ways to keep them out.

  2. Well written and I agree with what you say. If you want to stop someone from discriminating, and there efforts to ban other peoples rights, it seems hypocritical to then go and attempt to ban them. But just attempting to or threatening to ban them can give those people a look into what they do to others.

    1. Thanks, Steven, I appreciate you stopping in and leaving a comment.

      I wonder if the founder or current CEO of C-F-A are capable of that kind of empathy? They would have acknowledge the common humanity of those whose rights they seek to curtail, and I suspect their religious indoctrination makes it impossible for them to see LGBT folks as anything but hopeless sinners.

      We see all the time how quick (privileged, entitled) Christians are to claim they are being persecuted ("Contraception is a War On Our Religious Liberty!" The word 'holiday' is a War On Christmas!"), but are unable to see anything wrong with persecuting those who don't share their beliefs or sexual inclinations.


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