The year is 2012, and, shocking though it ought to be, there are still major public figures who don’t believe in the freedom to express your opinion without government reprisal.
The crisis in free speech was precipitated when Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy was asked about his company’s support for “traditional family” organizations. He responded, “Guilty as charged.” Further scrutiny of Chick-fil-A’s charitable donations found that over the last 10 years, the company has funneled as much as $10 million to organizations that oppose same-sex marriage.
The response to what some call bigotry has been intense. Many are calling for boycotts of the franchise. Others are calling for government sanctions against the company. According to the Chicago Sun, Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel vowed to block the company’s expansion in Chicago, saying on Wednesday that “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values. They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you’re gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values.” He continued:
What the CEO has said as it relates to gay marriage and gay couples is not what I believe, but more importantly, it’s not what the people of Chicago believe. We just passed legislation as it relates to civil union and my goal and my hope … is that we now move on recognizing gay marriage. I do not believe that the CEO’s comments…reflect who we are as a city.
Boston mayor Tom Menino, the first mayor to suggest he might block the franchise, sent a letter to Dan Cathy after hearing Cathy’s comments and learning that Chick-fil-A was looking for a location to open a branch in Boston. Menino told Cathy, “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.”
San Francisco mayor Edwin Lee has suggested that he might take the same stance as Emmanuel and Menino.
Without taking a position on the issue of same-sex marriage, this idea of government retaliation for free speech needs to be addressed.