Thursday, August 2, 2012

Giving a 'rat's ass' about Chick-fil-A

In 1977, Nazis announced plans to stage a march through the Chicago suburb of Skokie, Illinois.  They chose Skokie precisely because of its large Jewish population many of whom were survivors of Nazi concentration camps or people who had lost family members in the Holocaust.  The town refused a permit to march and the Nazis sued claiming that their right to free speech was wrongfully denied by the government.  The Nazis were represented by the ACLU and lead counsel was Jewish.  (This was back when the ACLU was actually interested in defending civil rights rather than simply serving as an attack dog for left-wing politics.)  As difficult as the decision was, the ACLU knew that even the most abhorrent speech must be protected from government interference.  It is precisely in cases where some disagree with the speech at issue that defenders of liberty must endeavor to stand strong and unyielding against the government bullies and thought police.  The ACLU won the Skokie case, but lost over 30,000 members.  And the Nazis never bothered to march.  Some consider it the ACLU's finest hour as a defender of constitutional rights.

Yesterday, millions of Americans chose to make a statement because government leaders in various large US cities threatened a business because its founder affirmed his Christian faith in an interview.  No doubt many of those who stood in long lines at Chick-fil-A did so because they agreed with Truett Cathy's views opposing governmental endorsement of gay marriage.  What needs to be emphasized, however, is that a large number of people did so despite disagreeing with his views.  They chose to make a statement against governmental bullying, against governments which threaten a business in its exercise of free speech.  This isn't anything remotely like the Skokie Nazi case.  But the principle is the same.  Liberty is fragile.  We must be vigilant in protecting it.  And if we choose to ignore it's deprivation for some because we don't agree with their views, we threaten its vitality and protection for all of us.

I would submit that the people who should most make a concerted effort to give a 'rat's ass' about Chick-fil-A in this instance are those who disagree with Mr. Cathy's views.

[the title of this post comes from a comment left by one of my loved ones on facebook that she didn't give a rat's ass about Chick-fil-A]

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