Chick-fil-A and the Freedom of Speech

If you’re in the United States, you probably are sick of hearing about this.  I’m not going to go over the history of this argument but a simple search of Google News for the term Chick-fil-A should bring you up to speed.  This is so contentious because it exemplifies the ever-growing divide in the United States at this moment.

First Amendment

The first amendment

The arguments I am hearing from the Chick-fil-A supporters are that they are now eating at Chick-fil-A because they support the biblical definition of marriage but mainly because they believe the company’s right to the Freedom of Speech has been violated.  I’m not going to get deep into the biblical stuff because both sides can descend into an ever-widening maelstrom of quotes from a Bronze Age text to support their points and counterpoints.  That being said, the biblical definition of marriage is not so plain as they believe.

The Freedom of Speech is sacred to free society.  It is a springboard for ideas and businesses; societal progression and artistic expression.  It was and is so paramount to the ideals of our founders that it was included in the very first amendment.

While you do have the Freedom of Speech, you do not have the freedom to not be spoken back to.  The Freedom of Speech also in no way grants you the freedom from the consequences of having spoken. Some of those consequences can be boycotts, satire, mockery or having a slew of opposing viewpoints posted on your Facebook page.  As long as this does not descend into threats of violence, all of this is protected speech

No one has impeded neither Chick-fil-A’s nor Dan Cathy’s right to free speech.  This seems to not be understood.  Freedom of Speech is a two-way street.  He spoke and suffered a backlash of speech.  I keep seeing that the mayors of certain cities are infringing on their civil rights by banning the chain from entering that area.  As far as I can tell, that is simply not true.  As this letter from the Mayor of Boston shows, he is simply exercising his own personal freedom of speech.  Saying “I urge you to back out of your plans to relocate in Boston” is not taking legal steps, enacting legislation or anything else infringing on a company’s right to go where they wish.  To try to actually do so would not make it even an inch before it would be squashed.  Politicians saber-rattle and make statements to pander to their perceived voter base.  It’s part of their job description.

This country was founded on dissent far more than it was founded on religion.  Visit the Chick-fil-A Facebook comments to see democracy in action.  It’s a messy affair, the gears of our differing viewpoints grinding against each other, but it is a cog in a large machine driving both our country and history.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” – Evelyn Beatrice Hall

P.S. – The first key to winning an argument is to become intimately familiar with history and then make sure you are on the right side of it.


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