Chick-Fil-A’s Freedom of Speech vs. My Freedom of Wallet

This chicken, however, is awesome.

Never has there existed an online scrap that I wasn’t willing to jump into, and I have nothing better to do.  Therefore, in my capacity as a completely uncredentialed blogger, I present: My thoughts on the Chick-Fil-A mess.  In particular, let’s talk about free speech.

What is it with conservatives and misunderstanding free speech?  Look, everyone loves free speech.  I’m using it right now.  But it isn’t one of those meaningless political phrases that can be invoked at random, like “American values.”  Free speech has a meaning that has been carefully defined and vetted for over 200 years.  It doesn’t mean the ability to say anything without repercussions from anyone.

This is what Sarah Palin thinks it means, and unfortunately, a fair amount of the country seems inclined to follow her.  Let’s look carefully at the quote:

Well, that calling for the boycott is a real — has a chilling effect on our 1st Amendment rights. And the owner of the Chick-fil-A business had merely voiced his personal opinion about supporting traditional definition of marriage, one boy, one girl, falling in love, getting married. And having voiced support for kind of that cornerstone of all civilization and all religions since the beginning of time, he then basically getting crucified.

I’m speaking up for him and his 1st Amendment rights and anybody else who would wish to express their not anti-gay people sentiment, but their support of traditional marriage, which President Obama and Joe Biden, they both supported the exact same thing until just a few months ago, when Obama had to flip-flop to shore up the homosexual voter base.

Hmm.  Boycotting a company because of something the CEO said is a violation of first amendment rights?  That implies that either a) the First Amendment forbids you from deciding where to spend your money based on your perceptions of different companies, or b) the First Amendment forbids you from telling other people where you think they should or should not spend their money (which, yes, would mean that the First Amendment actually limited what people were and were not allowed to say).  Both of these are curious precepts.  The former, in particular, ludicrously implies that businesses shouldn’t be allowed suffer based on what those representing them say, which suggests that, for instance, a failed advertising campaign causing business to take a hit would also be unconstitutional*.

Dan Cathy has freedom of speech; I have freedom of wallet.  I can choose not to not to eat there because of his statements just as I could choose not to eat there because I hate their stupid misspelled name or because, let’s face it, their food isn’t that good.


*Unless, of course, they are Oreo or J.C. Penney, in which case the chilling effect of boycotting them on free speech is somehow negated.

Serama found here.



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2 responses to “Chick-Fil-A’s Freedom of Speech vs. My Freedom of Wallet

  1. Bealocwealm

    I thought what was raising conservative hackles was the mayors who threatened to deny their permits. But I guess political discourse is never that sensible, is it?

    • katz

      A lot of the discussion has been about that–although it’s an open question whether Rahm Emanuel, et al were actually planning on denying them permits, or just talking–but the Palin comment doesn’t mention the mayors anywhere.

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