Monday, August 6, 2012

On Chick-fil-A...

Documenting a Facebook thread which seemed important enough to put here.  As usual, names scrubbed to protect the friendly.

This thread was mine.  Originally:

More of this, please. An excellent take on how the absurd concept of "enforcing" tolerance strips all moral authority from even the most noble concept.

The following comments ensued (selected for relevance, but if a comment appears, it appears unedited.  Also, note that "K" is not yours truly;  I am listed below as "Me"):

K:  This is like when homosexuals and their more attention-hungry supporters in the music community suddenly started urging people to boycott Danelectro (maker of guitars and guitar effects) a couple of years ago because its current president donated money to the campaign fund of a congressional candidate who opposed gay marriage. My reaction was, "What, I'm supposed to punish an entire company, one with a storied history, and its associated service and retail firms just because its current president exercised his  political rights?" No, I don't think so.

A:  I am in agreement with her point about government intervention, but after that she kind of lost me. She tries to tie all the other happenings regarding this issue into that one innapropriate governmental situation. 

First, it is not opinion. It is not Coke vs. Pepsi. If Mr. Cathy had stated that he could not abide inter-racial marriages, proudly stood against them, and used his wealth to lobby against them - Americans would have lost their minds. However, go back 50 years ago and such actions would have been acceptable. To stand against Homosexual marriage is still a somewhat acceptable discrimination, but it is at a turning point.

Second, if Mr. Cathy were just an Archie Bunker mumbling his discriminations, it would probably not affect my going to chic fil a. If he wants to believe that the voices in his head forbid him from being a homosexual... fine. However, he is a person with considerable means and is using those means to fight against equality for others. His opinion is not personal; he works to make it universal. MY supporting his companies puts money in his pocket to work against equality, so I cannot in good conscience support his companies with my dollars. To the author, people like me have been suckered into the fascism of the mainstream press and are bullying poor Mr. Cathy's company. She tacitly admits that I and the Muppets have the right not to go to chic fil a... but we are still being manipulated by fascism if we do. Nonsense.

Me:  "that one innapropriate governmental situation"

Yeah, like "that one time" the sun came up in the east.

Let's not forget that this whole flap did not come about because of anything that Chick-fil-A suddenly started doing. It became news because a political figure arbitrarily decided to use the power of his polity's "legal" monopoly on "permitting" peaceable commerce, fully backed up by same polity's "legal" monopoly on enforcement, in order to punish an unpopular political viewpoint.

I've got no beef--so to speak--with anyone who would boycott Chick-fil-A because of the politics of its ownership. Personally, to the exact extent that the company attempts to use the political system to remove choices from peaceable others, I myself find it contemptible without excuse. (No, I do not accept the "everyone else is doing it" excuse.) But nor do I give a pass to the mayor of Boston for making a unilateral decision that effectively--"legally"--shuts a business down overnight, in the complete absence of anything that can conscionably be called a "crime". Now Chick-fil-A can certainly weather such an attack, since its business is nationwide, but if this had instead been a local business, the mayor's action may well have completely destroyed--destroyed--it.

There is no comparison between the *potential* harm that Chick-fil-A *might* cause by turning away some of its customers (and I still have yet to see evidence that they have ever done that) as any matter of free, even if bigoted, will, and the very *actual* harm done by a political figure by unilaterally and without any sort of "mala in se" justification, destroying overnight a business' "legal" sanction to do business. Anyone who would equate those two things because of some pet peeve with the arrogance/bigotry/scruffiness/religious affiliation/etc. of the private party involved, should just stop pretending to advocate for a free society and openly admit to accepting fascism.

Would it have been okay for the city of New London, NJ to seize Susette Kelo's land and property simply because Kelo belonged to a militia, or if she used racial epithets to make her case in court? How about if she was affiliated with "the Tea Party"? Or perhaps "OWS"? Look, if any one of these "factors" would make it okay for the state to harm someone that nobody contends harmed anyone else, then ALL of those "factors" would be equally justifiable--and with enough time, THEY ALL WILL BE. The only way to have a free society is to vigorously protect the very people that you find most repellent.

Most people are grown up enough to learn how to live around people who disagree with them. Then there are those who just can't stand it, and have to "do something" about "those people". Thus was born politics.

A:  No, a political figure made an innapropriate move to a "flap" that was already occuring. Few people who are boycotting Chick would think it is appropriate for a goverment official to try to stop Cathy's stores from opening. Also, the boycott is not really in response to Cathy's remarks... that simply brought the awareness. Cathy has a right to his bigotry... people have a right not to give him money which he actively uses to harm their lives. I really can't see why that is such a bizzare idea.

Me:  Maybe my mileage varies more than most, but I've grown quite weary of all the "serves 'em right" comments I've seen. (FWIW, I also find much of the "defense-of-Chick-fil-A" rhetoric to be equally annoying in that oh-so-sanctimonious way that Team Red/Team Blue players seem to get whenever "their team" gains a momentary technical advantage...rhetoric that vanishes in a hurry when the time inevitably comes later to chide their own teammates for the same offense. It's not about the principle--only about the gameplay advantage.)

And what's most infuriating is that the political system which made ALL this possible (both the license rescinsion and the promise of legal favors and leverage which make lobbying inevitable) will suffer nothing for any of this. The problem isn't that this political figure made "an inappropriate move"; the problem is that the power of "his" office makes it possible for it all to happen in the first place--and again. *That* will not change. Even in the event that "the people of Boston" decide to punish him by not re-electing him or even removing him from office, whoever his replacement becomes will have the same threat and power at his (or her) disposal. Successors may declare piously that they would never do such a thing--and maybe that is true--but they'll never give up the option.

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