Over at Facebook, I noticed a picture of Kermit and Miss Piggy marrying, with a caption about Chick-fil-A*. I can’t seem to find it, now — perhaps the person who posted it deleted it.
I confess, haven’t been following this story at all. But after the Muppets picture, I saw someone ranting about Chick-fil-A being denied business licenses because they were “against gay marriage.”
At that point, I posted to Facebook,
“Whether these Chick-fil-A people support gay marriage or not, are people no longer entitled to their own opinions? I mean, denying them business licenses? Really? Is this what we’ve come to:”Either fall in line or you will pay; we will destroy you…” for having a different opinion?
Whatever happened to “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
If this is true, if this bullying is true, then this is not my father’s liberalism, that’s for sure. It’s something very, very different.
Well, a lively conversation ensued in which it was pretty much agreed upon that if a business willfully inserts itself into a political issue, that’s “one thing” but if a business is forced to declare its political beliefs — and if that declaration can mean the difference between getting a license or not, that’s “something else.”
It’s fascism, actually.
But this Chick-fil-A story is something beyond a demand to declare oneself and face consequences — it’s even worse than that. Apparently the mainstream media has taken it upon itself (perhaps because the owners are Christian?) to define Chick-fil-A’s positions for it.
Get Religion’s Terry Mattingly tells the miserable tale of media malfeasance:
So, did you hear about that wild quote that the president of Chick-fil-A didn’t say the other day?
Here’s a piece of a CNN report that is typical of the mainstream press coverage of this latest cyber-skirmish in America’s battles over homosexuality, commerce and free speech (sort of).
(CNN) — The fact that Chick-fil-A is a company that espouses Christian values is no secret. The fact that its 1,600 fast-food chicken restaurants across the country are closed on Sundays has long been testament to that. But the comments of company President Dan Cathy about gay marriage to Baptist Press on Monday have ignited a social media wildfire.
“Guilty as charged,”, Cathy said when asked about his company’s support of the traditional family unit as opposed to gay marriage.
Now, one would assume — after reading a reference to the “comments of company President Dan Cathy about gay marriage” — that this interview . . . actually included direct quotes from Cathy in which he talks about, well, gay marriage.
In this case, one cannot assume that.
While the story contains tons of material defending traditional Christian teachings on sexuality, the controversial entrepreneur never talks about gay rights or gay marriage. Why? Because he wasn’t asked about those issues in the interview.
Read Mattingly’s whole piece, wherein he addresses the whole “well, they may not have said it but it’s what they meant, so what’s the big deal?” angle.
The big deal is simply this: the press put aside context and decided to paint this company as some radically-religious-gay-hating-entity and then let the forces of anger, hate and spite have their way with it. The truth is, one can be a Christian and still be sympathetic to some parts of the so-called “gay agenda” without signing on in toto. One can disagree on the issue of gay marriage — based on scripture, or thousands of years of tradition, or on natural law — without actually hating anyone. But the right to principled opposition is being erased, quickly, and the press is doing all it can to help erase it. We are losing the right to say, “I don’t think the same way you do; my opinions are different.” That matters, a lot.
This is our mainstream press — the people charged with the public trust — and it has moved beyond advocacy and into “search and destroy” mode.
This is not about being “right” or “wrong” on an issue. This is about menacing and bullying people into conforming or paying the price. It’s about the bastardization of the word “tolerace” in our society, to the point where the word no longer means “live and let live” or “let people be who they are”; the word has become distorted in a very unhealthy way. Someone’s a bigot? Let him be a bigot; like it or not, a man is entitled to his damn bigotry. Someone’s a curmudgeon? Let him be a curmudgeon. Someone’s a misogynist (or, conversely, a male-hater?) let them be! People are entitled to be who they are — just as a church is entitled to be what it is — free of government compulsion to be what they are not. We cannot “make” people be more loving. We cannot “legislate” kindness. A bigot, or a hater (of any sort) will eventually find himself standing alone, will have to figure things out for himself. Or, not.
If people are no longer entitled to their own opinions, or to think what they think, then we are not free people, at all. Period. Full stop. That’s a fundamental as it gets.
Moreover, where does the “punishment” spiral stop? The press declares Chick-fil-A “homophobic” (a dishonest word) and then the local governments start penalizing them for it; Jim Henson’s outfit stomps off. What next? Will people against gay marriage start boycotting Muppet stuff? Pyres of Elmo in support of Chick-fil-A’s right to be itself?
Hey, anyone has a right to boycott or protest anything, but is it right — is it just — to effect a boycott at the behest of a press so overt, so obvious in its intent to identify-and-harass the boogeymen of their passionate loathings?
Shall honest people consent to such manipulation? Further, can justice-minded people be comfortable with a government interfering with a business on the basis of its opinions?
This reeks of fascism. And frankly, these are acts born out of insecurity, not security, in one’s own position. It is bringing a sledgehammer to a fight, because you cannot trust your own argument.
I came across Mattingly’s story right after reading this piece at The Catholic Thing
But distinctions do matter. We were once allowed to be what we held. Catholics were Catholics. Jews were Jews. It was all right. We now have an overarching “law” that tells us that we cannot be what we are. The university, once a place that respected distinctions and diversity of ways of life, is now an engine that allows nothing but its own definition of diversity. And diversity means that nothing can be diverse.
Quite right, and quite timely. Read the whole thing.
(*I don’t know when I have hated a business name more)
UPDATE I: Former CBS News writer Deacon Greg must be getting weary of writing “what were you thinking” to one MSM news group after another.
More from Volokh
UPDATE II: Okay, here is what I think: free enterprise “conservative” people who are tired of the hysteria surrounding this Chick-fil-A story should take pictures of themselves drinking a Starbucks or eating Ben and Jerrys (Indies should take a picture doing BOTH) and upload them on their sites or onto Facebook and Twitter. With the header…”Got Tolerance?”
Instapundit links here. Thanks, Glenn!
UPDATE III: I’m giving Antoine Dodson the last word.