Chick-Fil-A and the First Amendment
Chicago first ward alderman, Proco “Joe” Moreno has announced that he will thwart attempts of Chick-Fil-A to obtain a zoning variance so they can build their second Chicago area store. Chick-Fil-A President/CEO, Dan Cathy, has admitted that his personal belief is that marriage is between a man and a woman. Because that belief is obviously anti-gay marriage, our first ward alderman has taken it upon himself to declare that view objectionable and hence, retribution, a denial of the necessary zoning variance. The unemployment rate is 8.2%, and the U-6 rate closer to 15%, so where is the logic in denying a variance so the store is built, people employed, and sales tax revenue gained, not to mention property taxes paid. More importantly, a government official now inserts himself into a business decision of where to locate a business because of someone’s personal religious belief?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Chick-Fil-A already went through a similar situation in Boston, where Mayor Thomas Menino made it plain that the company’s planned store was not welcome on the Freedom Trail because of the CEO’s viewpoint. However, what Mayor Menino and our no less brilliant Chicago alderman fail to understand is that the point of the Freedom Trail and the vision of the Founding Fathers is exactly the right to express your views without fear of government retribution. The French philosopher, Voltaire, penned the famous quote that profoundly affected the philosophy behind our First Amendment:
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.
If people choose not to patronize a Chick-Fil-A because they disagree with Cathy’s personal view, that is their privilege, point being the individual made the decision. Mayor Menino and Ald. Moreno are treading into territory they have no business being in, and should be called out on it. It’s especially egregious here in Chicago, the home the Bughouse Square, the famous Square in Chicago, where people from all walks of life could get up on the proverbial “soapbox” and expound their views on any topic and issue. Taking bets that if you asked Ald. Moreno about Bughouse Square, he wouldn’t even know what it is.
Political correctness has long been the enemy of the First Amendment. Years ago, parents and teachers, taught values, and right from wrong based upon disapproving glances, along with reason and anecdotes (at least mine did). Government’s attempt to quell expression, e.g., McCarthyism, was dealt with severely. Today, companies live with intimidation (ALEC), and individuals are faced with personal and/or financial retribution when they support causes that are alien to some groups, or express their opinions. This is the America we’re living in today. Our Founding Fathers would be appalled.