Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Freedom of Speech, Chik-fil-a, and Stone Throwing

You know, I don't really care if a company says it was founded on religious values.

I don't care if Chik-fil-a is closed on Sundays because that's a day of rest. I also don't care if the place we went for dinner last night has big feasts every evening of Ramadan after sundown. In fact, both of those things kind of make me happy.

It doesn't bother me to have businesses contribute to churches or vice-versa, as long as any attached strings don't reach into politics. It doesn't bother me that someone might want to say prayers in the storeroom of their store, as long as I don't have to pray with them (and they don't get preferential treatment to do so).

And I really don't care what any of those people do when they leave work and go home afterward, as long as they also promise not to care what I do.

Because that's where I draw the line. I don't care about any of that until it starts to infringe upon other people's rights. And, among those rights are - above all - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I don't want a company telling me (or anyone else) that I'm not worthy of taking the liberty of pursuing happiness in my life.

You see, when the fine folks were framing our country, they talked about three inalienable truths which they felt to be self-evident. And those were them. The three truths. Life. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness. End of story.

At no point did they say that there is an inalienable right to being bigoted or hateful. At no point did they say that giving money to hate groups which threaten the lives of others was an inalienable right. (Yep. The folks at Chik-fil-a have done that - although it probably doesn't show up on their ledgers that way.)

But, at the same time, those framer guys also never said that if you disagree with someone's business practices you can scream and yell and force them out of business. Instead, since the society they were crafting was to be capitalistic, they probably figured that people would simply not spend their money at places they didn't like. No demand = no customers = no income = no more business you don't like. Capitalism at one of its most basic levels.

Don't like a business? Don't do business with them. They'll either learn, or they won't.

Of course, this means that individuals have to take their own stands. It means that each time one of us wants something to change, we have to stand up for what we feel is right and good. And - since we've also got that whole "Freedom of Speech" thing going on - we can do that.

If we don't like someone's business practices, we can tell them so. And, if they don't like our way of life, they can also tell us so. That's the way it works since that whole "Freedom of Speech" thing also goes both ways.

Which is not to say that I think that people - and the companies they own/work for/represent can do anything and everything they want. After all, there are laws in the country expressly forbidding a lot of things.

In most places, there are laws against discrimination - especially in the workplace. Their are laws against causing others harm. There are laws against hate speech. (And, frankly, if you look at most religious texts you'll find that there are laws against harm and hatred there, too, although many zealot-types tend to forget that - but that's another topic.)

So, as people are either calling out in support of or opposition to Chik-fil-a today, I'm a little torn. I can see that there are people in favor of them taking a stand for what they feel is right. And they can do that.

But I, personally, am on the side of the people who think that they are a bigoted, misogynistic, homophobic blight on the surface of American culture. And I won't ever go there for food again. (Which is a big deal for me, because I honestly love their chicken sandwiches.) That's why I've joined with people to point out to online media that what Chik-fil-a's "supporters" are doing is using hate speech when they attack others.

But, to get back to my point, I don't care that Chik-fil-a is a company which prides itself on Christian values - after all, if I worked there I'd be thrilled to be guaranteed Sundays and Christian holidays off. Of course, that's because I'm Christian. If I were Jewish, would I be thrilled with that? Probably not. So I probably wouldn't work there.

I just wish that companies like Chik-fil-a who want to put their hands on the Bible to justify their hatred would realize what it means to truly be Christian, and stop throwing stones until they do.

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