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home : opinions : opinions February 5, 2016

8/1/2012 11:00:00 AM
Chick-fil-A: Free speech goes both ways
Free speech is an American value. We shouldn't settle for anything less.

Cal Thomas
Tribune Media Services

Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy is in hot water with the LGBT community because he committed the cardinal sin in an age of political correctness: Thou must not speak ill of anything gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgenders wish to do.

In an interview with the Baptist Press and later on a Christian radio program, Cathy, whose father, the philanthropist Truett Cathy, founded the company, defended marriage between a man and a woman and when asked about the company's support of traditional marriage said, "Guilty as charged. We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit." Cathy believes American society is rotting (and where is evidence to the contrary?) because the country has turned away from God.

That was it. Cathy did not say he would deny someone with a different view than his the right to eat in or work at any of his fast-food restaurants, which would violate the law. He did not say anything hateful about them. He simply expressed a deeply held conviction rooted in his Christian faith.

The reaction tells you everything you need to know about certain liberals who believe every sort of speech, activity and expression should be protected, except the speech, activity and expression of evangelical Christians.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said he would try to deny Chick-fil-A's application for permits to open restaurants in that city. Now that's discrimination. Menino wants to ban Chick-fil-A in Boston, not for discriminating against customers or employees, but because of its owner's beliefs, a threat he has since backed away from. Does Boston have "thought police" who might be ordered to investigate whether other business owners already operating in the city hold similar views? I'll bet there's someone at Durgin-Park who holds similar views. What about a player for the Boston Red Sox? Better follow them to see if any of them go to church.

Maybe Mayor Menino would like to force business owners in the city to testify before an official panel of grand inquisitors and then deny operating licenses to anyone who believes traditional marriage should be the norm?

In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said, "Chick-fil-A's values are not Chicago values." Are Chicago values represented by the anti-Semitic firebrand Louis Farrakhan with whom Emanuel is going to partner in hopes of reducing the number of homicides in his city? Are Farrakhan's anti-Semitic and anti-gay sentiments somehow more palatable, more of value, than Dan Cathy's support of marriage and family?

The Weekly Standard found a video posted on the Nation of Islam's website of a Farrakhan speech two months ago in which he blasted President Obama for endorsing same-sex marriage. Farrakhan said Obama is "the first president that sanctioned what the scriptures forbid." He added, "...sin is sin according to the standard of God" and "the Bible forbids it."

That goes a lot further than Dan Cathy.

The Jim Henson Company has decided to pull its Creature Shop toys from Chick-fil-A and donate profits already made to GLAAD, the media-monitoring group that promotes the image of LGBT people. I knew Jim Henson when we both worked at the NBC-TV station in Washington in the mid-1960s. While we never discussed politics, I don't think at the time, at least, he would have wanted his characters, which appeal to everyone, involved in a cultural and political battle.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Senator Rick Santorum, both also former presidential candidates, have called for a show of support for Cathy. They want people to eat at Chick-fil-A restaurants on August 1.

This is more than an economic battle. It is a First Amendment issue. Freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Constitution. Dan Cathy has a right to his opinion, so does Farrakhan, so do we all.

The real "war" in this country is not only against the supposed civil right of nontraditional marriage. It is a war against conservative Christians and a denial of the same rights the LGBT community claims for itself.

Free speech is an American value. We shouldn't settle for anything less.

Readers may e-mail Cal Thomas at tmseditors@tribune.com.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, August 6, 2012
Article comment by: Dale Rose

@fair and balanced

It isn't too difficult to tell where you get your "news and information" aka fear and prejudice, from.

Who is forcing you to "accept" anything? Have you stopped "following your own values" in favor of anything you don't agree with?

If you don't want to be "scrutinized" don't say anything, and don't do anything, then you have a fair chance of not being scrutinized.

It's a whole new ball game from 20-30 years ago, don'tchaknow. Humanity is becoming less and less of a Club, i.e. everyone can be a member, no matter what FOX "news" may tell you. You're going to have to get used to that, I'm afraid.

And finally, I would like you to consider what this world would be like if we could simply snap our RushFoxHannityCoulter (aka hate and divsion) fingers, and imagine what the world would be like if we excluded all the contributions made to the world, by the people chick fil a is so adamantly opposed to.

Moreover, wouldn't it be nice if the aforementioned altruists could snap their fingers, and have all the actual homosexuals appear with a big red H on their foreheads. I'd bet the farm that none of them would snap anything.

Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012
Article comment by: Discussion Not Emotion

Oh, and Cal?

Nice job using the Bible against the gay community. That's a really effective way of garnering support for your position by tweaking the heartstrings of conservative Christians.

That's really low.

A free society doesn't restrict personal liberties because it offends religious sensibilities...

Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012
Article comment by: Discussion Not Emotion

Cal Thomas is echoing the sentiments of bigoted conservatives everywhere. He can't even come up with a unique spin on the conservative right's positions.

This is not about free speech. Let's be clear about this. The problem is that many conservatives don't seem to understand that free speech extends in both directions.

When General Mills threw their support behind same-sex marriage and gay equality, conservatives and evangelicals decried the action bitterly, boycotting General Mills products and lambasting them in the press. And that's their privilege.

See the point there? Both sides have the freedom to speak their mind and support or boycott as they choose. I don't really recall liberal groups arguing that conservatives were trying to censure General Mills' free speech prerogatives.

But, in a reverse situation, conservatives are crying foul when Cathy's bigoted comments and financial support are used to fight equality for gays, and receives an outpouring of criticism for it. In THIS situation, apparently "liberals" are trying to stop free speech....at least, that's the interpretation of conservatives.


Cathy can voice his opinion. He can use his company's financial resources to fund whatever cause he deems appropriate. Those are his rights. No one is trying to take those away. But other Americans are just as free to express their criticism of the man and boycott the company for being bigoted and close-minded.

Many Conservatives/Republicans/evangelicals (speaking in broad terms, not generalizing)really like to cry "Free Speech" to the heavens when Americans criticize them when they express their prejudices and bigotry, because they really don't seem to understand that the free speech liberty extends in both directions.

Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012
Article comment by: Winds of change

Which biblical definition of marriage are we going by? The one that includes multiple wives (Esau, Jacob, David, Gideon, Solomon and others)? One that involves wives and concubines (Abraham, Gideon, Jacob, Solomon and others). One that allows incest (Isaac, Esau and others)? Should we require victims of rape to marry their rapists as the Bible requires? If we stick with the biblical requirements regarding marriage, men would own all their wives' property, widows with children would have to marry their deceased spouse's brother, spoils of war would include any surviving virgins which would be awarded to the soldiers, and slaves could be assigned other slaves as spouses.

I think times have changed, don't you? If you agree, it's time to accept that any marriage tradition is subject to change. And it will. Within 10 more years the acceptance of the LGBT community in this country (now in the narrow majority) will be significant enough to change our current perception of marriage.

Posted: Saturday, August 4, 2012
Article comment by: wendy fink

Chick-fil-A: Hyp-O-Crite
Yes, it is their business, and they have a right to free speech. However, if they are true Christians, why don't they focus on offering better wages, quality medical insurance, and paid vacations to all their employees? This is just ugly self-righteousness conveniently disguised as Christianity.

Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012
Article comment by: R J

What happened to "home of the free"???? How about " ALL men are created equal"????? What a pile of dung.

Posted: Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Article comment by: FAIR & BALANCED?


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