I am a big fan of putting the panic button just a bit further out of reach, so that we do not smack it too often. The case of the week is clearly Chik-fil-a. It is within anyone's right be to homophobic and self-righteous.* It is within anyone's right to boycott or support a firm run by a guy who is homophobic and self-righteous.** It is certainly fine for someone to boycott firms that donate to anti-gay causes.
* I was always put off by the very vocal "hey, we don't work Sundays" policy that reminded me of how narrow-minded people could be since Sabbaths vary, but that is just me.
** And yes, I think it is homophobic and self-righteous because it requires the usual selective reading of the Bible which has all kinds of obsolete crap in it that we ignore, including slavery and horrific rules of war and so on.
But it is clearly wrong for Mayors to say that Chick-fil-a is not welcome in their towns since that would be a violation of a homophobic chicken kingpin's rights. People can boycott because they are offended by someone's speech--the first amendment does not restrict offense. But it does restrict government from punishing people and firms (since firms are apparently people, too) for saying stupid stuff.
More importantly, this convoluted controversy of the week distracted people from the big story: A Bush appointee ruled that the Defense Against Marriage Act is unconstitutional. Turns out equal protection under the law means something.
I will try not to use all of Chris Rock's writings as totemic, but the idea that we should chill a bit when folks over-react to stuff is pretty darned good advice.
Update: Not all funny people are professional comedians:
But it is clearly wrong for Mayors to say that Chick-fil-a is not welcome in their towns since that would be a violation of a homophobic chicken kingpin's rights.
I disagree. A Mayor is just as entitled to express his opinion as the homophobic chicken kingpin. It would only be wrong if a mayor used the power of his office to take action against the homophobic chicken kingpin. To my knowledge none of the mayors in question have done that or even proposed to do it.
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