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Chicken Tolerance

The marketplace - not government prohibition of the expression of ideas - should determine whether a business succeeds or fails.

As someone who has cried at the weddings of loved ones who happen to be gay;

As someone who believes that all of us are created equal in the eyes of God and who strives at all times to treat everyone accordingly;

As someone who does not share the beliefs of Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy - someone, who, in fact, thinks he's dead wrong - on the subject of gay marriage:

I stand with Chick-Fil-A.

If we want to send a message to businesses we don't like, then we don't buy things from those businesses. No one is forced to patronize Chick-Fil-A.

But we don't stop companies from opening a legal business because we don't like the ideas expressed by its ownership. That's totalitarianism - fascism dressed up to look nice for the cameras.

"It's a free country," we like to say when somebody we disagree with expresses the intent to do something we wouldn't do. But we don't really mean it anymore.

It's not a free country when - because of your beliefs - the government can forbid you from opening your own business, where the marketplace is supposed to decide your fate, not holier-than-thou politicians and bureaucrats.

It is not the government's role to decide which businesses are fit to operate based upon the philosophy of the people who run it. That job is up to the businesses' potential customers. If enough people decide they don't want to patronize a business, it will be forced to close its doors.

But here's the prickly fact that has vexed totalitarians since the Dawn of Time: If a legal business competes fairly in the marketplace and provides a product or service that is good enough and provides enough value, it will more than likely succeed, regardless of the point of view of the owner. Which means that those who don't like what the business owner believes must tolerate the existence of the business. The bluenoses espousing "Tolerance" can't stand that.

The bad ideas of the business owner can be discredited through the same free speech the business owner has. And, most importantly, the bad ideas espoused by the business owner can be defeated at the ballot box through the election of politicians who will not enact those ideas into law.

But having to explain one's own ideas; to take the time to counter the ideas one doesn't like; to devote time to candidates and causes that counter the ideas one doesn't like - all of that is a lot of work. So we tend to look for the easiest way to feel comfortable - and that is to get the government to crush anyone who says things we don't like.

And that is the exact opposite of tolerance.

So long as Chick-Fil-A is operating its restaurants under the same rules, and complies with the same laws, as its competitors, it must be given an equal opportunity to operate where those competitors operate. 

If you don't like Dan Cathy's religious beliefs, don't give him your money. If there are enough people who agree with you, Chick-Fil-A will not be around very long.

If, on the other hand, there are more people who either agree with Dan Cathy or (more likely) don't care and instead buy his product for completely market-based reasons such as quality and value, you'll just have to tolerate that. Welcome to America.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Cienmarcos Geraldo August 03, 2012 at 02:07 PM
I agree. Government should not be deciding who is allowed to be in business on the basis of the beliefs of the owner. In years past, perhaps in the 1950's, it is very easy to imagine that government closed a business because the owner was Gay. People were jailed back then because they were Gay, people who had done no harm to anyone or society. I won't be patronizing Chick-Fil-A. But customers have the right themselves to decide who they patronize, and I have the right to stand on the sidewalk and let the public know what the owner supports with his profits. Marriage equality is the logic of our secular US Constitution. We forget that in times past in the US, being discover to be Gay could mean loss of job, loss of a license to own or run a business and even time in jail. We progress in the free exchange of ideas and or decisions as informed consumers. - Gary
Michael McCue August 03, 2012 at 05:56 PM
If you stand with Chick-Fil-A, then you stand with an organization that has donated over $25 million to groups that are actively working to deny or remove the rights of our fellow Americans who deserve to be treated fairly and equally under the law. Stand with Chick-Fil-A? Not me, no sir! I don't stand with multi-millionaire hate-mongers....ever.
Leigh Datzker August 05, 2012 at 10:40 PM
No one has proposed that CFA close its doors. The issue is the propriety of a fast food company making politically sensitive remarks, especially when trying to gain a foothold in California. The Unruh Civil Rights Act forbade the denial of business services based on various suspect classes and has been expanded in California to include sexual preference as well. Your thesis is misdirected based on the Unruh Act passed courageously in the 1960's in parallel with the Rumford Fair Housing Act. The concept is that you cannot discriminate based on certain civil rights bent on supporting the equality of all Americans.
Todd Moriarty August 06, 2012 at 07:27 PM
In 2008 when President Obama was running for office he stated that he believed in "Traditional Marriage". Why do we hold our fast food chains (business owners) to a higher standard than our Polititions? I believe that President Obama stated this in order to attain the Jewish and Christian voters. Dan Cathy stated his true belief. Integrity says a lot...state what you believe and stand by it. If you find that you're in error, ask forgiveness and show with action that you truly mean it. Thank you all for allowing me to state my thoughts.

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