CHATSWORTH, Calif.—Hailing from North Carolina, Chick-fil-A is nothing new to me. I grew up with it, and while I wouldn't go as far as to say I was ecstatic when it popped up here in SoCal, I was pleased enough, if for no other reason than it provided a delicious reminder of home.
I had never given much thought to why Chick-fil-A remained absent from the West Coast for so long, but now it's suddenly come into sharp focus like a blade of grass on an 80" HD flatscreen: folks don't like their kind 'round here.
A hot-button topic in the media of late, Chick-fil-A has found itself the brunt of some major fire and brimstone as a result of comments made recently by its president, Dan Cathy, in opposition to gay marriage. Back in N.C., of course, such views are about as commonplace as complaints about traffic are here—they're just par for the course, so to speak, and thus, never played into my decision-making process as to whether or not to patronize Chick-fil-A.
In these parts, however—progressive, liberal, outsider-friendly—you don't voice such opinions in public forums. At least, not unless you don't mind getting ostracized. And though this new uprising against Chick-fil-A is hardly rooted in California, perhaps the restaurant's nascent existence here has caused the largely civil liberties-minded Cali populace to zero in on it and raise the battle cries to a deafening roar they otherwise might not have reached.
Either way, all this hubbub got me thinking about the general situation, and it dawned on me that an ironic turning of the tables has taken place here, wherein Chick-fil-A's conservative owners have found themselves on the defensive end of the moral debate. And in following, they've invoked many of the same arguments those used to fighting persecution have always wailed. In other words, they're suddenly all in favor of the very rights they've vehemently attempted to strip away from others—such as, say, proliferators and consumers of adult material—for decades.
As if to underscore this theory of mine, a press release from an organization known as the Liberty Counsel (dedicated, it said, to "advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family") arrived in my inbox some days ago, announcing a pledge of support to Chick-fil-A and Dan Cathy "regarding Cathy's recent statement about supporting natural marriage as the union of one man and one woman."
So similar was the language of this release to one that might have been issued by the Free Speech Coalition, I thought it might be fun to just substitute a few names and objects of discussion to illustrate as much. That would look something like this:
"Liberty Counsel stands behind Hustler Hollywood and its CEO, Larry Flynt, regarding Flynt's selling of sexually-oriented materials.
Government officials from three cities have said they will ban Hustler Hollywood from opening stores in their municipalities.
'To deny business permits or zoning approvals to Hustler Hollywood because the privately-owned family business sells legal materials to paying adults who desire them is outrageous,' said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. 'Any city trying to ban Hustler Hollywood will not win this battle.'
Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno said that he will deny Hustler Hollywood from opening a store in Chicago's Logan Square. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told the Boston Herald that he would block Hustler Hollywood from opening a store in the 'Cradle of Liberty.' Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel followed suit.
'These government officials ought to be ashamed. For a public official to threaten denial of a right to do business because said business sells materials he does not like is the height of stupidity and intolerance,' said Staver. 'Unfortunately, their actions are typical of intolerant anti-adult activists. They will go to any length to silence the majority of Americans who believe that adults should have the right to view and utilize any materials they like behind closed doors,' he added.
Staver continued, 'The intolerance displayed by these government officials ought to serve as a wakeup call to the majority of Americans who support the commonsense understanding of free speech. If given the chance, these intolerant officials would silence anyone who supports free speech. They have placed extreme ideology over freedom,' Staver concluded."
Just a little food for thought on this Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, as former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee christened it. And speaking of food, where else can I go right now for a good Southern-style chicken sandwich?
(To read the original Liberty Counsel press release, click here.)