Former Arkansas Governor and Fox News host Mike Huckabee is now calling for a National Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day on which consumers can show their support for the company whose president, Dan Cathy, has received criticism for his “Guilty As Charged” anti-gay marriage stance. Huckabee wrote on the Facebook page for the event (which has now been removed, though the statement remains on his webpage) that Cathy has been “smeared by vicious hate speech and intolerant bigotry from the left.”
I was one of the people who wrote about Chick-fil-A, so I guess I’m an intolerant bigot. I’m also, apparently speaking from the left—is there no such thing as being economically moderate and socially liberal? Thanks for letting me know.
Huckabee compares Cathy’s outspoken support of “traditional values” to a company who, for example, puts out an advertisement with a rainbow Oreo in support of gay equality. On one hand, he has a point: perhaps we should be judging companies simply on the quality of their products, without commenting on the political statements they use to advertise these products. On the other hand, he’s missing two key issues in this debate.
First, I can’t speak for any of the other critics of Chick-fil-A, but the initial cause of my outrage wasn’t anything that Cathy said. Cathy’s “Guilty As Charged” statement was rather a response to the outrage from those who, like me, criticized his company’s massive donations to groups devoted to passing legislation that would forever ban gay marriage. It is one thing to boycott a company based on the values that the company’s advertising appears to espouse, such as the call from One Million Moms to boycott JC Penney after their Father’s Day ad featuring two gay dads. It is quite another thing to refuse to spend your money somewhere that you know will use it to further a political agenda with which you disagree. If informing consumers about where their money is going is now hate speech, then I guess we can kiss consumer transparency goodbye.
The comparison to JC Penney brings me to my second point: if those who have attacked Chick-fil-A are intolerant bigots, then so is anyone who has ever attacked a company for speaking out in support of gay marriage. I’m not going to rest on the “they did it first so it’s ok” argument, because that wasn’t even acceptable in preschool, but I am going to point out that it is unfair to only defend freedom of speech in cases of speech with which you agree. If Huckabee truly believes that companies shouldn’t be criticized for the statements they make, let’s hear him defend JC Penney as well.
Cathy has a right to express his Christian values. He has a right to go to church every Sunday and a right to pray to whichever god he chooses. Equally important, though, is the right of anyone who so chooses not to go to church and not to pray. The same amendment that guarantees us the freedom of speech, that guarantees this news website the freedom to print anything that isn’t libelous, and that guarantees Cathy the right to go to church also guarantees that religion will never be written into our legal code.
The term “traditional values” has been used to mean “Christian values,” but the desire for religious freedom was one of the most fundamental motivations behind the foundation of this country. There is a crucial difference between a church and an organization that seeks to outlaw gay marriage because the bible disagrees with it, and to call those of us who oppose the latter intolerant bigots is to assume that we hate religion. I, at least, don’t hate religion, or religious people. I just care too much about my religious freedom, and that of my Jewish friends and my Hindu friends and my Buddhist friends and my Muslim friends and my atheist friends, and, yes, my Christian friends, to knowingly contribute to the campaign to instill one particular religion into our legal code.