Saturday, August 4, 2012

What this isn't about

In the last couple weeks, I've seen some horribly ugly conversations play out on Facebook and Twitter about the Chick fil-A debacle.  

Much like how the pro-gun world turned the theater shooting immediately into a 2nd Amendment issue, the religious right has turned the Chick fil-A situation into a 1st Amendment one.

It's amazing how those who fight so vehemently against some of the rights extended to others by the Bill of Rights and later Amendments seem to run to them just as eagerly when it suits their needs.

The Chick fil-A situation is not a 1st Amendment issue, and the theater shooting is not a 2nd Amendment one.  

Let me repeat that.  

The Chick fil-A situation is not a 1st Amendment issue, and the theater shooting is not a 2nd Amendment one.

The theater shooting is, on the fringes, a jumping off point.  About the fact that we need to have a discussion about the reasonableness of accessibility of high volume weapons.  About the lack of adequate controls and screenings.  About why there aren't reporting requirements for gun club owners who turn strange applicants away.  It isn't about anyone's right to take up arms in a militia.  It isn't about anyone's right to possess weapons for personal protection or hobby.  

Ultimately, as I've written before, this tragedy is not even really about gun control.  It's about our mental health system - which knew about the threat of this perpetrator - but did nothing - was not required to do anything - could not do anything.  That issue is far larger than gun control and has nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment.

It didn't stop a large group of people from leaping behind a sign and claiming protection from the Constitution though.  From immediately getting defensive about "my rights". 

If and when the time comes that we start having a real discussion about reasonableness in terms of accessibility to guns, I'm not convinced that those who stand behind the 2nd Amendment as an absolute will get their way.  Even Justice Scalia, a strict constuctionist if ever there was one, agrees that there are undoubtedly limits to a person's right to own weapons.  If he sees that, I highly suspect the majority of the court would as well.

The same thing has happened with Chick fil-A.  Those angered by the calls to boycott the company have stood on soapboxes proclaiming that this is a 1st Amendment issue.  I don't think that I've heard a single person say that the leaders of the company can't say what they want.  Or that the company can't make contributions to any organization they want to.  They can.  Absolutely.  

If every Chick fil-A store wanted to install signage against gay rights, they could legally do that.  The 1st Amendment says so.  No one has questioned their legal right under the Constitution to do or say anything.  This is absolutely not a 1st Amendment issue.

As has been proven time and again in this country, though, what is legal isn't necessarily right.  Or moral.  Or correct.  People often forget that women couldn't vote, that slavery was legal and that interracial marriage was against the law at one point.   

Fifty years from now, the issue of gay rights will likely have been legally resolved, just as women were given the right to vote, slavery was abolished and laws against interracial marriage were overturned.  This, at it's core, is a human rights issue. Not a freedom of speech one.  

History does not look kindly upon those who oppress others, even if their actions fit within the confines of legality at the time.

Just as the people in charge of this company have a protected right to say whatever they want, those who would visit their restaurants have a right to refuse to go there if they disagree with what the company does.

I will defend to my death that company's right to say whatever they want, to believe whatever they believe, to express that publicly.  What I will not do, however, is contribute my money to anyone that fuels hate-based organizations.  

It's my personal choice, just as it's theirs.  

I choose love.  I choose tolerance.  I choose to support my friends and family.  I choose to stand arm in arm with the LGBT community as they gear up for the biggest fight they've ever had this election season.  

I choose to boycott Chick fil-A.  

1 comment:

  1. I love your writing and your point of view!!!


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