To the Editor:
I am not one to stand up for an organization like Chick-Fil-A. The statements of their CEO and the contributions of their company to homophobic groups are outrageous. But that cannot be the basis for a decision to remove their small franchise from Emory’s campus.
We are better than that.
Emory Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair said it best: “freedom of expression and an open exchange of ideas are central tenets of the Emory community”. Do many Emory students agree with me that the Chick-fil-a CEO is wrong? Yes. Do some feel outraged enough to not feel comfortable eating there? Certainly. But Emory College should not be the place where we make judgment calls about the opinions of others. Creating a ‘heckler’s veto’ of any company we decide is against our own personal, social and political beliefs would make Emory into place where only one view is the ‘right’ view. Such a move would be a step in the wrong direction, a step into the same kind of censorship that we see in Missouri and Tennessee where lawmakers want to ban teachers from saying “gay” in classrooms.
For those who are angry, upset, and simply don’t want Chick-Fil-a to remain, I urge you to heed the words of Justice Brennan in the controversial flag-burning case Texas v. Johnson (1989): “The way to preserve the flag’s special role is not to punish those who feel differently about these matters. It is to persuade them that they are wrong.” I’d go just one step further. Not only should we persuade and discuss, we must also listen.
Class of 2016
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Nobody’s censoring Chick-Fil-A or Dan Cathy. I think you’ve missed the point. They’re free to say whatever they want, and Emory has every right to respond by removing them from campus. Again, this is not a free speech issue. A community has every right to agree that a place like Chick-Fil-A does not share our values, and furthermore, works against them. You do not keep a cancerous mole on you because it has a right to grow. Sure it does have a right, but eventually it will spread.
The Emory community embraces its LGBT members full-heartedly. The administration has supported the LGBT community for a long time. Emory has shown that its values lie with the LGBT community. Chick-Fil-A serves to work against what Emory has built for the last 20 years. How many new LGBT students would feel welcome at Emory, knowing there was a Chick-Fil-A on campus. Chick-Fil-A represents anti-gay sentiments, and even if Emory believes in the LGBT community and what they fight for, Chick-Fil-A on campus muddles that message and works against it.
Your argument for censorship is the wrong way to go about it. Don Imus was censored for his “nappy-haired” comment about a woman’s basketball team. He was blacklisted from television and radio, not by the government, but by the private institutions. Why? Because it looks bad to have a racist on your channel. Emory should use the same logic, except I believe what Chick-Fil-A has done is worse. It’s contributed funds to dangerous gay conversion organizations and organizations that support capital punishment for homosexuals in Africa. The last part is the most disgusting thing Chick-Fil-A has done. And by Emory allowing Chick-Fil-A to stay on campus, they essentially tell Chick-Fil-A that it is ok to fund those sorts of programs.
(1) “Not a free speech issue?” Yes, it is. The business itself doesn’t violate any laws or itself have a policy that discriminates. All that’s left is its contributions to homophobic groups and the message sent out by its CEO. If monetary contributions is enough to be so against our Emory values to be forcibly removed from the campus, then why stop there? The Emory College Republicans support an organization that believes in almost the exact same ideology. Should they be kicked off University grounds?
(2) Your analogy to a cancerous mole doesn’t apply — the franchise itself doesn’t do anything besides make food for those who want it. It’s not actively spreading anything; in fact, it are the calls to remove it that make it a symbol of disgust. The people there don’t deserve such hatred and don’t deserve to be labeled “a cancerous mole”. While prejudiced people against gays ARE such evil, our Cox Hall franchise itself is not.
(3) LGBT students should feel welcome on our campus because of the wonderful people here who are open-minded and accepting. Our community is awesome because of our diversity; students who want to come to Emory can feel comfortable in that. The inaction of kicking Chick-fil-a off campus does *nothing* to change the people here. If to feel comfortable, you need anyone or anything that disagrees with you to leave, that is a standard our campus cannot accept.
(4) Lastly, your Imus example is seriously flawed. Did his radio station have the same standards of open dialogue and discussion, like our Emory University? No. As an institution of learning, even debating out views that are polar opposite to your own, we cannot act in a similar manner.
I hate the views of Chick-fil-a. I hate the things they are doing. But our initial reaction, to just remove them from our sights, is not the way to move forward. Let’s work together in the courts, in the legislatures, for the rights of gay men and women across the nation. The point of equality is that it is right. It is just. That equality will come as it has inevitably come for all minority groups. But we cannot push it in such a manner.
We must listen, so that we may persuade. *That* is how Emory moves forward.
I’m still going to eat some chicken.