Nobody in America would disagree that everyone has a right to free speech. Although, as demonstrated by conservatives who were gleeful by the Citizens United ruling, money is as much speech as speech is.
Therefore, I was disappointed to read the two articles in Tuesday’s edition of the Wheel essentially calling people that advocate against Dan Cathy’s anti-gay marriage comments as “intolerant,” or calling the proposed removal of Chick-fil-A from campus “censorship.” They are not and it is not.
For starters, what is really at stake when we talk about gay marriage? It’s not just not allowing two individuals who love each other to engage in a covenant of marriage already granted to a subgroup of a population (which is discriminatory enough, mind you). It is the loss of all the legal benefits of marriage, such as tax breaks, next-of-kin rights, adoption rights and even estate rights, amongst so many more.
Can you really tell a gay veteran that their partner is not entitled to their military benefits as they would have if the partner was a heterosexual spouse, only because they themselves are not heterosexual and did not marry in a way that the government sanctioned? Is that just?
Of course, Dan Cathy is entitled to his opinion. Likewise, I, like the entire Emory community, am entitled to rebuke his opinion. Much like money in elections is considered speech, money we spend on goods is speech of sorts.
This idea is actually the cornerstone of capitalism: we vote with our money, and the companies that get the most money thrive and succeed. If we disagree with a company, we can issue a boycott. This is how things work.
But Chick-fil-A shouldn’t be punished because of Dan Cathy’s opinion, right? I mean, it’s not partaking in the discrimination, and is not benefitting it.
You’d be wrong there. Chick-fil-A, through charitable organizations in its corporate structure, has donated millions to organizations against gay marriage such as the Family Research Council and the Marriage and Family Foundation, who then lobby Congress to pass anti-gay marriage laws. For context, the Family Research Council is actually considered a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Dan Cathy, and anyone against gay marriage, is entitled to their opinion. But when I purchase food at Chick-fil-A, my money (and our dining money as Emory students and consumers who eat there) goes toward Chick-fil-A’s profits.
If this money is then given to such groups, then yes, it is my problem. I am perpetuating it if I am eating at Chick-fil-A.
So again, I fully support Dan Cathy’s right to his opinion, and to his first amendment right to free speech. However, I have the right to disagree with it, and more importantly, the right to vote against it with my own purchase choices.
More importantly, I have the right to prevent my money from going to groups that actively oppose gay marriage and lobby politicians to prevent it from being law, also by not eating at Chick-fil-A.
The Emory community will make its decision in the end. Whatever it is, I will respect it and still make my own choices as an informed consumer. But please, don’t pretend that if Emory does choose to kick Chick-fil-A out, that that would be a travesty, or “censorship” or “intolerance.”
All it is is the Emory community expressing its voice, and making its voice heard. This is something conservatives, frankly, should love, given their near-universal adoption of the Citizens United ruling, which codifies this