An introspective on the Position of Power, the Position of Influence, and the Position of No Accountability
Freedom of Speech; there’s just too much to be said on this subject. Basically I believe no one should be punished for speaking their mind. With that there is one condition where Freedom of Speech is really a scape goat for malicious and negligent behavior that promotes inequality. Does one’s right to speak freely (negatively) about the GLBT community create a clear and present danger to these politicians constituents? I believe the answer is yes. Chick-Fil-A has reminded us what a theocracy is and that is something none of us want to go back to. More and more over the past few decades corporations have boldly influenced our government with their social agenda. I read somewhere that Chick-Fil-A was an easy target for liberals. If the writer meant that Chick-Fil-A blatantly expressed its desire to influence the issue of Gay marriage in their favor, then yes, they painted it square on their own face. Perhaps what we liberals as you call us are concerned about is not you spewing your bigoted words across the airwaves but that your words, and your actions like funding anti-gay marriage legislation holds consequences of oppression could systemically ensue violence upon our community. There’s a valid claim there.
There are three parts to this story that I think we’re all missing. By identifying the players on the field it’s much easier to keep score. There’s the Position of Influence; the corporations whose financial profits make them able to support such anti-gay legislation. We’ve all had our belly full of this so I’m going to spare us all of Dan Cathy’s bigotry for a moment. Instead, let’s take a look at the “Position of No Accountability”. There are some affiliated with this company through licensing that would suggest they’re being demonized and unfairly counted amongst the flock of bigotry. Case in point, Chicago Chick-Fil-A Franchise owner/operator Lauren Silich. RedEye reported Silich made the following statement: “We are not a corporation – we are real people and taxpayers as each Chick-Fil-A franchise is independently owned and operated.” That’s very true. But as an independent owner/operator Silich has paid at the very minimum of $5,000 to the Chick Fil-A corporation. Referencing Chick-Fil-A’s corporate website franchise opportunities section which states “for an initial financial commitment of $5,000, selected franchisees (who we call Operators) are granted the rights necessary to operate a franchised Chick-Fil-A Restaurant business”. I’m no attorney, but what it should say is for $5,000.00 you can be associated with an incorporated group of bigots. Doesn’t this initial commitment of $5,000.00 to Chick-Fil-A enable them to make the millions of dollars in contributions to Anti-Gay Legislation? The simple and uncluttered truth is YES! Tell me Silich, how does this work? How do you suggest to your community that you’re not contributing to this company’s politically funded social agenda? Knowing full well what they support, where do you get the nerve to suggest you’re a tolerant individual who believes in the rights of the GLBT community? You can say you’re independent all you like; it’s true, you are. A good example of your independence is making the decision to continue to support a corporation that that promotes discriminatory anti-gay marriage legislation nationwide. And yet, in this same interview you stated you’ve “created 97 jobs this past year and our passion is building leaders for future generations, regardless of sexual orientation or beliefs.” How can this be knowing the corporation you pay your fees to holds the values that not only disagree but promote the intolerance of the GLBT community? On the day of accountability, like today, you can’t cry “I’m just a franchise operator”. Is there a clause in your agreement with Chick-Fil-A that clearly states the values of Chick-Fil-A is not the values of its operators? If so, please enlighten us. And can we all get real for a moment? Chick-Fil-A profits a lot more than $5,000.00 from these franchises. Who knows how much Silich has indirectly given to Anti-Gay legislation through the corporation of Chick-Fil-A. This is not only true for Silich, but every franchise owner/operator. This is the question that’s been on our minds for years, and we received “guilty as charged” as their answer last week straight from the horse’s mouth. Perhaps you should invite Dan Cathy to your establishment and reconcile your issues directly with him rather than harassing elected officials protecting the basic human rights of its citizens.
Taking a look at the Position of Power; these are the politicians whose sole responsibility is to serve the best interest of their constituents. Chicago’s Alderman Joe Moreno said in a recent interview that “this is the Civil Rights Movement of our time” and “to have those discriminatory policies from the Top Down is just not something we’re open to.” How incredibly bold and yes brave. We have Mayor Ron Emanuel re-enforcing Moreno’s position with the statement “Chick-Fil-A’s values are not Chicago’s Values, they don’t respect of our residents, our neighbors, and our family members”. Perhaps he’s talking about the very large GLBT community within Chicago. How revolutionary. Then we have, and I saved the best for last but hopefully not the last, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino who made public his letter to Chick-Fil-A. In it he states: “Now – incredibly – your company says you are backing out of the same-sex marriage debate. I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston.” How incredibly honorable; to have a politician risk his career to stand up for what he believes and what he’s fought so hard for.
I can only presume that Alderman Moreno’s belief is that a company that promotes this anti-gay movement can only hold the same principles in their business practices and therefore would be a disservice to his community creating a clear and discriminatory line in the sand. Mayor Rham Emanuel chose to follow the lone ranger in this fight against what will un-doubtably be a thorn in his side should he ever run for office again. And Mayor Menino remained firm on his belief and his states belief that all men and women are equal and should be afforded the right to marry whom they choose urging a business who disagreed with this belief to go somewhere else. Is this not what we’ve been asking for? To have men and women step forward and serve our community with integrity and hold the values that all men and women are created equal?
Rather than criticizing Menino, Emanuel, and Moreno, using the “Freedom of Speech defense” which is about as ridiculous as the “Twinkie defense”, perhaps we might say thank you to these men for having the guts to speak and act with resolve on the debate of equality. Shouldn’t we be asking our representatives in our communities why aren’t they taking the same position? Finally and most importantly this is not an Issue of Freedom of Speech. That’s just something the right wing uses when they’re out of viable talking points. These men are not blockading someone’s freedom of speech, they’re making a bold stand against businesses who fund discriminatory measures.
Mike Stewart/Associated Press