Tag Archives: Mayor Menino and Chick-fil-A
By Jack Kelly
As you may be aware, the Georgia based company Chick-fil-A has become engulfed in an urban firestorm based off of Chick-fil-A’s President Dan Cathy recent statements on the legitimacy of gay marriage. Cathy stated in an interview with the “Baptist Press he was ‘guilty as charged’ in support of what he called the biblical definition of a family.” Boston Mayor Tom Menino (my former boss) sent a letter to Cathy stating, amongst other things;
“When Massachusetts became the first state in the country to recognize equal marriage rights, I personally stood on City Hall Plaza to greet same sex couples coming here to be married. It would be an insult to them and to our city’s long history of expanding freedom to have a Chick-fil-A across the street from that spot.”
Additionally, Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno said “that unless the company comes up with a written anti-discrimination policy, Chick-fil-A will not open its first free-standing restaurant in the city as it plans to do.” This stance received support from Chicago Mayor and President Obama’s former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel
As expected, the eruption of furor, both for and against Chick-fil-A has gone viral, as did Mayor Menino’s letter. Supporters of Chick-fil-A, somewhat rightfully argue that someone’s opinion should not preclude them from a right to open a business. To a certain degree, an element of truth resides in this opinion. Without boring you with nuanced zoning law, essentially, if a building is zoned for a particular business, from a legal standpoint it is challenging to halt the progress of that business. However, ‘good luck’ getting a prompt visit from ISD (Inspectional Service Department) for a routine inspection for the occupancy permit. Also, there better not be any type of bugs that the health department may find ‘look similar to mice’ and order a full scale cleaning with additional hurdles attached before having the ability to open.
The point is this: What is legal and ‘hassle free’ are two very distinctively different concepts. But the philosophy behind the controversy is much more compelling. Does a Mayor have a right to halt a business based on an opinion, even if that opinion is deemed racist or discriminatory? And what sort of statement can be considered ‘discriminatory’ enough to be considered for the halting of a legally functioning business?
As previously noted, supporters of the Chick-fil-A chain will argue that Mr. Cathy, however crass in his opinion of speech, should not be sanctioned based off of that speech if he has not broken any law. They will cite the 1st Amendment as their philosophical and legal foundation. And they are correct to do so.
In America, you have a right to burn a flag if you so choose. You also have a right to join a Neo-Nazi organization and you have a right to put a Swastika bumper sticker on your car. American citizens are protected to say any awful, hateful and hurtful thing we wish. However, as with all matters in life, any reaction shall garner the equal and opposite reaction, thus balancing the discrimination.
In this case, Mayor Tom Menino and other’s such as Mayor Emanuel, are using their freedom of speech and bully pulpits’ of their respective offices, to affirmatively tell Mr. Cathy that he is not welcomed in their cities. If Mr. Cathy would like to sue, he may and most likely could win such a case, based off of his violated freedom of speech. But such a case would be long and costly and in the end, simply not worth the time.
Supporters of Mr. Cathy may say that both of these Mayors are over reaching their boundaries of elected office. I would argue the opposite. If the people of Boston and Chicago are troubled by the actions of Menino and Emanuel, then they can exercise their freedom of speech and ‘flood’ the Mayor’s office and other elected leaders with letters of complaint. Furthermore, they may use their democratic rights’ to help fire Menino and Emanuel from office during the next election.
So ultimately, from a constitutional and moral standpoint, Mayor Menino of Boston and Mayor Emanuel of Chicago are dead right!
From Chick-fil-A to Chuck-ha-Doin!!!
“translation-Mr. Cathy, Screw”