Say what you like about Glenn Greenwald, but he tends to be pretty good about sticking with his issues regardless of personality. I’m a little more surprised by the L.A. Times.
I assume about everyone is familiar with the way that Chik-Fil-A has been opposed by Boston and Chicago mayors for taking a stand against gay marriage. Here’s Greenwald taking a whack at Rahm Emanuel:
Should government officials be able to block businesses from opening or expanding due to disagreement with the political views of the business’ executives? Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel evidently believes he should have this power . . . .
. . . .
Obviously, it’s perfectly legitimate for private citizens to decide not to patronize a business with executives who have such views (I’d likely refrain from doing so in this case). Beyond that, if a business is engaging in discriminatory hiring or service practices in violation of the law — refusing to hire gay employees or serve gay patrons in cities which have made sexual orientation discrimination illegal — then it is perfectly legitimate to take action against them.
But that is not the case here; the actions are purely in retribution against the views of the business’ top executive on the desirability of same-sex marriage . . . .
. . . .
It’s always easy to get people to condemn threats to free speech when the speech being threatened is speech that they like. It’s much more difficult to induce support for free speech rights when the speech being punished is speech they find repellent. But having Mayors and other officials punish businesses for the political and social views of their executives — regardless of what those views are — is as pure a violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech as it gets, and beyond that, is genuinely dangerous.
Indeed. And now, here are the editors of the Los Angeles Times going after the Boston mayor:
As both a private citizen and a prominent public figure, Menino is welcome to abstain from fried chicken sandwiches and urge others to do likewise.
It’s a different matter if he attempts to trample the free-speech rights of others by using the power of his office to fight against a business license for Chick-fil-A. Menino suggested that it would be appropriate to block the chain from opening in Boston because Cathy’s views amount to discrimination. That would rightly apply if Chick-fil-A were to refuse service to gay customers; the city has a right and an obligation to prevent discriminatory actions against its residents and visitors. But there’s no evidence that any such thing has occurred.
Menino referred derisively to Chick-fil-A’s possible plans to open a restaurant along the city’s Freedom Trail, considering Cathy’s stand on marriage freedom. That too misreads law and history. It was the freedom to express politically unpopular views and to oppose such views that the Founding Fathers fought to establish. Boston used to be known as the prudish place most likely to ban anything outside of a set of strait-laced moral beliefs. Without freedom to express once unpopular viewpoints — in this case, full civil rights for gay and lesbian couples — Massachusetts wouldn’t have become the first state to recognize same-sex marriage.
Menino sent a letter to a landlord saying the city wouldn’t much like it if Chik-Fil-A was located there. But it’s not like local government has any ability to hassle businesses or landlords. There’s no pressure!
All I can do is say: good going, folks. It’s nice to see support for free speech even when you don’t like the content.
UPDATE: SteveMG makes an excellent point in comments:
The key and largely unlooked point in this matter, it seems to me, is that if corporations don’t have any rights – as many on the left believe – then the government could indeed forbid Chick-fil-A from building in their cities because of the views of the owner. Or for any other reason.