The Intolerance Fallacy in the Chik-Fil-A Controversy

It’s no secret to non-liberals that lefties, for all of their shouting about close-minded conservatives, are the most intolerant, close-minded people on earth.

The irony is sublime, albeit annoying,  but I do think it’s important that conservatives don’t get mixed up in what I’ll call the intolerance fallacy.

Hot Air did an interesting piece about why liberals are so intolerant, related it to the squawking over Chik-Fil-A.

But the conversation is more nuanced than just saying, “Well, liberals are only tolerant of their views. You need to be tolerant of ours.”

Yes and no.

Tolerance is necessary for a democracy to function. I tolerate your First Amendment rights to say whatever you want.

But defending the right of Dan Cathy to say whatever he wants doesn’t mean that what he says doesn’t have consequences.

Everything we say has consequences.

You have the freedom to say whatever you want, but I have the freedom to respond.

If a CEO like Cathy says something offensive and we find out that his business is engaged in behavior we don’t agree with, it’s our right as citizens to respond however we choose.

It’s not a shot to public discourse. In fact, it’s an enhancement of it.

That being said, if you say something and believe something that negates the freedoms and rights of other people, I don’t have to tolerate that.

If we did, then the civil rights and women’s suffrage movements would have been pointless.

Liberals, progressives in particular, have set a dangerous precedent when it comes to public discourse. If you do or say anything we disagree with, we’re going to bully you into submission.

That’s unhealthy for our democracy, but it’s their right.

On the other hand, the Evangelical right is on the wrong side of history when it comes to gay marriage. Within the next 25 years, gay marriage (or at least civil unions) will be legal just about everywhere and anyone who opposed them will look like the racist bigots of the 1960’s.

You have a constitutional right to say whatever you want, but you don’t have a constitutional right to live in a consequence-free environment.

Conservatives believe in the power of the market. If a company does something you don’t agree with, don’t go there.

That’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Governments, on the other hand, act differently. Their intolerance of alternative views, in this case, are a violation of law and ought to be.

If I want to open a KKK surplus store in Harlem, the lawmakers in New York theoretically can’t stop me.

For Rahm Emmanuel and the group of mayors who have said they will prevent Chik-Fil-A from coming to their cities, that’s a violation of our freedoms and is a dangerous, Fascist step toward oppression.

Perhaps more importantly, most Chik-Fil-A stores are franchises, bought and run by small business owners with no affiliation to Cathy at all, other than they buy the rights to use the company’s namesake and its products.

People forget that. Most of those stores are small businesses. The employees there are just trying to make a living. If they could work somewhere else they would.

For someone to wait an hour and a half in line at a Chik-Fil-A yesterday, only to verbally assault a 19-year-old clerk for being a bigot, is utterly reprehensible and not in the spirit of America.

But again, the Supreme Court protects hate speech under the First Amendment. He has the right to say whatever he wants.

Back to the point though, I don’t have to be tolerant of your intolerance.

Christians have plenty of reasons to feel as though their religious freedom isn’t the same as everyone else’s. But this would be like a Muslim extremist saying he shouldn’t be jailed for stoning his wife because his religion says he can.

If your religious beliefs inhibit the rights of other people, I don’t have to tolerate them, nor does anyone else.

You have a legal right to espouse them, but others have a legal right to act accordingly.

It’s a slippery slope, one that lefties tend to abuse by bullying others into submission.

This is a case, though, where both sides are right to some degree. Cathy has a right to say whatever he wants, and government has no right to inhibit his ability to grow his business as a result.

On the other hand, you or I or anyone else, has the right not to go get a chicken sandwich if we don’t want to.

That’s why we live in the greatest country on earth.

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