I'm no Glenn Greenwald fan, and I understand if you don't agree with what he's saying about the attempt to keep Chick-fil-A out of Chicago and Boston, but if you don't agree with his argument, you have to at least admit that the quid pro quo could actually happen. And what then?
If you support what [Mayor Rahm] Emanuel is doing [in Chicago], then you should be equally supportive of a Mayor in Texas or a Governor in Idaho who blocks businesses from opening if they are run by those who support same-sex marriage -- or who oppose American wars, or who support reproductive rights, or who favor single-payer health care, or which donates to LGBT groups and Planned Parenthood, on the ground that such views are offensive to Christian or conservative residents. You can't cheer when political officials punish the expression of views you dislike and then expect to be taken seriously when you wrap yourself in the banner of free speech in order to protest state punishment of views you like and share.If socially progressive officeholders establish this as a legitimate governmental approach to business licensing, how is the war going to proceed? It isn't just that red-state mayors and governors will feel entitled to ban gay-owned or pro-Planned Parenthood businesses -- it's that their side is far more united in anger and vindictiveness. When the dust settles, who will have banned more businesses: a few liberal-leaning mayors and governors -- or the entire Bible Belt? What would Rick Perry do with a precedent like this? Or Bobby Jindal? Or Ken Cuccinelli if he wins his gubernatorial campaign? Do we really want to find out?
I'd never eat in a Chick-fil-A and I absolutely think individuals should shun the place. But I think Greenwald may have a point -- legitimizing the notion of government bans in these circumstances (i.e., in the absence of real evidence of legal discrimination) may not be a principle we'd want to see carried through universally. (The best-known bit of evidence that Chick-fil-A discriminates in hiring has been declared a fake by the company, though the company ought to be watched carefully.)
I see the counterargument: this is like anti-black discrimination; society has to declare it beyond the pale. I try to imagine the reaction if the mayors were trying to prevent, say, a branch of the notoriously racist Maurice's Barbecue from opening a branch up north. (Hell, even Maurice Bessinger's brother recoiled when Maurice's began flying Confederate battle flags and selling racist merchandise.)
So I'm torn. My first reaction was to cheer what Mayors Menino and Emanuel are trying to do. But -- taking this out of the realm of principle -- I suspect there'll be a war, and it won't end well. Two sides can play this game.