God Hates Fags, You're Going To Hell, Eat Mor Chikin

This image is the height of dishonest political discourse and is designed to impugn the name of everyone who disagrees and to tar everyone who disagrees with horrible motives. Is it possible for good people to disagree on this issue? Apparently not. Polls show that religious blacks oppose same sex marriage. Are they all fag haters? Anybody going to post an image depicting blacks in a similar manner? (BTW, the use of "fag" in a disparaging manner, just like the use of the N-word, is ugly. It is debasing and does nothing to elevate conversation.)

This is bullying of the first order. This cornering technique seeks to create submission with threaten and shame everyone else into lockstep. It plays on the good nature of all involved, because, after all, nobody wants to be thought of as a hater. It is similar to a public execution and says to everyone else, 'See what's coming your way if you dare to cross us.' It is reminiscent of the mafia of old, 'Nice little livelihood you have there. Be a shame if something bad happened.'

Chick-fil-A's president, Dan Cathy, recently said:
We’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage. And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude that thinks we have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.
There are plenty of franchisees who don't share his view. But apparently that doesn't matter. Just lay waste to everything and everybody that doesn't agree.

It also seeks to place a wedge between good people and their religion. You are either just a fag hating blind follower of some old-fashioned religious claptrap, or you can be sophisticated and smart and progressive. The choice is simple. And, oh by the way, if you cling to that silly religious notion about traditional marriage, the compassion crowd will bring hell on earth to your doorstep and destroy your life.

This is about as intolerant a technique as exists. Cathy said he thought God might judge America. Lots of people think that sort of stuff for all kinds of reasons. He didn't say "God hates fags" or "you're going to hell". You can infer anything you like, but you could just as easily say he has great compassion and prays daily for the gay community. He might believe what is presented on the mocking signs, but at least let him say it before you assert it or attribute it to him.

And so what if Cathy believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman? Do the stores refuse to serve? Are they checking marital status at the door? In every way their behavior is respectful and decent to every customer. But that isn't enough? So you think he's a dolt. Don't go. But he's not even allowed to voice his opinion? Whatever happened to the 'if you don't like what's on TV change the channel' crowd? When it is your ox being gored, civility goes out the window. Civil discourse if for the other guy; only one side is expected to be respectful and courteous.

So The crowd passing this graphic around Facebook thinks that because Cathy has a different view - and the temerity to express it - he and his company needs to be destroyed? This mindset also prevailed in California over Prop 8. Even those who never spoke out but who just contributed even small amounts of money to pro-Prop 8 groups were targeted for financial destruction. It is a 'my way or the highway' mentality. What if the other side behaved that way? What if they treated you this way? What if they really were as intolerant as this image depicts? What if they gathered together and made scurrilous accusations and sought your ruination?

Clearly you cannot only shop at places that share every single belief you hold. If absolute agreement is the criteria, a Christian would not be able to shop at a Muslim's store since it seems likely that they won't share every view. How about a Jew? People in other denominations? The atheist? The guy who believes in aliens? What if he also believes the earth is literally 6,000 years old? Should he be publicly ruined for that? Isn't this an un-American way of thinking about disagreement?

Hell, some environmentalists think Gaia is going to judge America for CO2 emissions and will wipe the infection of mankind from her skin. How is that different than God judging the earth? Should everyone that disagrees with that seek to destroy every environmentalist's livelihood? Ben and Jerry's holds some different views. Anybody trying to destroy their world – and everyone who works for them? Anyone telling them they shouldn't set up shop in a city because they don't share the city's values? It is unnerving that so many think that this sort of distortion and destruction of lives is ok.

And don't mention that the very crowd that is shouting "homophobia" because this guy thinks God might judge the homosexual, is more than happy to not only judge his behavior, but to dole out some good 'ol fashioned wrath. It is as though they are following the prescript, "But I commendeth your love toward us, and if you anger me I will soon pour out my wrath upon you, and spend my anger against you. There is no escape from the holy wrath. Today is Judgment Day."

This is not an argument for one side or the other with regard to the marriage issue. This isn't even about gay marriage per se. It is about whether the guy has the freedom to speak his mind. Whether there is such a thing as religious freedom. Whether distorting his words is honorable. Whether the Eat Mor Chickin graphic above elevates or degrades discourse.

One pines for conversations that are better than this sort of straw man, mean spirited, take no prisoners argumentation. Bring good, civil arguments to the table so that all can have intelligent discussions and not resort to this hayfork and torches mentality. This suggests a carelessness of thought and is embarrassing - forsaking discussion of the issues for demonization and character assasination.

It might be that those you disagree with are not all just bigoted, selfish, hating, mean-spirited, homophobic, sexist, intolerant, xenophobic, fascist, stupid, greedy, racist, and misogynistic. Could it be - is it possible - that they just have a different point of view? Different visions? Those passing around this graphic seem to suggest that if one is not in lockstep with their ideas they are therefore a hateful bigot.

Good people can disagree - at least they should be able to. And one of the best things about America is that disagreements can exist without forming brute squads to round up all those who think differently.

Here's a news flash: All of the people that are on the fence or opposed to the redefinition of marriage are not gay bashing, homophobic, bigoted, hating monsters. Stop acting like they are. Employ some nuance. Join a conversation and stop the name calling.

[You don't know how I feel about this issue. We may agree or disagree. And if you think you have divined my position on this issue based on the previous discussion, I doubt that you have.]

UPDATE: Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno says he will block a Chick-fil-A permit. He said,
It's a very diverse ward-- economically, racially, and diverse in sexual orientation.
Well, I guess he can only be so tolerant. He is not tolerant of Cathy's views and is willing to use the power of the state to harm those he disagrees with.

UPDATE: Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino has vowed to keep Chick-fil-A out of Boston. He said,
Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population.
Uh, they haven't. Any reports that they do not serve or treat customers differently? Cathy is a devout religious person. Has he denied service to atheists?

So as a government employee, Menino believes he can deny permits because he disagrees with the applicants beliefs:
If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult -- unless they open up their policies.
So he wouldn't have trouble if a Muslim denied permits to atheists. Or Jews. Or Christians. Or if a mayor who supports traditional marriage denies a permit to a company that has a president that expressed his view in support of redefining marriage?

UPDATE (7/27): James Taranto:
The irony of exclusion in the name of inclusion apparently escaped Menino.
UPDATE (7/28): Jonah Goldberg:
You're free to participate in the American system, free to say whatever you believe, do whatever you want, just so long as you agree entirely with liberals on everything.
UPDATE (7/28): Mark Steyn:
Chick-fil-A does not represent “Chicago values” -- which is true if by “Chicago values” you mean machine politics, AIDS-conspiracy-peddling pastors, and industrial-scale black youth homicide rates. But, before he was mayor, Rahm Emanuel was President Obama’s chief of staff. Until the president’s recent “evolution,” the Obama administration held the same position on gay marriage as Chick-fil-A. Would Alderman Moreno have denied Barack Obama the right to open a chicken restaurant in the First Ward? Did Rahm Emanuel quit the Obama administration on principle? Don’t be ridiculous.
...this guy Menino isn’t the mayor of Soviet Novosibirsk or Kampong Cham under the Khmer Rouge, but of Boston, Massachusetts. Nevertheless, he shares the commissars’ view that in order to operate even a modest and politically inconsequential business it is necessary to demonstrate that one is in full ideological compliance with party orthodoxy. “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail,” Mayor Menino thundered in his letter to Mr. Cathy, “and no place for your company alongside it.” No, sir. On Boston’s Freedom Trail, you’re free to march in ideological lockstep with the city authorities -- or else.
Menino is happy to hand out municipal licenses to groups whose most prominent figures call for gays to be put to death. The mayor couldn’t have been more accommodating (including giving them $1.8 million of municipal land) of the new mosque of the Islamic Society of Boston, whose IRS returns listed as one of their seven trustees Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
As an exercise in sheer political muscle, it’s impressive. But, if you’re a feminist or a gay or any of the other house pets in the Democrat menagerie, you might want to look at Rahm Emanuel’s pirouette, and Menino’s coziness with Islamic homophobia. These guys are about power, and right now your cause happens to coincide with their political advantage. But political winds shift.
It’s easy to cheer on the thugs when they’re thuggish in your name.
UPDATE (7/29) Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago
Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the “values” that must be held by citizens of Chicago. I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval. Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city? Is the City Council going to set up a “Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities” and call those of us who are suspect to appear before it? I would have argued a few days ago that I believe such a move is, if I can borrow a phrase, “un-Chicagoan.”

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