The Chicken Inquisition spreads to San Francisco

The war against Chick-fil-A, in which several politicians of a totalitarian mindset have decided must be punished because of its CEO???s unacceptable exercise of his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion, has expanded to San Francisco.

Mayor Edwin Lee issued the following message via Twitter: ???Very disappointed Chick-fil-A doesn???t share San Francisco???s values & strong commitment to equality for everyone.???

Well, everyone except practicing Christians, of course.  Those people can be discriminated against and treated with the most vicious intolerance imaginable, as the mayor made clear with his thuggish follow-up Tweet: ???Closest #ChickFilA to San Francisco is 40 miles away & I strongly recommend that they not try to come any closer.???

(Emphasis mine.)  Or what, Mr. Mayor?  Will it be brown shirts and truncheons at the Chick-fil-A construction site?

Lee???s fellow inquisitor, Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston, apparently had a quick remedial education in the nature of American liberty, because after making some blustery threats to block Chick-fil-A construction in his city, he suddenly reversed himself on Thursday.  ???I can???t do that.  That would be interference to his rights to go there,??? Menino told the Boston Herald, referring to his threat to withhold licenses from Cathy???s restaurant on the grounds of ideological impurity.

Menino added, ???I make mistakes all the time.  That???s a Menino-ism.???  Ha!  What a knee-slapper!  Totalitarianism is hilarious, provided the correct people suffer.

Does that word ???totalitarian??? sound ugly?  Good.  It should.  That???s exactly what this is.  If you don???t like it, then stand up and oppose it, even though you may find yourself strongly disagreeing with the views of Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy about same-sex marriage.  The height of respect for freedom of speech is the defense of speech you disagree with.

When we discuss Menino, Lee, or Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, we???ve moved on to a very different topic than argument with Cathy, or even voluntary boycotts of his restaurant.  I???ve never been a big fan of boycotts myself, but people do business where they choose.  If they???re more, or less, inclined to eat a restaurant because of something its executives have said, then so be it.  Their decision can certainly be criticized, and that criticism can in turn be called into question.  That???s what debate and discussion are all about.

But we???re talking about high officials abusing the powers of their office, to punish a cultural perspective and religious beliefs they disagree with.  Chick-fil-A stands accused of no discrimination in its hiring or business practices.  The free speech they dislike was not profane or offensive in any way.  It???s worth noting, as the editors of National Review did when they spoke up against ???The Chicken Inquisition,??? that ???Mr. Cathy did not even target homosexuals, and his reference to being married to ???our first wives??? indicates that his criticism of the recent decay of marriage is by no means limited to the question of same-sex marriage.???

The treatment of Cathy by these thug mayors amounts to the abuse of official power to criminalize dissent.  The ???dissent??? in question is far from an extreme view held by a tiny minority ??? although, once again, the principle at stake would be no different if it were.

No one should be eager to sacrifice that principle, whatever their position on the issues of the day.  If you support the likes of Menino and Emanuel, but would shriek in outrage if an arrogant city official made a big show of denying permits to a company whose founder enthusiastically supports same-sex marriage, then ???hypocrisy??? is too mild a word to describe your position.  Neither is there any room for cutesy-poo euphemisms like ???Menino-ism.???  The correct term is very unpleasant, and should be welcome beside no American???s name.

Update: Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is not inexperienced when it comes to the intersection of politics and food, criticized Lee, Menino, and Emanuel in his weekly radio show.  Bloomberg said it’s inappropriate for officials “to look at somebody’s political views and decide whether or not they can live in the city, or operate a business in the city, or work for somebody in the city.”

Bloomberg is a supporter of same-sex marriage himself, but he won’t try blocking the construction of Chick-fil-A restaurants.  He’ll be a significant presence inside the restaurants after they’re built, but that’s another story.