Ah, political correctness. It never disappoints. Take, for instance, the latest eruption of civic broadmindedness brought on when the president of the restaurant chain Chick-fil-A professed his personal embrace, based on his religious views, of traditional marriage.
Outraged by the effrontery, the mayor of Boston and a Chicago alderman (Messrs. Menino and Moreno, respectively) immediately announced that they would ban the opening of the chain’s restaurants in their jurisdictions.
Never mind that Chick-fil-A had never practiced discrimination among its employees or customers, whatever their sexual orientation; it was enough for the mayor and the alderman that the head of the company expressed himself on this subject in a way that might give offense to those who disagree with him.
Alderman Moreno is especially instructive. Having earlier said he decided to pull the plug on the restaurant after learning about the company president’s “bigoted and homophobic comments” in a Baptist publication, Moreno has now pivoted, under pressure, to saying that he’s opposed to the opening of a restaurant in his ward because of “traffic concerns.”
There’s been an unfortunate unevenness in recent years in the way that the media generally have opined on free speech and First Amendment issues. In the case of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, for example, one has to look far and wide to find approving newspaper editorials, despite the fact that it was as pure a First Amendment case as has ever come before the Court.
Much of the media have also shown a kind of benign neglect when it comes to the myriad examples of campus “speech codes.”
This time, though, the nation’s editorialists got it right! From such journals as the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Boston Globe has come a virtual symphony of criticism of the words and actions of Menino and Moreno, and all of it based on the First Amendment. As the Times put it: “Public officials have a responsibility to carry out their ministerial tasks fairly and evenhandedly – and to uphold the principle of free speech – whether or not they like a business executive’s social or political stances.”
Makes one proud to be the head of a group like The Media Institute.
The opinions expressed above are those of the writer and not of The Media Institute, its Board, contributors, or advisory councils.