The outlines of the latest Free Speech Clown Car Review are pretty familiar by now. Dan Cathy, the COO of Chick-fil-A, was asked his opinion on homosexual marriage, and he, being a good Christian man, said he was agin it. This should not have been an astonishment, for it has pretty much been the mainstream position of Western civilization from Moses down to the Obama of about three months ago. But a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, as the fellow said, and so who cares anymore? That man with all the chicken has clearly DEVIATED, and he must be CORRECTED.
Now boycotts are things that folks like to do from time to time, and we do not like to deny them their little amusements. But boycotts are harder to pull off than they look — conservatives face-planted with their boycott of Disney, and the homobifiers now are unlikely to establish in the minds of the general populace any necessary connection between “gay oppression” and the eating of chicken sandwiches.
This being the case, enter gummint coercion. The mayor of Boston, and then Chicago, allowed that Chick-fil-A would not be allowed to sell their bigoted chicken within their precincts, and then a bunch of other people who were still under the impression that this was supposed to be a free country said, “What the heck?” and the mayoral tyrannatots climbed down.
I call them tyrannatots for the tyrants of old used to lop off heads and make pyramids out of the skulls, and they would raze entire cities, and salt the earth, and these guys want to use onerous zoning regulations to keep a guy from selling a primo chicken sandwich in Boston or Chicago.
But they are still evil. Let’s keep this in perspective. The old tyrants wanted to use the right fist of power in order to control everything, and the new nanny tyrants want to smother us all under the wet mattresses of therapeutic inclusivity . . . in order to control every thing. Liberty is just as gone in either case, but at least in the latter instance you can get fabulous decorators.
“Decorators? Are you serious, man? Did you just use a gay stereotype at the expense of a designated victim group?”
“Well, yes I did.”
“Didn’t you know what the fines are for that?”
“Well, no, I did’t know there were any fines for such things.”
“Well, ever since Congress passed the the Free Speech Defense and No Backchat Act, the fines have trebled for any speech that might make somebody else uncomfortable. Where you been?”
Well, I was daydreaming about how long it would take Patrick Henry to get arrested if he were to go on one of the those all-day Washington, DC tours.
The thing that made this complicated for many Christians is an argument that they don’t know how to answer, and this is because we weren’t thinking six chess moves ahead a few decades ago. Here’s the argument. Suppose Chick-fil-A was refusing service to blacks. Wouldn’t the public interest require government intervention in that case? And if the government can intervene with one form of discrimination, then why not with another? Hmmm?
The word discriminate is a verb that requires context before determining whether it is a good or bad thing. Discriminate against what? Why? Against whom? Gay is not the new black. Being homosexual is sinful, and being black isn’t. This kind of argument assumes that if an employer declines to make a compulsive gambler his bookkeeper then next thing you know he will be turning away hardworking and thrifty Asians who want to work for him honestly. I guess the argument makes sense, if the light is poor, and you squint. I guess the argument makes sense if you assume that being a thief and being Asian amount to more or less the same thing. If a patron of a restaurant returns a salad to the kitchen because of the leopard slug in it, the next thing you know he will be returning perfectly good salads! And where will we be then?
What is happening is this. Back in the day, when the owners of private businesses were sinning with them (excluding blacks, for example), the government seized the moral high ground, and stepped in, turning the sin of bigotry into a crime. And now that they are there, well-ensconced in our private affairs, they have decided, while they are at it, to turn any righteous acts of discrimination into crimes also. In short, we have the racists of yesteryear to thank for a bunch of this.
Also, incidentally, I am illustrating these principles by talking about open discrimination against particular customers (signs in the windows), which was not anywhere close to the case in this Chick-fil-A business. What happened there was that someone in senior management expressed an opinion that ran contrary to the current Approved Thought, and panic ensued. If Dan Cathy thinks this way, then at some point this might lead to action, and if it leads to action, then it might be an illegal action, and if it might be an illegal action, we have to act now, people!
So what should Christians have done, back in the civil rights era? Am I saying that Billy Bob’s BBQ should have had the legal right to remain a “whites only” joint?
Criminalizing sin and folly is always a dangerous thing to do. Where do you stop? And once you have realized you can’t stop, you will wind up — as we manifestly have done — criminalizing the refusal to go along with sin and folly.
So what the government should have done back then (federal, state, local) is set an example in every area that they were responsible for. All public services should have been, and needed to be, absolutely color blind — restrooms, public transport, public agencies, schools, military, etc. That would have been influence enough, if Billy Bob wanted to continue to be an idiot, to bring about the necessary social (not legal) changes over time. And it would have brought about those changes without placing the caprice of secular government in charge of the definition of morality. We chose this restaurant, we read the menu, and we ordered it. But choking it down it harder than we thought it would be.
The fact that something was outrageous does not mean that heavy-handed law is capable of fixing it. And having doubts about the law’s ability to fix sin does not constitute approval of the sin. There used to be “Negro travel guides” that would let African American families know what towns were friendly, where they could stay, etc. Imagine a Christian black family traveling across the Christian South, and having to use one of those things. It is heartbreaking.
But it is also heartbreaking when a contemporary Christian black couple wants to keep their B&B business going, but they can’t, because of the legal ramifications of some homo-couple with their flame on showing up. It is heartbreaking when a black Christian photographer declines to record the marriage ceremony of a same-sex couple, is taken to court, and loses the case.
Now anybody who cannot see how the legal solutions to the first problem created this second problem is simply not paying attention. Because of how we solved the first problem (not because we solved it), we are smack in middle of the second problem. The two issues are plainly connected, and if we want to solve them biblically, we have to think in terms of principle. And you can’t think in terms of principle when you don’t have any.