I was reluctant to join the fray regarding the uproar that quickly developed when the CEO of Chick-fil-A stated his opinion that same sex marriages were contrary to his religious beliefs.  An argument can be made that a business owner should not interject his personal views on such a controversial topic into his business; but, then if that were a hard and fast rule, I would be out of the blogging game.  Obviously, I believe that a business owner has the same freedom of speech rights as anyone else and should be free to express himself without putting his business in jeopardy.

As a staunch supporter of free speech, I can no longer refrain from commenting on the over the top reaction to his stand on this social issue.   I disagree with his opinion and have publically supported same sex marriages in my post “Marriage Is More Than An Institution”; however, as a free speech advocate, I fully support his right to express his opinion even when I disagree.   That is the point of having the right to our freedom of speech.   If we were only free to say what is acceptable to others then free speech would cease to exist.

One of the problems, as I see it, is that people confuse words with actions.   The CEO was not trying to prevent same sex marriages or suggesting that he would not welcome same sex couples to his restaurant, he was simply expressing his personal opinion on the subject.   This is the same overreaction that perpetuates much of the political correctness abuse in this country.   When you fear the words of others because you find them to be offensive or threatening to your point of view, the reaction is to stifle the message by destroying the messenger.   Here, those that feel threatened by the views of this CEO feel the need to punish him and damage his business with protests, demonstrations and a general campaign of their own brand of intolerance in order to suppress his right to speak freely and as a warning to those that might also want to similarly express themselves.

I believe we need to encourage an open discourse where everyone can freely express diverse opinions without fear of reprisals or intimidation and also have a society that embraces its diversity.   Those who were protesting need to question if taking away someone else’s right to free speech is really the best way to protect their right to be treated equally?   For me, the answer is no since it comes down to a simple truth that everyone’s freedom is diminished if anyone’s rights are taken away.

On Monday, Joe offers some information about Social Security benefits in “Social Security And You, Part 1”.