Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hurt feelings a “human rights violation”?

“Chick-fil-A faces vandalism, ‘human rights violation’ complaints for defending marriage”

Almost as soon as I read the LifeSiteNews headline, I had to double-check the story.  I knew about the vandalism at the Torrance, Calif., unit, but … human rights violation complaints? Are you freakin’ kidding me?  I simply could not believe it — no, no, LSN had to be exaggerating something, or simply reporting one of the many bogus bits of information that spread like Captain Trips throughout the ‘Net (remember last year, when Jon Bon Jovi died in that New York hotel room — oh, waitaminnit, no he didn’t!).  Nobody could possibly be that petty and hysterical!

But no, the Civil Rights Agenda’s own website confirms the action, reporting sadly that “Chick-fil-A’s ‘intolerant corporate culture’ violates the Illinois Human Rights Act, which prohibits a ‘public accommodation’ from making protected classes ‘unwelcome, objectionable or unacceptable.’”  To get to the story, you have to click on a Photoshopped picture of a Chick-fil-A sign whose marquee proclaims, “YOU & YOUR GAY FAMILY ARE OBJECTIONABLE & UNACCEPTABLE”; the caption sullenly informs you, “Our lawyers are making us say: the above graphic is obviously a parody and what we believe LGBTQ folks see when they look at a Chick-fil-A sign.”

Not only will this story not die a natural death, it doesn’t appear even to be suffering a summer cold.  Could this be the year the left goes so far over the top that they lose all credibility even among those they purport to champion?

Of course it’s a frivolous waste of time.  The substance of the complaint is that “Chick-fil-A used to be one of [a gay couple and their daughter’s] favorite places to eat until Mr. Cathy’s latest statements were reported so widely.  Now, they feel completely unwelcome in the establishment.” [That's directly from the CRA website, and that's all they have on the matter.  I promise you, I'm not leaving anything out!]  Note that it’s not about anything anyone at their local restaurant did, as was the case with Denny’s problems with racial discrimination back in the early ’90s; it was, rather, what Cathy — an American citizen with the full protection of the Constitution, including the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and of religion — was reported to have said.

The IHRC, formed by the Illinois Human Rights Act (775 ILCS 5/1-101 et seq.), exists, according to its own website, “to adjudicate complaints of civil rights violation in housing, employment, public accommodations [such as restaurants] and financial credit”.  Under 775 ILCS 5/5-102.1, para. (b), which defines non-violations with respect to public accommodations, “the exercise of free speech, free expression, free exercise of religion or expression of religiously based views by any individual or group of individuals that is protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or under Section 3 of Article I, or Section 4 of Article I, of the Illinois Constitution, shall not be a civil rights violation.”

It’s not enough for Cathy to have said things that the media and various LGBT activists presented and interpreted as hateful.  It would not be enough even had Cathy openly said, in the manner of the vile Fred Phelps, “God hates fags.”  Now, if Joe Schmuckatelli, the manager of the Bedrock Chick-fil-A, saw two men holding hands and tossed them out on their ears while shouting obscenities, then there would be a case under IHRA.  And Cathy himself would probably lead the auto-da-fé by personally firing Schmuckatelli, while most of us in the pro-traditional marriage camp would be writing the equivalent of facepalms (“Thanks a lot, you jerk!”).

The point is that Cathy, whatever you may think of his opinion, didn’t surrender his right of free speech or his freedom of religion by dint of going into business.  Moreover, the law recognizes a distinction between Cathy himself and Chick-fil-A, which may be the Cathy family business but is not the Cathy family themselves.  And as others have pointed out, if you can punish a business for the owner being anti-SSM, you can punish a business for the owner being pro-SSM, or pro-abortion, or pro-whatever else is on the leftist agenda.  Can you imagine the fireworks that would shoot off if, say, Jacksonville, Fla., tried to run Starbuck’s out of town for contributing to Planned Barrenhood?

“Yes, but OUR position is good and reasonable; theirs is evil and irrational!”  However, the First Amendment isn’t contingent on opinions being good or rational, especially if your definition of “rational” is solely “whatever means of reasoning brings the politically correct result”.  The point is that under the First Amendment there is no such thing as “politically incorrect” speech or thought.  If you want to throw out UT sociologist Mark Regnerus’ gay-parenting study as “scientific malfeasance”, you’d better be prepared to burn Evelyn Hooker’s “The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual”, which sociologist and former CCNY professor Steven Goldberg once compared to “selecting a sample of 30 six-foot-tall women and six-foot-tall men and concluding that women are as tall as men.”

The idea that the couple suffered a human-rights violation because the media’s hatchet job on Dan Cathy made them feel unwelcome is much like a rear-echelon soldier demanding a Purple Heart because he got a paper cut carrying documents near a war zone.  It’s too out of proportion to the proximate cause; we’re tempted to mockery rather than sympathy.  “Oh, poor widdle baby, did your feewings get hurt?”

Sexual slavery?  That’s a human rights violation.  Human trafficking, ditto.  Ethnic cleansing, same.  Religious and political persecutions are human rights violations.  Having your dinner spoiled by the loud-mouthed liars and useful idiots of the press?  Hell, that’s another day at the office.  Cowboy up.

It would be nice if everyone respected everyone else, everyone told the truth with charity, and public debates were carried out without everyone demonizing everyone else.  But we’re not entitled to go through our lives without opposition, without ever feeling unloved or left out.  Sometimes, to paraphrase the Chorus at the end of Oedipus Rex, it’s all we can do to get through our whole lives unscathed.

Welcome to the human condition.  Original sin is a bitch, ain’t it?