The recent hullabaloo embroiling Chik-fil-A and its president, Dan Cathy, has been interesting to watch. One point that seems confused in the press and in common discussions is whether the boycott and letters from various pro-gay-rights city leaders are about the personal beliefs of a corporation’s president. This is a misconception. The problem is that over $2 million in Chik-fil-A profits have been donated to anti-gay groups.
Now legal experts are chiming in about Cathy’s constitutional rights. I must have overlooked the constitutional right to build restaurants wherever one pleases. I’ve seen businesses banned from neighborhoods, and even cities for reasons like “it’s a chain” or “it serves unhealthy fast food” or “it would divert profits from existing businesses.” Certainly “its profits fund hate groups” is as valid a reason. Those donations have the potential to affect policy and to be at least as damaging to a community as other businesses that are blocked from moving in.
More generally, this is my problem with the “you’re not so tolerant of views different from yours” standpoint. It doesn’t matter to me that someone thinks my views are wrong. I am perfectly tolerant of their beliefs, and fully support their right to hold them and to live their lives in accordance to them. What I strongly disagree with is any attempt to encode these beliefs into laws which affect those who may not share the same beliefs. When “I believe X is morally wrong” implies “I will put money towards making X illegal” I think we can fairly call that intolerance. Can’t we agree that no one should stand for this kind of intolerance?