Chicago’s Chick-Fil-A Fight: Bad Ideas, Bad Puns

The latest from the Chick-fil-A hawks: Mayor Bloomberg gives the thumbs down, and how to ban Chick-fil-A without violating the First Amendment.

chick-fil-a cow

 

Normally I try not to run a topic into the ground. Well, at least not over the course of a few days; I try to keep that cycle to at least weeks or months. But Chicago hasn’t gotten this much attention for its governance since… well, a couple weeks ago. Anyway, the backlash continues:

Mayor Bloomberg weighed in: “I disagree with them really strongly on this one… You can’t have a test for what the owners’ personal views are before you decide to give a permit to do something in the city.” At least some unhealthy food is still safe here:

Ah, but soda is not speech, not yet at least. But if money is speech, and soda is money, that suggests a possible recourse for Big Pop in NYC.

For the most part people have avoided bad puns, but not “Don’t Fil-A the First Amendment”:

Moreno would surely object to Cathy’s views, and argue that Cathy’s (and his company’s) support for anti-same-sex marriage groups has harmed LGBT people, including those in his district. In my judgment, Moreno is entirely correct about this. By fighting to keep bans on same-sex marriage intact in most states, and successfully repealing same-sex marriage rights in California, Cathy and his allies have inflicted real harm on millions of Americans. But this doesn’t mean that Cathy doesn’t have the right to express his views. And his donations to political groups, like his vocal opposition to same-sex marriage, are also protected free speech.

Matt Yglesias suggests a clever way around the First Amendment problem: zone out fast-food restaurants that aren’t open on Sundays.

I read a lot, but the range of what I read is inevitably curtailed, so the fact that I have seen little to no defense of Moreno on the left side of the aisle—obviously, there’s none I’m aware of on the right—doesn’t mean it’s not out there; it just seems terribly uncommon. This is the closest I’ve found, from Freddie DeBoer, and it suggests why even passionate gay-marriage advocates have little interest in such an action:

I just want to point out a simple similarity: when local politicians in Boston and Chicago use zoning or licensure or similar to ban Chick-Fil-A, they’re using tactics that conservatives have used for decades in the abortion fight. Not able (yet) to muster sweeping reform at the national level, they have taken to bending the rules and pushing the envelope at the local level, in thousands of discrete steps…. If you’re a liberal, you should recognize that, when people say that we need to adopt more of conservatism’s methods if we want to win, this is what they’re talking about. For good or for ill.

DeBoer is talking about, among other things, so-called TRAP laws that, because they cannot ban abortion, circumscribe it through indirect means. There was a surge of these in the middle of the last decade; Illinois’s didn’t pass, but it did in Indiana. This is a bit different, since the Chick-fil-A fight has more to do with shaming than access. The question of whether one side should adopt the other’s playbook, from “Alinskyite tactics” to zoning fights, is an old dilemma, but one politicians should approach with caution—the abyss also looks into you.

 

Photograph: Pat Hawks (CC by 2.0)

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