Chick-fil-A and free speech

Teller (@MrTeller) on Twitter:

A clear little essay on Chick-fil-A and the 1st Amendment in Boston.

In addition to dealing with what the Mayor of Boston, and others such as certain Chicago Aldermen, have said on the matter, the linked piece is actually a clear and concise primer on Chick-fil-A and the First Amendment, and illuminates some very important points that I think many people simply do not understand…

Marc J. Randazza, a Constitutional attorney specializing in the First Amendment, writing at CNN.com:

Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, proudly proclaimed his opposition to marriage equality and drew flak from politicians and citizens nationwide, who said Cathy’s position made the chain unwelcome on their turf. Some of the condemnation crossed the line, offending the First Amendment. Some did not. Many don’t understand where the line is, and now a population already sharply divided over same-sex marriage is collectively less informed about the First Amendment.

The First Amendment protects you from government action suppressing your right to free speech. It does not protect you from private individuals’ negative reaction to your speech. As an extreme example: In my younger and more impulsive days, I punched out a guy who offended my then-girlfriend (now wife). He said he was exercising his First Amendment rights. I agreed and told him that I would defend him if the government messed with him, but the First Amendment didn’t protect him from a private punch. I broke a few laws that day, but I didn’t violate the First Amendment.

Similarly, the First Amendment does not protect you from criticism. Sarah Palin infamously took us all back a few steps by ignorantly criticizing the media for its negative commenting on her views. She said, “I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.” This statement is utterly wrong. The First Amendment does not protect you from scrutiny or criticism by the media or others.

Therefore, those claiming that the private calls to boycott Chick-fil-A have any First Amendment implications are wrong. Cathy put his thoughts into the marketplace of ideas, where they may be bought or rejected. He has no First Amendment right to our approval, or to our money for his sandwiches.

(emphasis added)

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