Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chick-fil-A

Dan Cathy of Chick-fil-a could have ducked and weaved his way around questions about his support of “Biblical” definitions of marriage.  But, instead he chose to stand his ground saying he doesn’t support gay marriage.  Well, good for him.  At least he has the guts to support his convictions.

Many around the web are now asking for a boycott of the Chick-fil-A restaurants across the nation.  There are a few locations in Michigan.  The response has been polarizing as you can imagine.  Others say that Cathy should be supported because he stands his ground and doesn’t hide in public relations no man’s land.  To boycott the restaurant is to be against free speech. 

But, Cathy made it an issue.  Those that will boycott the restaurant would perhaps have never known about the support provided to anti-gay groups either by the company or Cathy himself.  Their hard earned dollars would have continued to be spent at the restaurant so that some of those dollars could work against them.  It is almost like buying the gun that will shoot you.
But, the great issue here has nothing to do with Cathy’s support of anything.  It has everything to do with the political PACs that spend billions of dollars in political races throwing around a lot trash talk that isn’t supported. 

How is it that I can make that connection?  This seems a long ways away from keeping your name or your company’s name out of the political arena but spending lots of money to influence elections that will benefit you.  Can you see the connection now?
If the name of every person and company was known who donated to a political PAC, it would place a target on their company sales.  People who have a pet political agenda would boycott the companies because of its support of an opposing agenda.  But, companies can give money and other material support to organizations that are not required to provide a list of where the money comes from.  Unlike Cathy, many hide behind this wall of silence.

This is all the result of Supreme Court rulings.  It struck down campaign laws on the federal level and recently struck down laws on the state level that required full disclosure.  Even arguably the most conservative justice on the court disagreed with the ruling.  Anthony Scalia as recently as today during an interview with National Public Radio said that to understand political speech you must know who is speaking. 
In a community, an open discussion of the issues is important.  To have some that are involved in the discussion to be unknown is in violation of the political process.  We all condemned the “decisions made in smoked filled rooms behind closed doors” of many years ago.  Well, by not knowing who the supporters are of any speech means we are right back there. 

I am glad that Cathy has the guts to support his convictions.  I will have the guts also to not visit my local Chick-Fil-A for lunch, just because of his public announcements.  This is the way the process is suppose to work.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Where is the nation debate on guns?

The NRA has accomplished one of its goals, to keep guns “free” while squashing the freedom of speech.

Over the last week, the news has been filled with the shootings in Colorado.  A man was able to purchase four guns including two assault rifles that have only one mission: to kill as many people as possible.  He also purchased over 6,000 rounds of ammunition on line.  This same man was denied entrance or membership to a shooting range, because the manager could hear something in his voice. We can all assume that the manager that denied the shooter access is a pro-gun kind of guy. Twelve people were killed; scores wounded and even more lives traumatized forever.

What should happen after an event like this is a national discussion about guns and weapons designed to kill people.  But, there is has been near silence on the topic.  The NRA has worked so hard in the past with their campaigns of fear to their brotherhood of gun totters and spread their cash around to politicians like whiskey in a cowboy saloon that no one wants to start the debate.  If someone did, the advertising and campaigns about “freedom” would rage with their slanted view.

The freedom to bear arms has its place.  Even if you think that arms are guaranteed in the United States Constitution to support militias, that still makes it a right in our country.  Even lacking a Constitution that vaguely supports the right to bear arms, a Responsible Community should allow the ownership of guns.

With that in mind, there is no argument that can be made that the authors of the Constitution and those that supported its adoption ever thought that reasonable controls could not be placed on any of the rights, including the right to bear arms.  There are restrictions on speech, publishing, religion and other rights.  Can we not work at finding the balance between guaranteeing the freedom of arms and the safety of the community?

One argument that would arise, if the NRA’s strong arm tactics didn’t clamp down on speech, is that even absolute restriction would not have stopped the gunman in Colorado.  He would have found a way to get the guns anyway.  Perhaps that is true.  But, it would have taken longer.  This may have been enough time for those that would protect the lives and safety of people in the community to respond.  It may have also allowed enough time for the gunman, who was sane enough to make the purchases and develop a detailed plan to come to his senses.

Maybe enough time would have past to keep just this one event from happening.  The 12 people that died and the scores of others that were shot by him could have just enjoyed the movie.