Friday, July 27, 2012

Crossing the Line: Chick-Fil-A and our responsibility to protect opinion

Someone is crossing the line of separation between state and religion, and it’s not Chick-Fil-A.

or many years, the mainstay of my public writing was “Opinion.” My weekly “Op-Ed” column for the Tampa Tribune ran in several local editions and – occasionally – on the main editorial pages. Sometimes my thoughts even garnered national attention. It constantly amazed me (and still does) how many people care to read what I think….

So I’m all about the right of people to hold, express, and argue on behalf of, their opinions.
But there is a difference – or at least there is supposed to be – between sharing personal opinion (or commentary) and reporting the news.

Unfortunately, very few media outlets (talk radio, television, websites….) make a clear distinction anymore between NEWS and COMMENTARY. In fact, I believe it’s true to say (and this is just my OPINION) that many news outlets do their best to make the line between the two as fuzzy as they possibly can.

Consequently, it’s very difficult for an increasingly uninformed public/electorate to tell the difference. The result has become a talk show industry that features talking heads who present themselves as serious journalists, and a news industry that interjects so much opinion that the public has become cynical regarding its ability to gather information and report without bias.

Share your opinionCONTROVERSY: All this – above – comes as my preview for a few brief comments on the current Chick-Fil-A brouhaha:
  1. Chick-Fil-A President Dan Cathy is entitled to his opinion regarding what he believes the Bible says about human relationships. He can write, speak, lobby and pontificate to his heart’s content.
  2. Other people are also at liberty to agree, disagree, lobby, argue and share their ideas regarding God’s position on topics such as gay marriage.
  3. And, most importantly, each one of us has the right to either eat at Chick-Fil-A or not eat at Chick-Fil-A. It’s our choice.
Personally, I not only love Chick-Fil-A chicken, but I love the fact that the restaurant stays closed on Sundays and there’s never a question of an employee having to choose work over church. The Cathy family happens to stand a fair distance to my “right” when it comes to their understanding of Christian faith and practice, but I’m not going to boycott their business because we don’t agree on how we interpret the Bible!

CROSSING THE LINE! However, when  Chicago city Alderman Joe Moreno said Chick-Fil-A can forget about getting a permit for any new locations (“I’m not gonna sit on the sidelines and allow them to come in when I know in my heart that they believe in discriminating against gay people.” – CBS This Morning) then someone is crossing the line of separation between state and religion, and it’s not Chick-Fil-A.

The last thing America needs right now is for people in elected public office to attempt to shut down opinion in the name of “political correctness.”

The Cathys don’t discriminate in hiring practices, nor do they discriminate in delivery of service. They’re entitled to their views regarding marriage, and the public is entitled to either agree or disagree, and to patronize or not.

Come on, Chicago, we can do better than this - DEREK

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