It’s Wrong To Ban Businesses With Wrongheaded Views. But It’s Fine To Boycott Them.

How to Make Government Work
July 31 2012 5:22 PM

It’s Wrong To Ban Businesses With Wrongheaded Views. But It’s Fine To Boycott Them.

149447981
Chick-fil-A's contributions to anti-gay causes have triggered calls for both a boycott and a day of support.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

The politics of chicken sandwiches has never been more fascinating. It all began when Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy made clear his far-right views on same-sex marriage, and attention was drawn to Chick-fil-A’s significant contributions to anti-gay causes. That triggered a move to boycott the company by people—myself included—who said we shouldn't spend our dollars at a company with views so fundamentally at odds with our own. Then there was a countermove. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas called on all those who agreed with Cathy's narrow-minded views to eat at Chick-fil-A on Aug. 1.

The battle was only just getting started. Actor and comedian Steve Martin mocked the company in a tweet: "Had dinner at Chick-fil-A, then I married a man. There was something about that sandwich…"

Advertisement

But some reactions went too far. Christine Quinn, New York City Council speaker, suggested that perhaps restaurants whose owners had discriminatory views shouldn't be in the city at all. I haven't seen her suggesting the Catholic Church leave town, even though its views on same-sex issues mirror those of Chick-fil-A’s president. A New York Times editorial properly rapped her knuckles for her position.

There is an important line here. The folks whose views are at odds with mine or yours of course have the right to run their businesses, as long as they comport themselves in accordance with the law. They shouldn't be prevented from opening their shops and selling their wares. Government has no business telling them what to think or how to proselytize.

But we as consumers also have every right to take our dollars somewhere else. So much for the chicken sandwiches I used to love. And while we’re at it, there are a couple of other companies that I am thinking about leaving behind. Brawny paper towels are owned by the Koch brothers, who fund every far-right super PAC under the sun. I don't know if Bounty really is the “quicker picker-upper,” but I'm going Bounty over Brawny from now on. And I don't know if Koch-owned Angel Soft toilet paper is more squeezable than Charmin, but I will be buying Charmin.

Point is—they all have the right to make their goods and be here and proselytize all they want, but we as consumers have the right—I might even say obligation—to react accordingly and take our dollars to companies that will not support far-right causes we fundamentally disagree with.

Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of the state of New York, hosts Viewpoint on Current TV. Follow @eliotspitzer on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Jurisprudence

Scalia’s Liberal Streak

The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.

Colorado Is Ground Zero for the Fight Over Female Voters

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

Culturebox

Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
  Life
The Slate Quiz
Sept. 18 2014 11:44 PM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.