The XX Factor

No, Sarah Palin, Chick-fil-A Boycotts Aren’t Suppressing Free Speech

Protesting Chick-fil-A.

Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP/GettyImages

Anyone who has passed junior high school civics really should be able to understand the legal logisitics of the Chick-fil-A situation without breaking a sweat. The First Amendment allows the owner of the company to say whatever hateful things he wants about gay people. It also allows people who disagree to do so by writing letters, protesting, boycotting, calling him names, mooning him, whatever the muses tell them that doesn’t involve violence. Anti-gay folks are also allowed to stuff their faces with fried chicken until their hearts go out to show how sincerely they hate the queers. The ability to fight without violence over homosexuals and chicken is surely what the Founders intended, and we should honor them by letting it all hang out.

Alas, not everyone has the firmest grasp on the situation. And if that someone is Sarah Palin, she sure isn’t going to let facts get in the way of speaking her mind as if she’s an authority on the subject. Palin went on Greta Van Susteren’s show Tuesday night and made both herself and the host look like fools by conducting a discussion based on the presumption that if you don’t give Chick-Fil-A your money, you’re violating the owner’s rights.

A choice Palin quote: 

Well, that calling for the boycott is a real—has a chilling effect on our First Amendment rights. And the owner of the Chick-fil-A business had merely voiced his personal opinion about supporting traditional definition of marriage, one boy, one girl, falling in love, getting married. And having voiced support for kind of that cornerstone of all civilization and all religions since the beginning of time, he’s then basically getting crucified.

Let’s be clear; Palin isn’t talking about city mayors who really are violating the First Amendment by trying to revoke Chick-fil-A’s license to do business on the grounds of ideological difference. Palin specifically references calls for a boycott as having a “chilling effect” on the First Amendment, which means she’s earnestly suggesting that there’s some clause in the First Amendment that makes it illegal for people to criticize your opinion, once uttered. But fear not haters of homophobia and of fried chicken everywhere: You are not actually required to eat at Chick-fil-A in order to preserve the constitutionally-protected right of bigots to spew their bigotry.