Token Dissonance

Black & gay, young & conservative. A Southern gentleman writes about life and politics after Yale


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Right Quick: The Gun Bills

In the midst of the many hot-button issues facing America right now, the gun control debate is still producing its fair share of interesting developments. We’ve had Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s disturbing attempt to publically infringe upon the rights of private corporations that refused to bow to the liberal political agenda. We’ve also had freshman Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s winning response against government bullying. Meanwhile, Vice President Biden has tripled and quadrupled down on his peculiar insistence on shotguns being more easily handled than more popular AR-15s.

The last few months have seen much left-of-center focus on having fewer guns forms and a right-of-center focus on the many problems with “reasonable, common sense” fixes that fix little or nothing. As I’ve already written quite a bit on this topic, I won’t rehash old arguments. Rather, as more liberal-leaning media outlets take pains to highlight protests for gun control, it seems expedient to note a development unlikely to receive much attention in the mainstream media. Namely, victims of gun violence—like law enforcement officers—do not uniformly back the full package of the Obama-Feinstein proposals.

Since witnessing her parents’ death in a Texas mass shooting in 1991, Dr. Suzanna Hupp has been advocating for gun rights around the country. She considers herself a victim not of “gun violence” but of legislative malpractice. In Connecticut, grieving Newtown father Mark Mattioli testified that new gun laws are not the answer to the kind of tragedies his family suffered. Most recently, Columbine survivor Evan M. Todd penned an open letter to President Obama rejecting the administration’s gun control push.

He argues in part:

“Gun ownership is at an all time high. And although tragedies like Columbine and Newtown are exploited by ideologues and special-interest lobbying groups, crime is at an all time low. The people have spoken. Gun store shelves have been emptied. Gun shows are breaking attendance records. Gun manufacturers are sold out and back ordered. Shortages on ammo and firearms are countrywide. The American people have spoken and are telling you that our Second Amendment shall not be infringed.

Virginia Tech was the site of the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. Seung-Hui Cho used two of the smallest caliber hand guns manufactured and a handful of ten round magazines. There are no substantial facts that prove that limited magazines would make any difference at all.

Mr. President, in theory, your initiatives and proposals sound warm and fuzzy — but in reality they are far from what we need. Your initiatives seem to punish law-abiding American citizens and enable the murderers, thugs, and other lowlifes who wish to do harm to others.

Let me be clear: These ideas are the worst possible initiatives if you seriously care about saving lives and also upholding your oath of office.”

Whether you agree with everything these different people have to say, it would certainly add some useful substance to the gun control debate to hear more from the inconvenient holders of perspectives unfashionable in various “mainstream” quarters. As the Senate opts to split its key proposals into separate bills for separate votes, let’s hope sound policy and good governance prevail in the end.


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Free Speech Appreciation Day

“I disagree with your opinion, but…”

I appreciate my political fights with fresh chicken sandwiches.

In case you missed the tagline, I’m openly gay. In case you didn’t, you probably expected my support of the Mayor of Boston and the government of Chicago in their stated desires to ban Chick-fil-A. Dan Cathy does enthusiastically oppose gay marriage, after all. In fact, I do agree wholeheartedly with the officials’ sentiments—we should not encourage or tolerate discrimination against our fellow Americans. Indeed, many conservatives have opposed discrimination from the days of classical liberalism to the Civil Rights Era—not always well, of course, but the history is there. Regardless of your political persuasion, we should be able to agree that undue discrimination is un-American and should be stomped out wherever found.

Which brings us to Chick-fil-A: what evidence suggests that the franchise discriminates against gay people? Neither the Mayor of Boston nor the officials in Chicago have cited any cases. They have not even suggested that they know of any, anecdotally or otherwise. These publically proposed bans are entirely ideological—that is, the president of a private company that provides private services has expressed an unpopular (in Chicago and Boston) political view. This is no better than if a town in the Bible Belt—where opposition to gay marriage remains high—had decided to ban Target or Bank of America for their support of gay rights. Both actions would blatantly contravene the spirit of our free-speech protections, even if the bans were somehow effected legally.

It is one thing to place special restrictions—e.g. banning political activity—on companies that receive government funds or tax exemptions. It is quite another to intrude into the private affairs of private entities in private practice. If Boston or Chicago are concerned about discrimination, they need only enforce the existing anti-discrimination laws in Massachusetts and Illinois, with which Chick-fil-A already must comply. If they want to promote a moral opposition to Dan Cathy’s politics, then they should employ that age-old weapon of American activism—the boycott. I’m told this tactic has worked wonders in the past.

Like the people who make statements by buying organic or local products, supporters of gay unions are free to avoid Chick-fil-A and encourage their friends and family to do the same. If the franchise is unable to prosper, it will pull out on its own. Thus, the activists will have their victory—which will be that much more powerful in its evident grounding in communal support—and nobody’s free speech or other rights will be violated.

The opponents of gay marriage already get this. This is why they’re talking more about a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day than about lawsuits. I disagree with their stance, but I wholeheartedly support the tactics.

All this principled standing is making me hungry.

We aspire to be a nation ruled by laws, not by men. Our elected officials should trust that the residents of their communities are capable of deciding what matters to them regarding food, politics, religion, or any other private matters.

Update: Christian blogger Rachel Held Evans has a brilliantly thoughtful piece for anyone invested in this issue. A little civility and mutual understanding can go a long way.