Pigs mut be airborne if Greenwald is on our side.

Rahm Emanuel’s dangerous free speech attack – Glenn Greenwald, Salon

Should government officials be able to block businesses from opening or expanding due to disagreement with the political views of the business’ executives? Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuelevidently believes he should have this power.

Obviously, it’s perfectly legitimate for private citizens to decide not to patronize a business with executives who have such views (I’d likely refrain from doing so in this case). Beyond that, if a business is engaging in discriminatory hiring or service practices in violation of the law — refusing to hire gay employees or serve gay patrons in cities which have made sexual orientation discrimination illegal — then it is perfectly legitimate to take action against them.

As my Salon colleague Mary Elizabeth Williams noted when writing about the controversy in Boston: “Aside from the fact that Chick-fil-A is always closed on Sunday, there’s no evidence those beliefs have been institutionalized in any way. There’s no record of refusing service to gay patrons, or unfair hiring practices, or a hostile work environment.” Indeed, Joe Moreno, the Chicago alderman who represents a “hipster ward” and who initially blocked the business’ expansion, made clear that he was motivated not by any alleged discriminatory business practices but solely by “bigoted, homophobic comments”: namely, the Chick-fil-A President’s view that the Bible mandates marriages be between men and women only. And as Williams noted, the company oversees a “foundation that’s contributed financially to” numerous right-wing groups: Eagle Forum, Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, among others.

It’s always easy to get people to condemn threats to free speech when the speech being threatened is speech that they like. It’s much more difficult to induce support for free speech rights when the speech being punished is speech they find repellent. But having Mayors and other officials punish businesses for the political and social views of their executives — regardless of what those views are — is as pure a violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech as it gets, and beyond that, is genuinely dangerous.

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