Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Disposable First Amendment

It seems that it's easy to dispense with the Bill of Rights when it doesn't fit with your personal agenda.  Certainly the mayors of two of our largest and most important cities have no problem tossing the First Amendment to the Constitution aside.

You might remember the First Amendment.  It's the one that guarantees Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion.  Those rights no longer apply in Boston or in Chicago.

It was easy for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to dispense with the Constitution since they were simultaneously discarding their oath of office and the virtually all city, state and Federal laws at the same time.

Both Mayor's personally promised that Chick-fil-A, the popular, successful and well managed fast food chain would never open a store within their respective cities.  The reason is that Chick-fil-A's CEO Dan Cathy is a Christian who made the mistake of actually professing his faith in an interview.  Cathy committed other sins in the mayor's eyes.  He personally gave donations to his church and supported many of their charities.  Some of these well known charities oppose gay marriage or, at least, favor traditional marriage.

But Emanuel and Menino have both decided they alone are the arbiters of religious dogma.  And Freedom of Religion no longer exists.  If you do not believe EXACTLY as they believe, you will be legally prevented from doing business is their cities.

This abuse of power is precisely what the framers of our Constitution feared.  Our government is prevented from establishing any single religion for precisely this reason.  Our country was originally settled by people trying to escape the Church of England and have religious freedom.  

The Boston Herald Editorial Board has rightly condemned Mayor Menoni.  In their editorial Mayor Plays Chicken they write:

We’re trying to imagine a big-city mayor telling the world that he refuses to grant government permits to a restaurant business whose CEO happens to support gay marriage. The condemnation of such an abuse of government power would be swift, overwhelming and appropriate. 
But Boston Mayor Tom Menino apparently doesn’t see any problem using the power of his government office to issue threats to a private company whose CEO does not happen to share the mayor’s own personal or political views.
UPDATE 7/27/2012: Boston Mayor Menino has backed away from his promise to prevent Chick-fil-A from opening in his city or even along The Freedom Trail.  While maintaining his strong support for Gay Marriage, he insists he spoke incorrectly, exaggerating both his ability and intent to block the fast food chain. "I'm just the mayor," Menino sheepishly admitted.

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