As we’ve noted on more than one occasion, all too many on the gay left — as well as some of their straight allies — are ever ready to call opposition to gay marriage as hate speech. Their reaction to prominent defenders of traditional marriage, like Chick-fil-A’s president Dan Cathy, resembles that of their reaction to certain prominent Republicans, from Ronald Reagan in the 1980s to Newt Gingrich in the 1990s to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin in the 2000s, to the Koch Brothers in the current decade.
Some have developed quite a habit of using harsh language to decry what they describe as “hate”. Indeed, more often than not, their language seems far more hateful than that of the supposed haters. Like the loyal citizens of George Orwell’s Oceania, they seem to delight in venting their negative emotions upon those deemed enemies of the party. Yet, their venting does seem to last longer than two minutes.
Mr. Cathy’s unapologetic advocacy of traditional marriage made him — and his chicken chain — an appropriate target to which certain leftists could direct their venom. This whole hullabaloo seemed more about the need of some to vent than about the merits (or lack thereof) of the target’s arguments.
No wonder that Glenn Reynolds, like a good number of social moderates and libertarians, doesn’t think the response to this venting, AKA Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day . . .
can be interpreted as opposition to gay marriage, so much as a response to bullying. But I do think that the bullying has probably tainted the gay-marriage brand, which is too bad. The gay-marriage argument is already winning — there’s no need to engage in Rahm Emanuel-style attacks, and doing so merely invites pushback. And, frankly, I’m happy to live in a country where people’s response to bullying is to push back.
It is those very “Rahm Emanuel-style attacks” that served as the tipping point for many social libertarians (including yours truly). As blogging law professor William A. Jacobsen put it:
If given the chance, the liberal boycott movement will cross the line, and there will be many politicians willing to help them do it.
When the politicians started pandering not just by pontificating against Chick-fil-A, but primarily by attempting to prevent the chicken chain’s franchises from setting up shop in their jurisdictions, this reached a tipping point and united (as one reader put it) all the various branches of the conservative coalition. Even gay people felt compelled to participate — in order to stand up to the politically correct bullying. It wasn’t about the merits of Mr. Cathy’s arguments, but about his right to make them in a public forum.
When the politicians got involved, it crossed a line for a good number of libertarians, including even some gay marriage advocates.