Before noting in the comments that anyone is within his rights to boycott anything, please note that this undisputed point is already acknowledged in what follows. Here’s the always sensible Anthony Gregory on the episode:
In the last two weeks, we have seen the weakness of many left-liberals’ support for civil liberties. Last week, progressive bloggers, activists, and politicians piled on Chick-fil-A, whose president Dan Cathy has spoken critically of and supported groups that oppose gay marriage. For his stance on this issue, which is not all that different from Obama’s stance just a year ago, many in the gay rights movement decided to boycott his fast food chain. Whatever one thinks of this, it is well within the rights of people to vote with their dollars. The Executive Director of Log Cabin Republicans argues that the boycott is poor strategy, however, because “turning a chicken sandwich into Public Gay Enemy Number One makes LGBT people look superficial, vindictive and juvenile—everything that we as a community have worked hard to overcome.”
Yet far more disturbing to anyone interested in civil liberties was the threat of a government crackdown on the basis of the business owner’s political opinions. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and Boston mayor Thomas Menino both indicated a willingness to keep the restaurant out of their cities, using their power as government officials to fight the culture war.
While the most consistent left-liberal voices for civil liberties, among them the ACLU, have defended Chick-fil-A’s right to open a business regardless of the proprietor’s political views, there has been far too much silence or even enthusiasm toward these threats of political coercion, which carry potentially totalitarian implications. A government that can prohibit people from engaging in peaceful commerce based on traditional cultural and conservative political values is as big a threat to civil liberties as anything the left imagines a conservative Big Brother poses. Most strikingly, left-liberals often, with a lot of justification, decry the Red Scares in American history—the private and public ostracism and at times oppression that befell communists, communist sympathizers, or anyone deemed too far radically left in America. Communism posed a real threat to world peace and liberty, and its political leaders collectively murdered close to a hundred million people in the 20th century. If Americans should have a right to pursue work despite their sympathies for such a violent ideology, surely Chick-fil-A shouldn’t be blacklisted simply for holding traditional views on marriage.
Read Anthony’s “Progressive Betrayals of Civil Liberties.”