Emanuel And Menino: Liberal Bullies

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 27 2012 @ 10:47am

I haven't commented on the Chick-Fil-A issue because, well I was too busy enjoying Mitt in London. Which is another reason to celebrate the existence of Glenn Greenwald. Here's a classic Greenwald post – full of OCD updates, relentlessly researched, thoroughly linked, addressing every single counter-argument. Let me just add one word: amen.

Intimidating a business because its chairman expresses his perfectly legitimate – if to me, misguided – views, should have absolutely nothing to do with a civil rights movement. Civil rights movements are about expanding freedom, including for those with whom we disagree. The impulse by some well-meaning heterosexual allies to ban or shut down or somehow use the power of the state to police thought in this way is simply anathema to what we ought to stand for. There is no contradiction between marriage equality and a robust defense of the rights of those who oppose marriage equality – including maximal religious freedom and maximal free speech. In fact, it is vital that we eschew such tactics, as they distract from a positive argument that has been solidly winning converts for two decades.

The point is that we all have to live together even while we passionately disagree. That toleration is the challenge of our time, and it goes both ways.

If we gays now try to suppress others' rights, we have become nothing less than what we have opposed for so long. And there's a worrying tendency – more pronounced on the right than left, but still potent on the far left – not simply to oppose the arguments of the other side in a cultural debate, but to delegitimize them as people of equal standing. But calling a bunch of good-faith people bigots and leveraging government power against them is, in my mind, no morally different than calling a bunch of people perverts and leveraging government power against them.

No hate crimes laws; no restriction of the free speech of our opponents; no infringement on religious freedom; no delegitimization of the perfectly legitimate (if, to my mind, deeply flawed) argument that civil marriage be reserved exclusively for heterosexuals. Just equality. And freedom. If Emanuel and Menino want to know how a straight ally acts, look at Jeff Bezos. You can support civil rights by enlarging speech, not restricting it.