With Respect: Let’s Agree to Disagree
By: Sen. Bill Heath (R-Bremen)
Our Founding Fathers – the ones responsible for the drafting of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence – recognized that certain freedoms were essential components of free market enterprise. These included the freedom to own and operate your own business and the right to free speech.
Aspiring business owners often invest their entire life’s savings into building the business of their dreams. But before the doors can be opened to the public for the first time, business owners establish a standard set of rules for operation such as company hours, hiring policies and general service guidelines.
As a requisite for service, many companies openly display their policies in plain view to clarify terms of service. If I don’t comply by these rules, private enterprises have the right to deny me service. But times are changing and so are the laws that govern business.
Even though free market principles have proven successful in supporting businesses for decades, it is becoming popular for certain groups and individuals to impose their belief systems or ideologies onto private businesses.
Family-owned businesses that operate under Christian principles such as Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby have come under heavy criticism lately for adhering to a biblical worldview. While it should not come as a surprise that these companies uphold traditional family values, protesters are working around the clock to force their agenda on private businesses – all in the name of “tolerance.”
Threatening to boycott anyone who stands in their way, gay rights protesters were recently successful in shutting down a local mom and pop bakery in Oregon after the store refused service to a gay couple. I find it particularly troublesome that businesses are being forced to close their doors simply because they don’t conform to the court of public opinion. This begs the question, “Are we truly free to run our businesses as we see fit?”
If I don’t agree with the political or social ideologies of Starbucks, for example, I’ll simply choose another coffee shop to patronize. Rather than pushing people out of business or protesting in their stores, all you have to do is go elsewhere. I am not saying to suppress your beliefs in order to be politically correct but to disagree peacefully by taking your money to the coffee shop down the street (whose beliefs align sufficiently with your own). Why would you want to patronize a business that is vehemently against everything you stand for anyway?
If you really want to make a statement, protest them with your dollars. Because let’s be honest – no matter the size of the enterprise, businesses cannot survive without financial backing.
As Americans, we are certainly entitled to our opinions, but we should not hinder free market commerce for the sole reason that we may disagree with a company’s political stance. While certain individuals are staging disruptive protests outside Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A, companies that would otherwise be contributing to the local economy are wasting precious time and resources dealing with the fallout.
Business owners, as much as individuals, have the right to exercise their First Amendment rights. As Americans, we are not forced to adhere to any belief system that conflicts with our own. Whether you choose to patronize or not patronize a store is your prerogative and right, but why exert the energy to protest companies with flashy signs and divisive language which can destroy an individual’s dream of private business ownership? To me, forcing a business out of existence is about as intolerant as it gets.
I am a firm supporter of Second Amendment rights; however, I don’t parade around flashing my firearm just to prove I can. This does not reflect well on Second Amendment supporters and it is not good for business.
On another note, why does everything have to be so political these days? Can’t we take our families to lunch without getting into a cultural war? There are plenty of chicken sandwiches in this world. If you don’t like Chick-Fil-A, Zaxby’s will gladly take your business – and vice versa.
As American businesses continue to be challenged by overreaching federal government mandates, the last thing they need is another cook in the kitchen telling them their chicken should be served with a side of “tolerance and a hint of social justice.” With respect; let’s just agree to disagree.