Take it from the gay-loving metro Atlanta high school student leader who was sacked for wanting a more inclusive prom: Booting Chick-fil-A from Emory’s campus over its anti-gay work amounts to censorship.
Just months ago Reuben Lack was taking his efforts for a gayer prom at Alpharetta High School to federal court. He lost. Now the rabble-rouser is a first-year student at Emory, the gayest campus in all of Atlanta. And he’s stepping into the middle of a bubbling effort to oust Chick-fil-A from campus over the Atlanta chain’s anti-gay spending and President Dan Cathy’s statements chiding “arrogant” LGBT activists.
That effort prompted Lack to fire off a letter to the Emory Wheel:
I am not one to stand up for an organization like Chick-Fil-A. The statements of their CEO and the contributions of their company to homophobic groups are outrageous. But that cannot be the basis for a decision to remove their small franchise from Emory’s campus.
We are better than that.
Emory Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair said it best: “freedom of expression and an open exchange of ideas are central tenets of the Emory community”. Do many Emory students agree with me that the Chick-fil-a CEO is wrong? Yes. Do some feel outraged enough to not feel comfortable eating there? Certainly. But Emory College should not be the place where we make judgment calls about the opinions of others. Creating a ‘heckler’s veto’ of any company we decide is against our own personal, social and political beliefs would make Emory into place where only one view is the ‘right’ view. Such a move would be a step in the wrong direction, a step into the same kind of censorship that we see in Missouri and Tennessee where lawmakers want to ban teachers from saying “gay” in classrooms.
For those who are angry, upset, and simply don’t want Chick-Fil-a to remain, I urge you to heed the words of Justice Brennan in the controversial flag-burning case Texas v. Johnson (1989): “The way to preserve the flag’s special role is not to punish those who feel differently about these matters. It is to persuade them that they are wrong.” I’d go just one step further. Not only should we persuade and discuss, we must also listen.
At least Lack didn’t compare the student-led organizing effort against Emory’s Chick-fil-A to dirty pork.