Free Speech vs. Human Dignity

Dozens and dozens of posts are coming through my Facebook account regarding yesterday’s Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day. I’ve read comments from “friends” stating things like “Another good reason to eat at Chick-fil-a,” “Yummy waffle fries,” “I’m not going to let anyone tell me where I can’t eat,” and “Take that you liberal idiots!”

It has been a very discouraging couple of days. I don’t think a lot of my friends can really imagine how it feels to know that they are supporting a cause that keeps me and thousands–actually millions–of brothers and sisters second class citizens. They say this isn’t about same-sex marriage, and I agree. Many of them said the issue was about free speech, and I believe in that American value just as much as anyone else. They say they are angry that a few–yes just a few–government officials said that the restaurant was no longer welcome in their jurisdictions, so they decided take a stand and eat at the restaurant in the name of free speech.

Well, I want everyone to think about the thousands of gay and lesbian brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, and friends that you threw under the bus yesterday in your support of free speech.  What about the young boys and girls who are terrified to go to school because they are bullied for being a “defect of nature?” What about the women and men who are brutally attacked for being different? Is free speech more important that treating people with dignity?

I know most of my friends would never outright say they hate homosexuals. Unfortunately, their actions yesterday say they side with those who do hate. Here are some comments on different websites to show who many of my friends and relatives sided with yesterday [note, I am not editing their comments in any way]:

“When I turn on the TV to watch the news and I see two men kissing my stomach turns.”

“The faggots just don’t get it. They are going to lose this one!”

“You want to be different, but at the same time you want to be treated the same.  PUT on your big person panties and lets get on with our lifes.”

“It seems GAYS want special rights..not Equal Rights. Don’t you remember that childhood song… Stick and Stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me. Quit being so thin skinned.”

“It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. They make me sick!”

How can we not take those words personally? I’ve heard similar and worse comments my whole life, and they tear at the soul. My LDS and friends get offended when their faith is attacked, so I guess I was hoping for more from them yesterday.

I want my good Christian and Mormon friends to think about what they thought about and discussed while waiting in line for your chicken sandwich and waffle fries. Did you say or laugh at any derogatory comments about “the gays.” Did you put a stop to hateful comments you may have heard?

Video campaigns were started to help gay and lesbian teens overcome depression and suicidal tendencies. They are told that it will get better, and that people will be kinder and more accepting as they get to know them. Unfortunately, I fear that many will not believe that after yesterday’s events. I fear that attacks against gays and lesbians could increase because of the crowds at Chick-fil-A yesterday.

I am grateful for a wise brother who invited me to have dinner with his family last night. His family bought a bucket of chicken from KFC, we watched the Olympics together, and we played a few board games with the kids. Nothing was mentioned about the Chick-fil-A controversy, but everyone there let me know that I am loved.

Go ahead and continue standing up for free speech, that’s your right. I, however, will choose to stand up for kindness, compassion, empathy, and love.  After all, isn’t love the greater commandment?