MATTHEWS: Using government to shut down personal opinions you don’t like is not the answer

Seven years after their war on Chick-fil-A began, the left’s message remains the same:

You will be made to care. Or suffer the consequences for noncompliance.

Since declaring open season on the fast-food chain, the left’s victories have been few and far between — mostly confined to college campuses. But that hasn’t stopped them from aiming higher.

Chick-fil-A’s “sin,” to the left, is in president and CEO Dan Cathy’s beliefs about marriage. He’s opposed to gay marriage and, through various Chick-fil-A foundations, has contributed money to groups — some of them Christian-based — that also oppose same-sex marriage.

In 2012, Boston’s then-Mayor Tom Menino, a Democrat, vowed to block the restaurant from opening a location in his city. In threatening to make getting a license to operate very difficult, Menino said at the time that “Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston.”

That same year, with the backing of Chicago’s then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Democratic Alderman Joe Moreno vowed to block a proposed Chick-fil-A location in the city’s 1st Ward. “Because of [Dan Cathy’s] ignorance, I will now be denying Chick-fil-A’s permit to open a restaurant in the 1st Ward,” Moreno said at the time.

San Francisco’s then-Mayor Ed Lee, another Democrat, also threatened the chicken sandwich chain, tweeting that “I strongly recommend that they not try to come any closer” than its location 40 miles from his city.

In spite of their campaigns against the chain, there is still a Chick-fil-A location in the works for Logan Square in Chicago, and plans are also in the works for their first location in Boston to open in 2020.

There are still no Chick-fil-A restaurants in San Francisco, however, but there is a proposal for one about 25 miles away that one San Mateo County official opposes.

Supervisor David Canepa told San Francisco-area media outlets recently that he plans on writing a letter to the fast-food chain demanding they drop plans to open a restaurant in Redwood City. He’s also stirring up local outrage in hopes that demonstrators will take to the streets in protest.

Will government force be the next step for Canepa if his letter to the restaurant doesn’t produce his desired outcome?

It’s a fair question to ask, because Canepa was inspired by the actions of government officials in two other cities to successfully ban Chick-fil-A.

In March, the Democrat-controlled San Antonio city council voted to ban the restaurant from the city’s airport location for the next seven years, citing alleged “anti-LGBTQ behavior.” That same month, Democratic New York state legislator Sean Ryan successfully pushed to get the restaurant banned from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

“The views of Chick-fil-A do not represent our state or the Western New York community, and businesses that support discrimination have no place operating in taxpayer-funded public facilities,” Ryan tweeted.

San Antonio’s actions and Ryan’s public pressure were both in response to a report released from a left-wing website detailing the restaurant’s 2017 charitable contributions. That website, along with several others, have been on a relentless mission to “expose” Dan Cathy’s personal beliefs in an effort to either shame him into stopping his contributions to so-called “anti-LGBTQ groups” — or put him out of business altogether.

If the left had substantial evidence pointing to LGBTQ discrimination in the Chick-fil-A workplace, they’d have a point in pushing for government intervention. But there’s no evidence of the sort. What we have here are government officials, sometimes at the urging of liberal activists, penalizing a business for the personal beliefs of its owner.

That should send a chill up the spine of any First Amendment-loving American, no matter which side of the political aisle you happen to sit.

Stacey Matthews is a veteran blogger who has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to Red State and Legal Insurrection