Rahm Emanuel: "Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values"

Is there anywhere in America outside of Chicago itself where the term “Chicago values” isn’t pejorative? It’s basically a byword for political corruption and insane levels of gun violence (tough local gun-control measures notwithstanding). If I were the Cathy family, I’d be tempted to make Rahm’s quote the company’s new slogan. “Chick-fil-A: Where the numbers add up and no one gets shot.”

Ald.Proco “Joe” Moreno announced this week that he will block Chick-fil-A’s effort to build its second Chicago store, which would be in the Logan Square neighborhood, following company President Dan Cathy’s remarks last week that he was “guilty as charged” for supporting the biblical definition of marriage as between a man and woman.

“If you are discriminating against a segment of the community, I don’t want you in the 1st Ward,” Moreno told the Tribune on Tuesday…

“Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values,” the mayor said in a statement when asked about Moreno’s decision. “They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents. This would be a bad investment, since it would be empty.”

Moreno is relying on a rarely violated Chicago tradition known as aldermanic privilege, which dictates that City Council members defer to the opinion of the ward alderman on local issues. Last year Moreno wielded that weapon to block plans for a Wal-Martin his ward, saying he had issues with the property owner and that Wal-Mart was not “a perfect fit for the area.”

I always get crossed up when gay-marriage supporters get indignant with opponents because I agree with them on the merits but can’t quite believe that sanctimony can set in so quickly on an issue that used to see ~70 percent opposition as recently as 15 years ago. A lot of people have changed their minds since then, including me, but it’s precisely because I used to hold the opposite position that I feel humility when tempted to sneer at gay-marriage opponents. Were Rahm and Moreno true blue SSM supporters from day one or did they too once — gasp — have “Chick-fil-A values” on this subject? As I recall, Rahm spent a few years working for a guy who lied his ass off about gay marriage for decades purely for cynical, self-interested political advantage. Were his values copacetic with “Chicago values” before he “evolved”? What’s worse, the Cathy family honestly professing their opposition to gay marriage or the Lightbringer dishonestly professing his opposition because he cared more about getting elected than standing up publicly for something he privately believed? The view from your high horse must be amazing, Rahm.

Per First Amendment expert Eugene Volokh, denying the company a building permit because of its managers’ political or religious views is grossly unconstitutional. The same is, and always was, true of the Ground Zero mosque in NYC; you can hope that they don’t build on the site, but when push comes to shove, they have the right. (The legal calculus would change if Chick-fil-A refused to serve gays, but as far as I know, the business itself has never discriminated.) The silver lining: If Rahm and Moreno are right about “Chicago values” then Chicagoans will simply refuse to patronize the new franchise. Evidently Chick-fil-A’s gambling that there are enough locals who’ll come to eat that it’s worth the expense of trying to set up shop. If Rahm’s serious about what he said, he should be willing to gamble too. Let them build and, after a boycott is inevitably organized, the market will decide who wins. And if the boycott works and Chick-fil-A decides to withdraw from blue states and cities, hey, I’ll live. We’ve still got the colonel in NYC, baby. He was pro-gay-marriage, right?

Update: I really should be above linking to Roseanne Barr’s tweets by now. I should be. And yet.