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America Returns to McCarthyism, With Hypocrisy to Boot

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Is there anybody out there who hasn't heard of a third-rate provider of unhealthy fast food called Chick-fil-A? I certainly hadn't, not until I'd heard that the president of the company had mouthed off about gay marriage -- and how a campaign was afoot to punish the company by banning its outlets.

Chick-fil-A President Dan T. Cathy is no dummy, and I'm sure he realized he would set off a furor when he told a Baptist journal that his company was "very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit." I have no doubt that he knew he would tick off gays, and delight fundamentalist Christians, when he said: "I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.' "

So I have no sympathy for Chick-fil-A, and hope it gets hurt in the pocketbook. People annoyed with this company are right to take their business elsewhere, and urge others to do so. There's already ample reason not to eat there -- the sale of allegedly carcinogenic products. So a boycott is a sensible expression of outrage, just as it makes sense not to patronize companies that pollute the Gulf of Mexico or cyberstalk their critics.

But I have a real problem with the rising tide of hysteria that has formed over Chick-fil-A. It's gone well beyond voting with one's feet, with politicians intervening to inflict real damage on the company, using their muscle to have Chick-fil-A franchises banned from their cities. The Washington Post notes that the mayors of Chicago, Boston and San Francisco have warned Chick-fil-A not to pursue new franchises in their cities, and to stay out if they aren't already there. San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee said on Twitter that the "Closest #ChickFilA to San Francisco is 40 miles away & I strongly recommend that they not try to come any closer."

This mounting tide of fury against Chick-fil-A is bad for several reasons, one of which is its resemblance to McCarthyism.
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