Chicken, Cows and the Constitution

Chick-fil-A brand ad image

Chick-fil-A brand ad image

This post is part of a 2012 monthly series of posts on the topic of the U.S Constitution.

Want another example of how U.S. Constitution-related issues surface in our everyday lives?

This week, Dan Cathy, President and COO of one of America’s most famous fast-food chains, Chick-fil-A, made comments in the press that have been interpreted by some as against same-sex marriage, raising a controversy among gay rights activists and politicians.

In response to Cathy’s comments, three big-city mayors, Thomas Menino (Boston), Rahm Emanuel (Chicago) and Edwin Lee (San Francisco), publicly stated that they disagreed with Cathy and would discourage the presence of Chick-Fil-A establishments in their cities.  For example, Emanuel stated, “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values,” and Lee tweeted, “Closest #ChickFilA to San Francisco is 40 miles away & I strongly recommend that they try not to come any closer.”

So, how does this controversy relate to the U.S. Constitution?  Well, the controversy has raised questions related to our rights to freedom of religion and speech — both of which are rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Specifically, Amendment I “prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peacefully assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has publicly disagreed with Menino, Emmanuel and Lee by stating, “trampling on the freedom to marry whoever you want is the same as trampling on your freedom to open a store.”

What do you think?  Do you agree that a COO of a privately-held company like Dan Cathy has a Constitutionally protected right to state his beliefs about gay marriage?  And, do you think that city mayors, like Menino, Emanuel and Lee should have the power to prevent a restaurant like Chick-fil-A from opening in their cities based on the religious-based statements made by that restaurant’s COO?

On a lighter note, I have a question for all of you marketers out there:  what do you think of Chick-fil-A’s 17-year-running renegade Cows brand advertising campaign?

Passwords Protected?

Password and Username fieldsThis post is part of a 2012 monthly series of posts on the topic of the U.S. Constitution.

Bob Sullivan’s online article, “Gov’t agencies, colleges demand applicants’ Facebook passwords,” is a quick reminder that questions about the U.S. Constitution and the specific liberties that the Constitution protects continue to be raised in today’s world.

The article, focused on the fact that some universities and employers are now demanding access to individuals’ private social media content, raises questions about whether those demanding organizations may be violating the rights of the individuals involved – rights that some would argue are guaranteed by the Constitution.

For example, a Washington D.C.-lawyer quoted in the article states: “I can’t believe some people think it’s OK to do this.  Maybe it’s OK if you live in a totalitarian regime, but we still have a Constitution to protect us.  It’s not a far leap from reading people’s Facebook posts to reading their email. …As a society, where are we going to draw the line?”

I was personally surprised to learn that my alma mater, The University of North Carolina, recently revised its handbook, adding a provision that requires each athletic team to “identify either a coach or administrator who is responsible for having access to and regularly monitoring the content of their team members’ social networking sites.”

Do you think that employers and universities should be able to require individuals to divulge their user names and private passwords for the social networks to which they belong?  And, if not, which individual right or rights do you think are denied when such policies exist?  Sullivan’s article references the individual right to privacy as well as to the right to free speech.

Turning back to the Constitution, do you know which Article or Amendment provides for an individual’s right to free speech?  The answer is Amendment 1, the First Amendment.  And, what about the right to privacy? Is that right protected by the Constitution?  The author of the online article, “Exploring Constitutional Conflicts,” contends that the Constitution “contains no express right to privacy.”

It seems like there are two sides to the social media coin today.  On one hand, we’ve recently seen social media tools like Twitter aid individuals in reclaiming their rights and defeating oppressive government regimes like Mubarak’s in Egpyt.  On the other hand, in the instances like those referenced in Sullivan’s article, social media technologies seem to be putting individuals’ rights at risk.

When it comes to the question of employees and universities demanding individuals to share their user names and Facebook passwords, which side are you on, and do you think the Constitution addresses the question?

%d bloggers like this: