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Moral issues reach boiling point

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Those words are from the First Amendment of the United States Constitution….a document that although coming under attack from several fronts has stood the test of time for over 225 years.

As a newspaper journalist, I’m a staunch supporter of the First Amendment. The freedom of speech and freedom of the press supports my livelihood. However, while we, as Americans, all enjoy these freedoms, it seems we are becoming more and more belligerent with one another when we exercise those basic rights.

As expected, I received numerous phone calls and emails, and had several face-to-face conversations with individuals who wished to debate the merits of Thadd White’s personal opinion column from a few weeks ago. For those of you who missed it, Thadd took issue with Chick-Fil-A owner Dan Cathy’s position over same-sex marriage.

Thadd made it clear that he has friends that are gay and is supportive of their rights. Due to Mr. Cathy’s decision to donate a portion of his money to anti-gay organizations, as is his right, Thadd went on the record to simply say he will not spend another dime purchasing food from Chick-Fil-A, which is his right.

Many referred to Thadd’s thoughts as an editorial. It wasn’t an editorial, it was his personal opinion. An editorial is the opinion of the newspaper as a whole. This newspaper has not taken a position on gay rights…for or against.

A few of you offered opposing views by way of a Letter to the Editor….opinions welcomed and printed by this newspaper because we believe in the First Amendment.

One caller canceled his subscription to the News-Herald because he apparently didn’t agree with Thadd’s opinion. When he asked me if I would allow Thadd to continue writing columns on such issues, I replied I would because it’s Thadd’s right to do so…whether I agree or not with his opinion. With that said the phone went dead as he hung up on me. Not only was that impolite, it was a very narrow minded way of thinking in my opinion. I’m now wondering if he canceled his contract with his cable TV or satellite TV supplier because they air FOX News or MSNBC.

As I told Thadd after reading his column prior to publication, he would perhaps be surprised, as well as others, to learn of the moral stance other companies had over the same-sex marriage/gay rights issue.

According to a list published by Yahoo News, Mr. Cathy hasn’t cornered the market on the issue of opposing gay marriage/gay rights. The list of those companies with anti-gay policies includes Auto Zone, Babies R Us, Cracker Barrel, Domino’s Pizza, Exxon Mobil, John Deere, Keebler, Radio Shack, Sam’s Club, Toys R Us and Walmart.

Are you planning to stop purchasing gas because the majority of OPEC nations do not hide the fact that they persecute gays?

Did you know that Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, agreed to donate $2.5 million in support of a same-sex marriage referendum in Washington state, where the online retailer is headquartered?

Will the fact that Microsoft founder Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer each donated $100,000 in an effort to keep gay marriage legal lead you to boycott those products?

How ‘bout food giant General Mills? Will you keep their brand products – Cheerios, Wheaties, Hamburger Helper, Häagen-Dazs ice cream, Green Giant veggies, Totino’s / Jeno’s pizza, Betty Crocker or Pillsbury baking goods – out of your grocery cart in light of Ken Powell, the firm’s CEO, publicly speaking out against Minnesota’s proposed amendment that would ban gay marriage?

How do you feel about shopping at J.C. Penney after they hired openly gay Ellen DeGeneres as its spokeswoman?

Were you aware that super store retailer Target has launched a gay wedding gift registry campaign; or that they offer, through online sales, a t-shirt from where the proceeds support a repeal of the gay marriage ban?

What if the gay issue wasn’t even an issue and other personal lifestyles lead you to make radical decisions? Will you stop reading the words penned in this column by this writer because he’s left-handed; because he chooses to drive a Ford; because he supports NC State athletics; because he’s Southern Baptist?

When will we return to being the United States of America instead of the United States of the Offended?

 

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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