Activist Wednesday: Why Can We Ban Wal-Mart, But Not Chick-Fil-A?
Posted August 1, 2012on:
First of all, I agree with Fredster that the Chick-Fil-A franchise makes some yummy chicken. I shudder to think how many hormones are in it, but when you’re stuck in Columbus, OH, at the mercy of the endless cafeteria line servicing 4000 too many people, a spicy chicken breast on a bun can really hit the spot.
And I agree with Fredster’s analysis as well. There is no legal basis for anyone to ban a company from expanding into their city because they don’t like what the CEO says about same-sex marriage.
However…I couldn’t help thinking it was funny how communities and cities ban businesses all the time, and there never seems to be this level of uproar. I mean, wow – we’ve got pundits as disparate as some Cato Institute dude on Erin Burnett’s show, and libertarian/progressive icon Glenn Greenwald, having conniptions about the Great Chicken Kerfuffle. I wondered…why is that?
Take Wal-Mart, for example. It’s been banned from New York City for ages, and look! No less a journal than The Orange County Register is all in a huff about it. (Can the Westchester Independent be far behind!)
The problem now, of course, is that Wal-Mart so far has failed to win permission to open stores in the five boroughs. This has no doubt pleased its many clueless detractors apparently able to afford higher-cost grocery items, but for the New Yorkers already suffering nosebleed rents in what is one of the world’s most expensive cities, they’ll continue to overpay for basic goods in order to prop up local grocery stores that can mark up prices thanks to a lack of realistic competition.
Poor pitiful Wal-Mart…they are so desperate to enter the Big Apple that they have a petition you can sign. (Don’t you dare, Widdershins! )
While researching this apparent anomaly, I continued to be confused by the fact that the Wal-Mart ban seemed unremarkable to the writer, although he was clearly against it. To him, if NYC didn’t want Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart wasn’t getting in. The way he put it was, the company has simply “failed to win permission.” And who gives permission? The government, yes? Yea, even…the mayor of NYC, perhaps! Goodness gracious, where is my Constitutional fainting couch? Oh, Alexander Hamilton, wherefore art thou?!
Well, it turns out there’s actually a difference here, although it took me a while to find it. There is a 2006 legal ordinance that was passed against Wal-Mart in Turlock, California, which is currently being used as a basis for keeping “big box” stores out of urban centers everywhere. The city’s officials argued successfully that inviting Wal-Mart into Turlock would put smaller companies out of business, causing urban blight and economic disaster. This law has stood the test of time so far; in fact, a California state senator proposed a state law based on the ordinance in 2011, which would expand upon the Turlock law and make it a little more restrictive. So far he has not been successful.
As you know, my main function in life is to clarify legal issues for you all, but I am also here to spread wild conspiracy theories. In my role as saucer-eyed believer in All Things Oligarchal, I would like to posit that there is a more sinister reason we can ban Wal-Mart and not Chick-Fil-A: It’s those d*mn cows. They’ve got everyone paid off! They’ll do anything to save themselves, even crash a football game. Cagy b*stards!
Seriously, I kind of think it’s too bad we can’t legally ban bigotry for the emotional harm it does. After all, it has killed millions of people over the years. Alas, it’s impossible to ban a state of mind, isn’t it?
This is an open thread.
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