Don't silence those you disagree with

Published on Saturday, 22 March 2014 23:13 - Written by

In the recent kerfuffle over Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q and its hosting of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, some important points have been overlooked.

If you haven’t heard, Stanley’s was roundly criticized in some quarters (mostly online and on Facebook) for hosting the meet-and-greet last weekend. Some people called for a boycott, citing Davis’ support for abortion on demand.

Here’s what’s wrong with that.

First, Stanley’s owner Nick Pencis was providing a valuable public service in opening his facility on Beckham Avenue to a candidate for the top political office in the state. Stanley’s has a wide patio and deck area, a sound system and some darn fine barbecue. It’s hard to think of a better venue for an appearance by a state-level political candidate. Pencis is to be commended for making his restaurant available for Davis — just as he has for other politicians and political candidates, Democrat and Republican (such as Gov. Rick Perry) alike.

Second, Republicans and conservatives who oppose Davis, on whatever issue, should never try to silence her — or anyone else. As historically conscious as our area’s constitutional conservatives undoubtedly are, they should remember that no freedom is more foundational than the freedom of expression.

As conservatives, we should have the confidence that our ideas are better — that we need not rely on silencing the opposition.

And we should remember, with trepidation and resolve, that politics is cyclical. Someday, someone will want to silence our political candidates. We must not give those who will someday be in power the precedent of our own actions. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and at some point, we’ll be the gander.

Third, it’s true that a boycott is an effective means of expressing one’s opinion. We vote with our feet and our dollars, every bit as effectively as we vote in the polling booth.

But what, exactly, is being expressed in a boycott of a locally owned restaurant that merely held a meet-and-greet event? Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q allowed a candidate to hold an event. “Punishing” a restaurant for the views held by one of its patrons is the worst kind of guilt-by-association.

Take that to its logical conclusion — at what point do we boycott a business for the beliefs of its patrons or even its owners? One online poster made the point that as conservative as East Texas is, Starbucks, a lefty corporate all-star, does a thriving business here.

And here’s a final point.

Pro-life conservatives — and this newspaper is staunchly pro-life — should thank Stanley’s for allowing Davis to speak, because Wendy Davis holds an extreme position, in favor of abortion on demand at any point in a pregnancy, paid for by taxpayers, if necessary. Very few Texans agree with this position.

Davis is most famous for opposing restrictions on abortion that most Texans feel are reasonable. Therefore, it’s better to let her talk. She’s just losing votes by fully explaining her views.

Now, can we please get back to eating barbecue?