YOU KNOW we're in the summer doldrums when a Chicken War is hatched to take center stage.

After the president of the Chick-fil-A chain stated he opposes gay marriage based on what the Bible says, he was blasted in the media, which is OK, while a few elected officials said they planned to ban his restaurants, which is not OK.

The sanctimonious mayors of Deep Blue Boston and Chicago fumed that Dan Cathy's words were discriminatory and discrimination can't be tolerated. Locally, Councilman Jim Kenney called Cathy's remarks "hate" speech, but sanely stopped short of trying to ban the restaurants — which would hurt those who work at the six Philadelphia franchises.

Is it "discrimination" to oppose gay marriage? In the broadest sense, I would say yes.

But is it always deep, visceral "hate"? Firm Christians (and others) believe "marriage" must be restricted to one man and one woman. Is that "hate"?

If you are pro-choice, do you "hate" the unborn? If you oppose polygamy, is that "hate"? My gay friends say those are silly questions. It is the same principle.

Cathy's views are based on the Bible, which is why none of his restaurants is open on Sunday, the biblical "day of rest." That decision costs Cathy money, but he is devout and lives his beliefs, whether or not you agree with them. Unlike shape-shifting politicians (I'll get to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a minute), Cathy is not a hypocrite. If his views are "hate," and they come from the Bible, it follows that the Bible must be "hate" literature and should be banned, too. (Stop cheering, atheists — it's not going to happen. Not soon, anyway.)

I don't believe that opposing gay marriage is automatically "hate." Some same-sex-marriage supporters see it differently, but they are throwing that word around too casually, as others do with "racist" or "socialist." Both left and right are guilty of sloppy thinking and trash-talking.

I have searched the Internet and cannot find one accusation that Chick-fil-A ever discriminated against a gay customer or refused to hire a gay person. That would be discrimination, and that isn't permitted in our society. Cathy's anti-gay-marriage views are his personal opinion, not reflected in his business plan.

The ugliest aspect of this debate was the desire by elected officials — would-be tyrants — to stick their noses where government doesn't belong. Boston and Chicago want to punish Chick-fil-A for the opinions of its owner.

One justification: Cathy donates to what his critics call "anti-gay" causes. His fans call them "pro-family."

Other rich people have opposing views. CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, gave $2.5 million last week to the campaign to support Washington's same-sex-marriage law. Should Deep Red Indianapolis and Dallas try to pull the plug on Amazon because they don't like Bezos' stance?

We are supposed to believe in free speech. The speech we should be most tolerant of — admittedly, this is hard — is that with which we disagree.

When I see a cheeseball like Rahm Emanuel trying to block a Chick-fil-A from opening because the chain doesn't have "Chicago values," is he referencing the values of murderous gang warfare, corrupt politics and fat-saturated food? A gold medalist in hypocrisy, Emanuel strongly campaigned for Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — even as they opposed gay marriage. He stayed on as Clinton's adviser even after he signed the ("anti-gay?") Defense of Marriage Act. Why didn't he resign in disgust?

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who so deeply believes his city is "in the forefront of inclusion," will ban any contrary view to prove it. That's more like Benito Mussolini than John Adams.

On Friday, pro-gay-marriage New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: "You really don't want to ask political beliefs or religious beliefs before you issue a permit. That's just not government's job."

At the risk of creating biblical-based controversy, I say, "Amen."

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