Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFMI) CEO John Mackey continues to get people riled up. The blogosphere's rumbling once again about a skeptical comment that Mackey made about climate change in a New Yorker profile. Should a CEO act like a regular human being, and speak honestly about his or her thoughts, questions, beliefs? Or is such authenticity simply not part of the job description?

Some recent reactions to Mackey's opinions seem to imply CEOs should muzzle their personal opinions, lest they infuriate a particular client base. I agree that CEOs should have tact, but if we take this approach to the extreme, we risk encouraging dishonesty at the expense of authenticity and potentially constructive discussion. Is our culture really that bad off?

Somebody call the thought police
If Mackey has the gall to question climate change, does that suddenly make him (or his company) worthy of demonization, when both have long made major commitments to environmental responsibility? Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees.

Ironically, people who flipped out about Mackey's views on health care decided to boycott a company that actually does provide such benefits to its workers, voluntarily. Good job, boycotters! Keep on rockin' with that "positive" approach.

Whole Foods has taken tons of progressive actions, but a lot of supposedly "tolerant" folks apparently think such concrete action isn't as "good" as Mackey's apparent ability to mess with their assumptions is "bad." Mackey's libertarian leanings have been disseminated on the Internet for years; it's not some big secret for anyone who's ever read up on the guy. And why should John Mackey have all the fun? Safeway's (NYSE:SWY) CEO expressed his views on the health care debate before Mackey did, and nobody gave a flying fig, organic or otherwise.

Truth and consequences
Admittedly, a controversial and outspoken CEO can be a risk to shareholders. Overstock.com's (NASDAQ:OSTK) Patrick Byrne is one example. Byrne's latest controversy involves putting journalists on some weird "enemies list." However, such risks are up to every single one of us to weigh and assess in our decision-making.

At times, the pressure applied against executive honesty can seem like public relations gone mad. Back in early 2007, some members of the media freaked when D.R. Horton (NYSE:DHI) CEO Donald Tomnitz said the year would "suck" for real estate. Unfortunately, his assessment was absolutely right. I was more than a little disturbed when some pundits seemed to criticize him for telling the truth.

At what point should business leaders only express opinions when they're convenient or pleasing? Thankfully, few admonish another famously frank CEO, Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) Warren Buffett, for his occasional reality checks. No one's pillorying him for blasting the potential tie-up between Kraft (NYSE:KFT) and Cadbury. Sometimes we all need clear-eyed statements like that.

In the long run, I think honesty is more important than almost any other value a CEO can demonstrate in running a company. Self-serving, shareholder-soothing CEO doublespeak already happens way too often. Given some of the last few years' corporate debacles, I'd think we'd want to discourage corporate dishonesty, not demand it.

Give it to me straight
We should all learn what we can about the people who run the companies we buy from and invest in. The Internet makes that research easier than ever, and it's a vital part of any investor's due diligence.

Each of us has the right and the responsibility to accept or reject companies as we see fit. We may not like what a CEO has to say, but we shouldn't demand that such opinions not exist or go unsaid. More truthfulness and transparency among the upper echelons of the business world benefit us all. In that light, it wouldn't hurt for us to take a deep breath, count to 10, and listen to others' points of view before we take offense.

Should CEOs stifle their own opinions for the good of their companies' share price? Is the well-being of their business more important than their own personal honesty? Give us the straight dope in the comment box below.

Whole Foods Market and Berkshire Hathaway are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Berkshire Hathaway is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Alyce Lomax owns shares of Whole Foods Market, and was almost voted off the island for what she said about Ayn Rand. Tough crowd. The Fool has a disclosure policy.