Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Should We Protect Hateful Free Speech?

Hello and happy hump day - We're headed straight for the weekend, now!
It's Wednesday, and time for a serious subject.....

You may have heard about a recent Supreme Court decision, Snyder v. Phelps,  that states that the Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas has the right to picket the funerals of soldiers.  This warped handful of people (mostly members of one family) regularly marches and pickets at the funerals, shouting the most vile things at the family and friends attending the funeral.  The reason for this outrageous action, apparently, is the church members' hatred of what they believe is America's tolerance of homosexuality.  According to the attorney for Fred Phelps, the leader of the "church", the members believe that gay people should be put to death.

They are an embarrassment to all good churches and church members.  They are an embarrassment to Americans in general.  And they spread hate and pain to the most vunerable of people - those who are struggling to cope with their grief.  This little group of haters make even the most gentle of us curse their ignorance and joy at what they obviously see as great power.  One of their visits to Tulsa last year resulted in their discovering the air gone from the tires on their van when they returned from spewing filth at a funeral. Yes, even peaceful, laid-back Okies feel a need to take action against this bunch.

The haters make us cringe at their lack of human decency.  They make us cry for the pain of the families, struggling in the midst of grief to deal with strangers laughing at their deceased loved ones.  They make us sad, mad, crazy and sick.  And the Supreme Court decision that protects them was absolutely correct....

This is my opinion, of course, and your's may be different.  But please consider this - The First Amendment of our Constitution protects free speech.  This amendment was not written in contemplation of nice, happy speech - it was written to protect the right of all of us to say whatever we want, even if no one else in the world likes it.  Once we begin limiting speech to whatever we deem is correct, where is the line drawn and who will draw it?  I believe we are the only country in the world that protects our citizens' speech to this extent, and I personally am proud that we do.  My father went to war to protect this freedom, along with all of the other freedoms that we often take for granted.

I detest the people from the Westboro Baptist Church who spit their hatred toward our innocent fallen heroes and their innocent grieving families.  But I will defend their right to spit that hatred - The Supreme Court got it right.

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