The US Supreme Court has upheld the "right" of Westboro Baptist Church to picket funerals for US service members, as long as that picket takes place on public land. You can read the story HERE.
I find the sacrifice of oneself for our country to be one of the ultimate expressions of giving and nobility. Every member of the US armed forces who dies in combat is a hero, period. It doesn't matter if the cause was justified or not, as they were following orders and willingly put themselves in harms way. Heroes, period.
I find the actions of "Pastor" Fred Phelps and his mostly family-based congregation from Topeka Kansas to be repugnant to the extreme. These people picket and chant anti-homosexual rants at the funerals of people who are not gay, but happened to be convenient opportunities to publicize their "cause".
In my simple, humble opinion, there is no such thing as an unlimited right to free speech. You should be able to say whatever you want...and so should Fred Phelps. But saying that "you can't disrupt a funeral with your free speech" is VERY different than "you can't have that free speech". If "Pastor" Phelps wants to rant, for example, that Tony the Tiger is a gay icon, then that's fine with me...just don't interrupt my breakfast doing it. Now that's a very silly example but it's no more silly than the connection "Pastor" Phelps tries to make between gays and dead heroes.
If we, as a society, can't provide to the families of dead service members an environment where they can grieve the deaths of their sons and daughters in peace, then we as a society have FAILED those very same heroes. We have failed them, period.
Yes, I fully realize that service members die to uphold ideas like free speech. Yes, "Pastor" Phelps should be able to spew his nonsensical rants. My point though is that nothing should institutionalize the idea that "Pastor" Phelps' right is greater than the right of those families who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Let "Pastor" Phelps rant, but keep that rant out of the eyes and ears of grieving families.
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