Day by Day

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Victory for Decency / Defeat for Freedom of Speech

I'll admit to being torn on this. It would seem like such an easy decision.

We've all (sadly) become familiar with "Reverend" Fred Phelps and the members of his Westboro Baptist Church, many of whom happen to be his family as well. They have a tendency to show up at funerals for Soldiers (and other servicemembers) and to loudly protest the funeral. Their basis of reasoning is that homosexuality is a sin, and the military endorses homosexuality through "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". Therefore, God is mad at the US and supports the killing of the Soldiers.

(If I got that wrong, please correct me.)

Understandably, these actions really tick off grieving family members. I know I would have been livid.

Well, one father of a slain Marine (Semper Fi, Marine!) sued the good reverend and his church for damages for protesting at his son's funeral. And from these (and here) news stories, a jury has awarded the father nearly $11 million in damages.

Will they collect? Not likely. But, it's a good victory.

Or... is it?

I've always said that freedom of speech, true freedom, means to support and defend the right of someone to stand on a street corner, and to shout at the top of their lungs, the very beliefs that you find most abhorrent to your own.

And that is precisely what Westboro Baptist Church does. They stand in public places, stand on the flag, or other such desecrations, and shout obscenities about how "God loves dead Soldiers" and things like that... at the funeral for the Soldier.

Makes my blood boil. Yours?

Good. It should.

What they do is a demonstration, in perhaps its coarsest, vile form, of precisely what our country stands for, and what our Soldiers fight for... the true vitality of that First Amendment we hold so dear.

I can't endorse what they say... it makes me ill. However, I will fight to the death for their right to say it. Or, what's the point of it all?

1 comment:

Mary*Ann said...

As much as it hurts to agree...I do. Phelps is still slime.