Friday, April 16, 2010

Freedom of Speech Vs. Freedom of Religion/right to peaceful assembly/right to privacy

I am at a loss when I read the articles about the father of the Marine who was killed overseas who is batteling the Westboro Baptist Church in the legal system. I am glad that this issue has finally made it up to the highest courts, but I am afraid that the wrong decision will be made.

I don't trust our current judicial system. It seems as though the rights of the minority are usually protected either over the rights of the majority or at a loss of rights to the majority. This is not equality. This is not equal protection under the law.

I don't understand how the appeals court could say that the Church's right to free speech trumps the family's freedom to engage in a religious ceremony (most funerals are fundementally religious ceremonies). Doesn't the right to free speech already have certain limitations?  For instance, if you say you have a bomb on an airplane, you are going to jail. Bottom line. Also, if someone were to run into a Mosque or a Synagogue during a religious ceremony and yell slanderous things about the respective religion, that person would go to jail for a hate crime, or disturbing the peace, or something.

Nobody is trying to take away the Westboro Baptist's Church's right to say whatever they want about Soldiers, Homosexuality, or whoever else they feel like offending. However, they should not be able to say things in a setting that disrupts another groups constitutional rights, for instance, during religious ceremonies.

I am usually a strict defender of constitutional rights, especially free speech. My favorite quote is from Voltaire "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to my death your right to say it".  I still agree with that. I will defend that church's right to say whatever hateful slanderous things they want. But I will also defend the fallen Marine's family's right to have their religious ceremony, have a peaceful assembly, and their right to privacy.

I should caveat this, I have a close friend who I lost to combat in Iraq. The protestors were at the funeral, but the Freedom Riders came with their flags and did an excellent job of blocking them, so the ceremony was not really disrupted. However, seeing those people with their signs saying such horrible things about my friends and other Americans whom we fight to defend was extrememly painful. I couldn't even imagine how much extra distress that would cause the family.

So take that for what you will, I might be a little biased. Let me know what you think.


  1. I, too, was disheartened by this sad story. I find it atrocious that this church is allowed to protest these funerals. Personally I feel that, like flag burning, protesting a soldier's funeral should be illegal. I wonder, how would this church feel if a group protesting their very existence showed up on a Sunday morning (inside the church) and yelled horrible things about their religion? I like your posts. Well written. I shall become a follower! Thanks!!

  2. Thanks, I think it should be illegal too. They can protest all they want, just not at a funeral. That should satisfy the 1st amendment rights.

    But honestly, these people would looooove it if you showed up at their church and protested. They would sue the crap out of you for violating THEIR freedom of religion, and since they are a minority group, they would most likely win.