Snyder v. Phelps

If there is one thing that unites the left and the right it is the disgust we feel over the Westboro Baptist Church gang led by the monster that is Fred Phelps.

The Supreme Court is now hearing a case for the Westboro Baptist Church’s right to their sickening protests at the funerals of fallen soldiers. The Phelps have also made a habit of protesting at gay funerals, but this case involves just one family of a fallen soldier.

Slate has an excellent peek into the Supreme Court yesterday as they heard the case.

Interestingly, pundits from both the right and the left argue that as horrible as the Phelps are, they have a 1st amendment right to protest. Others say that a funeral is a certain circumstance where the family has a right to grieve in peace. Other worry that if we make an exception in this case, there may be exceptions made in other cases. If the 1st amendment means anything, then it means all speech is protected. Even those we loathe.

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It made me think of something that happened in the airport recently. I was with my 13 year old and he was asking me about what security measures were like before 9-11, and when I was young. We were waiting in line for security and he asked something about a bomb. I quickly told him not to say anything like that. He started to ask a question and I put my hand over his mouth. I explained how you cannot even say a word like that in an airport or they could take you aside and interrogate you. He shook his head that he understood.

As we stood there it occurred to me that there are many countries in this world where everyday life is like that for people. They have to watch what they say even in their own home. They cannot speak out against the government. They cannot have funny cartoons published about their leaders. They cannot write about how awful their government is. It reminded me how blessed we are to have this freedom of speech. So blessed.

So I have mixed emotions about the Phelps case. They are monsters. I can’t even imagine what makes them so evil. But is it worth sacrificing even a tiny bit of our freedom of speech to silence them?

The Patriot Guard Riders have long attended military funerals and put themselves and their bikes running in front of the Phelps and their ilk so that families don’t have to see them. But I feel the whole community should come out and surround them. So next time you see that a military funeral will be in your area, take some friends and join the Patriot Riders in protecting the grieving families.

Maybe the Phelps have the right to protest, but we have a right to stand in front of them in love for those who have lost loved ones.

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