Sunday, March 6, 2011

Soldier funerals & those "church" protesters

I've been thinking a lot about free speech these last few days (ever since the Supremes handed down the 8-1 decision regarding the "church" (that term is loosely used here) protesters at the funerals of our fallen soldiers). I'm sharing these thoughts because writing helps me make sense of things that sometime seem to have no sense.

The Supremes - in a rare near-unanimous decision (only Justice Alito dissented) ruled that these "church" members can continue to protest: their speech is protected whether we like it or not. (I'm not sure how someone carrying a sign that reads "God hates fags" can really be called "religious", and how a group of people whose sole purpose seems to be to hurt the families of dead soldiers can be called a "church", but that's a discussion for another day.) Now ... I was pretty disgusted when the Supremes ruled that corporations have the same free-speech rights as us humans, but after thinking about this week's "church" decision, I have to agree with the 8 justices that are protecting the ugly speech.

Here's the thing ..... these "devoutly religious" "Christian" people are protesting at military funerals because they really believe that soldiers are dying because of our (the United States') tolerance of homosexuality. (Seriously???? Can these people read newspapers???) But what is so ironic is that these soldiers died protecting their right to say these things. It's a dilemma, isn't it? (Side thought: "Christian" ... try to picture Christ carrying a sign that reads "God hates fags". That'd do wonders for religion, wouldn't it??) So all things considered, I think the soldiers would also side with the Supremes even while they are disgusted by the protesting.

I hate the protests. I think the "church" people are wrong for putting grieving families through even more misery. I also hate KKK rallies and protesters at clinics that provide abortion services. But after musing over this for a few days, I've decided that I prefer the protests and rallies over the limiting of speech. If the court had stopped the funeral protests, what speech would be stopped next? It is the beauty - and sometimes gut-wrenching freedom - of our democracy to be able to protest without fear. We have our fallen soldiers to thank for protecting that freedom.

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