Sunday, March 6, 2011

If you can't Protect the Speech you Don't Like, you don't Have Free Speech

The title of this post is a comment my political sciences teacher at MTI technical college told my classmates and me during a lesson on the Constitution one day. No more apparent is that example than in the Supreme Court's decision to protect Fred Phelps and his group of inbred cultists who have the audacity to call themselves a church.

I have nothing but dislike and loathing for the practices of the Westboro group, as I've stated in previous posts about them, such as when they protested the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards, or when they lauded the actions of psychopath Jarod Lee Loughner when he ended the lives of several, and injured several more, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

The act of horrific hate I'm referring to comes in the form of yet another funeral protest, this one (of course) a soldier who died bravely in Afghanistan (or was it Iraq?) Either way, this young man who gave his life for his country was at the time the latest target of the Westboro crazies. It had gotten so out of hand, in fact, that Bill O'Reilly of the O'Reilly factor had gotten involved and actually picked up the tab for the plaintiff's legal fees, said plaintiff being the young soldier's own father.

But now the supreme court has ruled that Fred and the gang can protest all they want at soldier's funerals under the First Amendment. This is wildly inconsistent of them given previous rulings on speech, particularly in cases involving the Catholic church or other branches of Christianity. How can it be that these people can spew nothing but hate at a solemn time of grief for a family who now has to bury their son, yet a single nativity scene on a front lawn is a violation of that same right?

Before I go on a free speech rant, though, I should make my point clear. The Supreme Court was right to rule as they did. In THIS case, at least. I've got plenty of opinions on bogus free speech rulings by the Supreme Court in the past, but in this case they did the right thing. No matter which side of the aisle you're on, once we start banning certain types of speech, it's basically all over. Despicable as it may have been for these people to do what they do, the only way we can stop them is by not giving them a forum from which to spew their hate. If private broadcasters would disallow more than barely minimal coverage of these wackos, their message would just be ineffective whistling past the graveyard.