Pastor Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church have been disturbing
our country since 1996. First landing on the radar with protests at funerals for gay men killed by anti-gay violence, Phelps and freaks are mainly an all relatives church of roughly 60 people who resemble more of a cult than a religious congregation. After protesting at a military funeral of a non gay serviceman to promote their message, the father of the dead soldier fought back by filing a $2.9 million lawsuit for invasion of privacy and intent to inflict emotional distress.
The question that lays before the Supreme Court is whether the first amendment right of free speech should be amended to keep protests from occuring at funerals. As vile and disgusting as the Westboro devotees may be and as misguided a message as it is, one should not be persuaded by the emotion of the argument. There are better ways to control acts of violence (that’s right I consider them to be violent) than to tread down the slippery slope of granting exceptions to the most sacred of amendments. If the Supreme Court follows the pathos of the argument rather than the logos of the argument, we indeed could see a snowball effect where our true American rights are violated. What if we add exceptions to protests that include no protesting at universities or during war time? What dangerous holes do we open up because we have been deeply offended?
I fully heartedly support the men and women of the military, but not always the government that sent them fighting. I stand next to the gay and transgender activists and support their freedoms and all they should be afforded as equal citizens. But I cannot get behind a rash decision to make exceptions to a rule that makes me part of who I am. Fred Phelps and crew may have one of the most disgusting messages I have ever witnessed, but that should never take away anyone’s right to offend somebody.