Yesterday, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in favor of The Westboro Baptist Church, siding with them that they were entitled to protest at the funerals of fallen soldiers. The Church contends that the United States is being punished by “God” for “the sin of homosexuality.”
Religion, Politics, freedom of speech, homophobia, and respect for the dead. How could I not have an opinion on this.
To start with, I am a staunch freedom of speech supporter (if you read even a smidgen of what I put up, you realize quickly that I have to be). If you ever want to see me fly into a blind rage, tell me that I can't say something.
When I was sitting on the Board of Directors for a theater group I was a part of, I received an e-mail one day from a director questioning whether or not a particular script should be censored for language. The e-mail was about two sentences long; my tirade response was about a page and a half. I made reference to Edward Albee once saying that he'd rather see the theater burn to the ground than have one word in his script changed, pointed out that theater exists to expose people to various points-of-view, and concluded it by saying words to the effect of “will I vote for censorship? FUCK NO!”
The show went on, uncensored.
Freedom of speech does exist to protect unpopular speech. Nobody is really afraid of saying “watching a sunset is beautiful,” could ever be a phrase that would fall under the attack of censorship. So yes, Westboro Baptist has the right to spew their venomous, misguided, philosophically twisted rhetoric at a military funeral as much as the Klan has the right to march through Harlem. It does not make it right though.
Even as brazen as I can be sometimes, there are some lines that I do not cross out of respect (and honestly, sometimes I am outnumbered). Sure I tend to rail against the wars that we are involved in, but I don't wish our troops any harm. Yes, I think religion is a fairytale, but I don't sneak into churches in the middle of the night and replace Bibles with copies of Goldilocks or Rapunzel. I see that as being in poor taste (however, the replacing the Bibles may be a little funny...especially with the Westboro Baptists since they obviously haven't read the damn thing).
If you're against the wars: take to the streets, march on Washington, write Congress. If you're against homosexuality: feel free to make a picket sign, organize a march, or create a blog to announce your narrow-minded idiocy. If you don't like what I have to say, read something else (it's called freedom of choice) but don't go to the supermarket and knock all of the apple juice off the shelf because you have a problem with what I do; it's called displacement, and it's unhealthy.
I have stood over the graves of over 400 people. I have watched over 400 families say goodbye to someone that has died. I have shoveled the earth on, and laid to rest the memories of over 400 lives. I did it all without telling the families that I thought their hopes for an afterlife for their loved ones was, while poetically nice, realistically foolish. I kept my mouth shut, and my ideas to myself because it was not the time, the place, or the situation for me to speak. Westboro should also know that a funeral is not the place to carry out their agenda. Even the English and the Germans had a Christmas Day cease fire during World War I because they felt it would be in poor taste to continue fighting during what they saw as something sacred.