Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Westboro, Free Speech, and Wanting to Shut Them Up Anyway

Could they be getting tired of their own rhetoric?
I first heard about the Westboro Baptist Church when someone stopped by the Red Cross office with a petition to keep them from protesting at Fort Campbell. We all signed the petition the instant we found out what they were about, and I was one of the people that stopped by to confront them as they protested. These vile, disgusting, cultish people made me ill. They stand there in protest, holding signs that say things like "Thank God for IED's" and just hope for you to touch them, push them, or even get too close, so that they can have you arrested. The hate they spew forth is such that inspires people to do crazy things to shut them up. I can understand the impulse. If I didn't have two kids, I may have spent the better part of my time following them around too. My husband was in Iraq at the time of their protest, and has served over there two other times as well, and let me tell you, god has nothing to do with what's going on over there! The feeling they inspire in me is horrible. I have had daydreams of smashing them to bits if they showed up to a funeral I attended. Arrested or not, I'd have to take one or two of them down with me.
However, it seems that these guys may be loosing their verve, according to The Examiner. This is what I really want to hear! The students and community showed up to give them hell, and it seems it worked. I love the fact that so many people show up to protest the protesters. When they are outnumbered 500 to 6 at some of these protests, I hope it shows them what they are up against.
They were going to be here, to protest at the funeral of Staff Sgt. Willie J. Harley Jr., and I was fully prepared to head over and be apart of the protest, but instead they traded the protest for an hour on the radio. Now, it may seem that letting them on the radio is a bigger platform, but think about it...I can turn the radio off...but the mourners at the funeral cannot turn those signs off.
I am especially proud of the creative ways some people have stopped them:

"The church -- which has become known for its protests of military funerals, claiming soldiers' deaths are a sign from God because gays can serve in the military if they don't reveal their sexual orientation -- also attempted to protest the funeral of Cpl. Matt Dillon, of Aiken, who was killed by an IED in Iraq on Dec. 11, 2007.

Dillon's parents, Neal and Lucy, told The Augusta Chronicle earlier this year that they didn't learn of the group's attempt to crash the funeral until after their son was buried.

According to the Dillons, a member of the Patriot Guard, veteran bikers who provide security for families during services, noticed three vans with Kansas license plates headed toward the area the day of Matt's funeral. The biker called officials in Aiken suggesting a time they might be able to intercept the group. As the van crossed the Savannah River into South Carolina, they were pulled over by law enforcement at the rest stop for a "safety check," which took three hours to complete."

I can't help but think that there should be something we can do legally. The First Amendment is my favorite, and to me one of the most important ones, but with that right comes great responsibility. You cannot cry fire in a crowded theater when there is none, and you cannot call people to violence, so why should you be able to disrespect funerals? It is a very slippery slope, one I don't like to stand at the edge of, and I realize that being married to the army makes me entirely too close to the subject to be objective, but there has to be a better solution than hoping the cops get creative. What do you think?


Anonymous said...

I am so happy people are finding ways to stop them. I am even happier they decided against going to that little girls funeral in Arizona. That would have been enough to make me hop in my car to help protest them. The very idea makes my blood boil.

linda said...

now they are showing up at schools. what gives them the right to show up at schools with their vileness. i don't want my daughter hearing it. They are scheduled to be at my daughter's school May 27th