Mewsings from Lowecat (aka Indianacat)

My rants, ravings, and overall 'mewsings' on life, the universe, and everything.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

An Unpopular Decision That Preserves Freedom of Speech

Unless, like the proverbial ostrich, you've had your head in the sand, then you know that the US Surpreme Court ruled in favor of that cache of nuts masquerading as religious zealots under the name of Westboro Baptist Church.
In an 8-1 vote, the highest court in the land has opined that not only dose this group have the right to protest at military funerals with their particular brand of hate speech; it is protected under the tenets of free speech as guaranteed under the First Amendment.
To say that the decision is unpopular is an understatement. This is one of those Kobayshi Maru situations; no clear win. Damned if you do/damned if you don't. Unlike James T. Kirk, the court couldn't reprogram the computer in order to find a way to win.
It's a double edged sword. Just because the protests that the members of this so - called 'church' make us angry and are hurtful to already grieving relatives of fallen military heroes, who is to judge that their comments should be censored, and if so, by whom?
Yeah, these religious people piss me off with what they're sayin'; frankly, the God I know may be jealous, but their contention that God is allowing military men and women to die in battle because America accepts homosexuality is WRONG! Hell, all a body has to do is look at the rainbow. God promised millenia ago that He would never wipe out Mankind again like he did in the time of Noah. The rainbow was His on going reminder that He would keep His word. Since homosexuals and military men/women are part of that all mankind thing, their contention holds about as much water as a leaky sieve.
But, they have the right, according to our nation's highest court, to hold this belief, and to practice that belief, and to shove that belief down our throats. These nuts have already announced that they plan to escalate their protests, now that it is 'protected'. They still have to maintain that 1000 foot distance.
While the legal battle might be over, there are plenty of things that decent minded people can do about this. We can protest right back. The Patriot Riders are a prime example of that protest. They travel to military funerals to ensure that the bereaved aren't subjected to the Westboro hate. They hold the American Flag high so that the protesters can't be seen and will idle their motorcycle engines in order to drown out the Westboro hate chants.
I saw their presence first hand when my unofficial god daughter's best friend died in the line of duty; thanks to the Patriot Riders, the family, including my UGD, were able to mourn their loss in peace and dignity. If anyone from Westboro was there, we didn't see 'em. Thank God they were there, or I might've wound up in jail for takin' after the Westboro haters with my baseball bat.
As much as their decision is distasteful to me, I can see why they ruled the way they did. I don't like it, and don't agree with it in my heart. Yet, if they'd ruled any other way, then a dangerous president would be set. We already have problems with censorship these days. Remember the IN government worker who lost his job for comments he made on twitter on his personal time?
Remember the Moral Majority and other groups who attempt to enforce what they think is acceptible on the rest of us?
Perhaps all y'all are too young to remember it; WKRP in Cincinnati ran an episode about a religious fundamentalist who approached the radio station's General Manager (GM) about the music being played on the station, which was rock and roll. The fundamentalist was concerned about the music influencing the young to partake in sex and drugs, and he also had concerns over the language in rock music. Keep in mind that this was in 1978-79-80. The GM, a believer himself, thought the fundamentalist had a point, and asked his staff to not play certain music.
Well, as the weeks passed, the fundamentalist's demands grew. The banned song list became broader. It wasn't just songs about sex and drugs, but ideas. When the fundamentalist put John Lennon's 'Imagine' on the list of banned songs, the GM said 'But there are no bad words in this song."
The fundamentalist said, "But the words say 'there is no God."
The GM pointed out, "The song says 'imagine'."
The fundamentalist immediately replied, "It's banned."
The GM ended his relationship with the fundamentalist, who then invoked economic boycotts against the station.
Again, there was no clear winner in this scenario. The fundamentalist, rightly or wrongly, believed he was doing the right thing. The GM felt likewise. The end result, no one won or lost. The fundamentalist took his cause to the businesses that bought time on the station, demanding they pull their ads or face a lack of business. Some could afford to stand up to him, the ones that couldn't, pulled their ads out of fear.
So even though the nation's highest court has given the Westboro haters the freedom to protest, we have the same freedom to protest them. When you see the Patriot Riders, support them. Hell, grab a flag and join 'em. It's easy to yell insults at the Westboro haters. Sometimes fighting fire with fire doesn't always work. The fire just gets bigger. But fire can be fought by smothering it, and by dousing it.
So perhaps the best thing to do is let them make their little protests, and go on about our business of honoring our fallen military heroes. In the long run, the very blood given by that military man or woman allows idiots like the Westboro haters, as well as people like you and me, to give voice to our thoughts and feelings, no matter how popular or unpopular they might be.
A postscript. here in Indiana, a local county judge has ordered that anonymous internet posters must be given up by the web services hosting message boards when/if a person has been accused of something. here's the link:
Will that ruling stand up in light of the Supreme Court's ruling? It remains to be seen.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home