This place matters

This place matters

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it**

I am deeply troubled by this news story*. Seems the bastards from the Westboro Baptist Church descended on Brandon, Mississippi to preach their gospel of hate outside the funeral of service member Staff Sgt. Jason Rogers, killed in Afghanistan.
Rather than take it lying down, several folks in the town brutally beat one of the protesters when he showed up from Kansas a few days before the funeral. Then a caravan of pickup trucks showed up the morning of the protest at the motel where the protesters were staying, and blocked in anyone with Kansas plates. Protesters who did make it to the protest site were taken to the police station to be questioned about a non-existent crime until after the funeral.
What upsets me about this is that I hate, and I don't use that word lightly, I hate the Westboro Baptist Church and everything they stand for. If one of them was standing in front of me, I'd want to kick his ass and take his first amendment rights away too. But there's the rub. The first amendment.
The stuff the folks of Brandon Mississippi pulled is exactly the same crap that police and other folk pulled on the civil rights protesters in the 60s. The stuff folks did in Brandon Mississippi is a down-and-out violation of the first amendment and as sick as it makes me to say it, that's not right. That's not American. I think.
I've been thinking lately about the other stuff people do about Westboro Baptist Church folk and others. UUs, and probably others, have this non-violent approach wherein they'll stand in front of the protesters with positive, loving signs of their own, or holding giant golf umbrellas, or wearing giant white wings (which I suspect was a tactic used to skirt a rule that you can't use a sign to block another protester's sign or something like that). Does that deny protesters their first amendment rights too?
I don't know, and it's late, but that's just on my mind. The first amendment even applies to evil, vile, hateful assholes. Else we could just brand everyone vile, hateful assholes if we didn't want to hear them. 
But maybe we could suspend the first amendment just this once. What do ya say?

* Note: I'm having trouble finding the story on any of the standard news Web sites, so I can't actually vouch for its veracity. I find the lack of news coverage or reputable first-hand accounts suspicious.
** Voltaire. I'm smart. See? I just quoted Voltaire.

The photo is the work of an Andrew Line. You can tell because it's awesome.


Joshua said...

It was at the funeral before this one that the father of the deceased said outright, "They need to be careful. They keep doing this, and someone's going to pull a gun." Problem? They are. In the right? Not to the vast, vast majority. Within their rights? Sadly, yes. And the family that runs the show is filled with lawyers who know their shit.

denny16 said...

There are events have peaceful protest has its place (not sure if these people are peaceful protesters, but my point remains the same), I don't really think an even where people are putting a loved one to rest is one of them. What was done to make sure these people could put their son/friend/brother/uncle/cousin/nephew/whatever to rest seems perfectly reasonable in my eyes. After all, they were pretty much stepping on someone else's 1st amendment rights too.

denny16 said...

Well, that'll teach me to not proofread before posting. So that should read: There are events where peaceful protest has its place... and I don't really think an event where people are putting a loved one to rest is one of them.