Saturday, November 13, 2010

Free Speech vs. Common Decency

Patriot Guard RidersImage by qnr via Flickr
I am a big proponent of the 1st Amendment and the right of free speech.  Even if I disagree with your point of view, I generally support your right to say it.  I do think, however that there is a time and place for you to be able to express those points of view, and that there are times when that right can and should be restricted.

The reason I bring this up today is this.  The vile and hateful Westboro Baptist Church will be in my vicinity over the next few days.  In my opinion this group, while claiming to represent Christian values are about as anti-Christian a group as they come.  I have spent a lot of my life around Baptist churches, and while they do consider homosexuality be sinful, those groups would not espouse the hatred that the Westboro Baptist Church spews forth.

Today, they will be bringing their "God Hates Fags" rhetoric to Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, MD.  The school is going to be presenting "The Laramie Project" a play based on interviews of residents of Laramie, WY where Matthew Shepard was murdered because he was gay.  As distasteful as their signs and protests will be, this particular protest is one that I have to reluctantly agree that they have the right to stage that protest.

Another protest that they will be launching is one where I have a bit more of an issue as to their rights.  On Monday, they will be protesting at the New Life Wesleyan Church in La Plata MD at the funeral of 19 year old Lance Cpl Terry Honeycutt who served his country well and lost his life in battle in Afghanistan.  The family and friends of this young, fallen hero deserve the right to pay their respects with dignity and without this bunch of assholes marring the day.

Charles Lollar, who I supported to be the Congressman of the 5th Congressional District of Maryland, has posted on his Facebook page requesting folks to show their support for the Honeycutt family.  The Patriot Guard Riders will be attendance to create an Honor Flag Line to help shield the family from the likes of the Westboro Baptist Church.

For years, I have felt that those who show the type of homophobia that is displayed by Fred Phelps, leader of Westboro Baptist, is that they are afraid to confront their own latent homosexuality.  I once joked to a friend that the reason he was homophobic was because he was afraid if he tried it, he might like it.  He replied, "You're damn right."  Me thinks Mr. Phelps doth protest too much, if you get my drift.

Here is hoping that when the Supreme Court decides the free speech case regarding the Westboro Baptist Church's protests at military funerals, that they will classify this type as speech in the same manner of "yelling fire in a crowded theater" and restrict these assholes from disrupting another military funeral. 
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