March 6, 2011

Thank A Soldier!

Posted in News at 5:23 am by brittanylschmidt

While freedom of speech is a natural-born right for all citizens of America, many have been disappointed with those who take advantage of it in the wrong way.  On March 2, 2011, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the right to Freedom of Speech, siding with a group of Westboro Baptist church members in Kansas who hold anti-gay protests at soldier funerals.  The Supreme Court will not allow the members of the church to be sued because they are protected under the First Amendment, which includes the right to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly.

In 2006, Albert Snyder sued a Baptist church in Topeka, Kansas for disgracing his son’s funeral, who was an Iraq soldier killed at the age of 20. The Baptist church members held an anti-gay protest just outside the funeral area holding signs that read, “Thank God for dead soldiers.”  These protesters have been traveling around the U.S. protesting in multiple different states surrounding fallen soldier funerals.

Snyder was originally granted $5 million dollars, but was quickly reversed when the members of the church insisted they were practicing their First Amendment.  According to David Savage, Tribune Washington Bureau, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. insisted that if the protests are conducted in a peaceful manner, they are protected and there is nothing they can do.

“Westboro believes that America is morally flawed; many Americans might feel the same about Westboro.  It is certainly hurtful and its contribution to public discourse may be negligible. But Westboro addressed matters of public import on public property, in a peaceful manner.”- Roberts

The members of Westboro Baptist church think soldiers are being killed because God is trying to get revenge on the ills of American society.  Fred Phelps and Margie Phelps are the leaders of the church and strongly believe this nation has crossed every line of God’s standards and are trying to uphold the standards of God through anti-gay protesting.

“When you have a public funeral and you broadcast to the nation that dead soldier is a hero and that God is blessing America, we will be there and tell you that God is cursing America.”- Margie Phelps

As an American, I understand that our freedom and liberties did not come at a low price.  Our history has shown that thousands of soldiers have given their lives to protect this country and preserve the rights of every American citizen, specifically Freedom of Speech.  The freedom to stand up and speak about what you believe in, but what happens when people use their freedom of speech to disgrace those who fought for it?

I cannot even begin to explain how disgusted I feel after reading about Westboro Baptist church members view of America.

I don’t understand how they can dishonor and disgrace soldiers who have given their lives for their freedom, so that they can have the right to speak and protest.

I urge you to watch this video about the protestors and develop your own opinion after hearing the hateful words directly from the Baptist church members mouth. It hurts the worst to see them smile while saying these negative things.  

It seems completely contradictory and ignorant of them to fight against those who gave them their rights in the first place.

It is really hard to justify the Supreme Court ruling on this lawsuit.  No one should have to go through what Albert Snyder’s family went through trying to give their son a peaceful burial.  I think the Freedom of Speech needs to be protected, but it seems immoral and  disrespectful to allow anti-gay protestors to speak their mind at a fallen soldiers funeral.  These soldiers should be held to the highest respect and thanked for serving our country and protecting our freedom.

Wisconsin, along with Indiana, Oklahoma, and Missouri, passed laws limiting protests at funerals.  Many other states are looking into passing laws but want to make sure they are compliant with the First Amendment.

These protesters have left a horrible imprint on the minds of family and friends after disgracing their loved one at  peaceful funeral services.  No ones funeral should ever be interrupted by angry, American hating soldiers, especially those who have fought to keep America safe.  I understand the Supreme Court was protecting the First Amendment of the Westboro Baptist church protestors, but I wish they could have done something else.

My father has taught me to thank and respect those who have fought for this country.

When he sees a soldier walking through a store, he makes it his job to thank them and tell them they are greatly appreciated.  I urge everyone to do the same!


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