Free speech rights are probably among if not the most important rights we have as a free people. I mean if you can’t say what you think you can hardly call yourself free. But while I certainly see there is a slippery slope leading away from First Amendment free speech rights anytime a court rules against some type of free speech behavior I see no threat to liberty by a court ruling a father can sue for damages against a so-called church group who protested at his soldier son’s funeral, saying such things as “God hates you” (for serving in Iraq).
Initially, the father won a multi-million judgment in a lower court only to have it overturned at a higher court level. Now the case is before the U.S. Supreme Court, and a story I just read said the justices are ”struggling” with the issue of whether you can limit free speech rights in such a case.
This all revolves around the despicable actions of something called the Westboro Baptist Church, whose pastor and members protest against U.S. Middle East war activities at funerals of dead soldiers.
While I know it is the job of the justices on the high court to think hard (and I am glad they do), maybe sometimes you can analyze something too hard.
Common decency would seem to dictate to me that one does not protest at a funeral.
At the same time I would not argue at all that these protestors could not carry signs that say such vile things as “God hates you”, just not at the poor soldier’s funeral. End of story.
I know. What then constitutes a funeral? The ceremony at a church? graveside services? A procession down a public street? Well that is why we have courts. But let’s hope that retaining freedom does not entail throwing out common decency.