The Westboro Baptist church controversy has raised some serious concerns about protesting and freedom of speech. The controversy centers on the first amendment right to protest with hateful signs at military funerals. These signs read as such, “God hates dead soldiers,” “God hates fags,” and the demented list goes on.
While many disagree with their manner and context of their protests, some are concerned that if we take away their right to demonstrate freedom of speech…that other protest groups and activists will be in danger of not being able to exercise their right to free speech. Does that mean the Tea Party could lose their right to demonstrate?
I do agree that there is a fine line here. On one side you can’t exactly pick and choose who gets to express their freedom of speech, yet on the other side should that allow for hateful and hurtful things to be said? When the first amendment was written, it wasn’t based on specific types of speech. It was based on all speech.
So my only logical argument here is with this question: Do rights rule over responsibility? Just because something is a right, does it make it a responsible thing? Sure, these “church” goers have the right to express how they feel. They can believe all they want that God hates soldiers (although I know differently) but does that mean they don’t have a responsibility to at least express them in a way that doesn’t further hurt grieving family and friends?
Isn’t the soldier’s funeral the exact representation of their right to even gather and picket their hateful signs?
I have learned to accept that changing their minds is unlikely. Obviously the hate and deception in their minds is buried deep. But I go back to my question, do rights rule over responsibility?
It stems back to other controversies, like the building of a mosque near Ground Zero. Yes, it is their right but is it responsible? It is issues like these where we really have to dig down deep and ask ourselves that question.
I think rights in America are abused when they are used in hurtful and hateful ways. I am quite sure that is not what our Founding Fathers had in mind. You can think all of the hateful things you want but it doesn’t give you the right to tread on someone’s day of grieving.
I believe that with our rights come responsibility and we better start making sure the two lines up with each other.