Thursday, March 03, 2011

SCOTUS gets it right, for once

i'm glad the Supreme Court ruled the way they did in the Westboro Baptist Church case.

there, i said it.

does that mean i approve of Westboro's message? no. i disagree entirely with their message of pure homophobia cloaked in religious garb.

does that mean i approve of Westboro's tactics? no. their tactics are obnoxious, and thoroughly inconsiderate to the decedents, and all of their families and friends who have come to mourn their deaths and celebrate their lives.

but, i can't get behind the people that say that the Supreme Court should have ruled against Westboro because it's disgusting that they're waving their "thank God for dead soldiers" signs at military funeral. those are two completely different issues.

am i saying that there shouldn't be any limits whatsoever to freedom of speech? no. there are fringe cases, like yelling "fire" in a crowded movie theatre, that are likely enough to lead directly to bodily harm that they shouldn't be constitutionally protected. but, i'm saying there really shouldn't be much more limit than that. as much as we don't like to face that fact, freedom of speech exists to protect our right to say things that people--even the vast majority of people--find incorrect, or even appalling.

this applies even more strongly when people are making commentary on issues of public concern. even though most of us think they are total wingnuts for celebrating the deaths of soldiers as a part of God's revenge for the country being too tolerant of homosexuality...the Supreme Court is right in assessing that this is a commentary on a matter of public concern. look at it this way...if it were anyone else talking about how tolerant or intolerant this country is of a particular group of its citizens is something that concerns the public. the fact that it's Westboro Baptist doesn't make them special: it neither gives them extra protection, nor gives them lowered protection to speak about issues of public concern.

the fact that they organize protests at funerals? that makes them asshats, to be sure. but, it doesn't make them immune from Constitutional protection for speaking their message in public. just as the Constitution protects you and the people you like, it also protects your worst enemy, and protects the people you can't stand.

1 comment:

Colleen said...