by Pam Zubeck
I remember in 2005 when members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., showed up in Colorado Springs to complain that Focus on the Family wasn't sufficiently intolerant of gays and that the Catholic Church was filled with demons.
I was assigned to watch the group picket St. Mary's Church carrying signs with pictures of the pope with horns drawn onto his head. Even small children marched up and down the street.
Without a doubt, disgusting crazy people don't come any more insane than these maniacs, but ya know what? Whatever they say is still protected by the First Amendment.
So rules the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, saying protests and and picketing at military funerals are protected by the Constitution which guarantees free speech and prohibits government establishment of religion. The ruling said those First-Amendment rights even take precedence over the right to privacy of mourners at those funerals, which is pretty hard to swallow for people in the military community, there's no doubt.
The New York Times reports:
The court decided 8-1 to uphold a lower court decision in favor of members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., who frequently stage protests at private military funerals to promote the church's claim that God is angry at America for its tolerance of homosexuality, with signs bearing messages like "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," "You're Going to Hell" and "God Hates the USA."
The ruling was a defeat for Albert Snyder, the father of a Marine killed in Iraq in 2006, whose funeral at a Catholic church in Westminster, Md., was picketed by the Westboro group.
It should make every American proud that our Constitution is so resilient and powerful that it even protects someone as base and ignorant as these nut jobs. In fact, that's the point, isn't it?
Without these kinds of protections, well, we saw what happened in Nazi Germany. By the way, one of the first segments of German society that Hitler wiped out was labor unions. Next were political parties. Or maybe it was the other way around. Whoever didn't agree was summarily executed or thrown into a death camp to await execution.