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MOUTHS WIDE OPEN: Supreme Court Upholds Free Speech

Imagine, as a father, your child goes off to war for your country and comes back in a body bag.  Now, imagine grieving friends and family walking into the church for the funeral ceremony, and just 1,000 feet away there are people singing in protest and holding up signs saying: “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” and “You’re Going to Hell.”

Well, it happened.  The father of that fallen soldier, Albert Snyder, sued those protestors who were members of the Westboro Baptist Church and won $11 million in damages.   The verdict, however, was later thrown out by the Fourth US District Court of Appeals, citing free speech, and the case was taken to the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court unanimously voted to protect free speech in the case.  Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion “Speech is powerful.  It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and-as it did here-inflict great pain…On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker. As a nation, we have chosen a different course-to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”  The only justice against the ruling was Samuel Alito who said, “Respondents’ outrageous conduct caused petitioner great injury, and the court now compounds that injury by depriving petitioner of a judgment that acknowledges the wrong he suffered.”

Meanwhile, the church has gained media attention with their controversial message, which is that God is punishing the United States for its tolerance of gay rights by allowing the deaths of US service members. The church plans to protest at more military and high profile events in the wake of the high courts’ decision.

We live in a nation of freedoms.  We can burn flags, practice whatever religion we’d like and pretty much say what we feel.  We also live in a nation of laws that protect these freedoms…which, in a case like this, goes against every moral fiber of our being.  Sometimes we think it would be great if we could legislate common sense, decency, manners and patriotism.  But, that’s not how a free society operates, yet we wonder where the grieving family’s right to privacy comes into play?  Why aren’t there boundaries to where protests can take place?  Don’t the protestors have to get a permit of some sort?  We guess we have to count on people to have enough sense to know that protesting a funeral is just painfully wrong. We should be bigger than that….we should be better as a nation than that. 

What ever happened to empathy?  How can anyone spit in the face of a grieving family?  What ever happened to “putting yourself in someone elses shoes,” and acting with moral decency.  At a time when every citizen in our country should be grateful to the families of our nation’s fallen heroes, we just kicked one in the gut.  To the Snyder family…America is grateful for your sacrifice…yeah, all 300 million of us (the protestors, too…for their right to spew hate outside of an American hero’s funeral). 

May God have mercy on their souls.

22 Responses to MOUTHS WIDE OPEN: Supreme Court Upholds Free Speech

  1. hudsonmama March 3, 2011 at 7:54 pm #
    Opinionated MAMA
    Party MAMAs

    Not a real fan of most of the supreme court justices, and I expect very conservative opinions and judgments to come from them in the future.

    But this time, I was proud and grateful that they did indeed do the right thing and protect public debate and free speech. The Snyder family and every other family who has to endure the presence of these twisted people, have my sympathy and support, for having to endure these idiots during their hour of grief. It's so immoral of these people, and God, I'm SURE finds these hideous baptists abhorent.

    • Anonymous March 3, 2011 at 8:21 pm #
      Opinionated MAMA

      I am so disappointed by the whole mess…I value freedom of speech, but give me a break? Where is the decency? And, why do we give these people the attention and hype they seek – we should ignore them! What a shameful situation.

  2. Anonymous March 4, 2011 at 3:31 am #
    Opinionated MAMA

    While I am for protecting our freedoms that our soldiers fought and died for. I am disgusted that our courts would protect such hateful speech. Now Mr Synder has to pay those waste of air over 100k, I did hear that people were donating money so he wouldn't have to come up with the money.

    • Anonymous March 4, 2011 at 11:35 am #
      Opinionated MAMA

      I absolutely agree with you KAT – see my post above!

  3. Anonymous March 4, 2011 at 5:28 am #
    Opinionated MAMA

    Well I guess it is just like Chief Justice Roberts wrote: The first Amendment requires us "to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate." All but one (Justice Alito) voted to uphold free speech in this case. I wonder why the four "liberal" Justices voted for free speech in this case but voted against it in the Citizen's United case.

    • Anonymous March 4, 2011 at 11:27 am #
      Opinionated MAMA

      The liberal justices voted against Citizen's United because it treated corporations like citizens – corporations should never have more power and influence than citizens over our gov't. Corporations, domestic and foreign, can now spend as much money as they want to influence our elections. That is not how it is supposed to work in the United States of America.

    • Anonymous March 4, 2011 at 11:58 am #
      Opinionated MAMA

      Corporations are made up of citizens–owned and operated by citizens. They are no different than unions that are owned and operated by citizens or organizations like Move-on.org that are set up by citizens. Foreign corporations are not allowed to spend on political campaigns. This is information that President Obama got wrong when he made the accusation in his press conference immediately following the decision. In addition accusations that the American Chamber of Commerce uses money collected from foreign businesses are also not true. They are very careful to be sure of this. They keep any money from foreign branches of American Companies separate the same way International unions like SEIU keep their funds from international sources separate.

    • Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 8:30 am #
      Opinionated MAMA

      However, the views of a corporation may conflict with the personal views of a citizen/employee, so there is a big difference. Plus, corporations aren't limited to collecting donations from employees/stakeholders – they can use any of their unlimited resources – nor do they get to vote on who they donate to (kind of like donation without representation). The better analogy is between unions and PACs, which have a specific agenda and collect donations to support it. And, as far as foreign money, think about how much was spent in the mid-terms? It was unprecedented. I am going to pull up the Citizen's United ruling and read the whole thing (yikes!). Personally, I think the process is gross and we desperately need campaign finance reform, but it doesn't look like that will happen anytime soon?! In the meantime, I'm sure the right will argue their side and so will the left, so the truth is somewhere in the middle! But, I did a quick search, so check out the link: http://www.examiner.com/political-buzz-in-national/obama-calls-foreign-money-contributions-to-campaigns-a-threat-to-democracy

    • Anonymous April 30, 2011 at 3:47 am #
      Opinionated MAMA

      Ok tiredmama, just as i thought, here comes the Administration's response to Citizen's United. Read this editorial from the WSJ. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704132204576284630941397792.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

      Perhaps it will help explain the dangerous road the left is taking in their quest to limit speech. Their proposal is far worse than anything the Supreme Court may have done in the Citizen's United decision (in my opinion, all they did was uphold the Constitution). This Administration, by forcing an end to privacy, puts anyone seeking a government contract at risk of retaliation by those who may not like their opinions. Privacy is a mighty precious commodity these days. The internet has made it simple for anyone, anywhere in the world to know intimate details about you–where you live, how much you paid for your house, if you ever had a judgement against you, if you were ever divorced, or missed a child support payment, what you might be blogging about on O'Mama! This information is available with or without your permission. Now the government wants to know who you support (and who you do not support) before they will allow you to compete for a federal contract. Are you worried yet?
      The point here is that we must insist that our judges follow the constitution, even if it means that nasty people with nasty ideas get to air them in public (example Westboro Baptist Church). And we must stand up against any attempt to interpret the Constitution in order to diminish it.

  4. Anonymous March 4, 2011 at 6:00 am #
    Opinionated MAMA

    Freedom of speech is one of the greatest rights we have as US citizens. There is a time and a place to protest the government and a funeral, even that of a soldier, is NOT the right place. Some Christians they are. I support the cause, but the means are a bit crazy!

  5. Anonymous March 4, 2011 at 6:35 am #
    Opinionated MAMA

    Each and every member of the Westboro Baptist Church continues to show their ignorance and total lack of respect and tolerance for their fellow man by demonstrating at the funerals of servicemen/women. We have shown more tolerant of them as a church then they are of us Nation. WWJD?

    • Anonymous March 4, 2011 at 11:34 am #
      Opinionated MAMA

      @papa – WWJD? I know Jesus personally, and he would tell those lost souls to find some love and compassion and let go of the HATE. (-: However, I am simply disgusted and think it is beyond disrespectul and should be a hate crime because the pain inflicted on someone grieving at such an intimate and raw moment in their life is absolutely criminal and is an invasion of that family's privacy!

  6. Anonymous March 5, 2011 at 6:51 am #
    Opinionated MAMA

    i understand the feelings but if you make one type of speech illegal whats to stop other types, as disgusting as what these people do.

    • Anonymous March 5, 2011 at 10:20 am #
      Opinionated MAMA

      There is a fine line for sure and each case is different. But, we already have limits on FREE speech…it is illegal to scream "fire" in a crowded building or say "bomb" on an airplane…it is illegal to slander someone. Why? Because words can be dangerous or damaging. But, we don't talk about those cases so much anymore…we should, so people understand that they can't abuse our freedoms. When a bunch of insane people do insane things in the name of "freedom" that's when we start to cross the line altogether. I'm not sure what the answer is, maybe just public disgust, but I'm grateful for the forum to discuss it.

  7. Anonymous March 5, 2011 at 2:04 pm #
    Opinionated MAMA

    what about the kkk or ncpa or blank panthers, or muslims or catholics,or pro lifers or

  8. Anonymous March 6, 2011 at 12:20 pm #
    Opinionated MAMA

    Wouldn't it be nice if some people didn't feel the need to tear others apart and demean them. So if you don't die from extremely old age, that's a sign from G-d that you were a "bad" person? I believe the people from that church have no heart, no empathy. And I hope that, like the suicide bombers, they get what's coming to them in the end… and not 70 virgins or endless time with G-d. They are certainly entitled to their beliefs, but let them keep them in church.

    • Anonymous March 7, 2011 at 8:10 am #
      Opinionated MAMA

      The whole episdode is so disgusting. I can't even imagine the pain of this family…our country OWES them the respect and dignity of burying their son in peace. I value our free speech, but NOT hate speech. This church group is a hate group and they spew hate speech. The Supreme Court may have ruled against the Snyder family, but the court of public opinion is on their side!

  9. Anonymous May 2, 2011 at 9:06 pm #
    Opinionated MAMA

    How can a truly Christian person stand in front of a church that is having a funeral of anyone let alone one of our soldiers and say "Thank God for dead Soldiers…". It's there freedom of speech we are protecting amoung other things. If they hate us so much go to another country and speakout like that and see what happens. There enjoying their freedom from our dead soldiers and our live ones. They shouldn't have the right to say anything. What have they done for this country???

  10. Anonymous June 4, 2011 at 10:21 am #
    Opinionated MAMA

    I would like to see loving people protest the church responsible for these deplorable actions. Every time the doors are open (or even when they're closed) I would like to see a few hundred people carrying with scripture about God's rules on loving our neighbors. As my pastor put it one day: "We don't need to ask God what to do about our neighbor…. He already commanded us to love them". Crying out against haters empowers them… maybe loving them, even if they never 'get' it might be a powerful witness. If not to them, to others observing.

  11. Anonymous June 4, 2011 at 10:23 am #
    Opinionated MAMA

    I would like to see loving people protest the church responsible for these deplorable actions. Every time the doors are open (or even when they're closed) I would like to see a few hundred people carrying with scripture about God's rules on loving our neighbors. As my pastor put it one day: "We don't need to ask God what to do about our neighbor…. He already commanded us to love them". Crying out against haters empowers them… maybe loving them, even if they never 'get' it might be a powerful witness. If not to them, to others observing.

    • Anonymous June 4, 2011 at 11:01 am #
      Opinionated MAMA

      That is EXACTLY what we should do!!! We have to be true to who we are in dealing with HATE in any form – love and reason should always win out.

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