Thursday, March 3, 2011
Apparently the saying most of us heard as children, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all," didn't get through to Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist church.
Phelps and his family have made a habit of protesting the funerals of US soldiers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They believe that the deaths of these soldeirs are God's way of punishing the US for condoning homosexuality.
The big news this Wednesday was that the US Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of the Westboro Church's right to protest under the first ammendment's protection of free speech. If you missed the story watch this video.
It is difficult to accept that the horrible things said by these ignorant, disturbed people are protected speech, but they are.
The Supreme Court was right to defend the protestors, because free speech is something that needs to be protected. When we restrict this right only because we dislike the speech, we run the grave risk of losing this right in important matters. That is why the court ruled as it did and why newspapers and other organizations supported the Westboro's case.
I am glad that the Supreme Court ruled as they did. However, I believe that deceased and active members of the armed forces deserve our respect. Homosexuals also deserve our respect. So, I'd like to make the following suggestion:
Don't sue this church, don't say they should be thrown in jail, don't (negatively) counter-protest,
don't simply complain and condemn there actions. Instead, do three simple things.
1. Ignore the Westboro church protestors. It is difficult, but these people are after their fifteen minutes of fame and if we stop paying attention to them and feeding their egos they'll go home.
2. Let active members of the military and the families of deceased service members know they have people who support them and want them safe. Channel the energy you would otherwise spend denouncing the protests into supporting the military personnel in your life.
3. Also let the homosexual individuals in your life know there are people who support and love them.
We won't be able to, and really shouldn't, force these irrational protestors to stop spreading their hateful message, but we can drown it in an outpouring of goodwill.
Because if you do have something nice to say, you should say it.