Today the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church essentially giving them the freedom to continue protesting at military funerals. I would like to say this disappointed me. I would like to say that this made me ashamed of our Supreme Court. I would like to say that having to see the children of these folks carrying signs that read “Thank God for IED’s”, “God hates Fags” and “Thank God for 9/11” doesn’t bother me… but I’d be lying.
Ya’ll know me well enough by now I hope to realize I don’t often speak of my politics or my religious affiliations. To me those conversations are about as useful as teats on a boar, and not worth the powder to blow them to hell. So I won’t get into the political or religious ramifications of this ruling. I’ve had personal contact with this group, and I still don’t understand them or their message. Here is what I do know…
In the United States of America we have rights afforded to all citizens, rights that many of our military members fought and died for honorably. Some of those basic rights include, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom to vote. Now of all of these freedoms, which one could you do without?
I know that makes me sound nuttier than a squirrel turd, because obviously no one is threatening to take away any of your rights. But there’s the rub ain’t it? If we allow the Supreme Court of the United States of America to take away the Westboro Baptist Church’s rights of free speech, freedom of religion or freedom of assembly… well we’d be selling the mule to buy a plow! It would only be a matter of time before someone in government decided that like the Westboro Baptist Church if we don’t like the message then let’s make it illegal to protest. What would happen to all those folks in Wisconsin who are protesting their Governor’s recent decisions? What about those Tea Party assemblies that protest the government? And what if your church were contributing to a political campaign and was suddenly shut down because of it? Where would we draw the line when it comes to politics or speech we don’t agree with?
Don’t get me wrong, I personally would like to slap every member of the Westboro Baptist Church like the red headed stepchild they are… but that only serve to prove their message of hatred and intolerance is right. I personally like to think that I and many others like me have served, fought and died honorably to uphold these basic rights. And although we don’t much care for the message, and would like to shoot the messenger, they still have a right to say it because in a democracy if you take from one, you take from all. As Johnny Cash said once about the protesters burning flags, “Ya’ll have a right to burn the flag. But I’ve got a right to bear arms and if you burn my flag I’ll shoot you!”
Now I’m not suggesting we shoot anyone, or even engage in any physical way with any of those Westboro Baptist wacka-dos. But I am grateful and thankful for the proud Americans and good Christians I’ve seen sheltering these grieving families. I have been to several military funerals and am grateful to the Patriot Guard Riders, those bikers who stand between those Fred Phelps psychos and the grieving families. I want to bust a gut when I see in the smallest towns in America their numbers swell to hundreds of thousands of men, women and children coming out to shelter these families in their hour of greatest grief. I have witnessed the streets lined with American flags to welcome home a hero to their final resting place. It’s those positive images I choose to carry with me. I’ve seen complete strangers come and stand together in union against the foolishness of this group’s intolerance and hatred. I’m proud to be an American because even though the Westboro Baptist Church won a legal battle, they haven’t won the war! Fight on America… fight on!