Apparently, there is a Baptist church group from Kansas making the rounds in different states and disrupting military funerals to protest the prevalence and acceptance of homosexuals in the United States. Their point is to make clear that soldiers are not dying for a good country, but for a government dedicated to the proliferation of homosexuality.
First of all, I believe that this church group’s chosen mode of action is profane. Even the most basic sense of decency alone should recognize that interrupting a funeral—any funeral—is tasteless and low-class.
However, recognizing that this church group is out of line, many people believe that this goes beyond “freedom of speech” and are currently backing a bill in the Michigan legislature to make such protests illegal.
While these protests are certainly inappropriate, the notion that the government’s ability to inflict violence should be levied against them for peaceably (albeit crassly) assembling is down right tyrannical.
I sympathize with those who wish to guard the reverence due at a funeral, but to argue that this form of protest goes too far and should not be protected under the first amendment is asinine. Especially for people who wish to honor the men and women who have died fighting under this country's flag. Should we honor them by defacing the Bill of Rights?
The first amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
Unlike certain clauses in the constitution, this one is crystal clear. To abridge means to shorten or restrict in any way. Any law that would be enacted and enforced that would prevent these people from speaking their small minds is unconstitutional. Furthermore, provisions that would simply bar a protest at certain times before, during, and after a funeral violate the people’s freedom of assembly.
To enjoy our own freedoms, we must allow others to exercise their own—even at the expense of morality, class, and taste. Violence is not the answer, and anything backed by force of law—law enforced by men with guns—is inherently violent. There are other options. Should the men and women behind this proposed infraction of the first amendment feel strongly enough about this group’s actions, they could load up in vans, drive to Kansas, and heckle the church’s congregation. Perhaps they could interrupt a funeral of one of the church’s own. Maybe simply ignoring these pests, like so many mosquitoes is the answer.
Whatever the solution, it must not be found in the violation of our first amendment freedoms. Those baby steps on that slippery slope will only lead us to further erosion of our liberties.