The First Amendment and Military Funerals
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I realize we talked about this, but we're just not done.
The father of a fallen Marine is telling a US Federal Court to go jump in the lake over its demand that he pay the court costs of Fred Phelps and his band of... ah, whatever they are. The more I think about this, the less I can understand why Phelps is let anywhere near a military funeral.
A funeral ought to enjoy at least as much first amendment protection as a protest designed to disrupt the funeral. It is, normally, an act of religious expression; and even where it is not, atheistic funerals are accorded the same protections (e.g., the atheist 'symbol' for government headstones is a protection designed to respect atheist's non-religious beliefs in this area usually associated with religion).
I'm not sure why Phelps' band would be entitled to a 1A right that disrupts someone else's right; or why it's OK to put protestors in a "free speech area" at a political convention to protect the feelings and images of two-bit Congressmen, but not at a military funeral where it would protect the feelings of the honestly suffering family of those who died in our service.
Let them have a protest area, if they must, removed from the family. I trust they can draw the same flies there as elsewhere.