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Monday, September 25, 2023


Westboro Baptist Church hides behind First Amendment

Last Wednesday, the Synder v. Westburo Baptist Church Supreme Court case came to a close with an 8-1 decision in favor of Westburo, a church that recently picketed the funeral of Lance Corporal Mathew Snyder with signs reading “God hates fags” and “Thank God for dead American soldiers.”

The Supreme Court stated in agreement that they have chosen “to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”

While these are nobly spoken and agreeable words, the truth of the matter is that there is no victory here.

The ruling is not a loss, because the First Amendment protects Westboro, and freedom of speech prevails. However, the decision gives Westboro the power to continue abusing the Amendment and American citizens.

The result of the case makes it clear no lesson has been learned, and there is no punishment for this type of harassment. The group’s words are designed to be vicious, and the pains their words inflict are deliberate.

Does the Westboro rhetoric contribute to any legitimate debates that are in danger of being stifled?

Those who are supportive of the ruling often simply suggest that we deprive them of publicity, and ignore them so that they fizzle out on their own. But not all of us have the ability to just not to listen.

It is an unfortunate fact that Westburo will always garner publicity as long as they exist. To say otherwise and disregard the issue for that reason is nonsensical.

For both current and future victims, it is necessary to show that we don’t lack the power to deal with these types of issues.

At the very least, steps have to be taken to strengthen the laws in order to protect soldiers and privacy rights.

One of the major fears of this case was that if Snyder were to win, a slippery slope would occur and we would eventually lose our freedom of speech altogether.

But the aim of the Constitution and law should be to ensure a family’s right to conduct a funeral without hurtful interruption or distraction.

There is a time, place and manner in which the protests can be rightfully held. A funeral is not one of the places that should be considered acceptable.

Hope for resolution is clearer when thinking of the single dissenter Justice Samuel Alito, which shows that this is still an issue that is subject to further discussion. Reasonable regulation is not yet a thing of the past.

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