The A-Blast

A curse and a blessing

Freedom of Speech is often taken for granted; however, the line is crossed a lot of times, and restrictions should be placed.

Noah Fitzgerel, Staff Writer

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With a 24/7 news cycle, stories that would have been ignored 30 years ago now seem to receive undue amounts of media coverage.

For example, the group who planned the Koran burning would have been no more than a blip on the radar instead of a near international disaster.

Since stories like these are repeated over and over again in the media, many believe that the country as a whole is becoming more extreme – it is not.

The mainstream is still the mainstream, and the extreme is still the extreme.

With no “official” group, the agenda of organizations like the Tea Party does not reflect the values of most mainstream, modern Americans.

For example, the Tea Party appeals mostly to those who believe that the government should have a pre-Great Depression level of involvement in daily life. These “rogue movements” might have a spotlight on the television, but by no means are they the views of the majority in America.

Unfortunately, these groups are spotlighted for the extreme rhetoric they use and the actions they take.

They exercise their First Amendment rights to make points that seem amoral or unethical. The question is, how far should they be able to go?

One of the most recent headlines that involves one of these extremely conservative groups covers an issue between Albert Snyder and the Westboro Baptist Church.

Four years ago, Snyder’s son, Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, a soldier who died overseas serving in the war against terrorism, was buried to the protest of members of the Westboro Baptist Church.

The members of this Kansas-based group decided that the best way for them to spread their message that homosexuality is a sin, and that God hates America because of the existence of gays (they held signs that read “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “God Hates America”), was to go the funeral of this marine and demonstrate in front of his family and friends that they were glad that this brave solider died.

This disgusting and most deplorable exercise of their Freedoms of Speech has caused this case (Snyder v. Phelps), and many other cases along these lines to be heard at the Supreme Court.

This case raises that age old question- How far should people be allowed to go to exercise their First Amendment rights?

Hate is a very ugly thing. Groups like the Westboro Baptist Church and Rev. Terry Jones (the man who was thrust into the national spotlight for organizing a day to burn Korans) all reflect this attitude that is often brought about during tough economic times when people blame whatever group they can.

Unfortunately, these hateful people are protected under the same rights that protect the rest of America.

The First Amendment, which contains the Rights to Freedom of Speech, Petition, Assembly and Religion, cannot be denied for certain people, but upheld for others.

If a group receives a permit, they are allowed to peacefully assemble and spread whatever message they choose, as long as it is not threatening or intimidating.

It is for this reason that groups like the Westboro Baptist Chruch are allowed to boycott funerals like they did for Cpl. Snyder.

However, even though they are protected under the law, does that mean that they should exercise it?

There is a fine line to Freedom of Speech. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

What Westboro Baptist Church did to Albert Snyder is utterly despicable; however, it is perfectly legal.

There is no law against insensitive acts, and as much as I wish that these protesters realized that the damage they did was irreversible, there is no punishment.

To bury your own child is one of the worst possible nightmares that a parent can endure, and for someone to think that they can intrude on the sanctity and privacy of a funeral in the first place, and then declare that the person being buried had no right to exist on Earth, is out of their mind and should be severely punished.

However, they are protected by the Constitution. A curse and a blessing, one would say.

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A curse and a blessing