Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Free Speech Means Free Speech: Quoting in pertinent part Supreme Court Justice Roberts writing for the Court's majority upholding the rights of the Westboro Bapitst Church to carry hateful signs at US soldiers' funerals:

“Speech is powerful,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. “It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and — as it did here — inflict great pain.”

But under the First Amendment, he went on, “we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.” Instead, the national commitment to free speech, he said, requires protection of “even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”

I must concur. As difficult as this SCOTUS decision is and as disgusting to see as those hateful signs carried by the insipid Westboro Baptist Church attendees is, our First Amendment freedom of speech is THAT precious to us that the Court’s decision to uphold free speech trumped its prohibition no matter how noxious the content of that speech.

The HOPE that the First Amendment bestows upon our nation is that odious speech if brought into the light will allow other speech which would, one trusts, counteract it. As much as I loathe these messengers of doom who spout destruction, lies and hate, I love our Constitution’s First Amendment more which gives ALL of us the ability and the duty to speak out against them.

Forcing groups underground does a disservice not only to our coveted freedom but does a disservice to law enforcement as well. The disgusting hate-filled signs protesting at service men and women's funerals, who have given their last full measure of devotion to our country, when out in the open can serve to alert those who keep a close watch on hate so that we are aware of the monstrous threat within.

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