Pesky First Amendment Issues, Alas!
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Sometimes we talk about "the Wee People." Sometimes we talk about "We the People." Either way, we always set aside a nice slice of pie just for you!
Last weekend I drove from the flatlands to the mountains and back again, using one of the busiest stretches of roadway in the Great Blue Northeast. Even on Eostra morning the traffic was brutal. But Spare and I got home safely.
Monday afternoon when I went to pick up Spare from high school (an unusual treat), I got rear-ended by a teenage driver who admitted she had only had her license since January. Both Spare and I got whiplash, but it could have been worse. If the teenage driver had hit me just a little harder, I would have been pushed into a crowd of pedestrians. They were the reason I stopped in the first place.
This morning I drove my car over to the body shop for a new rear bumper. As the insurance adjuster was examining the damage, I happened to see my handy First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, carefully attached to the exterior of my Dodge. Thank goodness it's not on the bumper! It's on the side of the car, up at eye level.
It says right in the First Amendment that American citizens are guaranteed "freedom of speech."
This is just another of those super-simplified statements in our nation's principal code of law. Freedom of speech covers everything from saying, "Excuse me" when you need to get past a fellow citizen on the sidewalk, to shouting, "Dead soldiers are proof that God hates fags!" at a funeral for a Marine corpsman killed in the line of duty.
Boggles the mind, doesn't it?
Something tells me the original framers of the U.S. Bill of Rights didn't envision some of the applications of freedom of speech that today serve as a barometer of the lack of civility in our populace.
I needn't link you to the loathsome Westboro Baptist Church. Nor do I need to explain to you that this small fringe group of hellhounds has seized upon military funerals as a way to publicize their radical anti-gay message. Nor do you need to believe in our "mission" in Iraq in order to mourn the loss of a young man in the prime of life -- even if he chose to be a soldier, knowing the job is almost as dangerous as coal mining.
There are myriad species of pond scum that have more appeal than the handful of haters that comprise the Westboro Baptist Church. Sadly, as our U.S. Constitution is currently written, WBC has certain rights under the First Amendment.
Our Supreme Court of the United States (also known as JBB -- Justices for Big Business) will hear a case against the WBC, brought by a parent of a Marine. This is the first time a case against WBC has advanced to JBB. It's hard to say how the current batch of (In)justices will decide, since some of them pad their benches with the Constitution.
As we at "The Gods Are Bored" see it, this case must fall in favor of WBC. The nebulous quality of the First Amendment allows for odious shouting -- and the resulting mental trauma -- doled out by lunatic hellhounds who somehow manage never to get into scuffles that they start themselves. Freedom of speech. It's there. If the WBC can't shout at military funerals, then what comes next? Perhaps we need to ask the Chinese.
Cruel, hard-hearted Anne! What if that was your daughter, being lowered into a grave under the watchful eyes of a military escort, as someone in the background shouts, "This is proof that God hates fags!"
Here's what I say to that.
Grieving parents, We the People hear you. We feel your pain. Such a vast majority of us feel your pain that the pain crosses every religious and political boundary. We are behind you, grieving parents. We are behind you with moral outrage and deep sympathy.
I wish to add the following:
WBC is a tiny fringe group that has gotten just what it wanted -- publicity, and lots of it. If that publicity leads to widespread disruptions of solemn funerals or other life-changing events it will be time not to pass a law, but to amend the Constitution.
Which state in this nation would vote against a Right to Dignity at Religious Observance Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? You tell me. Where do you live?
Not that I'm looking out for my own selfish interests here, but the above proposed Constitutional Amendment would also prohibit the rabid Christians who shout abuse at the Fairy Festival attendees. I see all silver cloud with no lining here! Please tell me if I'm wrong.
Labels: First Amendment