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In This Case, It Pains Me To Side With Free Speech


...but unfortunately, I cannot in good conscience side with the fallen Marine's family:
Supreme Court justices on Wednesday pondered the vexing question of whether the father of a dead Marine should win his lawsuit against a fundamentalist church group that picketed his son's funeral.

The complexity and weightiness of the First Amendment issue were palpable in the courtroom as justices heard arguments in the case of Albert Snyder. His son died in Iraq in 2006, and members of the Westboro Baptist Church protested the funeral to make their point that U.S. deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are punishment for Americans' immorality, including tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.

[snip]

There was no clear answer from the court.

Snyder is asking the court to reinstate a $5 million verdict against the Westboro members who held signs outside the funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, including ones that read "Thank God for Dead Soldiers, "You're Going to Hell" and "God Hates the USA." The Marine was killed in a Humvee accident in 2006
While I think that there are some other issues at play here, the over-arching theme of First Amendment rights is of paramount importance. As much as I loathe the bigots in the Westboro Baptist Church (and have said so on many occasions), their speech is Constitutionally protected.

The First Amendment protects all forms of speech, whether you agree with said speech or not. As soon as you start to censor someone with whom you disagree, you are starting down a very slippery slope...

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Photo: Dylan Slagle/Carroll County Times/AP photo