Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Extent of Freedom

Anytime a person does something that someone else doesn't like, the perpetrator says, "It's a free country. I can do what I want." I bet of the offended party socked them in the jaw and said, "It's a free country. I can do what I want," the one who got hit would be just as offended. I've always believed that our freedoms extend to the point at which they impinge on another's freedoms. See... if we are ALL afforded freedom then it can never go so far to negatively impact someone else's. I have no choice but to sacrifice SOME of my freedom to ensure everyone else has their's. It is the responsibility of every American based on the human decency and common courtesy. Unfortunately, it isn't a prevalent as it should be.

You may have heard of a group of extremists called the Westboro Baptist Church. These are folks that picket and protest at military funerals. Their actions are simply deplorable. Follow their logical to a very illogical end. They say that soldiers are dying because God is angry with our tolerance of homosexuality in this country. Signs are displayed at these funerals that say "God loves dead soldiers" or "God hates fags." I am unable to make the leap from end to end because this is not a war for or against homosexuality. Until recently, the military did not openly support homosexuality.

Just this very morning the Supreme Court upheld a ruling that their protests are protected speech. This is where I have a problem. Truth be told, I have TONS of problems with this. Let's look at all that is wrong here and maybe find possible solutions.

  1. The only reason these folks have the ability to speak their minds freely is because our military and government has fought and died over and again to protect and sustain the values of United States of America. Let them live under an oppressive rule that censors them like Iran or China... or North Korea, Libya, Saddam Hussein's version of Iraq, Taliban led Afghanistan, Pakistan and countless other countries.
  2. Is it not the constitutionally protected right of the family to bury their military family members based on their religious preference and having Westboro wackos present interrupts that?
  3. Can I use my freedom of speech to be rude and inflammatory to strangers and insult them? Can I use that freedom to degrade someone else? That impinges on their freedoms. Does Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness sound familiar?
  4. If it's untrue, that's the end of the line. If I speak it, it's slander. If I print it, it's libel. They believe it to be true. That is the magic of faith. The recipients of their message may believe differently and should not have their moment of morning subjugated by overbearing people who are louder.
I don't believe that just because they are 1,000 feet from the building it is ok. I do not believe that unrefined speech is ok because the topics are matters of public import. Chief Justice Roberts, you have failed today in this decision. Justice Alito, on the other hand, had a wonderful sentiment, "In order to have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victim.

That brings me to another point. If these cuckoo birds from the Westboro Baptist Church, which incidentally is not connected to any other Baptist Church and does not fall in line with Baptist leadership and is comprised of mostly one extremely large family, want to be mad at the military member, so be it. It's stupid and uncalled for and I don't get it, but fine. At what point did the grieving family earn these attacks?

Finally, let's look at choice. I speak about choice often. I speak about accountability for one's own actions as well. People choose to leave their home countries and nations of origin every day for greener pastures and better opportunities. Never is it people leaving from here. When is the last time a Connecticut family said, "We just can't take this anymore, let's risk our lives to sail to England." People literally do anything to get here or die trying. We must be doing something right. We are not without our problems, I get it, but people from all over the world come here to get their lives on track. We can come here or go elsewhere.

With that said, Westboro Baptist Church, its leaders and its members, here is a message to you. If America is angering God and you don't wanna be caught up in the wrath... feel free to SHUT UP AND GET THE FUCK OUT!


Anonymous said...

This is very well put. So many people interpret the laws in such a way that it fits them only in their time of need. They pick and choose at their convenience. The laws were made to work together. Together they work, apart our Nation crumbles. When will we learn?

mike&kristen&brennan said...

How far does one person’s freedom extend? Specifically, how far does one’s freedom of speech extend. Regardless of my opinion on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the limit of freedom of speech, the underlying issue is an old one. This underlying issue has been debated by all three branches of government (legislative, executive, and judicial) every day between those who are public order advocates and those who are individual rights advocates. Basically, a public-order advocate is willing to suspend/limit some personal freedoms in order to have public order. Conversely, individual rights advocates, believe personal freedoms supersede anything that infringes on their freedoms. We can see this being played out in the full body scans at some airports now. I also heard it put another way once. Apparently, the Supreme Court has ruled in this case that the individual’s rights supersede the right of public order. However, here’s how I view these Westboro idiots. Imagine the United States of America as a very large wooden boat and all of its citizens are passengers in this very large wooden boat traveling on the seas of life. Now imagine a person standing in the middle of this boat and taking an axe to the bottom of the boat yelling, "I have the freedom to do whatever I want.” Unfortunately, his “exercising of freedom” is at the expense and tragedy of the rest of us, and himself. Just because a person has the freedom to do something, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
Vig, you touched on my following point, but I wanted to elaborate. It should be made clear that this extremist group is nothing but a group of wackos and are not true Bible believing Christians. Just as the military organization should not be judged by the actions of a few idiots at Abu Ghraib, likewise true Bible believing Christians should not be judged by these Westboro wackos. They claim that soldiers are dying because God is angry with our “tolerance of homosexuality in this country.” Well, I would say they are partly correct. God is angry with the tolerance of homosexuality in America. However, these extremists have placed only one specific sin on their agenda. The truth is that God is angry with abortion, blasphemy, adultery, stealing, lying, etc. God hates all sin. However, God doesn’t actively kill soldiers or people for His anger. People (soldiers) die because we have a sinful nature. We were created perfectly without sin and were to live forever, but with our freedom of choice, we chose to sin. Consequently, death, tragedy, unfairness, etc. entered the world. Our payment for sin is death. God doesn’t hate homosexuals, He hates homosexuality. God doesn’t hate thieves, He hates thievery. God doesn’t hate adulterers, He hates adultery. God never hates the sinner, just the sin. At any rate, these wackos have no right to do what they’re doing in the way they’re doing it. If they were truly Bible believing Christians, they would know this is not the way to spread the Gospel. On a side note, there is a group I first heard of while in the military called Patriot Guard Riders who attend funerals of fallen soldiers as invited guests of the fallen soldier’s family in order to shield the funeral from protesters ( Once again Vig, good reading.