Story by ANDY LYONS (News Editor)
Congress passed a law Aug. 6 that extends the picketing zone around a military funeral service from 300 to 500 feet and increases the buffer around access routes to a funeral service area from 150 to 300 feet.
The law also increases the quiet time before and after military funeral services, during which disruptive protests are prohibited, from 60 to 120 minutes.
The American Civil Liberties Union released a statement saying it feared the law was targeting Westboro Baptist Church and First Amendment Rights, including free speech.
I believe this should be the sole exception to the rule. My grandfather served in the National Guard but was never deployed, and my younger brother serves in the National Guard as well.
The members of our armed forces are people that choose to serve; they aren’t drafted and forced to serve regardless of their personal beliefs. They choose to do it because they love their country.
Most of them don’t get involved in political debates. No matter who’s in office, it’s their job to follow orders doing what is necessary to defend our rights, including the right to free speech.
It is appalling when a group like Westboro Baptist Church protests a soldier’s funeral on the basis that the soldier died because of homosexuality.
This soldier followed his commander’s orders and gave his life for something much greater than the conflict he is directly involved in. He gave his life because of his patriotic nature, standing up for the virtues that make such a protest possible in the first place.
The fact that WBC feels it can bastardize the Bill of Rights so far as to make freedom of speech a platform for hate propaganda really shows how sad today’s society is.
I think forcing them back another 150 feet is a step in the right direction. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and guaranteed freedom of speech and freedom to assemble peacefully.
However, making a mockery of a soldier’s funeral after he died ensuring your right to both, is laughable.