Hateful rhetoric should not be considered free speech

By Kathryn Minniti

Apparently the U.S. Supreme Court believes our Constitution allows the members of the Westboro Baptist Church to spew their hateful, homophobic slurs at military funerals.

Their signs say things like “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “No Tears for Queers.” Considering their rhetoric is so hateful, was the Supreme Court’s ruling the correct one?

Technically, yes; it made the right decision based on the First Amendment, but I disagree with how broad First Amendment rights can be. I believe there needs to be exceptions or even limits to our freedom of speech.

When it comes to the family members of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder mourning over their deceased son, I am appalled not only by the protests, but also by the lack of human decency that would have our Founding Fathers rolling in their graves. And I am not the only one who disagrees with the ruling.

“I am disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against the right of families of fallen troops to commemorate and grieve peacefully and privately,” said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. “In light of this ruling, I hope that protesters would change their minds and respect the brave men and women who sacrifice their lives to protect our freedom.”

Also, it is not as if our society is unwilling to sacrifice freedom of expression in order to be politically correct.

Take the book Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, for instance, in which “the n-word” was recently taken out of an edition released by an Alabama publishing company since many schools had banned the book from being taught.

Even though the language used was indicative of the time period in which it was written, it was still censored to be politically correct.

I bet the veterans’ families were more than offended by the protests. In my opinion, the protests are much more likely to offend and invoke violence than the presence of a hateful word in a book written in the time period in which it was unfortunately so common.

Another example of such hypocrisy is the recent case of UCLA student Alexandra Wallace, who posted a video ranting about Asians in the library during finals week. This girl decided to leave UCLA because she was receiving so many death threats in response to her comments.

One can argue that the members of the Westboro Baptist Church face many death threats, but I see a clear difference between these cases.

I realize that these issues were not decided by the Supreme Court, whose duty is to interpret the Constitution, but they do indicate the values of our society. If we are unwilling to tolerate offensive words in great works of literature or the racist rants of misinformed college students, why shouldn’t the Westboro Baptist be held to the same standard?

The problem with the Westboro Baptist Church members is that they keep trying to protect their freedom, but forget about the responsibility that comes with it.

There should never be protestors at a funeral. It is disrespectful and disturbs the peace of the mourning family members. If it is acceptable for people to do that to others, I believe it is time for our rights to be adjusted.