The most significant right which separates the United States from countries whose residents enjoy fewer freedoms is the freedom to speech. As Americans, we can take comfort in the fact that we can say or write virtually anything we believe without fear of being thrown into prison for a crime such as verbally disagreeing with the government. I believe in this right, even for those who have views I consider incorrect or offensive. However, there is a point where this can be taken too far.
Today, a case was brought before the Supreme Court regarding free speech. Pastor Fred Phelps led a protest stating that God is punishing the United States for allowing homosexuality. This punishment is coming in the form of AIDS and soldiers killed in war. The protest also stated that soldiers who die in war are condemned to hell because they are fighting for the freedom of a country which has not outlawed homosexuality.
Ordinarily, though I do not agree with any of these statements, I would bite my tongue and walk away. Everybody has the right to share their own opinions. However, I find the setting of this protest to be infuriating. The matter was brought before the Supreme Court because the protest was being held outside of a soldier’s funeral. There are some lines which simply should not be crossed. I find it horrific that any person would disregard the suffering of others to this extreme. Interrupting a family’s mourning for a lost son – one of the greatest tragedies which can occur – with the opinion that their son deserved to die seems to me to be the lowest of the low. Bullying of homosexuals in schools has been a growing trend lately, but Fred Phelps does not have even the thin excuse of youthful ignorance to hide behind. As much as I fear the precedent of the law restricting free speech, this blatant indifference towards another’s pain is sickening and I hope that the Supreme Court will see terrible damage it can cause to another’s life.