U.S. military men and women have one the most dangerous jobs in the world.
That reality may have little impact on some, but it hits the families of dead service members the hardest.
Any psychologist will agree that the death of a loved one is one of the most tolling experiences in the history of a human’s life.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard a case that questioned the parameters of the First Amendment and whether the controversial Westboro Baptist Church, which is based in Topeka, Kan., should be allowed to practice freedom of speech by protesting homosexuality at the funerals of fallen military members. Military service members, along with police, fire rescue service members and the like, put their lives directly in harm’s way in the pursuit of a safer world.
In America, the opinion of the majority holds weight, and most would agree that a family should be allowed to peacefully grieve and honor the loss of a loved one, especially at a funeral.
Thus, when the Supreme Court is considering limiting our free speech to prohibit protesters from disrupting a funeral, one must ask, “Why not?” Perhaps these protesting Americans, who may not have grown up with good role models to teach them right from wrong, need society to help set some guidelines for appropriate behavior.
Apart from the good old-fashioned, “It’s my First Amendment right” defense, these protesters have no reasonable argument for their case.
It is unfair for them to use the shield of the Constitution to picket against fallen heroes who will never again have the opportunity to make their opinions heard. All they really succeed in doing is harassing their target’s family members, who did not choose the lifestyle of the person lying in the grave.
There are many more appropriate venues for these Westboro protesters to take their picket signs and opinions. However, by raiding the funerals of complete strangers, it seems the only true goal in mind is to add more chaos to the world despite the teachings of their Christian faith.
If the First Amendment is not adjusted, these protesters might change their opinion when anti-hate rallies spring up at their funerals.
Whether God is cursing America by killing our soldiers, as the protesters claim, is an entirely different issue than whether it’s right to disturb the privacy of a grieving family.
Yes, all Americans have the right of free speech, but along with that comes the right to make fools of themselves by practicing irrational and inconsiderate actions.
My JROTC instructor always says, “Common sense, people, it’s a beautiful thing.” So many people lack this magical quality, one that can often be interchangeable with common courtesy. Sure, what is right to one may not be to another, but allowing families the right to grieve for their loved ones in peace is an idea many can support.
Alba Palermo is a senior majoring in marine biology and environmental science and policy.