“The First Amendment was designed to protect offensive speech, because nobody ever tries to ban the other kind” Mike Goodwin
“I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write,”
– Voltaire, letter to M. le Riche, February 6, 1770
This is not a subject most conservatives want to discuss or even fall on the side of the first amendment in this matter, but it is a subject we must discuss and then chose a side, the right side. When people bring up the First Amendment, most of us assume the speech is offensive to some, is used to confront the government, or pertains to our everyday dissatisfaction with the way this country is headed. But few realize or want to realize that free speech applies to everyone and is there to ensure our voices can be heard regardless of what another thinks about what was said. But just as with every right, we can not hoard it or prohibit another from exercising their rights just because we do not care for their speech or we ourselves will lose our own rights.
Today the Supreme Court ruled against Albert Snyder in favor of the Westboro Church 8 to 1. The ruling, while expected, was not the way the majority of America wanted the case to be decided. We have all seen the so called church protesting our hero’s funerals and we have seen the vile they spew. I doubt a single person on this site,and so many others, have not had the urge to grab their keys, drive to the protest locations, and part a few members of this cult from their teeth. But the reality is, like it or not, they are protected and the Supreme Court ruled correctly. They ruled correctly and in doing so ensured we will be able to continue speaking out freely. We all want to be able to continue to stand up and speak out against anything we feel warranted to do so but in order to maintain our own rights, which do offend many, we must stand for the rights of those who offend us. To deny one their rights is to deny ourselves what we hold dear.
In the ruling Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote for the majority, noted that the picketing was conducted in a lawful manner on public property and did not interfere with the service. He added that while the signs were hurtful to Snyder’s family, they mainly addressed issues of public concern, surrounding the church’s long-held beliefs on American morality, and were not strictly an attack on Snyder.
“Because this Nation has chosen to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that public debate is not stifled, Westboro must be shielded from tort liability for its picketing in this case,”
Chief Justice John Roberts will receive grief for this and will have his conservative credentials and ability to rule in an impartial way challenged by many even those on our own side. He and the remaining 7 justices who sided with the Westboro Church will be assailed by those who are unable to look past their own emotions in order to see just how justified the Court members were in defending the right we all hold dear. They were able to swallow the bile that must have rose in their throats and did what was needed to make sure yet another generation of Americans are able to speak freely even when one or more sides do not care for the message.
We as conservatives must do the same. We have to be on the forefront of the battle to protect the rights our constitution granted us. Each and every day, special interest groups and the left wage a war to end many if not most of our rights. They do not want us to own guns, because they do not like them and see no reason for you to own them. They are committed to the cause, and only our side stands in their way. But when it came to this first amendment battle many of us chose the wrong side and did so because of personal feelings, albeit justified feelings, and unwittingly assailed the very rights we are so committed to protect. Now that the court has ruled, we as conservatives must rethink the position so many of us took and go back to defending the rights of all, even the scum who call themselves Westboro Church. We must so that when our own rights are assailed upon, we have strong footing and a past history of doing the right thing even when it felt wrong.