There I am, sitting in Government class. My teacher presents current events like he usually does, every so often. Only this time, he informs the class of the Supreme Court ruling on the Snyder vs. Westboro Baptist Church case. Albert Snyder, a father of a soldier, sued the Westboro Baptist Church for the emotional pain caused during a protest that took place during his son’s funeral. His son was killed on duty, and during his funeral, the church was holding signs that read, “THANK GOD FOR 9/11,” and “THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS.”
I could not imagine being someone at that funeral. I could not imagine holding my tongue.
No matter how I or most Americans feel, the court ruled in favor of the church.
“Despite their hateful speech, the Supreme Court says it is okay for the Westboro Baptist Church to protest at the funerals of fallen soldiers. I would think most Americans disagree with their message and actions, but apparently they have the right to do it,” Patrick Ryan, government teacher, said.
If I was on the Supreme Court, I would’ve voted against the church. But that’s the exact reason why I wouldn’t be fit for the job. I’m too outspoken and in my mind, what they do outweighs their rights.
“[I] don’t agree with what they’re doing, but the tough thing is that our country does talk about freedom of speech. It’s a tough situation. If they say no then they can say no to everyone’s freedom of speech,” Mario Arindaeng, Director of Youth Ministries at Village Bible Church, said.
The WBC has very little influence on people’s actions. In the video my teacher showed us, Margie Phelps, the head honcho, Fred Phelps’ daughter, says their actions aren’t meant to change the world. They are just supposed to notify everybody of their “wrongs.” Basically, their goal is to ignite fear in humanity. Because many people haven’t heard of the WBC yet, it’s clear how successful their escapades are. Not only are they protests useless, they’re just plain rude. We each decide how we want to treat one another. We’ve been taught the golden rule since kindergarten: treat everybody how we’d like to be treated.
It looks like the WBC missed that lesson and instead boarded the looney train towards hostility.
Just to get a sense of the WBC and their protests, take a gander at a press release from the WBC about a Lady Antebellum concert: “We’ll be there to make sure you don’t forget when you haul your rebellious carcasses into the Sprint Center to watch God-hating fools do their shtick. The day of your destruction is upon you, even as you vainly seek comfort in the frivolities of this life.”
How incredibly ridiculous. We don’t know everyone inside and out, and how can they brand every person that attends a country concert as something so harsh?
The only reason I’m criticizing their actions is because of the research I’ve done, and the fact that hate speech is so incredibly wrong. Because not everyone has a FAQ page conveniently linked for us, it’s our job to figure out everyone for ourselves.
The main issues are the media and the debate over our free speech rights. Obviously, I agree with the Supreme Court, even though I don’t respect what the WBC protests. Just like I can say how I feel, so can they.
Volitaire once said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I defend to the death your right to say it.”
I’ll agree with that quote to an extent. I just wish the media wouldn’t pay attention to the negative protests or give them a platform or an audience.
We all need to understand an important lesson from their protests. Negative comments shouldn’t affect us, nor should anyone else’s opinion.
Hate speech is pointless and is just used to get a reaction out of the people who can’t hold back. Yes, I am one of those people. Yes, I don’t agree with what they say, and I know they have the right to say it. But it’s our choice to listen.
So let’s make the choice to silence the ignorance. Because if they were ignored, would I have written about it? Probably not.