Keller @ Large: Stand By First Amendment
BOSTON (CBS) – In a society with plenty of unfortunate specimens walking around loose, the hate-mongers of the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas somehow manage to stand out as especially revolting.
Listen to Jon’s commentary:
Their central epiphany is the vile, ludicrous lie that God hates gays, and that the deaths of U.S. military personnel are part of God’s punishment of us for our tolerance of homosexuality.
Now, I can freely say that I think the Westboro Baptist Church is a collection of repulsive, publicity-addicted creeps, because it’s my opinion about a political issue, and, therefore, fully protected by the first amendment to the U.S. constitution.
However, that same protection applies to the Westboro lowlifes.
At least, that’s what the U.S. Supreme Court ruled yesterday in dismissing an emotional distress lawsuit brought against the creeps by the father of a slain Marine whose funeral they picketed.
Read: The Decision (.pdf)
“Speech is powerful,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts for the 8-to-1 majority. “It can…inflict great pain…but we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.”
I was more inclined to side with the lone dissenter on the court, Justice Alito, who wrote that the First Amendment “is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case.”
But then I spoke last night with Steven Milley of Sudbury, whose son Scott, an Army Ranger, was killed in action in Afghanistan in December.
Watch Jon’s report:
Mr. Milley says he’s heart-sick at what the nuts put military families through in their darkest hour. But he backs the court’s ruling.
“My head understands it,” he says. “Certainly my son was fighting for all of our Constitution, but freedom of speech is vital.”
And Mr. Milley told me that when friends told him they’d make sure the Westboro fools wouldn’t disturb his son’s funeral, he asked them to back off, saying – quote – “if you take care of that, that will be the story, and the story needs to be our best and brightest are being killed in Afghanistan.”
So let’s stand by the First Amendment, as he suggests, not shrink from it.
And thank God that decent, wonderful people like the Milleys far outnumber the pond scum.
You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.