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.

More from Jon Keller
  • IronManCC

    Voltaire’s attitude says it best: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” I don’t agree with those wing-nuts in the least; but the minute you start letting the Government tell you what opinions are acceptable or not, what you can say or not say, it’s the end of our Rights for ALL of us, a little bit at a time. That’s why the First Amendment is there, so you can speak freely about the Government, conditions, things you think are right or wrong, and not have to worry that someone will throw you in jail for it. Free Speech means just that and, please, don’t try the “That means I can yell ‘Fire!’ in a crowded movie house” scenario, as that’s totally different and is in no way the intent of the Constitution.

    • Cynic

      IronMannCC..One doesn’t have to look any further than right here to prove what you say. If everyone were allowed to see the comments that WBZ deletes they would see the dangers of managed speach.

  • jaygee

    There isn’t anyone in this country who can tell me that the authors of the U.S. Constitution had this in mind when they wrote it. If this doesn’t fall under the term “hate speech”, then I don’t know what does. I would ask anyone who is defending the rights of these lunatics to do what they are doing to ask themselves how they would react if it was their child or brother being buried.
    I, for one, believe that they should have the banners ripped out of their hands and their faces pushed into the ground.

    • Cynic

      jaygee…If they were protesting War itself would the term ‘Hate Speach” even enter into the conversation?

  • Cynic

    Freedom of speach is not absolute. If Mr. Keller were to take the line ” God Hates gays”… and replace it with ‘God Hates (Word that WBZ does not allow) would his column be published ?

  • Cynic

    I asked why Mr.Keller was allowed to use the word (Last word,second paragraph) but I was not. My question disappeared.
    My question remains…Why are we not allowed to say the last word in the second paragraph?

  • Cynic

    My revulsion at the Westboro whackos should not be taken as approval of those they rail agianst.

  • Denise

    I think if someone knew where these people were going to be – then a group of local civiians and VETS should link arms and line the street in front of these nuts so the families don’t have to see them! It’s sad that these people are passing on thier message(s) of hate and judgement to the next generation.

    • Cynic

      IDenise if this group were protesting WAR Per Se would you even read it let alone respond to it? When I see the term ” Message of HATE ” creep in ,I have to doubt it.
      The Westboro agenda is repulsive and sub-human to me but no less than your own.
      My gut feeling is that most don’t care about the GI’S….It’s the other agenda that is important to them.

  • Denise

    Cynic ~ What is repulsive and Sub-human about what I said? and what exactly is my agenda? Sorry if you don’t agree – but I thinking it’s a good idea for people to put a human baracade between these protesters and the funeral procession?

    Maybe if you were a participant in the procession you would want to look at the signs etc… but I would prefer to look at supportive faces in my time of sorrow! Or is my agenda that I think it’s sad they are passing their message(s) of hate and judgement to the next generation?

    Or maybe I just didn’t understand what you said or ment?

  • Cynic

    Denise, I didn’t say You. I said the the Westboro people were repulsive and sub human and they are.Between my Brothers and myself we have spent over Fifty years total in the Military.Having Buried one of my Brothers during Viet Nam I know well what is involved and how devastating it is.My only question is if these Westboro Whackos were protesting anythig but Gays would anyone pay any attention to them.It seems that BOTH sides are USING the Military.

  • Denise

    Cynic – yes I do agree w/ you whole heartedly! They are Whackos!

  • Martha Coakley: Massachusetts To Continue To Enforce Funeral Protest RulesCBS Boston

    […] Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., exercised their right to free speech […]

blog comments powered by Disqus
Taz Show
Download Weather App

Listen Live