The Supreme Court ruled March 2 that the Westboro Baptist Church’s controversial funeral protests are protected under the First Amendment.
Albert Snyder brought the lawsuit against the WBC protestors. He claimed that he suffered emotional distress after a group of protestors from the church showed up at his son’s funeral. The protestors have also shown up at numerous military funerals, where they flaunted signs with messages such as “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “God Hates Fags,” according to washingtonpost.com.
Such protests are appalling and disgusting, but we agree that it is ultimately the church’s right to protest as long as the protestors stay 1,000 feet away from the location under protest, as the law dictates. Free speech is a core American right, and we think this right would be violated if the church was not allowed to express its opinion, even if its protests cause family and funeral attendees emotional distress.
However, just because people have the right to free speech doesn’t mean that it is ethical to say whatever they want, to whomever they want and whenever they want. With free speech there should be tolerance, and with tolerance there needs to be compassion for others.
We believe WBC is being intolerant. It’s protests are ethically questionable even if they are legally sound. When confronted with such intolerance, it’s important to remember to remain above it rather than try to stifle freedom of expression.
While at Linfield, try to consider how your words and actions affect the people around you. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinions and beliefs, but take note of the way you express those opinions and beliefs to others. Negative voices often lead to destruction and hurt that is difficult to repair.
-The Review Editorial Board