Wednesday, June 06, 2007



As much as I loathe Kansas's Westboro Baptist Church, it makes me nervous any time governmental bodies try to curtail free speech. Case in point:
State legislators and Gov. M. Jodi Rell worked together Tuesday to fast-track legislation that limits protests at funerals before members of a radical Kansas church appear at a Norwich soldier's funeral Friday.

The Senate and House approved a measure Tuesday night and immediately sent it to Rell, who was expected to sign the bill as soon as possible, said spokesman Rich Harris.

The legislature already passed such a bill earlier in the session, but the law wouldn't have taken effect until Oct. 1. This new law takes effect immediately.

The Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas has announced plans to picket Friday's funeral of Army 1st Lt. Keith Heidtman, 24. Heidtman was co-piloting a military helicopter that was shot down in Iraq on May 28.
Now the reason said "church" wants to protest is that its members believe "that the deaths of soldiers are punishment from God for the country's tolerance of homosexuals."

Incredible, right? However, once legislatures start limiting people's right to assemble and speak out, who knows where it'll end? I mean, are we looking at the possibility of the US becoming an armed camp? God knows things like seven-mile-long eight-foot-high fences aren't unprecedented in other developed countries.


Blogger Drift said...

There is protest, and then there is protest that interferes with private citizens performing tasks they should reasonably be allowed to perform without interference. A family should be allowed to burry their son without spectacle being made of the proceedings. A woman should be allowed to visit a Planned Parenthood clinic to consult with a physician and not have to pass through a gauntlet of angry protesters. People who opt to lead public lives make a Faustian bargain that involves sacrificing a degree of that protection: you don’t want Cindy Sheehan on your front lawn in the morning, don’t run for president. There must be a fair compromise.

During my time in DC I have seen a NATO summit, a WTO Meeting, countless World Bank annual meeting, and any number of additional events that draw protestors. The German answer of a wall around a resort town does seem a bit draconian. However, from personal experience I can tell you that nothing ruins a nice June afternoon like the smell of tear gas wafting into your living room because a couple of college kids trying to shake the patina of their upper-middle class childhoods decided to hop in the Saab and head down to DC from somewhere up-state New York to stick it to the man by dressing in black and looting your local Starbucks by day while drinking on daddy’s credit card all night. Perhaps my age is beginning to show, but it’s a real pain in the ass to live with that kind of free speech. The unfortunate alternative to the giant wall is to host your meeting in Dubai or Kuwait – where protester just can’t get, so the attendees get to have their meetings without even a hint of protest souring the proceedings. Between the two options, I’ll take the giant wall.

Thursday, June 07, 2007 11:03:00 AM  

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