Our View: Military funerals should be free of protests


By Krista Brooks

Published Wednesday August 8, 2012 – The Daily 49er


Family, friends and survivors of military veterans will be granted some peace and quiet from the rambunctious individuals picketing at public funerals, thanks to a new law Congress has passed.

The Westboro Baptist Church’s persistence to protest at military funerals has led to Congress passing a new veteran’s bill, restricting protestors from coming within 300 feet of a military funeral, two hours before and after a service.

President Obama signed “The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012” bill this past week.

Not obeying the rules of this bill can lead to substantial fines, or deserved jail time.

The military funerals cannot be private, because they are set in military cemeteries, or in other words, public property.

Funerals, regardless of military standing or not, should be a sacred ceremony and give families and friends a chance to mourn the loss of a loved one.

Westboro Baptist Church protestors say soldiers are dying because of America’s lenient view on homosexuality. The casualties in the war against terror aren’t from our enemies, they are results of God’s wrath, condemning the county for allowing homosexuals to exist, the church claims.

The First Amendment protects the congregation’s right to hold its own view, but sometimes laws need to be created to protect the most vulnerable, the families and the next of kin, while they grieve.

Even with the backlash the church has received for their actions, members from the Westboro Baptist Church plan to continue picketing as they did before, but within the law. They will be there two hours before and after funeral services and will stand approximately 301 feet away.

Protest can be a force of change, but one needs to ask what the is church gaining from this?

The rallying and protesting will not affect the life of the passed military soldier. The Westboro Baptist Church protests have the ability to garner attention, but only because they occur during a most inappropriate time.

While freedom of speech is a valuable right we hold, it always produces a gray area.

Where does heckling the deceased fall under?

The Westboro Baptist Church takes advantage of free speech in way almost no one appreciates.

Recently, there have been groups taking action against the protestors. The counter-protests have been successful, but haven’t put an end to the group’s persistent rallying cries.

Texas A&M University created a “human wall” with thousands of people in maroon shirts blocking the Westboro Baptist Church’s protestors.

This can be considered a small victory against an evil force that is abusing their right to free speech. We can only hope there will be more victories in the future.


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