The Supreme Court has ruled that the speech of some of the most hateful people in this country is protected by the First Amendment. The Phelps family’s Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is constitutionally entitled to spew their hate of pretty much everything and everyone by way of speech, placard and their presence – but so is everyone else. (It will be interesting to see what kind of turnout a Phelps funeral would have.)
Sarah Palin used Twitter to denounce the ruling, saying, “Common sense & decency absent as wacko ‘church’ allowed hate msgs spewed@ soldiers’ funerals but we can’t invoke God’s name in public square.” Hold on there, Mrs. Palin. The WBC members are invoking God’s name in the public square. Get your hate straight. The way the WBC members do it is flat out reprehensible. Nonetheless, they are doing the same thing many a religious person has done time and again throughout the history of our nation. And all of them, including you Mrs. Palin, have been protected by the First Amendment.
The same amendment that protects a U.S. citizen’s right to free speech also protects that citizen’s right to exercise their religion. Many a religious person will tell you this means we have freedom of religion and not freedom from religion, even as they condemn the way WBC exercises their religion.
Mrs. Palin’s outcry may sound good to her own faithful following, but her hypocrisy is glaring. She operates under the delusion that her disdain for gay people is somehow more palatable and more worthy of constitutional protection than that of the WBC.
Our freedoms of are not also our freedoms from because one cannot exist without the other. This means we are publicly subjected to everything and everyone.
Unfortunately, this has come to include the bunny-in-a-blender (courtesy of Pro-life group American Life League), Mrs. Palin’s loose grasp of the English language and her random geographical and religious-based definitions of what constitutes a “real American,” and the WBC’s hate-filled, vile stew of human waste.
If you want to live in a country where some expressions are not constitutionally protected while still maintaining a decent standard of living, public cleanliness and level of safety, there’s always Germany.