Missouri's tight restrictions on protests and picketing outside military funerals were tossed out by a federal judge Monday, over free speech concerns.
A small Kansas church had brought suit over its claimed right to loudly march outside the burials and memorial services of those killed in overseas conflicts. The state legislature had passed a law to keep members of the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church from demonstrating within 300 feet of such private services....The laws, said the Kansas City-based judge, "could have the effect of criminalizing speech the mourners want to hear, including speech from counter-protesters to plaintiffs' [the Westboro Church's] message. As the law burdens substantially more speech than is necessary to further the government's interest, [the law] violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment."
Republicans tried mightily Sunday to make a political flash point out of President Barack Obama's defense of plans to build an Islamic center and mosque near ground zero in New York.
On talk shows spanning the network and cable spectrum, GOP politicians and pundits insisted that Obama was insensitive to those who lost loved ones in the September 11, 2001, terror attacks when he entered the debate on the issue with a White House speech marking the start of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month.
Some predicted political repercussions for Democrats in November's congressional election, even though they agreed with Obama that freedom of religion is a vital part of American democracy.
Aw-haw-hall....RiGHTY then! Maybe you find yourself on different sides on each of these stories. Maybe you are pro-free speech and pro-expression of religion freedom. Or maybe not.
But here's the thing. Having a right to do something and being right to do it are just not the same thing. Muslims do enjoy the right to place a mosque and worship in it without being hassled. But are they right to insist on exercising that right in an insensitive way that feels very "in your face" to lots of non-muslims? I suggest they aren't, and that they are engendering bad will by doing so.
Do funerals represent a case for suspending the constitutional right to protest? Nope, they sure don't. But are protesters right to get all up in the faces of people who just want to see a lost loved one off, and find solace among common friends and loved ones. Nope. They sure aren't. And again, what they achieve is bad will for their cause.
Sometimes, insisting on exercising your right means that more than anything else, you're being an insensitive @-hole. Nothing righteous about that.