SNYDER V. PHELPS

Imagine your son or daughter was killed while serving in the United States military. It’s a terrible experience that many families across our country have gone through. My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have suffered these tremendous losses.

Then imagine at the funeral, a group (Westboro Baptist Church) decides to protest and they hold up signs that read, “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “Thank God for IEDs” they yell things just like that during the funeral. They are just about 1000 feet away.

That’s what happened and a young Marine’s father, Al Snyder, filed a lawsuit. He claimed invasion of privacy, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Mr. Snyder feels “that this is not so much a free speech issue as a harassment issue” according to some reports.

I believe it is harassment.  Is this what free speech has become in the United States of America?

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide Snyder v. Phelps, but I already have. Besides being harassment, it’s also hatred. The God I worship tells me to love my neighbor. We can watch kooks from different religions interpret the Bible in every way possible and that is completely fine. But, when they interpret it in a way that harms someone, like a family deep in grief, that’s when it has to be stopped.

Hopefully, the Supreme Court will do just that.

By the way, I am not an attorney or a judge, but I am a former member of the military and a proud veteran, and I have attended several funerals of military personnel over the years. We all served so that our citizens could have rights like freedom of speech.

Sadly, in the last few years while the family is mourning the loss of their son or daughter, they have had the added burden of worrying about a group of protesters showing up to disrupt the service.

We’ve heard about freedom of speech being allowed except for an example of falsely shouting “fire” in a crowded theater, etc., which creates a dangerous situation or riot.

This is the same thing. When a family is mourning the loss of a loved one, seeing signs and hearing shouts like I described above can create a dangerous situation or a riot.

We can only hope that our United States Supreme Court sees that this type of free speech is injurious to the families of military personnel or any family who has to go through having protestors show up at a funeral.

In reading and listening to the oral arguments, I’m not sure our United States Supreme Court will see it the way most Americans do. But, I can pray that they do. Hopefully you’ll be praying, too.