Those lovable goofballs of the Westboro Baptist Church, who have graced Indiana with their presence a few times, have been set free to again roam the land in search of military families to counsel. A federal judge has ruled that church members have a First Amendment right to picket military funerals with signs and chants railing against homosexuals. Which brings up a few interesting questions:
Should we, as Kathleen Parker suggests, support the Westborough Baptist Church's ugly, anti-gay protests precisely because we don't like the idea very much? Should we, as President Obama intoned last Friday, reach deep into our national character and declare our full-throated support for the right of this religious group to set up camp at a hallowed place without passing judgment on the wisdom of the church's activities? After all, freedom of expression and freedom of religion are our most fundamental values upon which our nation was built.
Will we hear from left-wing commentators that, out of an abundance of tolerance, we must stand in solidarity with the Westborough Baptist Church (whose position on homosexuality is actually not all that different from fundamentalist Islam's) in defense of religious freedom? I suspect not.
That Kathleen Parker piece is quite a read. "The mosque should be built precisely because we don't like the idea very much" is her argument. "We don't need constitutional protections to be agreeable, after all." But having a right is not the same as cheering others on to exercise it when we don't agree with the actions proposed. Though I might have the right to do something, that doesn't mean I should do it, and I don't expect you to come and cheerlead for me if you think I'm being a jerk. You still have your First Amendment right to urge me not to exercise my First Amendment right.
Oh, well. In the meantime, a federal appeals court has ruled that memorial crosses erected along Utah public roads to honor fallen state highway troopers are unconstitutional:
We hold that these memorials have the impermissible effect of conveying to the reasonable observer the message that the state prefers or otherwise endorses a certain religion," concluded the Denver, Colorado-based court.
Yes, that's what I think when I see one of those crosses, and then I worry that the state will come and grab me from my home in the middle of the night and make me pray to Jesus against my will.
Sillier and sillier.