Wednesday, July 08, 2009

ACLU argues for a villain

You'd be hard-pressed to find many people who would either defend or apologize for the Westboro Baptist Church. After all, it's hard to develop much in the way of sympathy and public goodwill when you're agenda includes screaming about how "deserving" a person's death is. They seem to take the concept of "eye-for-an-eye" to an extreme, altering it to "eye-for-the-fact-that-the-government-doesn't-outlaw-homosexuality" or another view and lifestyle that they disapprove of. In fact, most of the time that people hear about them, it's because they've descended on a funeral, and want to shout their rhetoric. It's gotten so bad that some cities and counties are actively creating bans on any sort of protest at a funeral.

It's just that kind of reaction that's sure to get the ACLU involved. And involved they are, fighting for the rights of the WBC.

Truth be told, the ACLU isn't simply fighting for the WBC. They're fighting for the concept of funeral protests entirely. There are times where the ACLU seems to step outside of its bounds, and loses sight of what it originally was created to do. However, no matter your personal feelings on the words that come out at these protests, the ACLU is correct to fight for their existence. After all, banning them hinders both free speech, and the right to peaceably assemble. Hateful speech may not be pleasant to hear, but these groups are not starting riots and brawls. Besides, the creation of one group to loudly proclaim one side often leads to another group standing opposite them. So long as the groups can agree to disagree, and do so without violence, then the bans start stepping on rights granted to this country over 200 years ago.

And, if we continue to allow the opposing groups their speech, we might do something even more shocking than banning them. We might open a dialogue and allow them to see the other side.

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