The Westboro Baptist Church has made a nasty name for itself through a series of demonstrations at military funerals in which members of the tiny congregation from Kansas “celebrate” the deaths of brave men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The protesters tie the casualties to their war on anything resembling tolerance or respect for gay people. Ironically, the same First Amendment that protects and promotes diversity of thought extends to allow expression of the church’s bigoted mindset.
A couple of North Carolina legislators have introduced a bill we would love to see pass. It addresses the insulting extravaganzas staged by this hateful group of people at funerals attended by families and friends deep in mourning.
The bill would require protesters to stay 500 feet away from funerals and would require the protesters to leave a site two hours before a funeral is to take place. It also would forbid them from returning to the site until two hours after a service has ended.
If passed, the legislation would no doubt face a court test over its constitutionality, but it seems to us the limits proposed by the bill are fair.
Protesters would have an opportunity to express themselves, however misguided their thinking might be. But the bill would move the demonstrators away from a service that already is emotionally devastating to the families of the deceased.
The limits also would give demonstrators fewer opportunities to express their platform of hate before cameras and newspaper reporters. Media coverage then might focus where it belongs – on the sacrifices made too frequently by the brave men and women of our military.