Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Soldier Funeral Protests

The following article (see below) descibes the awful aspect of some from the religious right as well as their strange logic. The issue is that an anti-homosexual group from Kansas has been showing up at funerals of soldiers that had died in Iraq. The group claims that the soldiers deserved their death because they were fighting for the United States which tolerates homosexuality.

It's hard for me to understand the logic of this group. First, it's hardly evident that the United States tolerates gays as state after state have been banning gay marraige. I suppose it is true that our country hasn't banned homosexuality itself, if that is what this group is trying to bring about.

Second, the United States shouldn't be in ANY war as long as the United States tolerate gays. I imagine that this Kansas group won't be happy until all gays are rounded up and...I don't know either killed or set straight? At any rate our war in Afganistan is wrong to these Kansans as well?

Third, by their logic the United States shouldn't be in ANY war based on any number of groups that could cite things that the United States tolerates. For instance, maybe I should start a group to protest complete and open free speech that allows free speech for sicko groups like this one from Kansas. My hypothetical group could show up at any funerals of soldiers and say they died because they fought for a country that tolerates the free speech of the Kansas group. Now wouldn't that be a strange idea, telling families of dead soldiers that their son or daughter had died defending free speech because they fought for a country that defends free speech.

This Kansas group is a prime example of how hard it can be to live up to the First Amendment of the Constitution. Their stupid illogical protests are causing states to create laws to limit that Kansas groups free speech rights. We are a country that allows for Nazi groups the right to speak their mind regardless whether that free speech is hateful.

This Kansas group has even caused the ACLU to hold their breath and walk a tightrope on the First Amendment. Protesting at funerals is such a dishonorable, unsocial and unsavory act that it leaves the number one group that defends the First Amendment rights for everyone to not defend it for this Kansas group. Of course there is the right to privacy to the families during the funeral, therefore the ACLU tightrope.

You may have noticed I haven't given the name of this Kansas group, that's because they are not worthy of any additional publicity, even from little old me. I will tell you that this a byproduct of the far right fundementalist movement. These people start at some absolutism, in this case involving a few obscure quotes from the Bible about homosexuality and expand it into a "just cause." They become rabid and fanatical in their goals to the point of something like the funeral protests. Without agreeing with their original absolutism, any good points they might have had become destroyed when they cause nearly anyone to be repulsed by their protest action.

As an opponent of the Iraq War and pretending I don't know why this Kansas group is protesting the war (or the United States) I cringe at their poor selection of a target. If for instance this group was anti-war for the exact same reasons as I am, I would immediately be upset at their methods. Any sane American (pro or anti-war) can understand that this Kansas group is insane.

Further consider that if an American is prejudiced toward gays, this Kansas group puts that American in a position of hating their own country, the Iraq War and the Bush Adminstration which coddles right wing religious fundementalism. So in effect this Kansas group is dissing Americans that they actually have commonality with, how odd. I suppose I should be happy about that particularity, nothing wrong with a little discontent between members of the religious right.

To sum up, as disgusted as I am toward these Kansan's methods, I say let them have a few more protests, under some conditions such as police protection for the families, the protesters must be out of vocal distance of the actual funeral and family, and this is the most important part...the media must be at each of these protests in order for all Americans to see how dispicable the Kansas group is. Give them publicity, I trust Americans to see how stupid and repulsive they are.

House panel approves bill to restrict funeral protests

3/28/2006, 7:43 p.m. ET
The Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The family of a Michigan soldier whose funeral was protested by a Kansas group was among those urging state lawmakers Tuesday to restrict similar incidents in the future.

The family of Army Sgt. Joshua V. Youmans asked the House Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Committee to endorse legislation that would ban demonstrations within 500 feet of a funeral. The committee responded by unanimously voting to send the bills to the full House.

Members of Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kan., have shown up at military funerals around the country for several months saying soldiers are being struck down by God for defending a nation that tolerates homosexuality. The group has protested at three recent Michigan funerals — in Flint, at the Youmans ceremony in Flushing and on Monday in Grand Ledge.

The Westboro church typically sends a half-dozen or fewer people to protest at funerals of U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq. They hold signs that read "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" or denounce homosexuality.

Recently, their presence has been countered by hundreds who show up to shield mourners with the approval of soldiers' families. But the Westboro protests are an unwelcome and unwarranted invasion of privacy at a time of mourning, supporters of the legislation said.

"Not one more solider, not one more individual — certainly not one more family — should have to be concerned about protesters" while getting ready for a funeral, Youmans' mother-in-law, Cathie Draheim, told lawmakers.

She also read a letter from her daughter, Katie Youmans, in support of the legislation.

Joshua V. Youmans, 26, died March 1. He was injured in November when an improvised explosive device went off near his vehicle in Iraq.

A violation of the funeral protest legislation would be punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The bills have bipartisan support, introduced by Republican Judy Emmons of Sheridan and Democrat John Gleason of Flushing.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it is neutral on the bill, but added lawmakers may have to make changes for it to stand up in court and survive First Amendment tests.

An attorney for Westboro Baptist has said the church will obey laws that have been passed to limit where and when funeral demonstrations take place. The group canceled plans to protest recently in Oklahoma, Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin, all states that have passed funeral protest laws.

The Michigan House committee also endorsed a resolution sponsored by Rep. David Law, R-West Bloomfield, urging Congress to pass similar legislation.


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