Radicals protest military funerals to oppose United States support of homosexuality

By Matt Kushi

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There’s a saying that many of us are familiar with that goes, “to add insult to injury.” The context in which Albert Snyder has found this saying to be true has not been a laughable matter. Snyder’s son, Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder was killed in action in Iraq in 2006. Like any parent, Snyder was devastated. Then came the next blow, a group of protestors showed up at Lance Corporal Snyder’s funeral. That would seem to be enough insult to injury for any family.

However, this story gets even sadder. Snyder sued the protestors, who are members of the Westboro Baptist Church out of Topeka, Kansas headed by Reverend Fred Phelps, without success. Though they originally sided with Snyder, the court reversed its decision saying that Phelps and his protestors were protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution. In an even crueler turn of events, the Baltimore District Court ordered Snyder to pay Phelps and his protestors $16,000 in legal costs.

When looking at the details of this case, there are some things that should strike some nerves. The reasons to which Phelps claims to have the right to protest military funerals are corrupted to start. The reasons that he gives are the opposite of what America should stand for.

The protesting at these military funerals, including that of Lance Corporal Snyder, are not the stereotypical “War is evil” chants. Instead, Phelps and his group stand outside of the church where the funeral is being held, holding signs and chanting such things such as, “God hates you” and “You’re in Hell.”

The reason these radicals terrorize funerals? They claim that all United States’ soldiers are evil because they are “defending a country that tolerates homosexuality.” Where did this thought process even come from?

Now, we are starting to get a picture of why the ruling in this case was wrong. The United States is built upon a combination of morals, logic and vision. What Phelps and his radicals represent is near opposite of this foundation that builds our Nation. In a twist of irony, they are using a loophole of Constitutional interpretation to represent what America does not stand for.

These funeral protesting radicals are claiming, and the court granted them, the right of the First Amendment: freedom of speech. However, this is beyond freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is intended to give rights to all law-abiding citizens. It was meant to be a tool for a better America. Here is where the difference lies. Freedom of speech was intended to help democracy and the liberty of man. The way that Phelps and his protesters are using it is as an arm of oppression and inhumane cruelty.

In this case, those being oppressed by these radicals are military families. Also being oppressed are people that are gays or lesbians. For military families, they have done nothing other than have a family member give his or her life performing one of the most honorable duties that one can ask – putting their country before their own selves. That means defending the members of their country no matter who they are. That is the crime that Phelps decided that Snyder, and all other soldiers, committed. A family does not deserve to suffer for this, or be treated as criminals, by the hands of the ignorant, who make illogical connections.

The other groups being oppressed in this case are gays and lesbians. No matter if you agree with someone’s choice of sexuality or not, there is one thing that you can never take away from them – that they are human beings and have the same rights to lead a happy life as any other. They are humans who happen to be gay or lesbian; not lesbians and gays that happen to be human. The fact that they are being discriminated against by Phelp’s group is a wrong that should not be.

If the current ruling is to be believed, than the Ku Klux Klan had the right to oppress the rights of African-Americans with their rhetoric. If the current ruling is to be believed, then the oppression in the rhetoric of Neo-Nazi’s is right. If the current ruling is to be believed, we are giving others access to create an America that will not find its base in liberty and freedom but rather on oppression and terror. We escaped that path once by overcoming slavery. Let us not venture down the same road again.

The reason why the former two have been subdued to a point, and why the basis of the latter must be subdued as well, is due to the fact that they are immoral. This is not a protest to free people from a form of tyranny, as some may argue. Rather it is a protest with the misguided moral principle of attempting to create a better world for oneself through the means of oppressing others.

While what Phelps and his followers are doing may be constitutionally legal, it is a crime against humanity on the two counts listed above. Snyder should not be forced to pay $16,000 in legal costs to radicals that violate the morals for which Snyder’s son was fighting for. Fortunately for Snyder, he has support.

Conservative TV host Bill O’Reilly has voiced his support for Snyder, and there are cries being shouted out by true Americans for the case to be heard by the Supreme Court. Maybe then this case will end right where freedom of speech will be ruled to mean freedom and liberty instead of oppression and terror.

Matt Kushi can be reached at [email protected]