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Recently, a church located in Kansas attracted attention in the whole United States of American nation, for the angry anti-gay protests in funerals having won the appeal at the Supreme Court. The issue tested the competing constitutional rights of free speech and privacy. Albert Snyder had sued the Westboro Baptist church after following the funeral of one of his close family members in Westminster drew unwanted protests from members.
Some people dislike people with different characteristics and may hate someone because they have a different skin color. They might hate people who prefer a different religion to the one they believe. Indeed, I had a preconceived idea about Africa American. When I saw some Africa Americans at night, they scared me. Therefore, I blinked at them and tried to pass by them quickly. Moreover, I do not tolerate to homosexuals at all. When I looked at some gays in San Francisco, I made a grimace.
Someone said that racial prejudice forms one of the most difficult prejudices to end. Like the preceding, I face difficulty to overcome this bias. However, I do not think that this prejudice could change to hate; beside I never hate a person because of my bias. According to his essay, he thought that hate crime has a broad or suggestive spectrum and thus not easy to measure. That forms the main reason why the government has a difficulty to inflict punishment to hate crime according to the rule. “Do we not owe something more to the victims of hate? Perhaps we do, but the government can do nothing for the hated that the hated cannot better do for themselves.” (Nations)
The writer believes that we could change the perception of hate with tolerance. Moreover, hatred also acts as a driving force of the world. In addition, he thinks that we ought to do a lot to stop hate crimes. He expects people to work together to make changes with regard to the way people treat others. (Now Public). Hate crimes hurt in many ways. Therefore, we have to improve it. I think hate crime law has no importance. If we changed our conception, then we could overcome hate crime.
The Supreme Court stated that picketing at a private funeral together with protest messages had protection from the first amendment of the constitution of the United States of America. In addition, the control goes handy with the first amendment’s states that the congress will not make any law that prohibits the development of a religion or the free exercise thereof (Reuters).
The justices standing for the case said that the members of the Baptist church, in Westboro had a right to promote a message that deals with public matters such as wars. The church believes that God deliberately punished the United States of America for allowing the sin of homosexuality to be unpunished. Moreover, The members of the church believed that God punished the United States of America through events such as the death of American soldiers.
In 2007, Snyder and his family had sued the members of the church claim that the church had invaded the privacy of his family with an intention to inflict emotional distress and civil conspiracy. In observation of the case, a jury awarded the family three million dollars in compensation damages and eight million dollars punitive damages, which reduced to five million dollars, later.
In 2008, the Westboro church appealed the case in a federal appeal court, which downplayed the earlier ruling one year later. The federal appeal court sided with the allegations that the church had put forth that the first ruling that favored Snyder had violated its first amendment rights. The second ruling surprised Snyder and his family. His view indicated that the church displayed an inhumane characteristic and that people could no longer bury their dead with dignity. This case ruled in favor of public debate at the expense of personal feelings (Nations).
Although Snyder felt that the protests of the church meant to hurt his family, the church had a different view. The church did the protest at about a hundred yards from the place where the funeral took place. The Westboro Baptist church stayed away from the memorial service. Thus, the members of the church asserted that they did not direct their message to the family of Snyder nor the message meant to laugh at their dead. Rather, they directed their broad message to unspecified actions of the military and the people who served it the military. To the church members the soldiers of the United States of America have a right to die, as punishment from God because they serve a country that tolerates the practice of homosexuality. Therefore, the protest happened coincidentally to the fact that the son of Snyder had died serving as one of the soldiers of the United States of America.
The Westboro Baptist church indicated that it would participate in more picketing because the constitution of the United States allowed it the right to free speech, in the first amendment. In relation to that, the chief justice of the Supreme Court ruled that the Westboro Baptist church carried out their protest at a place where Snyder could not see more than the top of the signs they carried. Therefore, no indication showed that the picketing interfered with the funeral. Based on that evidence the court ruled that Snyder could not get damage payments for the damages caused by the Westboro Baptist church.
The Westboro church had the right to make their viewpoint public, even if it hurt Snyder and his family. The chief justice sitting for the case observed that Westboro Baptist church thinks that the United States of America has become morally flawed, as other Americans feel about this issue. The picketing engaged by Westboro Baptist church presents a hurtful experience and a negligible contribution to public disclosure. Despite that fact, the United States of America, through its constitution chose a different course that protects speech on public issues to ensure that no one suppress public debate, even when it makes hurtful experiences for some people (Vicini). Again, under any circumstance, the protest should not give any harm to people.
Several states across the United States of America responded to the ruling made by the supreme, most of them siding with Snyder. Moreover, several members of the congress filed an amicus brief in favor of Snyder and his family. John Ellsworth, the chairperson of military families united stated that the military protects the first amendment rights, which the Westboro Baptist used in their protest. However, the families of fallen soldiers deserve the respect of the nation and not a group that chooses to demonstrate during the funeral.
Despite the fact that the court has the mandate to ensure that no person interferes with the right of free speech of another person, especially in relation to public debate, it should ensure that people do not use the right, specifically, to inflict pain to other people. The court should make sure that people use the right of free speech appropriately and in appropriate situations. The members of the church told the court that they had a right to protest and picket at certain events that include funerals, to promote religious messages. If this involves the purpose of their picketing, then the funeral does not form one of the places because, in funerals, no one would pay attention to religious messages. People grieve for their loss and have no time for controversial religious messages.
The ruling that the Supreme Court made with regard to the right of the anti-gay church, to protest at military funerals as a form of public debate showed the delicacy between privacy rights issues and the rights of free speech. The court gave importance to the free rights speech even when the issue showed clarity on privacy rights interference. Therefore, the court system gives importance to the rights of free speech over rights of privacy irrespective of the situation and the event at hand.
In my case, I also experienced a terrible memorial protest few years ago. In Korea, people participated in demonstrations throughout the nation because of FTA. At that time, I travelled in the bus returning home, unfortunately, about twelve thousand people blocked off the road and held a demonstration, the reason why it took me two hours to get home. Normally, it took only 15 minutes to get home. Although I pay regard to public opinion and understand their situation, I disagree that protests may give harm to people. Furthermore, the Speech has the power, for it affects people to get into action, for whatever the course the speech advocates. It can move people to tears of joy and happiness or sorrow and pain. In this case, the speech from the Westboro Baptist church made people suffer, with immense pain. However, people cannot react to suffer by punishing the speaker. That is why laws should punish such protests. Moreover, I could know that culture of demonstration has to take roots, rightly, to improve democracy through this essay.
The duty to end hate crime, solely, lies with us and not the courts. Many may have taken issue with the ruling that the Supreme Court made regarding the Westboro case, but the court did the right thing according to its mandate. People must make their viewpoints clear, even when it hurts others. This does not mean that they hate them, but have different ideologies regarding certain issues.
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