...you probably ought to read this story: Dead Marine's Father Ordered to Pay Protester's Legal Costs.
Yes, my friends, in one of the most incredible and incomprehensible legal decisions since the Supreme Court's body blow to the electoral process in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Mr Albert Snyder has been ordered by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to pay more than $16,000 to the Westboro Baptist Church for legal costs incurred when the Snyder family sued the church in 2007 for privacy invasion, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy as a result of its demonstration at the funeral of Mr Snyder's son Matthew, who was killed in Iraq in 2006. Westboro Baptist is, of course, the alleged church which is notorious for its demonstrations at the funerals of soldiers killed in the line of duty...it claims these deaths are God's punishment to the United States for "the sin of homosexuality."
Now, I am a strong believer in freedom of speech, but I am also a strong believer in courtesy and compassion. By grossly interfering with the grief of the families of dead soldiers, the members of this church show neither. Their rigidly moralistic beliefs are monstrously offensive and deserve condemnation by all decent people.
The larger constitutional question is, of course, whether there are limits on the practice of free speech. Is all public expression, no matter how loathsome, protected under the law? What guidelines can be established that cannot later be twisted to forbid any unpleasant or unpopular expression? The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, but - given its ruling in the Citizens United case - I don't look for a rational decision.
In the meantime, I think we've finally found a "religious" organization that can match the worst of radical Islamic beliefs. The only upside is that the foul displays by Westboro Baptist don't encourage murder in the name of an imagined God.
Thank heaven for small favors.
Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.