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  • LETTERS OF THE WEEK

    Filed at 8:03 am under by dcobranchi

    Once again, I’m all by my lonesome:

    The question: A new state law prohibits disorderly conduct within 500 feet of a funeral. Does that trump people’s First Amendment rights, or is the law needed to prevent protestors from disrupting private ceremonies?
    Protect the rights of grieving survivors

    ***********************
    By Chris North
    Fayetteville

    The new law prohibiting disorderly conduct fails miserably where funerals are concerned. This law — obviously crafted in haste — should be relooked. So should the protesters’ actions. A buffer of only 500 feet is pitifully inadequate. The law should prohibit any disruption of funerals by protesters.

    Respect for the dead and consideration for those burying their dead is the mark of civilized society. Those who demonstrate at funerals to make a statement show a descent into savagery and a callow disregard for their fellow human beings.

    The sad, shallow humans who would disrupt a funeral are a despicable, shameful blight. Their actions are even more onerous when the deceased is a service member who gave all to keep this wonderful country free.

    Keeping protesters from disrupting a funeral violates no First Amendment rights. Unfortunately, the new law fails to protect the rights of grieving survivors in their heartbreaking task of paying respects to the deceased. People must assume responsibility for civilized exercise of free speech.

    Actions of protesters at funerals are on a par with lawmakers who, for purely political reasons, criticize our troops and make anti-war statements.

    Both factions are giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
    ********************
    Peaceful protests are within the law

    By Daryl Cobranchi
    Fayetteville

    Isn’t disorderly conduct already illegal? Now, if the law forbids peaceful protest, that would indeed be a violation of the protesters’ First Amendment rights.

    The Westboro Baptist Church folks [I mistakenly wrote “Hillsboro” in the original], at whom this law is no doubt aimed, may have the most vile message imaginable. As long as they present it peacefully, they have every right to do so.

    *******************************
    Common decency should prevail

    By Bill Wadford
    Fayetteville

    One would think common decency and respect for fellow humans in time of intense sorrow would dissuade even the basest of people from a loutish, boorish exhibition.

    In this case a small number of people whose belief systems border on mental illness prove that some people can sink to incredible depths.

    Under the First Amendment, the right to free speech generally extends to all viewpoints. There are a few notable exceptions: speech owned by others, incitement, false statement of fact, obscenity and threats. None of which applies here.

    The narrow exception that does apply here is the “Fighting Words” provision, where the Supreme Court ruled that words “by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of peace have no role in the debate of public ideas.” Further, these face-to-face insults do not fall under protected speech. The key elements here are insulting words that would incite a breach-of-peace response. Moving these dingbats 500 feet will eliminate the face-to-face component and protect their rights to spew loathsome garbage into the air.

    There is no violation of First Amendment protection. One fact often overlooked is the fact people do have this right to say darn near anything, BUT, and this is huge, they have no right to be heard! Say what you will, but I am not obligated under the Constitution to listen.

    ************************
    Freedom of speech or a crime?

    By Sharon North
    Fayetteville

    First and foremost, the Constitution’s framers were not clairvoyant. Freedom of speech was never meant to allow the mendacity experienced by military families burying their dead.

    I do not believe anyone’s First Amendment right trumps the right of survivors to have an inviolate atmosphere to grieve and bury their dead.

    I was spat on in Milwaukee, Wis., while on liberty with the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, by the same kind of radical “nut” who vilifies the military who die to preserve the intent of the Bill of Rights.

    These individuals are guilty of hate crime and should be prosecuted for a felony.

    This country has sunk to a new low when demonstrators are allowed to harass grieving families for any reason, especially disagreement with another’s politics.

    8 Responses to “LETTERS OF THE WEEK”


    Comment by
    Unique
    December 19th, 2006
    at 9:55 am

    I guess you will be all by yourself, Daryl. That’s not Freedom of Speech they’re practicing – it’s freedom to be complete assholes. That’s not protected.

    I really and truly wish some funeral goers would open a can of whoopass on them. Failing that – police departments should charge them for protection. Each and every time they show up.


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    December 19th, 2006
    at 10:56 am

    Are you in Canada? ‘Cause here in the USA the right to be a complete asshole is certainly protected.

    And your solutions are 1) illegal (assault) and 2) unconstitutional (14th Amendment)


    Comment by
    Tim
    December 19th, 2006
    at 3:50 pm

    Don’t forget 3) already been done

    break....y.html

    It may be illegal and unconstitutional, but it’s oh so satisfying. I imagine the reason they left wasn’t because the police couldn’t protect them, but because the police (many of whom are ex-military) told them they weren’t going to.


    Comment by
    Audrey
    December 19th, 2006
    at 4:50 pm

    Yeah, Daryl.. you’re on you own here. It may be protected under Freedom of Speech, but that doesn’t make it right. Freedom of Speech does not cover those “inciting to riot.” Westboro’s hate speech may possibly fall under this category as they do actually say such things as “dead fags are the only good fags” and other such vile things. Also, the notion of “peaceable protest” is a subjective thing. A group spewing hate speech may not qualify.

    Westboro is trying to manipulate a legal technicality. If one tried hard enough, one would be able to manipulate another one right back on them.


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    December 19th, 2006
    at 4:56 pm

    Does that trump people’s First Amendment rights, or is the law needed to prevent protestors from disrupting private ceremonies?

    It may be protected under Freedom of Speech…

    So you agreed with me.


    Comment by
    sam
    December 19th, 2006
    at 5:46 pm

    You can’t very well take away an asshole’s rights without being willing to give up some of your own. As potential protesters, Bush has already placed limits on our free speech that most people seem happy to live by, see free speech zones. I can feel for the families involved when the phelpian assholes arrive, but the video Tim posted certainly seemed to solve the problems. I firmly believe that with the responsibility of living by our laws comes the responsibility to take your ass kicking when you’ve earned it. Also with that responsibility comes a more important responsibility to stand up to those who would see fit to take away our rights.


    Comment by
    Unique
    December 20th, 2006
    at 7:02 am

    If they want to protest, let ’em get a permit and have a parade. That’s what everyone else does. Even the KKKluckers know that much.


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    December 20th, 2006
    at 10:16 am

    A permit to protest? You have got to be kidding! That is the very essence of government-controlled political speech.