To all the active duty, inactive reservists, reservists, retired, and like myself just plain Jane old vets from the US military, Happy Veteran’s’ Day. November 11th and 12th is Vets day in America this year, so hopefully you will take some time out of your day to thank the vets who provide the security necessary to maintain your lifestyle and way of living in our world. To the vets out there, wear your medals proudly this Sunday and Monday, let people know you laid your life on the line for them, to serve your country, and to preserve freedom.
I have brothers in arms who are still serving, as well as resting at home and no longer answering the call. To them I want to say: Thank you for the privilege and honor of serving along side you. Your sacrifices are not in vein and are appreciated. Stand tall, be proud and may your watch be swift and uneventful.
With that said… I have to make an additional comment. To the leaders and followers of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka Kansas, I hope you have plenty of donation drives and bake sales planned because you’re going to need them! For those who don’t know about this church, they are the ones who lost a $10.9 million dollar lawsuit filed by the father of a fallen Marine whom the church protested his funeral with tasteless picket signs and chants of hatred and ignorance.
How can I saw this church is ignorant? Where do I start? First they have been doing this since just after 9/11. I saw them on the News in Wisconsin in 2002, and now 5 years later they have finally messed with the wrong Marine’s family. This is NOT about free speech or free assembly or free anything, this is about respect and common decency for the family of a tragic loss. Losing a child is the worst fear of any parent, and one that will put a strain on any family. Throw in some ultra religious yahoos from Kansas trying to make an anti-gay message and you have the textbook definition of tacky.
The church’s rationale is that God is punishing America for acceptance of homosexuality. Now if this were the case, why would God target the military? Why would God nudge us into a war with Iraq to punish people who are not effected by these events? From what I read of the Bible, God is pretty direct in his dealing out of punishments, defy God and you get famine, plague, fire from the sky, turned into a pillar of salt, cursed for eternity… see pretty direct. Why would God now change his tactics and punish our society by placing us into an unpopular war that only highlights our energy and influence views and not our morality views. If God wanted to punish America for tolerance of gays and gay culture wouldn’t he A) wipe it out B) make everyone gay and hate themselves being that way or C) just destroy the nation with a meteoroid or volcano?
Going beyond this weak argument we are left with protestors at a funeral of a fallen solider holding signs reading "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and "Thank God for IED", now that is just beyond rude. What if I showed up at one of their congregations fellows who died of lung cancer and at the funeral held up signs reading "Thank God for RJ Reynolds" or "Thank God for Nicotine" because I was protesting against Protestants sinful ways of divorce and sex before marriage? Don’t you think they would send over a couple of good old Kansas boys to politely ask me to leave and never show my face around there again… I bet they would.
While freedom of speech is a fundamental right of this country, people have placed too liberal of an interpretation on it. Freedom of speech is to guarantee that you can speak out against the government without fear of reprisal or censorship. Where does this cover desecrating a funeral service of another human being? You can’t cry fire in a crowded building and claim freedom of speech. You can’t slander a person and claim freedom of speech. You can’t incite a riot and claim freedom of speech. Get the picture? You can call President Bush an idiot. You can Say Non-stop Nancy Pelosi is a left-wing hypocritical wing nut and waste of space in the House. You can even say the US military is evil and should be stopped while you place flowers in their gun barrels. But there is a line and this church’s leaders, for whatever reason, decided to push the envelope and cross it and now they have to pay the piper.
Should the Church get sued? Yes! Why? Not because they were in bad taste, but because they manipulated a tragic event to spread an ideology of hate and intolerance to a non related subject at the expense of others misery and memory of their child’s passing. This church manipulated a completely private affair for personal political gains and to gain a platform from which to gain a greater voice. Did they have the right to picket a funeral, yes. Did they have the right to speak freely and assemble, yes. They also have to respect the rights of others. Did the grieving family have the right to privacy, yes. Did the graving family have the right to send off their son in a decent and respectful manor, yes. Did the church goers rights fringe upon those of the family’s, you bet your tush they did. That is why they got sued and lost!
Now the church may claim that our men and women fighting for a stable and capable Iraq being killed because of America’s acceptance for gay culture is God working in mysterious ways, but I will argue that them getting sued and ordered to fork over $10.9 million dollars is the Lord working in mysterious ways of telling them they are idiots and fools for being so distasteful and idiotic. It was my life on the line in South America, Africa, and southern Europe to give these people the right to protest, and I respect that. It was also my life on the line that enabled our court system to hear the father’s complaint and succeed in gaining a judgement against these crack pots as well.
If they are so motivated to do something as despicable as this, why don’t they do one thing just a hair lower on the ladder… go to Washington DC and put all that effort and energy into lobbying the congress to pass anti-gay laws? Oh, yea, passing a law that discriminates against a person for a reason beyond their control is UNCONSTITUTIONAL! While I may not support the gay culture in America, I still live in America and who am I to say they are wrong or need to be discriminated against. I once swore to defend the Constitution of the United States, against all enemies both foreign and domestic, and I still believe in that today.
I may no longer wear a uniform but I respect and honor those who choose to. We all owe our service men and women, in service, retired, fallen… we owe them for so much and they ask for so little in return. This weekend and Monday, go up to a military person, shake their hand, look them in the eye, and thank them for their service. Even if you hate the war and hate the government, its their sacrifices that allow you to keep your freedoms while you keep your points of view. I salute you, and you have the watch.