Almost every day, some constituency somewhere, maybe even just some individual person, tries to claim a veto on another person or group’s rights for a “reason” usually rooted in emotion. I’ve noticed many of these cases in North America coming out of the military realm. Do you know how hard the government makes it to get photos of dead soldiers’ caskets being unloaded? There were two stories in the past two days that caught my attention.
The first story is one that’s been percolating for a while: Snyder v. Phelps went before the Supreme Court. Albert Snyder is the father of a dead Marine who is suing Fred Phelps’s Westboro Baptist Church (infamous for their “God hates fags” signs) for picketing his son’s funeral. The Westboro people are insane bigots. They believe that almost everything bad in America is some manifestation of God punishing us for homosexuality. They famously picketed Matthew Sheppard’s funeral, too. They are not nice people. I would love to see them teleported deep into outer space some day. But they are here in our country, and as such, they have certain inalienable rights. Most importantly here, they have a right to free speech.
Snyder is a weak man. Somehow, he feels like these loons holding “God hates you” signs at his son’s funeral defamed his memory and caused the family emotional harm. If some quite-literally insane people telling you God hated your son are enough to make you emotionally distressed, maybe you weren’t very secure in loving your son enough to begin with. That’s my speculation. What I know for certain is that Snyder lowered himself to a level even lower than that of the Westboro crazies by seeking the initiation of government’s violence against people who did nothing more than speak.
This is not acceptable. I don’t care if it hurt your feelings. They did not physically hurt you. Your rights were not violated. You need to get over yourself and stop ruining things for everyone else, buddy. If you weren’t wrapping yourself in the flag and going on about soldiers and sacrifice, this case wouldn’t even be in the Supreme Court. Free speech, even for bigots, wins out over your sad heart.
The second case is less well-known and less repulsive. In Canada, a woman called Celine Lizotte, the mother of a son killed in Afghanistan, is demanding that the Quebec Women’s Federation take down an anti-war video that refers to soldiers as “cannon fodder.” I say “less repulsive” because AS YET, Ms. Lizotte is just lobbying publicly for the video to be taken down. She hasn’t tried to get the government involved or made threats herself. So this sort of action is well within her rights.
But that doesn’t mean it’s an action I support. If you don’t like the video, don’t watch it. In the meantime, maybe it will encourage some other mom to keep her son from dying like yours did. Would that be a horrible thing?
I’m tired of this crap. It happens in any number of ways, but this military fetishism is especially noticeable because we have such a military cult in America and, to a much lesser extent, Canada. Just because you put on a uniform doesn’t make you any more human or praiseworthy than the next guy, and it certainly doesn’t give you a veto right over the rights of your fellow citizens. People say soldiers fight and die for our freedom–not that I ever asked anyone to die for me, but that’s beside the point. If you really believe they are dying for our freedom, then that freedom very much includes freedom of speech.