In Abany, NY, the police department’s chief spokesman, James Miller, was arrested for drunk driving by his own police force. Police Chief Steve Krokoff acknowledged such an arrest probably wouldn’t have happened 10 years ago. Krokoff said, “officers today are more concerned about their own careers than what is considered the thin blue line.” Do you believe police culture has changed? If so, by how much? We know police officers rarely give each other speeding tickets. But, obviously, something like murder would not be overlooked. So where is the line?
A videotape of National Public Radio’s top fundraiser, Senior VP Ron Schiller, provides an unvarnished look at his Tea Party bias. Schiller calls the Tea Party “scary” and “racist people.” Though Schiller did resign, his views are disturbing, especially when you consider the organization does get federal funding, a thorny topic at the moment in Congress. View the tape for yourself.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that the parent of the American soldier (Matthew Synder) killed in Iraq cannot collect damages from the Westboro Baptist Church for protesting at Matthew’s funeral.
Church members, standing 1,000 feet away as the law required, held up tasteless signs at the funeral promoting, in my opinion, their narrow-minded view of the world.
The fundamental question, of course, is “What is the limit of First Amendment protection?” because it does have limits. You can’t yell “fire in a crowded theater” when there is no fire and you cannot protest outside someone’s home at 3 am. Picketing is not beyond the government’s regulatory reach. It is “subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions (Frisby v. Schultz).”
If the signs stated, “we love you, Matthew,” there would be no objection. So clearly, the issue is the content of the speech.
A fair question is, “Why should the Court protect the whack jobs’ rights over the rights of the grieving?” The answer is because the Court is protecting you. It is reaffirming your right to say whatever you choose regardless of how distasteful someone finds it.
The fact that so many of the court’s liberals and conservatives agreed on this one is telling. What is disturbing is lone dissenter Justice Samuel Alito wrote the First Amendment does not protect “the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case.” Actually, Sammy, that’s exactly what the First Amendment protects. Indeed, shedding light on their viciousness may be the “best disinfectant.”