President Obama Signs Law Prohibiting Protests at Military Funerals
Considering my line of work, I find freedom of speech and expression to be one of our country’s most important Constitutional rights, but this is one area where I’m comfortable with that right being tampered with.
President Obama signed the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 today.
The act has two parts, the first providing extended care for armed forces and their families stationed at Camp Lejeune during a water contamination scandal that spanned 30 years.
The second is what I find most important. It prohibits protesting at military funerals for two hours before and after the event.
The President said,
Obviously we all defend our Constitution and the First Amendment and free speech, but we also believe that when men and women die in the service of their country and are laid to rest, it should be done with the utmost honor and respect.”
I couldn’t agree more. All too often we have seen photos of protests at military funerals. I choose not to identify the one group best known for it, as I don’t believe they deserve any more attention than they’ve already received.
I do find comfort in knowing that anyone trying to protest a military service member’s funeral under the guise of religion (or otherwise) will now be breaking a federal law, and will be punished accordingly.
It is one thing to be able to speak freely and openly without fear of punishment from the government. It is quite another thing to speak freely and openly purely to agitate people with no clear goal in mind.
If I felt military protesters were willing to dialogue with those they disagree with, I might feel differently. The truth is, these protesters are only interested in talking — never in listening.
So yes, the right to free speech took a hit today…and maybe that’s okay.
The men and women of our armed forces put their lives on the line to ensure that we have the right to free speech…to protest their actions using that right as a shield just makes no sense to me.
In the end, it all comes down to respect. If anyone deserves it, it’s the people who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
What do you think of people who protest at military funerals?