Carol Platt Liebau: ISO Common Sense

Monday, November 12, 2007

ISO Common Sense

This op/ed from the LA Times highlights everything that's wrong with too many current interpretations of the First Amendent.

As the op/ed notes, a wacky church that was characterizing soldiers' deaths as punishment from God for America's tolerance of homosexuals -- picketing and disrupting their funerals -- has lost a lawsuit against them for intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy, to the tune of $11 million.

Even as it notes that "The 1st Amendment doesn't require that mourners -- or anyone else -- put up with face-to-face insults or intimidation or trespassing on private property," the Times insists that the judgment is tantamount to stripping the church's free speech rights.

Nonsense. There are time, place and manner restrictions on almost every kind of speech. Telling these protestors that they may not disrupt soldiers' funerals is hardly preventing them from disseminating their message (in all its repugnance) other places and other times. These protestors don't even have the rationale for picketing where they are that abortion clinic protestors do -- those at the soldiers' funerals have no hope of or belief that they are saving a life.

It's remarkable that the LA Times would support campaign finance reform, which puts severe and meaningful restrictions on the core of First Amendment speech -- namely, political debate. Yet when protestors interrupt the funerals of fallen American heroes, in the Times' view, that's just the price their loved ones have to pay.


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