03/03/11 — Court ruling: Is Supreme Court right? Do protesters' rights supersede father's?

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Court ruling: Is Supreme Court right? Do protesters' rights supersede father's?

Newspapers support First Amendment rights.

So, when the Supreme Court ruled this week -- almost unanimously -- that radical protesters have a right to chant their vile and despicable insults at families mourning the loss of their service member children, it made us pause.

Is the Court right? Does this radical group's right to free speech really trump a grieving family's right to say goodbye in peace?

Americans have fought hard to protect their freedoms -- and they are privileges that should not be squandered, watered down or tossed aside. In fact, generations of American service members have died to protect those very rights and freedoms.

But over the past few years, so many of those privileges have been tarnished by those who twist them for purposes that are less than noble, almost in defiance of the very reason they were enacted in the first place.

Free speech means free speech -- no matter how despicable the content. But that does not mean we cannot set some expectation of a standard or require some accountability from those who want to carry signs and scream insults. We need a means to curtail those who are infringing on someone else's rights, someone who did not make the decision they are protesting, and those who threaten someone's safety.

Military families do not make the rules. They do not establish U.S. policy and they cannot effect change.

Those protests belong at the Pentagon, not in a cemetery -- and there is nothing wrong with asking for that to happen. There has to be a standard in place for those who cannot come up with one on their own.

Free speech requires responsibility. That is the bottom line. And we have a right to expect it.

Published in Editorials on March 3, 2011 11:03 AM