Target: California Governor Jerry Brown
Goal: Applaud the signing of a bill which protects funerals from hateful protests
California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a bill prohibiting protests within 300 feet of funerals. The bill is in response to the Westboro Baptist Church, which has been picketing funerals with hateful anti-gay signs. The governor should be applauded for signing this bill to prevent hate speech and maintain the respect that all funerals deserve.
Most of the Westboro Baptist Church’s funeral protests have consisted of anti-gay content, targeting hate crime victims as well as gay rights supporters. The church has also been focusing their protests on military funerals, claiming that the soldiers are being killed as punishment for the country’s increasing acceptance of the LGBT community. The church has been called a homophobic hate group by the Anti-Defamation League, and California’s citizens should not be subjected to harassment by such a group, especially while grieving the loss of a family member.
Although prohibiting hate speech is usually considered unconstitutional in the United States, many other countries make these exceptions to their citizens’ free speech rights. One of the exceptions that the United States does make is for speech that incites imminent violence. While inciting future hatred and violence is currently a protected act, there should at least be restrictions on the circumstances in which hateful groups are permitted to express their bigotry.
Dear Governor Brown,
I am writing to thank you for signing the legislation to restrict protests at funerals. These protests are being staged by the homophobic Westboro Baptist Church, which uses the funerals as platforms for spreading their hateful messages. Hate speech should be restricted whenever deemed constitutional to do so, and we must ensure that all funerals are given respect.
The Westboro Baptist Church has protested the funerals of hate crime victims and those who have supported gay rights. Additionally, the church sees most American deaths, particularly military deaths, as signs that our country is being punished for steadily moving toward equality.
This bill will send a message to hate groups that although their free speech will be protected, there are some places where their verbal attacks will not be tolerated. Hopefully this bill will encourage more states to continue the trend of protecting funerals from hateful messages.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: pirateyjoe via Flickr.