During the past few years, numerous military funerals of those who died in Iraq or Afghanistan have been disturbed by a sect of fundamentalist Christians who regard the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality. Last year at the funeral of Matthew Snyder these tormented souls who bring their children to observe demonstrations, interrupted the funeral with shouts and signs like, “Thank God For Dead Soldiers.” Albert Snyder, father of the dead Marine, is suing the sect. He is still angry at comments during his son’s funeral that his son was supporting “Roman Catholic monstrosity” and that he was fighting for the “United Stats of Sodomy.” Church members assert their only goal is alerting America to its moral decay and among the signs they displayed were “Semper Si Fags.”
This case raises critical questions as to the meaning of free speech. Are vulgar and shocking statements protected by the First Amendment? What are, if any, limits to protection of free speech under the Bill of Rights? Snyder’s father claims his son was not fighting for “hate speech,” but who decides what is or isn’t “hate speech?” It is interesting that Rush Limbaugh will pontificate about liberals defaming the military, one can only wonder if he feels as emotional about fundamentalist Christian insults of our fighting men?