Freedoms of speech, religion and assembly are cornerstones of American society. Unfortunately, some citizens have reached a point where their excercises of freedom disrespect those who protect it. I am saddened to read an AP story today reporting that Congress has to go so far as to ban protestors from disrupting military funerals at national cemeteries.
While I support the freedom to protest, disrupting the funeral of a soldier who fought to protect the very freedoms protestors have the luxury to excercise is just plain disrespectful.
According to the story, the Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act "specifically targets a Kansas church group that has staged protests at military funerals around the country, claiming that the deaths were a sign of God's anger at U.S. tolerance of homosexuals." No word yet about how Congress plans to silence Pat Robertson.
The act, approved by Congress and sent to the White House last week, would bar protests within 300 feet of the entrance of a cemetery and within 150 feet of a road into the cemetery from 60 minutes before to 60 minutes after a funeral. Those violating the act would face up to a $100,000 fine and up to a year in prison. Of course, the ACLU is fighting the bill.
In the meantime, the Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcyle group including many veterans, has begun appearing at military funerals to pay respects to the fallen service member and protect the family from disruptions. The Patriot Guard Riders are to protecting the funeral services what the Minutemen are to protecting the border. When the government is slow to act, once again, ordinary citizens are stepping up.