I think we can all agree that those who protest outside funerals are vial and disgusting people. Personally when I read about the group who protested outside the funeral of some of the VT students and outside the funerals of some of those fallen in Iraq I had hoped someone would give them a swift kick in their backsides but as vial and disgusting as I found their behavior and as much as I found myself turned off by it they have the right to freedom of speech.
Politicians however wish to create a line limiting speech. The union leader this weekend ran an article discussing a bill (SB223) that would create “a state ban on funeral protests would mirror federal legislation passed just last year.”
As much as I agree with the sentiment of this bill I cannot support it as it does create the line in the sand allowing a limit on free speech. And the fact Bush signed a similar bill into law on the federal level shows what most of us already know, he is a complete and utter dunce with no understanding of the Constitution. But I digress. The first Amendment states:
“ Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The NH Constitution Article 22 states:
“ Free speech and liberty of the press are essential to the security of freedom in a state: They ought, therefore, to be inviolably preserved.”
So while I would agree one hundred and ten percent that I would not want some ding dong protecting outside any funeral causing more grief to families who are already suffering, any law prohibiting such would be an out right violation to our US and State Constitutions. I would hope our lawmakers understand this and while they may want to do something and feel this is the right thing to do, it’s unconstitutional and shouldn’t be done regardless of how honorable it may seem. As much as I’d like to be able to argue otherwise, the right thing to do would be to either remove the amendment from this bill or vote it down.
This is one of those cases parents always tell their kids about, saying no isn't meant as punishment as much as because they love you and while it is hard to sometimes say no it is the right thing to do. So my advice to state reps reading this, say no if you love the Constitution as much as I'm sure you'd like to say otherwise.