Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Legislating Common Sense, Update

I've posted several messages about members of the Westboro Baptist Church protesting military funerals this month. The last on was on January 18, 2006, Legislating Common Sense. In that one I told about Missouri Legislators plans to ban these protest. A January 25, 2006 St Joseph News-Press article By Scott Lauck tells about the efforts the law makers are making to stop these protest.

"Jefferson City, Mo.- The Missouri Senate, moving with as much speed as it could muster, finished its work Tuesday on a bill that would restrict protests at funerals.

Only hours later, the House began work on a similar measure of its own.

The two bills, sponsored by St. Joseph legislators Sen. Charlie Shields and Rep. Martin Rucker, are in response to a demonstration by the Westboro Baptist Church at the August funeral of Spc. Edward Myers, the first St. Joseph soldier to die in Iraq.

The church, a Topeka Kan.-based organization that says U.S. deaths in Iraq are divine retribution for America's tolerance of homosexuality, has used military funerals as a platform for its views.

Imojean Myers, Edward Myers' widow, spoke Tuesday about the effect the protest had on her grieving family.

"We're not trying to get this law passed as vengeance for what these people did," she said at the hearing for Mr. Rucker's version of the bill. "We're trying to get this passed so that this will not happen to another family."

It was the second time she had given an emotional account of her ordeal. At a hearing last week on Mr. Shields' bill, senators were moved by her testimony and quickly sent the measure to the Senate floor.

Mr. Shields' measure has received no legislative opposition. In several instances the Senate has bent its rules and customs to pass the bill as quickly as possible, and a clause added to the bill would allow it to go into effect as soon as the governor signs it.

Mr. Shields said he wants to get a law on the books quickly before any other funeral protest can take place.

"The possibility exists for this situation to occur again," he said. "It doesn't have to be the funeral of a soldier. It could be any funeral that would have some sort of notoriety that they could choose to protest."

The law would limit such protest to taking place an hour before a funeral ceremony or an hour afterward. A similar law is in place as a city ordinance in St. Joseph.

Westboro members protested at St. Joseph's City Hall in December and have said that the ordinance is unconstitutionally vague, since it prevents protest "at or about" a funeral.

Some House members raised similar concerns at Tuesday's hearing. Mr. Rucker and other supporters say they would support setting a specific distance of 500 feet for protests.

Mr. Shields bill is SB 578. Mr. Rucker's bill is HB 1026."

I can't say that I support this legislation or oppose it. I can say that I'm opposed to holding a protest at a funeral, anyone's. I don't care if the deceased was a mass murderer, child molester or what ever. Protesting their funeral doesn't hurt them. It does hurt their family members, innocent victims. If you protest during a funeral you are no better than the thing or person you are protesting.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

2 Comments:

Blogger maccusgermanis said...

Mostly I am glad to see such legislation, though I am slightly confused as to why these people can't be barred from protesting or prosecuted on existing laws concerning disturbance of peace.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Elmer's Brother said...

I agree with Maccusgermanis, I am glad to see such legislation. Our folk in uniform deserve to be honored for their sacrifice.

12:42 PM  

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