Nevada continues move to ban protests at funerals
Unless a small cadre of Nevada lawmakers have their way, the Westboro Baptist Church is about to find protesting at funerals in the state of Nevada to be a good deal more difficult.
The Nevada state Assembly Judiciary Committee recently gave the thumbs-up to a bill that would make it illegal to demonstrate or protest at a funeral with the intention to disrupt it.
As with many of these laws, the Westboro Baptist Church is a direct target of these laws. If outlawed from protesting at funerals, the WBC would find its protest opportunities growing fewer and further between.
Not all the members of the Nevada state legislature are believers in the bill.
"This same group protests outside of family planning clinics," said Las Vegas Assemblyman William Horne, a Democrat. "Why wouldn't we exclude that as well?"
"I find it abhorrent that a white supremacy group can walk down the middle of a black neighborhood," Horne added. "But I will defend their right to do that, despite the ugly history."
Horne's concerns seem to echo that of the American Civil Liberties Association, who are challenging a similar law in Michigan after Lewis Lowden was charged after participating in the funeral procession of a family friend who'd died fighting in Iraq while he had an anti-Bush sign taped in the window of his van.
In the wake of the latter example, it would be foolish to pretend that such laws cannot be abused, and the hate march example raised by Horne raises the question of how far a society should go in order to regulate offensive speech.
But by the same token, most people -- in the United States and elsewhere -- would agree that a funeral is regarded as a special case. It's expected to be a private, solemn time, and people attending funerals have the right to expect that such times will not be invaded by hatemongers looking for any forum to spread their vile message.
The problem could probably be solved by just outlawing the Westboro Baptist Church. It's too bad -- and strange -- that this act would be even more wrong.