Funeral Protests: Something Is Really Wrong Here

Most likely I’m missing the big picture here. I tend to do that a lot these days. And I was planning to take a day or two off from opining about the horrific shootings in Arizona. Sort of keeping with my view that we need to “tone it down.”

We should also turn the national stage over to Prez O and see if he can say something tonight at the memorial service that can bring the country together on all of this. He actually was pretty good at that during the 2008 campaign when many of us got caught up in the promise of change and hope.

But I read something this morning that to this pajama-clad journalist makes no sense — and in fact, is pretty disturbing.

Would you — assuming you were playing with anything close to a full deck — get involved in a public protest during the funeral of any of the victims of this mass murder, one of whom was a 9-year-old girl born on 9/11 who lived her brief life within the bookends of two acts of terror? (I heard that while chasing on belt on the treadmill but can’t remember the channel. Possibly Fox News.)

Well, apparently that’s a concern, as Arizona enacted emergency legislation yesterday to ban protests within 300 feet of a funeral and within a hour from its beginning or end. Here’s from the story on CNN:

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed emergency legislation Tuesday that bars protests within 300 feet of a funeral and within an hour from its beginning or end.

Earlier in the day, the state legislature passed the measure, which targets a Kansas church whose members announced they plan to picket the funerals of the victims of Saturday’s shootings in Tucson.

“Such despicable acts of emotional terrorism will not be tolerated in the State of Arizona,” Brewer said in a statement announcing she had signed the bill. “This legislation will assure that the victims of Saturday’s tragic shooting in Tucson will be laid to rest in peace with the full dignity and respect that they deserve.”

The legislation makes protesting too near a funeral a misdemeanor in the state. It went into effect immediately upon Brewer’s signing it.

The action is in direct response to the Westboro Baptist Church’s announcement that it will picket the funeral of Christina Green, the 9-year-old who was among six people killed during Saturday’s attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona.

The controversial church, based in Topeka, has made its name by staging protests at funerals of people who died of AIDS, gay people, soldiers and even Coretta Scott King. The church was founded by Fred Phelps, 80, and most of its members are members of his extended family.

“Today we have joined together to provide some small measure of comfort for families grieving over the lost of a loved one,” said Democratic state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. “During times of grief, families should be free from harassment or intimidation. This law does the right thing by protecting those families.”

“Protesting or picketing outside the funeral of an innocent victim is despicable,” said Republican state House Speaker Kirk Adams. “It’s time to bring Arizona in line with the many other states that protect the sensitivities of victims against groups that use fear and hate to denigrate the lives of Americans.”

Within hours of the church’s announcements, Facebook groups sprang up to plan actions surrounding the funerals that would keep the church members separate from the mourners.

I’m all for free speech — and if someone has a grievance and wants to peacefully protest, then go for it.

But not under these  politically and emotionally charged conditions.

I had hoped — and again, I generally miss the big picture — that the suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, was the only sick fuck directly involved with this tragedy.

The fact that Arizona, or any other state, has to pass emergency legislation to bar protests at the funeral of innocent victims suggests that there are others out there who don’t have a grip on reality either.

Sheesh.

 

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