Free speech comes at a very high price

The speeches about valor, heroism and the high cost of freedom are generally reserved for Memorial and Veteran’s days.

That’s when we pull out the trusty chestnuts intended to remind America that the fabric of our nation was woven by our unhindered right to speak our thoughts, no matter their irrationality.

While it is discouraging that people would distort this freedom, cruelly twist it and protest at a fallen soldier’s funeral, the right to do so is one of the many freedoms that soldier fought to sustain.

The Supreme Court upheld the right of members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., to protest military funerals – a practice they’ve been doing to promote its anti-gay message.

The highly controversial court ruling stated that the group’s “God hates fags” message was “at a public place on a matter of public concern, [so] speech is entitled to special protection under the First Amendment,” according to Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., who wrote for the majority.

We at the Tri-Parish Times would never condone the disrespectful act of protesting at a time of high emotion like a funeral, but we understand the court’s ruling.

Our nation was founded as one based on freedom – of the press, of religion and ultimately of speech.

Throughout the years and throughout the test of time, those liberties have been challenged by multiple countries of opposition and based on our country’s strength, several others have attempted to replicate our nation’s governing model.

It is these same freedoms and liberties that several of our local soldiers gave the ultimate sacrifice – their lives – to try and protect.

So while we would never condone the actions of the Westboro Church congregation, we support the freedom they are utilizing.

Because it’s the same freedom the fallen soldiers lost their lives to protect.

The following soldiers were Tri-parish residents before they began their fight to protect America’s freedoms, including the freedom that allows people to attend their funerals and protest:

Army Sgt. Christopher J. Babin, Army Spc. Bradley J. Bergeron, Army Sgt. 1st Class Kurt J. Comeaux, Army Spc. Armand L. “Luke” Frickey and Army Capt. John Tinsley, Operation Iraqi Freedom, killed Jan. 6, 2005

Army 1st Sgt. Michael J. Bordelon, Operation Iraqi Freedom, killed May 10, 2005

Army Sgt. Jay R. Gauthreaux, Operation Iraqi Freedom, killed Dec. 4, 2006

Army Staff Sgt. Ronnie Sanders, Operation Iraqi Freedom, killed Feb. 3, 2007

Marine Staff Sgt. Danny P. Dupre, Operation Iraqi Freedom, killed July 15, 2008

Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Milton E. Suggs, Operation Iraqi Freedom, killed Jan. 30, 2009