Hate speech puts the First Amendment at risk

The First Amendment is one of the grandest ideas that our country has brought forth. With this, every citizen in the United States has the freedom to be the person he or she wants to be. This idea ensures that each citizen has rights to pursue happiness and self-expression.

These rights have become so accepted in this country that people have a tendency to take advantage of them, especially our freedom of speech. Many countries suffer from oppression and a lack of freedom, concepts people born in the United States could never understand. One would think that people in the United States would appreciate what they have a little more. However, certain groups have proved this to be untrue.

The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is a perfect example of this. These people run around the country spouting off ignorant rants regarding our country and our soldiers because they have the right to. Most recently, they came to our little city of Reno, and they became quite the nuisance. Their protests and ignorant words have angered the people of this city, but they are allowed to assemble and speak in public, saying whatever they wish. It is their right.

But this brings forth the question: When is enough? There are unspoken rules about respecting our rights in this country, and these people have broken every one of them. This would fall in line with flag burning: You are allowed to do it, but that does not make it right or respectful.

In countries around the world, people hate us simply because we are free, and they suffer from oppression. The 2008 Olympics will be held in China, and the situation is tough. China wants this to be an event that is seen—in all its glory—but not heard. Olympians from our country and all over the world will go to China and have the rights they have in their own countries taken from them. These people choose to tone it down for an event, but they can leave and return to their normal lives. The people of China are not so lucky. They have to stay and keep their thoughts hidden because they do not have the right to speak out.

Countries such as China lack the rights that we have ingrained into us, rights people like the WBC abuse and use to slap other countries, as well as their own, in the face.

These people came to our town and used us as an “example” of a hell-driven town. They use their freedom to insult the citizens of this great country and to insult the people who die fighting for their freedom of speech. The insult is that they use such freedoms to go against everything and everyone who has worked to keep said freedoms.

Our Founding Fathers worked hard to allow us to have bright futures. They did not work and fight for freedom to help breed ignorance and malice. What members of the WBC need to realize is the freedom they are taking advantage of wasn’t free. These people can’t even be classified as a church; a hate group is more accurate.

Should hate groups get the same freedoms as the rest of us? In this country, we are all allowed the freedoms that were fought for in this country. The Westboro Baptist Church is a disgrace to humanity and society. As Americans and human beings, they should know that just because they have the right to do something doesn’t mean they should. They would do well to learn a little respect for this country, so responsible people don’t have our freedoms limited to protect us from others’ reprehensible speech.