Free speech vs. privacy in times of grief

Saturday, March 5, 2011; 5:36 PM

Both the Supreme Court and The Post got it wrong in supporting the "right" of Westboro Baptist Church to protest at funerals ["Free speech that's ugly," editorial, March 3].

I seriously doubt that the Founding Fathers intended to protect such vile, hateful rhetoric - particularly in the course of such a solemn rite as a funeral.

To suggest that a funeral can be treated as a public forum for "a matter of public concern" is ludicrous. It is, or at least should be, a private, dignified event that affords families and friends a final moment to honor and say goodbye to a loved one. The court has shredded that dignity.

This case rises above a "yelling fire in a theater" moment. The ruling is no victory for free-speech advocates but rather a triumph for incivility.

Robert Fontaine, Silver Spring


The Supreme Court's ruling in Snyder v. Phelps stands as a moment that reminds us all why the United States is the greatest country in the world and why it has stood strongly for more than 200 years:

Even our vilest, most despicable, scum-of-the-earth citizens have equal protection under the law.

Hemal N. Sampat, Germantown


The Supreme Court's free-speech ruling was, in a word, disgusting. Is there no right to privacy in this country?

Why should the right to freedom of expression be more important than a person's, or in this case a family's, right to privacy at a time of grief for a loved one who gave his life for our country and the freedom it represents?

Disgusting may not be a strong enough word to describe our high court at this moment.

John B. Farmer, Gordonsville, Va.

© 2011 The Washington Post Company