A new ruling from the Supreme Court on Wednesday protects the First Amendment free speech rights for the Westboro Baptist Church. Polling data on the extent of free speech rights may back up this ruling in the abstract, but maybe not specifically for this case.
A poll last summer from the AP, GfK and the National Constitution Center found that by a very large margin people believe that free speech rights should be protected "even if they take positions that seem deeply offensive to most people." Fully 70 percent sided with unfettered free speech rights and only 28 percent said that people should have the right to say what they believe, except when those statements might be deeply offensive.
The case involves a tiny church that has made a practice of demonstrating at funerals of U.S. soldiers killed in action, reasoning that military deaths are God's retribution for the expanding acceptance of homosexuality.
Their demonstrations have featured signs that read "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," and "God Hates Fags." It might be a stretch to find many people who would agree with this line of reasoning or the appropriateness of such a venue for spreading their word. But a nearly unanimous Supreme Court ruled that such demonstrations are protected under the U.S. Constitution.
Q: Do you think freedom of speech should mean that people should have the right to say what they believe...
70% Even if they take positions that seem deeply offensive to most people, OR
28% Except when they want to say things that seem deeply offensive to most people
What do you think? Leave us your comments about how far we should go in protecting free speech.