Political 'Elites,' Free Speech, and Military Funerals

Are protests at military funerals constitutionally protected?

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Attacking the ‘Elites’ in Politics

In addressing supposed “attacks on elites,” Robert Schlesinger, perhaps intentionally, misses the point [“Lay Off the Attacks on Elites,” October 1]. The problem elites are those who don’t understand everyday Americans and have an I-know-what’s-best-for-everyone belief. Note that one conservative “professorial elite” hero was William Buckley Jr. I had to get out my dictionary every time I heard him speak.


Only eggheads who really think have any place in politics.


The term “egghead” should be met with derision—and logic. Honorable, intelligent people should be respected and elected by us to lead intelligently.


The Limits of Free Speech

While we all enjoy the benefit of the First Amendment, it does not give anyone the right to disrupt the private lives of others [Editor’s Note, October 8]. The demonstration by these church members against the military at a private family funeral infringes on their lives and their right to “pursue happiness.” The pursuit of happiness might apply here, as the family and friends of the slain soldier are looking to ease their pain through private prayer.

STEVEN RIBACK Monroe Township, N.J.

[Read the U.S. News op-ed debate: Should Protests at Military Funerals Be Protected by the First Amendment?]

The grieving family should have a right to privacy. I don’t understand why it would be unconstitutional to enforce this privacy when requested.

JACK STONE Plymouth Meeting, Pa.

As awful as it is for protesters to belittle dead soldiers, free speech is free speech. I would think property owners have the right to decide who can or cannot enter their grounds.

JIM BRITT, pastor, Norway, Mich.

Freedom of speech does not mean you can incite a riot. Right to bear arms does not mean you can have a nuke in your bedroom. Freedom of religion does not mean you can put “In God We Trust” on our money, when we do not all agree there is only one god (hmm, maybe it does?). To cover all bases, our motto should be: “If There Is a God, In God(s) We Trust—but We Still Want the Largest Military in the World Because God Does Not Always Answer Our Prayers and We Tend to Piss Off a Lot of People.” These freedoms were intended to protect folks from the government, not from other folks. Also, a corporation is not a folk. Corporations only have the rights given to them by the applicable state charter, which should not include any activity in politics. Can IBM run for president? It is over 35 years old and was born in America.

GEORGE DILL Escondido, Calif.

I don’t know why those horrible funeral protests don’t fall under the category of hate crimes. There are so many other laws about other kinds of harassment—racial, sexual, gender, handicap access, etc.—that it doesn’t seem like a big leap to include these despicable protests.

BOB STEPHAN Pebble Beach, Calif.

Freedom of speech is exactly that. But, like the proverbial yelling of “Fire!” in a crowded theater, when and where one’s right to say anything can be restricted. A fair solution would be for the court to find that funeral protests and rallies can take place, but not within sight or sound of the funeral or family members.

JIM ALSTON New Braunfels, Texas

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