The Real American Idols

Source: I saw this cartoon via Paul Rieckhoff today.

 

My 13-year-old is working on a debate project for school. His topic? Support for Death Penalty. (He has turned in a written article against death penalty last week. The teacher wants them to be able to argue from both sides for the topic they are each assigned to)

He was telling me all about the horrible cases he has read on the Internet, including some high profile cases of brutal assault and murder on young children. I cringed. My first instinct was to tell him to stop. Aren’t there some things in the world simply to horrifying to learn about? Isn’t it sometimes better if one simply does not know such evil existed and still exists?

I don’t remember how we went from death penalty, to Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (from women’s right to vote, to the right to bear arms, to the freedom of speech), but all of a sudden I found myself telling them about Westboro “Church” (Church is in quotation mark for obvious reasons…)  Naturally the boys were astounded to find such ridiculousness is being practiced by a bunch of grownups.  I went on to tell them about the Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that even Westboro “Church” is protected under the First Amendment.

“Can you just imagine these stupid people protesting at the funerals of soldiers who died just so these stupid people could have their stupid freedom of speech?” (Just substitute Stupid with Fucking)

“Can you imagine their parents who just lost their children having to see these stupid people at the funeral??!!”

I started tearing up.

 

I am trying to explain via my rambling above why I woke up this morning and decided to google “Memorial Day + Westboro” without even knowing that Westboro “Church” had planned to picket the memorial service in Joplin, MO because President Obama was going to be there. (According to tweets and the latest news I could find: POTUS was there; Westboro was not. Several unconfirmed reports said that Westboro crazies were in town but their presence at the memorial service was thwarted due to citizen actions…)

Then I saw the tweets from Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) who is there right now at the Arlington National Cemetery:

 

I will just stop here because, wow, I don’t know what to say…

 

 

 

Footnote: Although I self-process to be a bleeding heart liberal, I often wonder what the official definition of that label is. Does it include an unexamined stance against war? Coming from a different country, different culture, different hemisphere, I am not completely anti-war. *gasp* War becomes inevitable when your country is being invaded and your people is being physically attacked on your physical territory. China went through the pillaging and ravaging by the Western world in the beginning of the 20th century; the whole people suffered humiliation under the greedy and power-hungry paws of the colonial forces.  (How do you think Hong Kong ended up being “leased” to the British Empire for 99 years?)  China fought against Japan in the brutal Sino-Japanese war two years before the so-called World War II started in Europe when Poland was invaded. And Taiwan? Taiwan was a Japanese colony for 50 years. When the KMT first retreated to Taiwan, in order to consolidate and ensure their power, the KMT government massacred the majority of the intellectual leaders.  And now? Taiwan is constantly living with the threat that China may decide to invade one day. (Or from their perspective, simply “take back what is rightfully part of China”…) All the male children are required to serve in the army for 12 months (it used to be 2 years).

What I am trying to explain by way of the above rambling is that I have an instinctual respect and admiration for people who serve(d) their countries because I have learned the horror from Chinese histories of when a country was not able to defend itself and the brutality of war itself.

Instinctual the same way I feel about teachers. (Confucius is really quite influential despite my grumblings against all the stereotypes and stupid Confucius quotes on Twitter)

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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Kristen @ Motherese May 30, 2011, 3:47 pm

    I’m a bleeding heart liberal, too, and a total civil libertarian, but those Westboro protesters drive me to distraction. As you mentioned, the horror of a parent who lost their child in war having to put up with slurs and protests at their child’s funeral is beyond comprehension. And nothing makes me happier than other citizens exercising their right to assembly to drown out the nonsense sputtered by these guys.
    Kristen @ Motherese´s last blog post…“…here as on a darkling plain”

  • Unknown Mami May 30, 2011, 5:54 pm

    I am about as liberal as they get and still I understand that there are times when we must fight and I am in awe of and grateful for those that are willing to sacrifice their lives so that idiots can protest at their funerals.
    Unknown Mami´s last blog post…Look what I Made!

  • Wicked Shawn May 31, 2011, 5:02 am

    School projects, once a kid hits the teen years, will often be the catalyst for truly meaningful conversation. Allowing him to see these things is hard and the temptation to shield is strong, but in the end, better he see and read informative articles than YouTube videos depicting it in jest.

    The political side of war, it is important to remember, has nothing to do with the men and boys and women and girls who actually fight it. Those are decisions made “above their pay grade.”
    It would be wonderful to put flowers in our hair and deny the need for defensive violence, ever, but it isn’t a reality in our world. I think your feelings are shared by many. I am one. I hate war and what it leaves behind, but I do understand it is sometimes forced upon a people.
    Wicked Shawn´s last blog post…Dear YouTube……

  • lifeintheboomerlane May 31, 2011, 5:25 am

    Free speech is one of our precious rights in a free society and unfortunately, one that allows groups like this to “speak.” I’m liberal on some issues, moderate on others, and I believe that war (or whatever euphemism a government might choose to call it), although justified in some instances, is clearly not in others. As long as this tired world has been around, men will initiate war for economic control of land and/or resources, because, say what you will about why people are fighting, the truth is that almost all wars are driven by the possibility of economic gain. Religion, racial differences, whatever, are ways that those in power convince those not in power to support (and die for) the military action. OK, that’s my rant for this morning.
    lifeintheboomerlane´s last blog post…Bring Me the Head of the Pope

  • Kathy May 31, 2011, 7:49 am

    I’m equally liberal–very liberal–but, yes, we do need to defend ourselves. It’s sad but true–some countries may even need to defend themselves against us. I lived in Vietnam for a year. It’s tragic the damage we did there!
    Kathy
    Kathy´s last blog post…Writing Round the Vertigo

  • SisterMerryHellish May 31, 2011, 8:23 pm

    I have to resist the urge to go off on a tangent of being in full on, balls to the wall agreement with you, but I don’t have the energy to test just how long a comment can go before the internet shuts down altogether.

    You know how I feel, and why I feel it. Hopefully, you know how much I love you too.
    SisterMerryHellish´s last blog post…Must…Write…Blog…Post…

  • Beka June 1, 2011, 4:17 pm

    There is not a doubt that there are groups that push the idea of “free speech” to its very limits. This particular group is disgusting to most rational people, and it is heartening to hear that other citizens take up their own right to free speech to impede them. Even the KKK felt compelled to stop them? Yeah, I don’t know what to say about that. Trying to change their image? We always had to write against our own argument in English and debate class as well. It is a good strategy, even if it’s difficult to research this particular subject.
    Beka´s last blog post…Best One Ever

  • writerwoman61 June 4, 2011, 11:56 am

    I’m one of those “bleeding heart liberals” too…this was a very thoughtful post, Lin!

    Hugs,
    Wendy
    writerwoman61´s last blog post…Paradise Tossed…

  • Naptimewriting June 10, 2011, 12:12 am

    Why do I not make it a point to read your blog every single day?

    Part of me is glad that hate speech like Westboro’s disgusting bigotry is protected by the Constitution because it forces the rest of us to stand up for what we want to take for granted: decency, civility, understanding. In a twisted way I’m glad horrible people exist because they make the rest of us leave our house to say, “Oh, HELL no you don’t; I will counter-protest loud enough for those parents to have a funeral in relative peace.”

    [shudder]
    Naptimewriting´s last blog post…Open Letter to My Greys

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