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)