Today the Supreme Court ruled (8-1) that Fred Phelps and his ilk have the free speech right to protest at a military funeral. Our constitution affirms the right of free speech and the right of assembly.
But Fred Phelps and the handful of family members who make up his Westboro Baptist Church are still guilty of of violating ethical behavior. They are guilty of inflicting deep pain to mourners. They are guilty of hatred and bigotry. They are guilty of not letting the dead rest in peace.
They may have the right to say the hateful words and venom that they spew. But they are not right.
Jewish tradition has a concept called Derekh Eretz. Roughly translated this means manners, courtesy, the right thing to do. Derekh is path way. Eretz is Land. But together these words mean doing the right thing!
Jewish tradition would say be mindful of the words you speak and give honor to the dead. Protests at a funeral is hardly the way to give honor to the dead.
The Supreme Court did what it had to do to make our Constitution live. But we as a society can still affirm that what they do is wrong.