First Amendment right should be protected

Posted in the Mooresville Forum


Since: Nov 08

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#1 Oct 8, 2010
The Supreme Court is agonizing right now over the right of the Topeka, Kan., Westboro Baptist Church to protest and display objectionable signs near military funerals. The church did just that in Martinsville in 2006 during the funeral of Jeremy Doyle. It was heartbreaking to see them here, disturbing the last rites of a soldier who bravely died in service to his country.

But the speech was well within the First Amendment rights of the church members and should be vigorously protected. Curtailing one form of free speech leads us down a slippery slope that could eventually mean the end of free speech.

We will say the same about the Crusader newspaper, which was tossed into the yards of numerous Martinsville homes this past weekend. While the mouthpiece of the Ku Klux Klan is objectionable, its publication is an exercise in free speech. There are also no laws against leaving it at the end of someone’s driveway. The Reporter-Times would be hypocritical in criticizing a group for leaving a newspaper at the end of a driveway unsolicited. We do it all the time in sampling new customers.

However, we do believe it is a sad commentary that furthers a myth about Martinsville’s involvement with the KKK and racial hatred.

The people who distributed this vile literature have likely heard the rumors about our city’s supposed intolerance. They thought they might find some like-minded readers.

Homeowners our reporter Aaron Blevins spoke with were disgusted at the appearance of hate-speech on their property.

We urge whomever distributed the Crusader to ask permission before throwing the newspaper in driveways. Give them a chance to say no. When the Reporter-Times samples, we send a letter and give the homeowner a chance to say no. You should do the same.

If you, as a Martinsville resident, walk out and find the Crusader in your driveway unwanted — pick it up and throw it straight in the trash. Because while this group has the right to publish and say what it wants, you have the right to not read it.

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