Something to Think About

"I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Monday, December 17, 2012

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

I'm sure that everyone by now has heard about the horrible shootings that took place last Friday that resulted in the death of 20 elementary school children and 7 adults.

It's simply horrible to think of what the surviving children and family members of the victims must be going through.  I hope that there are plenty of counselors available to help everyone work through their grief.

In the aftermath of the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary school on Friday, we've seen the usual responses.

  • Flags are lowered to half staff.
  • Facebook posts/blogs/tweets and other online communications are created containing poetry and condolences to the families and friends of those killed.
  • People talk about gun control laws.
  • Other people say that now is not the time to talk about gun control laws.
  • Public officials make statements and offer condolences.
  • Memorial services are planned.
  • People try to find someone/something to blame or some reason that this happened.
  • We all mourn the loss of those who died.
  • The loonies come out.
Yes, there are always those people with their unusual view point that have to have their say along with everyone else.  Please understand that I'm not referring to people with mental illnesses when I use the term loonies. No, I'm talking about people who have such a distorted view of the world that it is next to impossible for most of us to understand their logic. 

The members of Westboro Baptist Church, are an example of the sort I'm talking about.

Yes, this group seems to believe that the shootings of children and teachers at the school were God's judgement and stated that they were planning on picketing the memorial service yesterday.  It appears that they didn't actually show up, but that's not unusual. They get the attention they seek regardless of whether they are actually there or not, I suppose.

Now, yes. They have the right to free speech.  That's right.  I believe they have the right to spew whatever hate they want in this way.  That's what the 1st amendment is all about, after all.  It was created to address unpopular speech not opinions that everyone would necessarily agree with. 

In the same way, the rest of us have the right to ignore them and/or to give our own opinions.  That's the way it works.

I am troubled, however, by a recent move by the group Anonymous. The group has hacked Westboro Baptist's website, hacked into one of their Twitter accounts and released the names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of church members.  

I'm sorry but I believe this is wrong.  It is illegal and it doesn't stop the group from doing what they are doing - at least not in the long run. As I stated before, the group has a legal right to do what they are doing.  It might be reprehensible and it might be hateful and mean but it is legal.  Doing something illegal to combat them is not going to help.  It only means that you might end up in jail or fined while they continue to do what they do.  

Worse, I'm afraid that this might cause more violence.  What if an armed individual decides to pay church members a visit and starts shooting?  More bloodshed is only going to make matters worse. I know some folks would figure that the world would be better off without people like the members of Westboro Baptist but I don't think we have the right to make that judgement.  

I can only hope that nothing of that sort happens and that everyone is able to calm down and be rational.  And yes.  I believe it is time that we had a discussion about guns in the United States. I have no solutions and there are no easy answers but it is time we started talking.  Let's hope that we can make that discussion logical, reasonable and productive.  We have to find a better way.

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