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  • Last modified 2841 days ago (Dec. 8, 2010)

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Don't curse the military while picketing

Remember those signs — there are some still out there — that read, “Don’t curse the farmer with your mouth full?” The agriculture community reminded consumers that if it weren’t for local farmers and ranchers, there wouldn’t be the quality of food available for us to eat.

Freedom of speech is a powerful privilege. We appreciate being able to speak — and print — our minds without fear of retaliation.

As we know, this freedom doesn’t come without a price. This freedom and other freedoms are possible because America has the resolve not to buckle under communism or other forms of stifling rule.

In order to keep America free, men and women in the military are doing their best to fight oppression for all of us — including members of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Every time the newspaper office receives an offensive, vile fax from the Phelps family, we realize that this is their privilege. We may not agree with the message — or should say, never agree — but they have the right to send it.

It’s a tragedy that this family condemns the military — the same military whose actions allow them to continue to exercise the privilege of being able to picket and send faxes that express their opinions.

When news hit the streets that this group was coming to Marion Sunday to picket five of our churches, people were upset, as they should be.

But that’s what the church group wants us to do. They want us to wring our hands, lose sleep, and be fearful of their presence.

Those in the know have advised us that we shouldn’t confront them or try to convince them to change. They’re professional antagonists. They’ve been doing this for decades. We’re not going to change their minds. They aren’t going to back down. In fact, it would make it worth their trip if we gave them an opportunity to yell in our faces, using offensive language to shock us back into our safe havens.

The best way to counteract this group is to live our lives normally that day. Go to church. Go for a walk. Visit our neighbors. Don’t give Westboro the satisfaction of changing our routines or keeping us from worship.

We have the right and privilege to live our lives as we see fit, just as they do.

They will pack up their signs and return to Topeka, preparing for the next rally.

We will continue being the close-knit, caring, and supportive community we have always been — thankful to those who protect and serve at home and overseas.

— susan berg

Last modified Dec. 8, 2010

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