This is the sign that greets you at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery. Notice the words “sacred shrine” and “hallowed grounds”. Notice the instruction to conduct ourselves with dignity and respect at all times. Remember that this sign is on Federal property, in a Federal district and is the stated position of the United States government. When I first saw this sign (not that I was considering breaking these rules) I assumed that anyone doing so would at least be escorted off the grounds, if not prosecuted by the law.
But don’t I have the right to speak freely, to assemble freely, to politically protest against things that I feel strongly about? Don’t I have this right, guaranteed by the First Amendment, especially when on public property that is, at least partly, maintained by my taxes?
Actually, no, I don’t. And neither do the morons from Westboro Baptist church. If you are following the current Supreme Court case on TV or the web then you might notice that outside the courthouse they are prominently displaying their obscene signs while standing on the Marine Corps flag and spewing vile soundbites to the press. But…those signs, those remarks, are in no way allowed inside that court house. Their speech, our speech, is effectively restricted by the government (which is us, by the way) and no one questions this.
So, why would they, or anyone else, have the right to disrupt the burial service of a fallen Marine (or soldier or sailor) on legally recognized hallowed ground? They answer is, they don’t. It is not only wrong, it is illegal.