If a Constitutional Amendment allows such speech, then that amendment is an ass.
If, however, the speech is protected because Congress has never moved to outlaw such vile and utter filth, then Congress, and by extension the Electorate are wholly to blame.
In common with most sane people, I detest and abhor the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church. Indeed, even though I am an Atheist, I find the word "Church" in their name to be offensive. Offensive on a primitive, almost biological level. Offensive in the way my body would find eating my own feces offensive.
I used the word "God" in the title of this piece ironically, because I can't help but think that were such a concept to really exist, he/she/it would have sent the thunderbolts of eternal damnation to smite this group, probably in their cradles and well before they could inflict their poison on society.
So when I see that they intend to picket funerals in Boston, I react viscerally, much in the way many people in my Facebook feed react.
Then I got to wondering ...
For some time now it has crossed my mind that any civilised society would have already dealt firmly with this odious group. In the UK, for example, they would be arrested for "Behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace". They would then be injuncted against a repeat of such behaviour, and jailed for contempt if they were to persist. Few would have any sympathy.
Here, in the US, we have the 1st Amendment, and I am told that their speech, however distasteful, is "protected speech". Protected from what I'm less sure, but I ask the question ... "Who protects the LBGT community from them?"
Who protects the grieving families? Who looks after the children who are burying their parents? Who has the best interests of the victims of hate in mind?
The Westboro Baptists could not speak about black people, or Hispanics, or folk in wheelchairs, or Jews, or Muslims... in this manner. That would not be protected speech, it would be a Hate Crime because we have laws about that kind of thing. They would, should they try, be prosecuted for a hate crime, and Federal prosecutors up and down the country would line up to take the case and score such an easy and popular win.
The fact is that the Westboro Baptist Church is an unpleasant symptom of this country's complete and abject failure to include our LBGT citizens in anti-discrimination legislation.
Congress has utterly failed in it's principal function, that of protecting the citizens. That Congress is filled with Representatives and Senators who are not fit to walk the same ground as decent, thinking Americans is a consequence of elections, and the electorate. Fed on bullshit and kept in the dark ... the mushroom voters, and there are way too many of them.
When we protest the actions of the Westboro Baptists, and all hate groups, we might bear in mind that they are only able to operate because in the year 2013, America has not yet been able to pass laws to prevent the continued and continual attacks on minority groups in our society.
And that should shame us all.
1:29 PM PT: I will remind all those who so fiercely defend the 1st Amendment ... It brings NOTHING to ordinary citizens other than a feeling that you are free to spew at the mouth to your heart's content, with no comeback.
It does, however, bring Corporate Personhood, and Citizens United. It is the amendment that has allowed the corporations to buy the government, and use it to suppress wages, conditions and every aspect of life that you value.
So you might bear that in mind when you defend that amendment.