Thursday, April 2, 2009
I usually don't agree with the ACLU, but...
The Associated Press reported today that the ACLU has filed suit in Michigan on behalf of Lewis Lowden and his late wife Jean, who were pulled over and arrested while driving in the funeral procession for Army Cpl. Todd Motley in 2007. Lowden was cited for violating Michigan's law prohibiting funeral protests for a sign in his car's window which criticized then-President George W. Bush.
The ACLU is concerned that the current Michigan law is written in a way that gives authorities a blank check to arrest anyone who makes a statement that could be construed as controversial in and around funeral proceedings. To view the Michigan law, as it is written today, Click Here.
In 2006, the law was passed with bipartisan support to restrict the protests of that "church" in Kansas (I refuse to name them on this blog). You know, the "church" that's now notorious for picketing troops' funerals around the country, claiming that their deaths were punishment for American tolerance of homosexuality; the "church" that has given the Patriot Guard Riders, AMVETS Riders, and patriotic Americans across the country something to protect.
According to the AP, lawmakers who helped to draft the bill did not foresee an issue such as the Lowden case. The law was passed with noble intentions, but the ACLU claims the language is too broad, and can lead to authoritarian abuse, which seems to be the case with the Lowdens.
For a little background on the Lowden story, Lewis and Jean were long-time family friends of Motley. In fact, they helped with his home schooling and frequently took him on fishing and camping trips as a boy. Lowden was well known around town for the political signs he would hang in his vehicle, and when he arrived for the funeral, no one objected.
As the funeral procession passed through town, the Lowdens were pulled over and arrested on the spot. The city eventually dropped criminal charges at the request of the Motley family.
When I first came across this story, I thought it was going to be another whiny ACLU case, but I was encouraged to see that even those responsible for drafting the law are eager to hear the courts' decision on how to properly enforce a reasonable standard.
The decision on whether a political statement connotes a "disturbing or disruptive effect" on a funeral should rest solely with the grieving family. To me, it seems absurd that the police could determine what such families would take offense to--especially in this case, where the offenders were IN the funeral procession!
But don't take my word for it. Read this story for yourself, and let us know what you think.
(Photo: A member of the Patriot Guard Riders stands on guard at the funeral of Army Sgt. John Styles, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2008. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Liesl Marelli, released.)