The current Supreme Court consideration of funeral protests as protected free speech has one funeral blogger in the UK “Relieved to be British.”
After the Westboro Baptist Church, an anti-gay group based in Topeka, Kansas, picketed the 2006 funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder bearing signs that read “God Hates the USA,” the serviceman’s father, Albert Snyder, sued for infliction of emotional distress, winning an $11 million judgment in 2007. The reward was reduced, then the case was overturned, and now the Supreme Court is hearing arguments.
The funeral protest case will likely set a limit to the First Amendment of the Constitution regarding the right to freedom of speech.
Meanwhile, across the Pond, Charles Cowling, author of The Good Funeral Guide, blogs that American activities just make him shake his head. He writes:
“Many American funerary practices are so barking mad I don’t bother writing about them. This blog is Britcentric not because it is xenophobic or incurious but simply because it confines itself to goings-on of relevance to Brits.
Sure, we’ve picked up one or two bad habits from the US. Embalming may or may not be one of them. And we have a good deal to learn from their home funeralists and those who are pioneering natural burial.
Once in a while I see Americans doing things that make me relieved to be British. Here, we pride ourselves on our tolerance and sense of fair play. It’s the positive spin we put on our disposition to shrug and acquiesce. Over there they can be far more clamorous in the way they express themselves.”
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