I'm really surprised how many people from all political backgrounds are so open to violating the right to speak and protest. Understandably, it's not that hard to do when it's a lunatic group like the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) were talking about. Yet as tempting as it is to violate their rights, we must resist that urge with the utmost diligence.
Thomas Paine, one of 'the founding fathers', has these wise words for us:
"He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."
Since these protesters were on public property, it would be wrong and discriminatory to deny them the right to speak there, no matter how repulsive their message.
I think we give these loons too much attention; which unfortunately might be encouraging them, as well as giving them a "megaphone".
I'd like to see families mourn and hold their funerals in private without the presence of these protesters, but we cannot ever allow our emotions to justify arbitrarily violating the natural rights of others.
There ways to work around WBC, such as counter protesting. Funerals could be held on private property away from public areas where the private property owners could prevent them from protesting on private property. (I understand this may be difficult or impossible to accomplish.)
In a truly free society there would be little if any "public property" and thus little if any opportunities for the crazed protesters to take advantage of it.
In conclusion, though, the saddest part may be that this episode once again shows many Americans are still are not interested in even a resemblance of a free society. As with the Ground Zero Mosque debate, some want the government to outlaw offensive behavior instead of sticking to it's only beneficial and legitimate job of defending the equal, natural rights of the people.