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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Buffer leads down a slippery slope

Letter to the Editor

When states passed laws providing buffer zones around funerals in reaction to the antics of the Westboro Baptist Church, the ACLU argued that if we sacrificed the First Amendment to silence the most heinous views, others voices would be silenced as well. In passing bills to place buffer zones around abortion facilities, the New Hampshire Legislature has proven the ACLU right.

Moreover, when legislators, including Sen. Betty Lasky, cited the buffer zone around funerals as a precedent, they not only equated peaceful groups such as 40 Days for Life to the Westboro Baptist Church, but asserted the state’s right to silence unpopular voices. By the reasoning of buffer-zone advocates, the state may silence any expression that impinges on someone’s “privacy and security.” ...

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When states passed laws providing buffer zones around funerals in reaction to the antics of the Westboro Baptist Church, the ACLU argued that if we sacrificed the First Amendment to silence the most heinous views, others voices would be silenced as well. In passing bills to place buffer zones around abortion facilities, the New Hampshire Legislature has proven the ACLU right.

Moreover, when legislators, including Sen. Betty Lasky, cited the buffer zone around funerals as a precedent, they not only equated peaceful groups such as 40 Days for Life to the Westboro Baptist Church, but asserted the state’s right to silence unpopular voices. By the reasoning of buffer-zone advocates, the state may silence any expression that impinges on someone’s “privacy and security.”

The erosion will continue. Our freedoms are in the hands of state and federal lawmakers who wish to silence dissent, and judges whose empathy outweighs the Constitution. In 10 years it may be illegal to criticize certain lifestyles and religions, as it is in Canada and Europe.

Stephen Scaer

Nashua