By Gus Bode

Dear Editor:

In response to Tara Kulash’s March 3 column: As a journalism major I am surprised at your letter. You, of all people, should understand the freedom of speech. To paraphrase it, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads; “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” What this means is even though their message is hateful and inflammatory, they still have the right to express it.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree that Mr. Snyder was wronged and he no doubt suffered emotional distress. And I am one of the millions in this country that would just as soon see the Phelps gang go away. The “religion” that they profess does not encourage or condone hatred, which is what this is. That being said, they have the right in this great country to express their beliefs. I served in the military at a time when thousands were protesting the war and I will tell you to this day, although I disagreed with their protests, I would have died to protect their right to do so. I’m sure if you asked any soldier today he/she would tell you the same thing. What they do is really hateful, but living in America gives you the right to say hateful things.


There was a case in the Illinois Supreme Court in 1977 about a neo-Nazi march in Skokie, IL, a suburb that was the home to many Holocaust survivors. The city passed an injunction against it and the Court overruled it, saying that the use of the swastika itself was a symbolic form of the freedom of speech. Nobody wanted that group to march, but they had the opportunity, thanks to the First Amendment.

So I go back to my original statement. While I agree that it is unfair, it is also a protected benefit of living in America. And that’s what this country is all about. The First Amendment gave you the right to pen your letter and it is allowing me to respond. While you’re at it, remember that this amendment is why you are in journalism school in the first place!

Steven Mitchell

MSS II-Instructional Support Services

Rm. 184G-Morris Library