When did the rule of law start trumping common sense?
As Patriotic Americans gathered to celebrate Independence Day holiday at Arlington National Cemetery this year they were surprised to find out there is one item they couldn’t bring into the sacred cemetery with them, the American Flag!
Yes, you read correctly, because of a 2006 law which was made in order to block anti-military protests during Arlington burials has had the broad effect of banning the display of most flags. God help us, where has common sense gone?
(a) Prohibition.–It shall be unlawful for any person–
(1) to carry out a demonstration on the property of a cemetery under the control of the National Cemetery Administration or on the property of Arlington National Cemetery unless the demonstration has been approved by the cemetery superintendent or the director of the property on which the cemetery is located; or
(2) with respect to such a cemetery, to engage in a demonstration during the period beginning 120 minutes before and ending 120 minutes after a funeral, memorial service, or ceremony is held, any part of which demonstration–
(A)(i) takes place within the boundaries of such cemetery or takes place within 300 feet of the point of the intersection between–
(I) the boundary of such cemetery; and
(II) a road, pathway, or other route of ingress to or egress from such cemetery; and
(ii) includes any individual willfully making or assisting in the making of any noise or diversion–
(I) that is not part of such funeral, memorial service, or ceremony and that disturbs or tends to disturb the peace or good order of such funeral, memorial service, or ceremony; and
(II) with the intent of disturbing the peace or good order of such funeral, memorial service, or ceremony; or
(B)(i) is within 500 feet of the boundary of such cemetery; and
(ii) includes any individual–
(I) willfully and without proper authorization impeding or tending to impede the access to or egress from such cemetery; and
(II) with the intent to impede the access to or egress from such cemetery.
(b) Penalty.–Any person who violates subsection (a) shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.
(c) Civil Remedies.–(1) The district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction–
(A) to prevent and restrain violations of this section; and
(B) for the adjudication of any claims for relief under this section.
(2) The Attorney General of the United States may institute proceedings under this section.
(3) Any person, including a surviving member of the deceased person’s immediate family, who suffers injury as a result of conduct that violates this section may–
(A) sue therefor in any appropriate United States district court or in any court of competent jurisdiction; and
(B) recover damages as provided in subsection (d) and the cost of the suit, including reasonable attorneys’ fees.
(4) A final judgment or decree rendered in favor of the United States in any criminal proceeding brought by the United States under this section shall estop the defendant from denying the essential allegations of the criminal offense in any subsequent civil proceeding brought by a person or by the United States.
(d) Actual and Statutory Damages.–(1) In addition to any penalty imposed under subsection (b), a violator of this section is liable in an action under subsection (c) for actual or statutory damages as provided in this subsection.
(2) A person bringing an action under subsection (c)(3) may elect, at any time before final judgment is rendered, to recover the actual damages suffered by him or her as a result of the violation or, instead of actual damages, an award of statutory damages for each violation involved in the action.
(3) In any action brought under subsection (c)(2), the Attorney General is entitled to recover an award of statutory damages for each violation involved in the action notwithstanding any recovery under subsection (c)(3).
(4) A court may award, as the court considers just, statutory damages in a sum of not less than $25,000 or more than $50,000 per violation.
(e) Rebuttable Presumption.–It shall be a rebuttable presumption that the violation of subsection (a) was committed willfully for purposes of determining relief under this section if the violator, or a person acting in concert with the violator, did not have reasonable grounds to believe, either from the attention or publicity sought by the violator or other circumstance, that the conduct of such violator or person would not–
(1) disturb or tend to disturb the peace or good order of such funeral, memorial service, or ceremony; or
(2) impede or tend to impede the access to or egress from such funeral, memorial service, or ceremony.
(f) Definitions.–In this section–
(1) the term “demonstration” includes–
(A) any picketing or similar conduct;
(B) any oration, speech, use of sound amplification equipment or device, or similar conduct that is not part of a funeral, memorial service, or ceremony;
(C) the display of any placard, banner, flag, or similar device, unless such a display is part of a funeral, memorial service, or ceremony; and
(D) the distribution of any handbill, pamphlet, leaflet, or other written or printed matter other than a program distributed as part of a funeral, memorial service, or ceremony; and
(2) the term “immediate family” means, with respect to a person, the immediate family members of such person, as such term is defined in section 115 of title 18.
Sadly this law had to be passed because of the Westboro Baptist Church, which the Southern Poverty Law Center currently considers a hate group. The Church is known for its anti LGBTQXYZ123 hateful rhetoric and its inflammatory protests at the funerals of fallen soldiers. The group insanely links the deaths of military members to the United States acceptance of Gay rights and goes as far as to claim the deaths happen because of God’s wrath. The group which is based in Kansas has been the subject of multiple free speech debates in recent years. But sadly in 2011, the United States Supreme Court ruled the church’s speech and picketing of funerals were protected under its First Amendment rights since they stand on public property and not actually on cemetery property when they protest.
What most people in the United States of America don’t fully understand these days is that the first amendment protects you from the government, not from me, nor any other private citizen or entity. You are free to stand on any street corner and scream whatever asinine bull you want and the US government can’t do anything about it, other than maybe cite you for disturbing the peace, depending on what street corner you decide to spew your crap on. But no first amendment or freedom of speech will ever protect you from my boot hitting your hind end, that’s the American way.
Please share if you want common sense back in our society….
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