, , , , , , , ,

The story of the funeral of Corporal Jacob Carver in Harrisonville, Missouri last Tuesday had national import. This is true for obvious reasons for the family of Jacob Carver and his friends, but also for the community around Harrisonville. The story of a service member who lost his life in Afghanistan and those who mourned him came to the attention of the nation because a hate group decided to protest at his funeral and a community decided to stand up to that hate group. And that community did so very effectively when hundreds, if not thousands, showed up.

We have a cordial relationship with the Warrensburg Daily Star-Journal – most of the time. Over the past few years we’ve given and gained a grudging respect to each other in covering politics and government in Missouri. On occasion we’ve exchanged photographs for publication. That was the case with this story. I contacted Jack Miles, the editor of the Star-Journal, and offered him photographs I took at the protest and counter protest in Harrisonville. He selected one photograph and ran it to accompany an editorial in today’s paper.

The editorial page in today’s Warrensburg Daily Star-Journal. The paper also ran the photograph in color online.

11/29/2010 2:43:00 PM

Protesting protest beats stifling speech


Jack Miles


First in Weston, then in Harrisonville, one group of protestors with strong feelings showed how to defeat the message of an opposing group of protestors – a group that also showed strong feeling – without violence and without stepping on the U.S. Constitution….

….Outrage amplified tremendously only after the Phelps clan targeted military members as a way to get across his anti-gay beliefs. His message is this: The United States is tolerant of gays and for that sin God allows American servicemen and women to die in Iraq and Afghanistan….

….The Constitution is designed to protect unpopular opinions. Pandering lawmakers who try to curry short-term favor with a majority of voters by disregarding the Constitution risk cracking the foundation that supports all of our freedoms.

That is why I say thanks to the good people who waved Old Glory at military funerals at Weston and Harrisonville over the past few weeks to hide the Phelps clan. As shown in Michael Bersin’s Harrisonville photo, supporters of Cpl. Jacob Carver’s family did a fine job of obscuring and marginalizing Phelps legally.

The anti-Phelps protest did not keep the Phelps clan from carrying signs, but did keep them from being seen and causing needless pain to grieving families, and did so without trampling on Phelps’ right – and the right of all Americans – to express unpopular, even profoundly ignorant, views.

The point is well taken. If we all cherish the Constitution and freedom of expression then we need to do something about it, not by diminishing someone else’s rights, but by exercising our own.

That’s what happened in Harrisonville, Missouri last Tuesday. A half a dozen members of a hate group showed up and left earlier than they probably intended because a community decided to speak up, too.

That’s the way it should be.

The gave us a photo credit. See how it’s done, large daily Missouri newspaper owned by a greedy downsizing corporation?


A hate group, the First Amendment, and a funeral in a small town (November 23, 2010)

Where to start? (November 23, 2010)

The original photo.