PHIL WIELAND: Just because speech is free, we don't have to hear it

2013-03-22T00:00:00Z PHIL WIELAND: Just because speech is free, we don't have to hear itBy Phil Wieland, (219) 548-4352

I've complained in the past about Porter County's emergency warning sirens because they supposedly warn us of about 50 different potential disasters, and it can be tough figuring out why they are going off.

Well, I've just thought of another good use for them.

Every month Porter County tests the sirens, and everybody wonders why they are going off. Usually they indicate a severe storm or tornado is imminent, but, if that were really happening, the only people who would be able to hear the sirens would have to be outside and within about 10 feet of them.

If they are, chances are they already know the storm is at hand.

The sirens also warn us of other disasters — flood, hurricane, a new Adam Sandler movie — or of a war or nuclear attack (just in time to protect ourselves by slathering on a few gallons of SPF 50 billion), or to issue an Amber Alert of a missing or kidnapped child.

I guess you're supposed to turn on your emergency radio to learn the exact reason for the siren blast, unless you already know because you're circling overhead in a tornadic vortex. Despite the multiple choice possibilities, the sirens fail to provide help for another major danger: bonehead protests.

The current rage for local governing bodies is laws protecting us from boneheads, such as the Westboro Baptist Church of St. Stupid that shows up at the funerals for soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan to taunt attendees with claims that the soldier's death is God's punishment for American tolerance of gays.

Hebron just passed an ordinance requiring anyone protesting at a funeral service to remain 300 feet away. They can still protest with signs or bellowed and bullhorn-boosted blasphemies, thus protecting their First Amendment right to free speech, no matter how loony.

As a colleague aptly points out, no one in any government was all that bothered by protests against gays until it was twisted even further to connect it to the deaths of soldiers. Now everyone seems to be in a fever to adopt some kind of restrictions, whether they have ever had such a protest or not.

The court upheld the ordinance Hebron borrowed as being a reasonable restriction to protect the rights of the grieving, although some argue it's one of those slippery slopes, like the proposed ban on assault weapons being the first step on the road to forcing us all to hunt and protect ourselves by throwing rocks.

I think the grieving deserve some protection, which is why the protesters should be restricted to within 300 feet of an emergency siren. Then let the siren rip until the funeral service is over.

If the protesters don't disperse at that point, show an Adam Sandler movie.

The opinions are those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 548-4352.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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