They say too much of a good thing can sometimes be bad. Maybe that's what's happening with our freedoms.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment - the freedom of speech - protects fundamentalist church members who mount attention-getting protests outside military funerals.

The ruling could be interpreted further than the issue with the members of the Westboro Baptist Church, which is headquartered in Topeka, Kansas. It stomps on the throat of the little guy who truly believes in the foundation of which this country was founded.

The United States has laws against hate crimes. Such laws call for stringent penalties when offenses occur - including harassment - against specific social classes usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, class, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, social status or political affiliation.

What about harassment against individuals and families; such as the heartbroken families of military members?

Is it really okay for a group to insult and even slander the people who stand up for what is right such as our military members? Don't victims of such harassment have any protection anymore? Apparently not.

Is this what our forefathers wanted when they crafted the Constitution?

If the Westboro Baptist Church members can stand near a funeral, which is a sacred rite for families, and call the deceased names like "baby killer" and "faggot" and "hate mongers," then what would the 'Great' Court call harassment? When does such slander and insulting become illegal?

We agree that Americans deserve freedom of speech. But how far does such freedom go? Who is standing up for the common Joe anymore?

Westboro Church fanatics were given carte blanche approval to verbally and psychologically attack grieving families. They have been told by the Supreme Court that they have every right to harass. This is exactly the message of the court.

If the Supreme Court interprets freedom of speech as being allowed to do what the Westboro members do, then doesn't the right to bear arms mean we should all be permitted to have bazookas?

Does free speech mean we should all be able to stand in front of a school and yell the "N" word when black students exit, which in reality would be so wrong. As wrong as a military hero's family having to endure taunts while grieving and laying to final rest a young man or woman who died before their time for the love of their country.

Too much of a thing can kill you. Is the Supreme Court's interpretation of our rights killing what America stands for?

With our freedoms, there has to be some logical temperance.

Usually when something is harmful, the government protects us. That's why states mandate seat belts, while cigarette companies have to post labels on their products, and why young children are required to ride in car seats.

The government should be protecting us, as individuals, from deliberate harassment verbally, emotionally, or physically.

The Supreme Court obviously doesn't think so. And that is so wrong.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com