Thursday, December 9, 2010
Ryan Newell, American Patriot
by Pa Rock
It’s hard to know what to think about Ryan Newell. The twenty-six-year-old Army veteran who lost both legs in Afghanistan has been housed in the Sedgwick County Jail in Wichita, Kansas, for the past week. Newell has been incarcerated because was armed and seemingly stalking some individuals who were in Wichita to exercise their Constitutional right to peaceful assembly and protest. Viewed in those circumstances alone, Mr. Newell’s apparent plan to do them bodily harm was an egregious violation of their civil rights. Young Mr. Newell was apprehended with a M4 rifle, a .45-caliber Glock handgun, a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun, and 90 rounds of ammunition.
But, as Paul Harvey used to remind us, there is more to the story.
Newell’s targets were not a bunch of innocents. They were, in fact, some of the most toxic vermin ever to slime their way across civilization. Ryan Newell was after members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka , the infamous Fred Phelps spawn, who were in town to protest outside of one of the local high schools.
Ryan Newell lost friends in Afghanistan – young people who died horrible deaths in a war that they had no way of completely understanding. (Who among us does understand why we sent troops to Iraq or Afghanistan - or why they are still there?) Ryan lost two legs in Afghanistan. He can home with mental and emotional problems that may never be fully recognized and treated. He came home badly damaged.
And Ryan Newell came home to see his friends and his service being loudly and outrageously degraded by the raving lunacy of the Fred Phelps' family. When Ryan’s buddies and others from the war arrived home in caskets, they could not even be accorded the dignity of solemn last rites because the screaming Phelps’ crowd was always nearby desecrating flags and wreaking havoc on the grieving friends and families of the deceased.
I don’t know Ryan Newell, but I know a hundred other veterans who have sacrificed their youth and innocence in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan. The stories of their nightmares have given me nightmares. I understand Ryan Newell’s anger - and it feels so justified. However, I can’t condone his plan to remedy the situation – though a core part of me wishes that I could. Some things are just so wrong that they almost beg for extreme measures and extra-legal remedies.
The Phelps monsters are despicable beyond measure. Their flaunting of First Amendment “rights” to the overt detriment of really good people makes the Constitution appear to be seriously flawed. One wonders as to how deliberately staging a protest and freak show at a funeral can be a legitimate exercise of free speech – but it apparently is, and if the Constitution is to survive it must stand for everyone, not just those we can stomach.
Ryan Newell was held in the Sedgwick County Jail for a week on a $500,000 bond. This week the authorities released Newell on his own recognizance with an order that he stay away from the Phelps' family. He has also been ordered to report to the Veteran’s Administration for mental health care.
And as for the Phelps’ vermin, well, they are headed back to Wichita where they plan to protest at the Police Department and the American Legion. The police will have 25 to 30 extra people on duty, at overtime pay, to protect the people who are protesting them.
Life doesn’t have to make sense.
Stay strong, Ryan Newell, and leave the scum alone. They are not worthy of your attention - nor anyone else's for that matter.