Saw this in the paper today and felt like sharing.
Mmkay, so everyone here knows the westboro baptist church I would think (I hope so anyway, if not this article, including the picture will be enough of an explanation). So apparently, long story short, these guys had a lawsuit against them and it went all the way up to the Supreme court who ruled in FAVOR of these nutjobs by a stunning landslide of 8 to 1 with Justice Samuel Alito being the black sheep of the party saying it is not an exercising of free speech but rather verbal abuse.
Personally, on one hand I think it’s appalling that these people even be allowed to show their faces in public let alone speak but on the flip side, while free speech isn’t exactly completely free, they still seem to be within their rights to do this peaceful protest. I think it needs to be attacked from a different angle though; rather than ask is this within their rights to free speech, ask is this actually a peaceful protest with insults and even threats from a chosen Deity. Like, if it were the church of Satan saying “Satan hates fags” and “Thank the Dark Lord for 9/11” and so on and so forth, would it be treated differently simply because it’s something widely considered evil and offensive as opposed to “God” being the antithesis to that?
I disagree entirely with John Roberts’ view about how it’s a protest for their beliefs and not a personal attack on any specific person. It is an attack on specific people and specific groups of people. “Thank god for 9/11” is an insult to the 2500+ people that lost their lives (an even bigger insult than the notion of a conspiracy theory); “The shooter was an emissary of god and that child was destined to die” is a personal attack on the childs father of the Arizona shootings who they just so happened to hate at the time. It may well be their actual belief, and they are protesting on that belief, but they are doing this at specific areas, specific events and to specific people which I view as an attack on them as opposed to “The tolerance of homosexuality.”
EDIT: Btw, sorry about the size, I didn’t want to reduce it any further due to losing text quality the first time around.
The court got this one right. By attempting to criminalize their public speech, we risk turning these Westboro nuts into martyrs. By letting them express their vile views, the world can see them for what they are. Besides, if we deny them the right to make hateful statements in public, then how can we lay claim to the right to make hateful statements about them?
Wah, someone who’s Christian did something bad so Christianity is nothing but hypocritical garbage and God doesn’t exist!~
Now that I got that out of the way, it kind of bothers me when people talk about “freedom of speech/first amendment/whatever”. “Freedom of speech” means “freedom to intelligently criticize trends or parts of the government or society that are negative and possibly need reforming or changing.”. It doesn’t mean “I can say whatever I want to whomever I want whenever I want no matter what, unless it’s racist against black/sexist against women/upsetting to Jews or Muslims.” The things these people do at funerals isn’t “freedom of speech”, it’s “hate speech”-the kind anyone who knows that Christ is their savior gets more than enough of themselves without having to propogate it.
Or to summarize it crudely, I’d say “People shouldnt’ be allowed to be antagonistic verbally or emotionally if people get in legal trouble for keeping them in check physically.”
I’m sorry but everything you just said is factually wrong or completely irrelevant. No one said or implied anything about Christians doing something wrong and thus all Christians are like that, and speech that’s hateful or not is still speech and unfortunately as this article proves, IS protected under the first amendment and since when does freedom of speech solely relate to criticizing negative parts of the government or society?
If you’re being facetious I apologize but I ask again, have you gone mental?
I actually call what the WBC does hate speech. Why? Listening to the WBC makes me hate them.
As much as I would liked the Supreme Court to have ruled against these bozos, I think they made the right decision. A ruling against them would have ruined the First Amendment for every one. The First Amendment does not only protect popular speech.
One day, though, someone at one of these funerals is going to drive their car in to a group of these WBC people. I will be at that funeral with signs that say “God Hates Fred Phelps” and “Fred Phelps is in Hell.”
Fred Phelps and his church are not Christians and they are not Baptists. Christians are supposed to love people and let Christ transform sinners. Jesus hung out with sinners and tax collectors. He did not carry signs that said they were going to Hell. If they were sick, he healed them and told them to sin no more.
Well, I guess I can always hope for the future that them being allowed to protest outside places inappropriate to protest and say things horrifying and despicable will eventually cause someone just two bottles of Jack crazier than them to shoot all of them in a killing frenzy.
Adding to what WingZ said; alongside free speech, the right to public protest is something that I see as key to a successful democracy. Whether or not you like the protest/message is irrelevant and there are many things that were considered distasteful in the past that are now permitted due to protests that were allowed to go ahead, despite prevailing opinion. I’m not saying that WBC will be proved right, just that the laws that apply to them apply to everyone else too.
It strikes me that a simple compromise solution is to legislate (as I understand some places have?) to prevent the picketing of certain occasions; eg funerals.
Here, on the Armistice Day silence there were groups chanting ‘British soldiers burn in hell’. As much as it makes you sick, I like to think that if some day I feel there’s no other way to communicate my feelings, the same opportunity will be available.