Westboro Baptist Funeral Protests: Free Speech or Just Offensive?

Discussion in 'Political/Religious Topics' started by Cyrano, Sep 30, 2010.

  1. Cyrano

    Cyrano Resident Curmudgeon Forum Contributor

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    Harlan Ellison famously observed, "You never get to defend the Reader's Digest in First Amendment cases." He's right. New precedents in First Amendment law don't come from the center, they always come from the fringes.Most precedent-setting law does, and the Supreme Court has to decide how these extreme cases apply to the mainstream rights laid out in the Constitution. This is especially so in cases involving the Bill of Rights.

    As we know, one such is a case in which the looney-tunes of the Westboro Baptist Church are being sued by the father of a Marine who was killed in action in Iraq. Al Snyder, the bereaved father who is suing the wack jobs, says that privacy is at the core of the issue; that mourners at a funeral have the right to bury their dead without being harassed by a bunch of crackpots who believe that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are God's punishment of the United States of America for tolerating homosexuals and allowing them to be part of our national tapestry.

    As you may surmise, the religious fanatics on the other side of the issue don't see it that way. For whatever reason, they have decided that one way to get their point across to the larger culture is to show up at military funerals and protest. As far as I can tell, the Westboro Baptist crowd does this because local military funerals are often covered by local broadcast media. Thus, their message that God is punishing America because of the government's legal stand on gay rights will reach a larger audience. The fact that they are massively intruding on a sad and solemn moment in the lives of fellow Americans and destroying the dignity of the occasion is completely beside the point to them.

    The initial lawsuit found for Snyder and fined Westboro Baptist $11 million. That fine was later reduced. Westboro appealed. The judgment was overturned. Snyder appealed, and now the Supreme Court has this hot potato in their laps.

    At bottom, Snyder's case is visceral as much as it is legal. He maintains that freedom of speech does not give coo-coos the right to disrupt a private occasion. A funeral and the following interment (which is where the slimeballs usually show up with their picket signs and screeching) is certainly that, for all it takes place in public places like churches, public streets and cemeteries. Snyder is sort of extending Felix Frankfurter's ruling that "the right to swing your fist ends at my nose." Also on point is the ruling that no one has the right to scream, "Fire!" in a crowded theater when there is no fire.

    The Westboro mob says that if it's in public, they have every right to be there and express their opinion/beliefs no matter how offensive the attendees at the funeral find them. Their hate speech is protected by the First Amendment, just as was that of the American Nazi Party in the Skokie, Illinois case 40-plus years ago.

    Al Snyder made one observation in the news report that I think is on point - and it is one the Supremes would do well to take into account.

    "It has to be stopped," Snyder said. "If the courts don't stop it, believe me, someone is going to."

    All but two of the states have laws on the books that in essence say people at funerals have the right to conduct their funeral in peace. That is really the issue the Supreme Court has to decide - can the lunatic fringe be compelled to leave the mainstream alone? This case is not a good one for setting a free speech precedent; but as Harlan says, you don't get to defend the Reader's Digest on First Amendment issues. The extension of this ruling, however it goes, could have implications for the pro-gun and anti-gun organizations too, which is why we shooters and gun owners should be concerned.

    Here's a link to an article on this potentially precedent-setting case:

    High court looks at military funeral protests - Yahoo! News--
     
  2. SKS NOOB

    SKS NOOB G&G Evangelist

    I think that when our Founding Fathers established the Bill of Rights, I would figure that they ASSUMED we would use common sense on what is appropriate. Food for thought.
     

  3. BunnyWabbit

    BunnyWabbit G&G Evangelist

    Westboro pickets various churches over the lunch hour throughout the week. They only pick the churches on busy streets. When I worked for a church, they picketed that one on Tuesdays, which was the day the church served meals to the "special" people who had varying degrees of retardation. When they started picketing that day, several of those people were too scared to walk into the church because they were getting yelled at by Westboro picketers. I made it a point to watch for a lot of them and go outside and walk them in the church. I had no issues whatsoever telling them to shut the **** up. In fact, when I would leave to go get my lunch and they were blocking the driveway, I'd make them move pretty fast. In fact, as I was leaving I always made it a point to yell at Margie and tell her she had a fat *** and go on a diet.
     
  4. kansascoyote

    kansascoyote G&G Newbie

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    Fact is these dorks are a family of lawyers whos only mission is to tawnt people into fights they always film every protest . The point is to get a lawsuit so none of these "ppl" have to work.
    The funniest thing I ever say was at KU graduation they showed up carrying their signs . The basketball team showed up with huge sheets and obscurred them from view when the protesters moved the sheet moved . I laughed my rear off . We kept yelling inbreeding causes retardation . Finally they got in their vans and left .

    I can't wait till Fred dies some ppl have a little something planned for his funeral . Lets just say ....... naa its to good to let out of the bag . Hehehehehe
     
  5. killsnapz

    killsnapz G&G Evangelist

    Someday some soilder is going to drive a Humvee right through this crowd of morons and the world will be a better place when it happens. My cousin a Lt. JG in the Navy. God forbid something ever happen to him and these A-holes show up at his funeral. Lets just say the funeral homes would be very busy around here for a while.

    Michael
     
  6. Cyrano

    Cyrano Resident Curmudgeon Forum Contributor

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    A friend of mine who is also a sort-of former relation - he's the ex-husband of my wife's aunt - rides with the Connecticut chapter of the Patriot Guard. The Patriot Guard is made up entirely of ex-servicemen who are also motorcyclists. They attend funerals and make a lane of honor, with each Guardsman holding an office or unit-sized American flag on a pole.

    They also prevent the Westboro assholes from getting anywhere near the funeral. The last time those jerks tried to disrupt a funeral in Connecticut, the Guard contacted the local Sheriff. He in turn required the jerks to get a permit for the demonstration. In Connecticut, demonstration or parade permits state where the demonstration is to be held. The Sheriff arranged for the demonstration to be held in a park down the street from the cemetery 100 yards away from the cemetery entrance, and the Guard rented the biggest moving trucks they could get. They parked them so the Westboro types and their picket signs couldn't be seen from the street. The jerks gave up and crawled back under their rocks. They haven't been seen in Connecticut since.
     
  7. Bob Clark

    Bob Clark Suspended

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    We had a funeral for an Iraq fatality in our town. These (insert very long expletive here) never showed up, thank God. I knew the kid's dad, who is a great guy and a state trooper, so there were plenty of people packing heat at the church that day.

    That said, I feel they have the right to show up and stay on public property, just like the Patriot Guard has the right to rent big moving trucks to block their view, like how gun owners have the right to "open carry rallies," like how hippies have the right to block big trees from being cut down in the park and like how Glenn Beck has the right to host a rally on the Lincoln Memorial... you see how it goes?

    If there's a law in place against public demonstration at funerals, does that mean if some black kid gets killed by a white kid over race, then Jesse Jackson can't march (OK, probably a bad example:) ) but you get the idea. You start limiting the right to protest, you start eroding the first amendment. I mean, it's not like it flat-out says:

    Congress shall make no law respecting ... or the right of the people peaceably to assemble"
     
  8. killsnapz

    killsnapz G&G Evangelist

    Thats good to know Cyrano! I guess I will not have bust out the Garand and use the disrespecfull morons as target pratice! LOL!

    Michael
     
  9. killsnapz

    killsnapz G&G Evangelist

    This is not about what the law says you can do this is just about having respect period! This is about respect for a soilder who gave his life so you can have all of these rights that you have listed in your post. This about repspect for a greiving family that lost their love one way to soon. If you don't respect what these soilders died for then you don't respect what America is all about. If you don't respect America then please let me show you they way out.

    Michael
     
  10. TGF

    TGF G&G Newbie

    Its interesting so many on this forum get upset about this, when after reading some of the gay marriage, and don't ask don't tell threads, I thought most of you were members of this congrigation. I guess hate is ok as long as its tasteful.
     
  11. killsnapz

    killsnapz G&G Evangelist

    Well this might be a whole other topic about tolerance of gay marriage. I look at it this way. Most of the people here base their beliefs that it is wrong because the bible says so. Like I have said before there are mans laws and then there is doing right by your fellow man or basically what is in the teachings of the bible.
    Mans law have nothing to do with Gods laws If you believe that being gay is a sin because the bible says so then you should also follow the teachings of the bible where it states that vengeance belongs only to the Lord any no one else. God did not give anyone the right to judge another human being. That is his right alone. So if you really are a true Christian then you should not persecute gays for their actions on this earth. If it truly is a sin then they will be judged by God and not hypocritical church members who use the bible to pursue recognition and riches for there own benefit. To me that makes them sinners.

    Michael
     
  12. DaTeacha

    DaTeacha Things are not what they seem. Forum Contributor

    From a purely legal standpoint, it seems the same law that makes it illegal to disrupt a funeral procession could apply to the funeral ceremony itself. Did you ever sit at an intersection through a couple of light changes while a funeral procession passed? Is Ohio the only state with such a law? How is disrupting the graveside services any more permissible than disrupting the journey from the church to the cemetery?
     
  13. Cyrano

    Cyrano Resident Curmudgeon Forum Contributor

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    I don't know it it's the law, Teach, but it certainly is a custom everywhere I've ever lived. The only vehicles I've ever heard of that are allowed to disrupt a funeral cortege are ambulances and fire trucks that are responding to an emergency.
     
  14. lynxpilot

    lynxpilot Constitutionalist Forum Contributor

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    Thank you. Excellent post.
     
  15. lynxpilot

    lynxpilot Constitutionalist Forum Contributor

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    I wouldn't suggest using law to stop the nutcases. I fully support their right to assemble, protest, and have free speech.

    I do, however, believe that one should be responsible for their actions (in this case their speech). I would gladly suffer the aftermath of jail time, law suits, or whatever, after I beat the snot out of one of these turds at one of their protests. I'm perfectly willing to submit to the law. I think a few good beatings with some extended hospital time might do these critters some good.
     
  16. Personally,

    I feel this is just being offensive.
    It in no way has anything to do with spiritual growth.
     
  17. ACfixer

    ACfixer Global Warming Enthusiast Forum Contributor

    God bless our soldiers, past, present and future. WBC is an abomination.
     
  18. kansascoyote

    kansascoyote G&G Newbie

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    None of you seem to understand this is a business for the westboro bunch plain and simple this is how they make a living . Is it offensive yes ! Is it wrong? Well that depends on how well you like your freedoms .
     
  19. killsnapz

    killsnapz G&G Evangelist

    Excellent example Teacha. I do not believe there is a law that says you can not drive your car into a funeral procession but almost no one does it for one reason. RESPECT!

    Michael
     
  20. Paul T

    Paul T G&G Newbie

    Judgement for those will not be swift in the end but according to the word it will be rather sorrowful and fearfull. I dont have hate for them just a deep pity that they have no heart.