Friday, November 2, 2007

Why the WBC judgement is wrong.

Make no mistake about it: the Westboro Baptist Church is a disgusting, hate-mongering organization par with the KKK. But they, like everyone else, have the right to stage a legal protest. And this ruling is nothing more than a government sanction against their right to free speech in the United States.

An anti-homosexual protest at the funeral of a soldier who died honorably for this country is not only asinine, it's morally repulsive to anyone with any sense of intelligence and decency.

But it's not illegal. It's protected speech.

I've had more than one conversation with Shirley Phelps Roeper, and while she is a hideous human being, she's not stupid. She is a lawyer, and many of her relatives that are also involved with the WBC are also lawyers. One thing that they know is the law, and they've been very careful throughout their existence not to violate it during their protests. This ruling is nothing more than a kneejerk reaction to what many perceive to be hate speech.
The only reason free speech advocates are not as up-in-arms as they'd normally be is because... well, who in their right mind would defend the WBC?

Well, I suppose I'm not in my right mind this morning, because I am standing up and defending the WBC's right to be bigoted idiots. I do so for two reasons:

1. Government endorsed sanctions (and that's what this is, don't kid yourselves) against ANYONE'S right to free speech in this country is a violation of the Constitution of the United States of America.

2. If such a ruling is not overturned (and I'm confident it will be,) it can have dangerous implications on the future of free speech in this country.

Remember folks, people exercising their right to free speech in this country works to further stratification of the populace at large. Without it, it's one less tool in our toolbox.

Think about that the next time something like this occurs.

29 comments:

SIN said...

Well, if this was a case of rights violation, I would tend to agree however this was a civil case. It is not a matter of violating protected speech but rather invading our right to privacy.

"BALTIMORE — The father of a fallen Marine was awarded nearly $11 million Wednesday in damages by a jury that found leaders of a fundamentalist church had invaded the family’s privacy and inflicted emotional distress when they picketed the Marine’s funeral."

Werwolf said...

Rev. Harris,

While I certainly understand your concern over the curtailing of any American citizen's right to speak his or her mind freely, I think these degenerate scumbags deserve everything they've got coming to them.

Please bear in mind that I have absoluely no legal training whatsoever, but how is "protesting" a fallen soldiers funerary rites w/ "God Hates Fags" signs any different than screaming fire in a crowded cinema?

I mean supposing that that was your son/daughter being laid to rest, and those lowlifes started "protesting" with the "God Hates Fags" signs. Could you honestly say that you would have the Herculaen strength of will required not to give then 'what for"?

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, yes? Well, no actually, not anymore. In a sane world death-craving masochists like the WBC would have their asses promptly handed to them for their indignities, but in today's world they are protected from the consequences of their actions by a justice system that is more conserned w/ protecting their "free speech" than w/ seeing to it that fallen soldiers are laid to rest w/ dignity and honour.

Personally I think free speech should not be free. Why should every half baked congenital idiot be allowed to pollute the world w/ his or her incoherent ramblings? I'm reminded of a great quote I once heard Harlan Ellison make, "People don't have a right to an opinion. They have a right to an educated opinion." I must say I concur w/ the above quoted statement most strenuously.

As Satanists we must strive to seperate the wheat from the chaff in all our endeavors. "Reward the good, and punish the rotten!". as Dr. LaVey has said.

In regard to the WBC judgement, I think slapping a gag order on them is a wonderful thing. These people have abused their rights just like any common criminal. We don't lament the drug addict being thrown into jail do we? Nor do we shed any tears when petty thieves get thrown behind bars.

I remember you championing adaptation on your last broadcast. I think "we" should adapt by letting these WBC get what's coming to them, and choosing to fight our free speech battles over something more worthy of our efforts.

HS!

Sin said...

Werewolf, I have to disagree with you here. It's one thing to take a civil suit against a group for being assholes. It's quite another to gag free speech. If the government prosecuted the WBC for their actions - I'd say we should strongly disagree with the ruling, as well as hold our government responsible for violation of our right to free speech. This is not a case of free speech violation. This is a case of invasion of privacy, as well as caused un-due stress to the friends and family of the deceased.

Travis Allen Parker said...

Reverend Harris,

Yes, WBC is a soggy paper bag of swine entrails. And yet, they should not be prevented from expressing their views. I don't agree with werwolf's comments. But some of their tactics are borderline intrusive, and go beyond merely informing others of their opinion. This case makes me ponder if that should be of consideration.

It is unfortunate that this was a military, "public" funeral. I don't see how the family could expect a peaceful service in such a situation. One of many reasons I won't join the military.

Protesting of private functions, however, I see as an entirely different matter. You can say anything you want in the USA, but if you're in my realm and I don't like it, I'll show you the door. Semi private/public situations, such as in this case, makes things more murky.

Although free speech should not be restricted by government or public entities, the right to private censorship and discrimination is essential. I think we can all agree on that point.

But despite free-speech protection, WBC's tactics are borderline with harassment. The words "God hates fags" were chosen for a reason other than ease of fitting on a placard. I've spoken with one of Mr Phelp's daughters at a Matthew Sheppard memorial service, and was clearly shown that gaining supporters for their ideals is not on their agenda. Even if the USA adopted an anti-gay policy, and all signs of homosexuality resulted in immediate execution, WBC would still be getting in people's faces. Intent often matters in the law, and this case may have been attempting to tease apart a distinction. It seems to have failed. No, they're not idiots. They know exactly how far they can go and when.

The ruling is unfair, regardless of how much I despise Phelps and Co. and may wish them agony. Even if this was a blatant intrusion and harassment of a private event, the dollar amount is ludicrous. It should be overturned, and most likely will be. I only regret the vindication and empowerment WBC members are likely to feel when it happens.

Werwolf said...

Truly we are living in decadent times.

Can you imagine this happening at some serviceman's funeral back in, let's say, 1943. Those scumbags would have been beaten to death!

Think of all the times in history when some ranting figure was allowed to incite and forment sedition and revolution because of the preveiling liberal views of those in power.

Who would have thought that some neurotic, jew hating ex-corporal would be able the hurl the world into the most destructive war in human history with free speech, but it happened.

Of course I don't think that the WBC poses the same threat, but why take a chance.

Also, please don't think that I advocate the stifling of views that I find intolerable. I just think that funerals, in my opinion, are not the place for open debate, but instead a place for mourning and introspection, and as such should not be allowed to be disturbed by insane bigots.

Satanism Today said...

"Think of all the times in history when some ranting figure was allowed to incite and forment sedition and revolution because of the preveiling liberal views of those in power."

A certain revolution that occurred in 1776 comes to mind...

Werwolf said...

So does The Terror of 1793 and the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Independently minded colonists seeking relief from excessive taxation I can understand, but to picket the funeral of a man or woman who has died serving their country is the reprehensible act of a degenerate mongrel.

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