Funeral Protest Ban--Your thoughts?

From this story.

Personally, while I think Phelps and the rest of the WBC are scumbags of the highest order, this legislation is a really really bad idea. Not only do I find it unconstitutional, I think it violates the most important amendment of all, namely the first amendment protecting free speech and peaceful assembly.

I would be all in favor of prosecuting the Phelps gang under an existing law, should they happen to violate it, but new legislation curbing freedom of speech is a dangerous thing, especially in this day and age.

Your thoughts?

We don’t have unfettered freedom of speech, and never have. It’s always been OK to restrict one persons freedom when it’s used to unreasonably distrupt the lives of other people. This is just the government adding a restriction that was not covered by existing law, because it was never an issue before these idiots showed up.

It is all part of the support the troops fever that is sweeping the nation. “Haven’t you heard if you don’t support the tropps you hate America.” Never, mind these are people you volunteered to to fight an illegal war.

Local communities should be passing legislation to protest their funerals. We should let people know we don’t support this illegal or war or those that choose to wage it. We should not stop the protests.

That, said Phelps homophobia is sick and wrong. As are most of his ideas.

People have a right to protest in traditional public spaces. Like a street.

Please enumerate for me what good it does to protest funerals. As in: places where people who’ve lost a loved one mourn. I do not agree with the war - but I cannot imagine the sort of callous assholery that someone must needs possess in order to think it’s appropriate to punish the recently bereaved.

Anyway: You do realize that Phelps isn’t protesting the war? He’s celebrating the death of soldiers because the military admits gays. (“Thank God for IEDs!”) There’s a very big difference between the two.

A funeral is never an appropriate place for a protest, Jebus.

That said, innapropriate, even hateful, doesn’t imply that it should be illegal. You have to let the bastards have their say, because someday someone might define you as a bastard.

I don’t know. I really want to be able to support this law. Can there be a case made that military funerals are a necessary part of the government operation, and that protests disrupt this function, in the same way that shouting in courtrooms disrupts government function?

Viscerally, I feel that this is good law. Intellectually, I’m unable to come up with a justification. I hope someone can convince me.


Can’t say I have. Maybe you can provide a cite to back up that claim so we can all be educumated on the subject.

As I understand it, it only applies to funerals for soldiers who are being buried at military cemeteries (or “national” cemeteries - is there a difference?) - and only forbids protests at the cemetery.

That’s limited-in-scope enough for me to say OK, your first amendment right to freedom of expression isn’t being violated.

I think it’s a terrible law, not only restricting Phelps’s speech but granting him the power to change the country. He’s a little man, why treat him like a big one?

Tough one… easy to see a slippery slope like affect isn’t it?

Why not restrict protests at any funerals, and then why not restrict them at say… abortion clinics, or polluting factories or anything else that a group of people feels is wrong.

However, as much bashing as there is about the US government in today’s world I feel that Americans can feel safe that their government wouldn’t allow that scenario to take place.

As much as I like what they’re trying to do with this law, I can’t support any restriction on the first amendment rights of Americans without a damn good reason. I don’t think there’s one here.

Can’t we just outlaw Phred et al. and be done with it?

Maybe they should do like Louisiana tried with flag-burners a few years ago and just make it a $25 fine, no record for assaulting funeral protesters.

I pretty much agree with you on this one…I personally would love to run people like this off with sticks, but as long as the protesters are not on private property, I don’t think it is right to silence the protest.

I am not exactly sure how laws apply to government property like a military cemetary, though, or even other government property. For instance, I can certainly protest in front of the Capitol building…but could I move a protest INSIDE of it? And could they use this kind of loophole to be sure that the funeral itself was not disrupted in any way?

As much as I believe that Phelps and crew are despicable people that should be deported to pluto (or further), this sort of law is a bad idea. It greatly pains me to have to say that, but they have the same right to protest as anyone.

I believe the SCOTUS has previously held that fighting words may be subject to prior restraint. I believe that picketing a funeral most certainly qualifies as fighting words. I’m not terribly worried about Phelps Freedom of Speech being violated. He’d still allowed to have his website, publish newsletters, picket in areas other than where funerals are being held, etc. He still has the ability to express his ideas to the public without fear of censorship.

Sure, but are there reasonable ways to prevent protestors from disrupting government-sponsored ceremonies? If we accept that chaplains are a necessary part of the function of the military, surely we can accept that funerals are a necessary part of the function of the military. Can we not declare that protests against the military must happen in a way that does not disrupt this government function?

If God Hate America this much, surely he’d be okay with His Righteous Servants spending some time in the clinker. They could feel like Paul!


I also heard that he double parks, but what does either have to do with the OP.

Answer - Absolutely nothing

Despite what has become an idealistic agrument on our part in the other thread, I will reiterate here that this is a dangerous law to have been passed.

I don’t see why the police can’t round these idiots up the way they always have when demonstrations prove inconvenient, then let them go a half hour later. Not that I’m generally a supporter of that sort of thing, but when it comes to Phelps it works for me.

I don’t have a problem with banning protests of funerals (NOT general protests) in national cemetaries. I don’t think that letting a grieving family mourn is going to destroy the First Amendment.

I do have a bit more trouble with the specifics of the law which (if reported correctly) ban protests

The distances and times seem a bit too malleable to local “interpretation,” giving law enforcement a bit too much room for “creative” enforcement. Preventing the protestors from protesting inside the cemetary or blocking the entrance should have been sufficient and who gets to determine the point at which the clocks run for the “60 minutes”?