I agree with their freedom to hold and express any view they so desire and they should be completely free to demonstrate within reason, but just as freedom of the press does not give you the right to savagely libel another person (especially one who’s not a public figure) without legal consequences, I think the Phelps clan has gone beyond the spirit of the First Amendment and into harassment. This is more a topic for debate than a pitting I suppose, but it is an interesting one. The judge in the lawsuit filed against them by Lance Cpl. Snyder agreed.
I would also defend this right - but I have noted in other threads that numerous courts (including the Supreme Court) have found time and place restrictions on protests to be perfectly constitutional. And while protests against funerals haven’t been tested specifically, they are now on the books in many places and this other case law indicates that this is kosher.
So protest all you want - just shut up during the funeral and keep your distance. Afterward, say what you want to. No sweat.
There’s also a thing called respect for the dead and their grieving family and friends. It’s not a law, but if you need laws to tell you that this demonstration is WRONG, then … well… good luck to you.
Phelps and his clan can have their free speech whenever and wherever they want, but they’ve chosen to do it at funerals which just shows that they do not deserve to belong to the society that protects their rights.
I’ve got to do something about my monitor screen which is aging.
I opened the OP’s link
I observed what I assumed was Fred Phelps and as I looked right, surprise, Obama! What the hell was Obama doing cozying up to Phelps? Then I recognized his grandmother and my brief hallucination was over.
No, but they’re more than demonstrators-they’re mostly bullies and usually harassing people. They’re NOT just demonstrating. Again, considering this is the new President Elect, and considering all the threats they’ve gotten against him, I have a feeling it’s going to be VERY hard for ol’ Freddie Boy to get near the funeral.
(BTW, most funerals are held on PRIVATE property, you are aware?)
I would love to see this be an Episode on his TV show. I’d gladly buy any and all DVD versions of it too.
“Don’t tase me, Dog!”
BZZZT! And down goes another vicious molester thanks to Dog and his clan rolling in their black SUVs, keeping the streets of Hawaii clean of bail bond jumpers.
One group found the way to neutralize the Westboro scum - be amusing. The Central Arkansas Pastafarians dressed up as Pirates and created a much more camera-friendly spectacle than a bunch of homophobes. They held up signs like “God Hates Shrimp!” and “God Hates Polyester-Cotton Blends!” and were generally more worthy of 3 minutes on the local news. The Phelps clan packed up and left. Mockery is a powerful tool.
A.) Our democracy has done far worse and survived. B.) Sometimes, jerks need killin’. The Phelpsters are an insult to the ideals of all humanity. Worse yet, they seek to actively oppose the rest of us in the pursuit of achieving those goals. They have done it not only with protests, but lawsuits as well. Were they to conduct themselves in a civilized manner, calling for them to be killed would be an unjust and immoral act. However, they’re a cancer in society, and should be excised with the same kind of clinical reaction as you would any abnormal growth.
They, and their ilk, have held back the wheels of progress for far too long as it is. Theirs is the mentality which leads to the burning of libraries and the murder of Archimedes, Socrates, the incarceration of Galileo, and they are no better than those who crucified the God they worship. That more people do not rise up against them, is a stain upon all of us.
I want to preface this by emphasizing, once again, that I despise what these people are doing. That said - I’m aware most funerals are held on private property. But my guess is that Clan Phelps would be protesting on a public sidewalk or something outside that property. If not, by all means arrest them for trespassing.
Further - what, exactly, distinguishes what they’re doing from regular demonstration? Unless they’re blocking access to the funeral, or otherwise physically interfering with people, that is exactly what they’re doing. They’re demonstrating in an utterly vile cause - but it’s still First Amendment speech.
Come on, man. I agree with everything you said about the Phelps’ character - but all they do is engage in speech. Disgusting speech, but speech. We have laws about speech - in short, those laws say you can do it. And they say that you cannot “rise up” and “excise” people for engaging in speech you disagree with - even if you have damn good reasons for doing so.