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The signs read: "You're Going to Hell", "Fag Vets, God Hates You" and "Your Pastor is a Whore". This wasn't at a gay rights parade. This was at the funeral of an American veteran of the Iraqi war who died last month. These type of protests are becoming more commonplace, as the 'Reverend' Fred Phelps and his crew travel the nation to spew their hatred.

"This family got what it deserved for sending their daughter to defend this evil nation. They ought to thank us for being here to tell the world the truth." Those were the words of protest leader Elizabeth Phelps, Fred's daughter.

Setting aside their misdirected venom and faulty theology--they believe that God is punishing the USA for its homosexuality by killing soldiers in the war--how is it they have the right to do this?

"You can't treat speech as a breach of the peace simply because it offends people," said Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor and an authority on the 1st Amendment. "These protests are tremendously offensive and hard to ignore. But ignoring them or counter-protesting is unfortunately the only remedy the 1st Amendment allows."

Hmm. I think we can get together and come up with and enact legislation that makes it illegal for these types of 'protests'. Freedom of speech is one thing. The freedom to do it wherever and whenever you want is a totally seperate thing. Much like you are not allowed to yell fire in a theater or say certain things at airports, I'm pretty sure we can all agree that it is more than inappropriate to let these people intensify the grief of parents who have lost their loved ones while fighting for our armed forces. It's a heinous crime.

"Quite honestly, their freedom of speech is exactly what my daughter was in Iraq fighting for," said Amy's father, Maj. Doug Duerksen, an Army chaplain stationed in Maryland. "Theologically, what Phelps believes is a bit of a stretch to me, but that's what America is about. My daughter cherished it so much that she was willing to give her life for it."

They can have their freedom of speech. Just not at funerals. Looks as if Phelps needs to read this:

1 John 2:11: But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.


PV said...

Unfortunately, I have to disagree with you--I say unfortunately, coz it indirectly defends the rights of these protesters that, I think in the opinion of most, are dumb bad people.

But I don't think yelling protests at a funeral, no matter how hateful, presents a 'clear and present danger,' which I believe is the test in 1st Amendment cases, from which test was born the examples of yelling fire in a theater or bomb in an airplane.

Now, yes, slurring people publicly may incite some people to act, but I don't think it would pass as 'clear and present' the way that yelling fire does, because yelling fire would clearly inspire a rampaging exit that would be a present and immediate danger.

The one quote hit it on the head, protecting this country means defending the very right to decry it.

And so the bad gets taken with the good.


The Zoner said...

It's not solely about about clear and present danger; the constitution says it cannot inhibit "...the right of the people peaceably to assemble". They are hardly peaceful. I would guess we can easily draft something that would make private certain elements of funerals or certain boundaries.

It can also be defined as "speech that may incite, urge, counsel, advocate, or importune the commission of criminal conduct; other expression, such as picketing, demonstrating, and engaging in certain forms of “symbolic” action may either counsel the commission of criminal conduct or itself constitute criminal conduct." They are certainly doing that. Not to mention decency and hate crime laws.

The 1st is very vague. The government could enact legislation to protect these very people spewing the hate from themselves. Because sooner or later something very bad will happen.

Tom Marker said...

Ever since Indiana passed a law that requires such protesters to stay a certain distance, there have been threats of protests but so far none carried out. Gov. Danials has ordered extra security at every soldier's funeral, including swat teams and snipers.