Thursday, March 3, 2011

Westboro Wins

The gavel has struck and the Supreme Court has made its official ruling deciding in favor of an infamous anti-gay hate group. The Westboro Baptist Church will be allowed to continue picketing and protesting the funerals of American service members who died to protect those including the hatemonger’s themselves. The Supreme Court upheld in an 8-to-1 decision a lower-court’s ruling to throw out a lawsuit filed against Westboro by the father of an American Marine who had died serving his country. Amongst other things the Supreme Court ruled:

“…such speech cannot be restricted simply because it is upsetting or arouses contempt.”

A couple things instantly come to mind when I first read this judgment in the red eye hours of early Thursday morning. First off, if “such speech cannot be restricted simply because it is upsetting or arouses contempt” why have lower courts upheld similar lawsuits on the basis of “hate speech” and “hate crimes” before? Universities and work places have put in place codes of conduct that restrict hate speech under the guise of anti-harassment codes. I’m not arguing on behalf of anti-harassment laws’ righteousness or against them but I do have to question the legal precedent that the Supreme Court has based their decision off of? Any rational human being with an ounce or two of common decency could tell you that an individual has the right to go about their lives safely and free of harassment on the basis of their gender, creed, religion, sexual orientation, etc. So I’m sorry if I’m failing to see what the big problem would’ve been had the Supreme Court decided to rule in favor of the father. The ruling would not change anything in regards to the average American’s right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment. Seriously, how many people do you know in the course of your daily lives that have ever mentioned in conversation that they’ve always wanted to “stage a hateful protest at a funeral”? I’m not talking to you pharmacy & psych ward staff members! I’m talking about people that don’t deal with nutcases on a daily basis.

Secondly, this case establishes a new precedent. From the second I seen the news article’s title--the hairs on the back of neck stood up. Let’s face it. Aside from Jihadists and suicide bombers--Westboro is pretty much as whacked and evil as they come. I knew that they would take this court victory as a major stepping stone to revving up their activity and media presence. Once the army has the hill why would they strive to take it again? They wouldn’t. They’d continue on and take the town. This is exactly what Westboro is going to do. They know they can already get away with protesting military funerals free of civil or criminal repercussions. That line has been drawn. Now they’re going to see how far they can push that line.

Right now as it is, these protestors have to stay 1000 feet from the actual site of the funeral on the basis that the burial grounds and funerals take place on private property (or private property with public access) that will not allow permit appearance of freak shows like Westboro. Watch these psychotic nut jobs try and get closer to the site because they have “legal protection”. Watch them become louder because they have “legal protection”. Watch them become more aggressive because they have “legal protection”.

Next they’ll be picketing just off the property of the grieving family’s property. They’ll be picketing the residence of a gay couple. Hell, maybe they’ll be picketing your house because you’re a (SUBSITUTE BLANK FOR HATED GROUP OF THE DAY). After all, it’s their right to protest. That'll be a fun conversational piece to explain to your young children as they want to know why there's people heckling and scaring them on their way to the bus stop.

Watch the lawyers line-up to represent these people. Don't think they'll do it? Think again.

They have a citable precedent to prove their case now. Lawyers want to make names for themselves. Just ask the Fieger's and Bernstein's of the world.

“Margie Phelps, a leader of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kans., told reporters there the congregation would “quadruple” the number of its funeral protests as a result of the Supreme Court ruling.”

Amazing how I hadn’t even seen that part of the article yet and I already knew that was coming down the pipes. In fact when I wrote about Westboro before on this very blog I warned people of what could happen if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of these people. I’m not being an alarmist. I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t have intelligence or information that other people lack access to. I’m just using common sense and a basic understanding of how people abuse the rule of law using other laws. It’s not rocket science to know that if you offer someone inch after inch they’ll eventually take a foot and then a mile.

Think of the audacity of this whole decision. Join the military and die for your country so the government can provide legal protection to the people who can now slander and libel you and your family on the day of your funeral. Damn, doesn’t that make you just want to get right on up and enlist?

The Supreme Court upheld that Westboro has the right to protest because it “focuses on matters of public concern such as the moral and political conduct of the United States, gays in the military, and the sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.” Chief Justice Roberts continued to blab on about how there’s no evidence that the Westboro Church protests specifically attacked the individual soldiers themselves (except for the fact they…ehh…DID and ARE) and how prohibiting Westboro Church members from protesting would “stifle public debate.” Apparently, somewhere in America (the living rooms of 8 Supreme Court Justices) there is an ongoing public debate regarding whether God truly does or doesn’t hate soldiers, Jews, Catholics, Gays (they call them “fags” but it’s apparently not hate speech), Blacks, Protestants, Astronauts (I kid you not), and anybody without the namesake Phelps. Also since when did courts make decisions based on a party’s motive? Last time I checked motive was not a necessary factor in proving the liability of a case in criminal or civil law. So now on the basis that gay people can serve in the military—Westboro is justified in its actions? With that line of thinking why don’t we just go ahead and re-segregate our schools because racial tension still exists? My God, with these people running the show how did we even make it out of the 1800s?

Fortunately for the sake of humanity the road to Hell is not paved with dead American soldiers. Unfortunately for America, the road to Hell IS paved with good intentions. The can of worms that the Supreme Court has consequently opened up in vain to “not stifle public debate” is only going to feed the fires in this country for Westboro and hate groups like it. I don’t know exactly what the future holds but I can tell you two things:

1.) This is one free-speech libertarian who thinks that the Supreme Court missed the mark big time on this one.

2.) Fred Phelps and his inbred followers/family/spouse will have a protest on their funerals that’ll wake the dead. In fact it might be a celebration.

Until next time…

Peace & Love,


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