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Author Topic: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.  (Read 7566 times)

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Online OniyaTopic starter

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SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« on: October 03, 2010, 11:38:33 AM »
I don't usually start posts in P&R, but I caught this as a news-bite about tomorrow's opening day.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/30/AR2010093006323.html

It's often said that 'my right to swing my arm stops at your nose' - or in other words, when my arm-swinging inflicts damaging pain.

The question before the court is whether the WBC's right to free speech stops when it inflicts damaging pain on these grieving families.

Offline errantwandering

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2010, 03:06:48 PM »
This is one issue where I am a bit torn.  On the one hand, I am against curtailing individual rights in any way, shape, or form.  I think that every individual has the right to express themselves and their opinions, and that government does not have the right to curtail it except in very extreme cases.

That being said, what WBC says and does is an abomination.  I am hoping the the supreme court will rule for them, because they have the right to be evil, bitter, psychotic lowlifes if all they are doing is protesting on public property.  Still, I am equally hoping that at one of their protests someone beats them into unconsciousness with their own signs while the cops look the other way.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2010, 03:20:41 PM »
Sadly I fear that for the 'greater good' the asshats at the WBC will be winning this. Freedom of Expression is one of those 'all or nothing' rights that has to be protected.  It galls me, as a person, as a veteran even, that they will have to win to protect those rights and privileges that I swore to uphold as a sailor in the Navy.

That being said I very much doubt that I'd pee on a member of the Phelps clan if they were fire. A more hideous example of human refuse I don't think I have ever been sad to admit were Americans. Petty, racist, vile in ways that make me sad to think of.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2010, 03:22:45 PM by Callie Del Noire »

Offline RubySlippers

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2010, 04:14:11 PM »
The right to not be offended on its own is not enough to stop the greater right of free speech especially religious speech.

Not that I like what they are doing but its not like they are inciting dangerous acts like yelling "fire" in a crowded movie theater.

Online OniyaTopic starter

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2010, 04:17:48 PM »
Except that they (the WBC) are trying to incite people to be violent towards them, so that they can press assault charges.  They've fully admitted that they aren't trying to get anyone to join their side.

Offline MasterMischief

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2010, 04:48:23 PM »
WBC makes Jesus cry.

Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2010, 06:16:40 PM »
I don't know which way SCOTUS will rule on this.  I do blame the government, mostly, for the rise and antics of ABC.  I call it the Asshole Protection Clause that's implicit in the American legal system: the more deviant, bizarre and obnoxious you are, the more the law comes down on your side.  If you're a normal, everyday person just earning a living, paying your taxes--hey, screw you.

I don't think it will end until someone beats the crap out of a WBC protester, and maybe spectators join in.  Normally not the way I like to see disputes of this nature resolved, of course.  But seeing these people in action brings to mind a Robert Heinlein quotation:

"An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life."

To be clear, I have no interest in seeing anyone die at or about a WBC protest.  But I think, by removing ALL consequences of being an utterly insensitive, pompous, self-righteous, annoying asshat, the government bears some responsibility for WBC's antics.

Offline Trieste

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2010, 06:40:35 PM »
Except that they (the WBC) are trying to incite people to be violent towards them, so that they can press assault charges.  They've fully admitted that they aren't trying to get anyone to join their side.

This admission right here places them outside the protections of the Constitution, as far as I'm concerned.

Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2010, 07:09:52 PM »
This admission right here places them outside the protections of the Constitution, as far as I'm concerned.

No, no, they're deviant, obnoxious, annoying wackos so we have to trample all over the rights of veterans and honest citizens to protect these poor, oppressed WBC people!

/sarcasm

Offline Jude

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2010, 07:15:06 PM »
Except that they (the WBC) are trying to incite people to be violent towards them, so that they can press assault charges.  They've fully admitted that they aren't trying to get anyone to join their side.
Can I see the source of this?  In my research regarding the WBC that isn't the impression that I got.

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2010, 07:51:51 PM »
It's like GIFT, only IRL, and done by a bunch of people who would make suicide bombers squeamish with how dickish they're being.  Say what we will about Islams and terrorists and all that, but I'd be willing to bet that shenanigans like this don't go on in Islamic countries.

Offline meikle

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2010, 08:16:57 PM »
Say what we will about Islams and terrorists and all that, but I'd be willing to bet that shenanigans like this don't go on in Islamic countries.

Wow.  This is just ... wow.

Muslims, by the way.

Offline Trieste

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2010, 08:39:39 PM »
Yeah, charming.

Back on topic, please.

Online OniyaTopic starter

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2010, 08:58:23 PM »
Can I see the source of this?  In my research regarding the WBC that isn't the impression that I got.

There was a portion of another thread a while back that gave me that impression:

http://elliquiy.com/forums/index.php?topic=75128.msg3381338#msg3381338

Also, the BBC documentary on the Phelps family (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1000764/) included statements from Phelps-Roper (Fred's daughter) that the money used to travel to all their protests was to 'spread God's hate'.

Offline Serephino

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2010, 09:19:45 PM »
To every rule there are exceptions, and I think this is one of them.  You can't yell fire in a crowded theater, and you can't commit liable or slander.  And like the analogy of my right to swing my arm ends at your nose; your rights end when you impede on someone else's.  The families of those soldiers had the right to bury their loved ones in peace, and the WBC did take that away from them.  I really hope they lose. 

Offline Jude

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2010, 09:43:17 PM »
There was a portion of another thread a while back that gave me that impression:

http://elliquiy.com/forums/index.php?topic=75128.msg3381338#msg3381338

Also, the BBC documentary on the Phelps family (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1000764/) included statements from Phelps-Roper (Fred's daughter) that the money used to travel to all their protests was to 'spread God's hate'.
All of that really paints them in a bad light, but I don't see evidence to support your claim that they fully admitted that they weren't doing this to get people on your side.

I agree that the WBC is deplorable, but I also know that if you take rights away from them, you're giving the government precedence to do it to other people.  I think that's a dangerous line of reasoning to follow, when in reality they aren't causing any actual harm, just emotional distress and offense with their shenanigans.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2010, 09:52:13 PM by Jude »

Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #16 on: October 04, 2010, 12:02:51 PM »
I certainly can appreciate the civil libertarian point of view on this.  I concur that we need to be mighty careful with setting any precedent involving the abridgment of free speech.  But...

(Warning: semi-rant ahead, not directed at anyone here)

I do see a tendency amongst some on the Left to value the rights of people in direct proportion to how deviant, crazy, psychotic or otherwise contrary to societal norms they are.  Too much of a tendency to identify people like that as part of some oppressed group and want to accord them special treatment and bend over backwards to cater to them.

While I'm in favor of reasonable protections for unpopular or even bizarre viewpoints, ordinary, tax-paying normal everyday working people conducting a funeral for a loved one who gave his or her life defending our country--well, guess what, THEY have rights, too.  I'm seeing too much focus on the right of people to act like moron sociopaths, and not enough on the rights of people to peaceably conduct funerary rites like normal society has done for millennia.  Presumably because a common Christian funeral is, well, not bizarre enough to merit protection. 

I think a precedent should be set: normal people have rights, too.  When a funeral is being conducted, the people conducting it have the floor.  Asshats with sociopath slogans and bullhorns, can, to put it bluntly, drink a nice big cup of STFU while the funeral is in progress.  They can protest before the funeral.  They can protest after the funeral.  In locations and times where funerals are not being conducted, they can shout whatever hateful, pea-brained slogans pop into their 8-bit brains.  But at the funeral...the rights of NORMAL people hold sway.

Offline Jude

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #17 on: October 04, 2010, 12:24:18 PM »
I agree if the protesters can actually interfere with the funeral itself, but that isn't the case with WBC I think.  As far as I'm aware, they're far enough away that their idiocy isn't audible during the service.  As far as I understand it, the opponents of WBC don't want them to be able to perch outside of these funerals, nearby, to spread their nonsense.  This isn't about silencing them so that the service can go unimpeded, removing their presence so that they don't block the funerals, or any of that -- because of all that is quite clearly against the law, so they don't do it -- this is about taking away their right to freedom of speech because their exercising it hurts people's feelings.

That's not something I can ever agree with no matter what vile, idiotic thing is being said.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2010, 12:25:19 PM by Jude »

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #18 on: October 04, 2010, 12:38:00 PM »
While I would be happy to see the WBC disappear from existance, banning any speech sets a very dangerous precedent, and can be the thin end of a wedge. Because once you allow the banning of one, you can ban another, going that next small, perfectly sensible, perfectly logical step to the next. Then the next. And the next one after that.

As much as I would like to see the WBC shut up, they have the right to spew their hatred.

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #19 on: October 04, 2010, 12:44:52 PM »
Having sat down and thought over the issue, and listened to the much more informed viewpoints than mine on this topic, I've come to the following conclusion.

1. If this is about ]whether or not they are allowed to say these things, period, then I would go with the esteemed Voltaire on this one.

2. If this is about whether or not they are allowed to say these things at the funeral, then I'm saying no.  It's a disruption of a sacred ceremony, and the peace, and as such should not be tolerated.

Personally, if half of what I've been hearing here is correct, and WBC is doing this to piss people off so that they can get people arrested, that is so morally repugnant that I would say they aren't Christian at all.

Plus, this is a problem in the personal responsibility sense.  If they don't suffer any sort of consequences for this sort of misbehavior, then they are only going to be further emboldened to do more like this.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #20 on: October 04, 2010, 12:47:04 PM »
While I would be happy to see the WBC disappear from existance, banning any speech sets a very dangerous precedent, and can be the thin end of a wedge. Because once you allow the banning of one, you can ban another, going that next small, perfectly sensible, perfectly logical step to the next. Then the next. And the next one after that.


HH, you put it better than I could. I particularly like the wedge comparison. Every time I see the Phelp's clan I think that the head of it is clearly 'neurologically screwed up'. He seems to be running very wild at times.

Offline Remiel

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #21 on: October 04, 2010, 01:09:19 PM »
I propose a compromise.   While I am forced to agree with Hairy that public discourse, no matter how distasteful, should be Constitutionally protected, perhaps they could be sued in a civil court for intentional infliction of emotional distress?

Online OniyaTopic starter

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #22 on: October 04, 2010, 01:22:05 PM »
I know that in a few states, they have been successfully 'banished' to outside a certain perimeter (it varies, state to state, and is usually a couple hundred yards at least.)  What if that were changed to the middle of some field, 5 miles outside of town?  That way, the people attending the funeral wouldn't have to rely on heroes like the Patriot Riders to shield them from the vitriol, the WBC could spew to their hearts content, and whoever wants to hear them (shyeah) will have free access to do so.

Offline Will

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #23 on: October 04, 2010, 01:24:03 PM »
I propose a compromise.   While I am forced to agree with Hairy that public discourse, no matter how distasteful, should be Constitutionally protected, perhaps they could be sued in a civil court for intentional infliction of emotional distress?

That is a fantastic idea.  Though I do worry that it would just give the crazies more press.

I'm also under the impression that they have to stay some distance from the actual funerals.  If that distance isn't enough to put them out of eye/earshot, then increase it.  Silencing them seems like an unnecessarily extreme method, and very much the "thin end of a wedge," as Hairy so eloquently put it.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #24 on: October 04, 2010, 02:31:42 PM »
I propose a compromise.   While I am forced to agree with Hairy that public discourse, no matter how distasteful, should be Constitutionally protected, perhaps they could be sued in a civil court for intentional infliction of emotional distress?

You know.. given that they have a BUNCH of lawyers in the Phelp's family that wouldn't be a good idea. In fact they have sued several states/cities/whatever and gotten some big payoffs in lawyers fees. Last time I heard the father of the marine they picketed was looking to have to PAY their fees after getting a decision overturned on appeal.