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Author Topic: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.  (Read 7567 times)

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Offline RubySlippers

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #100 on: October 18, 2010, 10:06:37 AM »
This group is not in the European Union nations thankfully, we have the honor of having our First Amendment likely the greatest of the rights afforded to us as Americans.

And like I said they have a legitimate ,if I view it gravely flawed, theological position when one treads on ones religious liberty in the US one must be very careful its particularly protected over any other.

Offline Lilias

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #101 on: October 18, 2010, 11:26:09 AM »
This group is not in the European Union nations thankfully, we have the honor of having our First Amendment likely the greatest of the rights afforded to us as Americans.

The European Union nations also have legislation protecting free speech, although I don't quite get what they have to do with the topic of the thread.

Offline Asuras

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #102 on: October 18, 2010, 11:18:22 PM »
Quote from: Noelle
Breaking into someone's house to tell them your opinion is not the same as acquiring the legal permission to protest.

I would rather someone break into my home and protest than do so within earshot or sight of the funeral of a friend or a member of my grieving family. So I agree - it's not the same, it's worse.

Quote from: Noelle
Notice that in your quote, it's your home, where you're legally entitled to spout as much crap as you want -- even yell 'fire', if you deem it appropriate for your legal property.

Actually...no, if I have a packed house for a party or whatever and yell "fire" and it causes a human stampede, I'm liable. As well it should be. I would have killed people.

Quote from: Noelle
That's why someone can't come onto your property and do so, but that's irrelevant because not only are their protests not happening on your -- or anyone's private property, they're protests are occurring in publically-sanctioned places.

I can't streak across Central Park either. There are limits to the rights we have in public places and I think this ought to be one of them. Congress agrees.

Quote from: Noelle
Just because you don't like what you're hearing doesn't mean it's necessarily harassment.

I agree.

Quote from: Noelle
I fail to see how whether or not you feel they're justified in protesting a funeral pertains to their right to do so under the law.

It doesn't. I'm pointing out that if the law is unjustified it should be changed. As neither of us are lawyers in a courtroom we should be arguing what the law should be in terms of justice rather than what it actually is.

And actually - since Congress has passed this law - you are actually the one defending illegality.

Quote from: Noelle
I'm pretty sure being offended is not the main reason those things are a crime. We create laws to aid in the persistence of a civilized and functioning society according to what's best for people, place, and time. Being offended alone isn't enough because personal offense is subjective to all three of those things and in some instances ignores the direct result of said action. It might play a part, but I'm almost certain we don't put murderers on trial solely because the rest of society doesn't like their actions. We do it because they took a life  and thereby violated another's so-called sovereign rights that we have integrated into our law. If we only took action to protect our own delicate sensibilities, I would imagine we'd have a lot more nanny laws to coddle us.

We have a vast corpus of law protecting our delicate sensibilities - laws against pot smoking, against suicide, against nudity on television, against me streaking across Central Park, against me having sex with my boyfriend on a park bench in Union Square, against a fervent WBC nut blaring at my apartment with a horn telling me that I'm going to hell because of what I want to do with my boyfriend in the privacy of my apartment.

And, honestly, "sovereign rights." Let us question this. Where do those "sovereign rights" come from other than the vast majority of people being offended if they weren't "sovereign rights?"

Quote from: Noelle
Basically, by saying that all law is based on offense is, in my view, akin saying that we don't hold the murder trial because the person has forced another person's life to end, but because the rest of us need a way to feel better about it. It ignores certain unalienable rights. The person murdered can't be offended about being murdered. They're dead.

Murdered people have never written laws. The people who cared about them did.

Quote from: Noelle
So let's all converge and ban your right to ever speak your opinion ever again because the majority here doesn't like what you have to say and we don't feel like we need to protect the minority. Does it seem so fair now?

Actually I'm pretty sure the majority of Americans are on my side in keeping the WBC away from soldiers' funerals, but...

You argued that I made a straw man, well, this is a straw man. What I have said is that a funeral should be at least as private a space as a home. Saying that this is tantamount to the majority dictating who and who can't "speak your opinion ever again" is nothing like what I've argued. There are plenty of places other than a funeral that I'd rather the WBC do this, I'm not arguing that they're outlawed from speaking. Including my apartment if that's what it takes to keep them away from a funeral.

Quote from: Noelle
The vast majority of America is also Christian, but miraculously we aren't living under a theocracy.If the vast majority of Americans decided gays weren't real people and that Muslims needed Jim Crow-era separation, we would probably oppose it. We protect the minority for a reason, even if they're fringe lunatics.

The only thing I'm arguing is that a funeral - whether it's a WBC member, a Muslim, a gay guy, or a soldier that died in Iraq - should be treated with respect and that the law should defend that. That funeral should be treated as private space.

Offline Noelle

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #103 on: October 19, 2010, 03:37:14 AM »
Quote
Actually...no, if I have a packed house for a party or whatever and yell "fire" and it causes a human stampede, I'm liable. As well it should be. I would have killed people.

My mistake, I was thinking more or less of this instance:

Jacob Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation, a libertarian think tank, has claimed that in most cases free speech issues in the U.S. depend upon whose property one is on at the time. If someone falsely shouted "fire" and created a stampede  which was clearly against the wishes of a theatre owner's policy of conduct, then the theatre owner would be within his rights to prepare charges against the agitator. If, however, the theatre owner decided it would be good for business to have patrons yell "Fire! Fire!" whenever they felt like it, then he would be within his rights to do so.[2]


Quote
I can't streak across Central Park either. There are limits to the rights we have in public places and I think this ought to be one of them. Congress agrees.

I'm pretty sure they don't. At least not the way you're making it sound. The WBC isn't even protesting on the funeral grounds thanks to the laws passed. That's the only thing that's really been done, is to limit the distance from the funeral they can be and their allotted time slot to do so. Congress has only agreed that they shouldn't be directly ON the site and shouldn't hang around too long, not that their speech needs to be removed entirely. Maybe I missed something?

Time and time again, our judicial system, the very thing that is supposed to be interpreting the intent of our Constitution, has upheld their right. Sorry you don't agree, but the last I checked, they have just as much of a check and balance as the other branches.

Quote
And actually - since Congress has passed this law - you are actually the one defending illegality.

I have yet to see what Congress has passed that makes doing what they do illegal. Care to point this out for me? As far as I'm concerned, defending a person's right to express their viewpoint in a public forum is still legal, but maybe I didn't get the memo. I'm also going to refer to this little gem of a quote from the link I provided earlier:

Quote
Richards and O’Neil warn that many of the laws may not only be content based but also may constitute an egregious form of content discrimination known as viewpoint discrimination. Content discrimination generally refers to general subject-matter discrimination, such as a law that bans political speeches in parks. Viewpoint discrimination goes beyond mere subject matter and restricts speech based on viewpoint. An example would be a law that prohibits Republican Party speakers in a park but allows Democratic Party speakers.

“The other question I would have is what would happen if people who loved the deceased held up signs outside the church or funeral home saying, ‘We love you. We’ll miss you,’” Richards said. “Would those folks face criminal charges? If not, there’s a viewpoint-based discrimination issue.”

THIS is why it's so tough to actually pass a ban on funeral-based protests.

Quote
We have a vast corpus of law protecting our delicate sensibilities - laws against pot smoking, against suicide, against nudity on television, against me streaking across Central Park, against me having sex with my boyfriend on a park bench in Union Square, against a fervent WBC nut blaring at my apartment with a horn telling me that I'm going to hell because of what I want to do with my boyfriend in the privacy of my apartment.

Not all of the laws you're talking about involve offense. Pot is not banned because people are offended, pot is banned because of the false notion our government has upheld that legalizing it will be a detriment to our society. Again: laws are passed to maintain a functioning and healthy society, not just because some people take personal offense to it. That's absolutely ridiculous. Suicide is illegal, as far as I understand, largely to get help for those who are unsuccessful -- and even then, those people aren't usually punished, they're sent to a mental health facility. Suicide is unhealthy for society, so we discourage it.

I believe I already mentioned earlier that there ARE "offense laws", so yes, things like public nudity and public sex and banning nudity/swear words/etc on TV are offense-based. And they're largely not always in the right. I think at least the swearing/nudity on TV/radio/etc ones are ridiculous, but that's a whole different topic.

Quote
And, honestly, "sovereign rights." Let us question this. Where do those "sovereign rights" come from other than the vast majority of people being offended if they weren't "sovereign rights?"

IDK, my BFF The Social Contract which is also closely related to the more generalized social contracts, the very things by which our society -- and government have formed? Hahaha, ridiculous commercial reference aside, I think Hobbes and Rousseau and the gang would be awfully offended at their long-researched, debated, and well-formulated philosophies were boiled down to little more than people getting offended. It's a little more complex than that.

Quote
Murdered people have never written laws. The people who cared about them did.

Um, exactly? But the people writing them weren't writing them solely to avenge their own offense, that's selfish and undermines the life that was taken. If all that's keeping murder from being obscure is how offended people get, then there surely isn't anything inherently wrong with taking another life, it's merely a social perception. I hope the illogical aspect of that assumption is evident to you.

Quote
Actually I'm pretty sure the majority of Americans are on my side in keeping the WBC away from soldiers' funerals, but...

And the majority of Americans want to ban gay marriage and end abortions and the majority believe in God, blah blah blah. Irrelevant. I've already been over this. Besides, I wasn't just referring to your opinion on this matter. I'm saying if the majority didn't want to hear you talk about being gay and banned it, you'd probably be pretty indignant about it.

Quote
You argued that I made a straw man, well, this is a straw man. What I have said is that a funeral should be at least as private a space as a home. Saying that this is tantamount to the majority dictating who and who can't "speak your opinion ever again" is nothing like what I've argued. There are plenty of places other than a funeral that I'd rather the WBC do this, I'm not arguing that they're outlawed from speaking. Including my apartment if that's what it takes to keep them away from a funeral.

They're not protesting on funeral grounds. They are not literally at the funeral. They are OUTSIDE the funeral. They are NOT there on the grave dancing in top hats and pissing on the headstone. They are literally NOT at the funeral at any point in time during their protest. Plenty of other places? Kind of like how there are plenty of other places to put a mosque away from Ground Zero? How far is far enough? What places are we talking exactly? If a public place that can be used by any other group isn't good enough, then you can refer right back to content discrimination.

Quote
The only thing I'm arguing is that a funeral - whether it's a WBC member, a Muslim, a gay guy, or a soldier that died in Iraq - should be treated with respect and that the law should defend that. That funeral should be treated as private space.

And it is. See "WBC is not at the funeral" above.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 03:41:14 AM by Noelle »

Offline Jude

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #104 on: October 19, 2010, 04:14:45 AM »
There seems to be a lot of repetitive arguing, so I'm going to echo things that have already been said in order to reinforce points already made that people seem to be ignoring:

- WBC does not protest at funerals, they protest outside them at a fair distance.
- I haven't seen any evidence that they've disrupted the proceedings in anyway, not even with noise.  If you have evidence to the contrary please present it instead of making assumptions.  It does not appear to be happening as far as I can tell.
- The most recent "victim" to sue them didn't even see them before or after his son's funeral -- he saw them on the news after the fact.

A couple of questions for people who still don't think they should be able to protest as they are now:

1)  How far away would be an acceptable distance to you?  Are you simply opposed to the protest happening at all, even if it wasn't nearby?
2)  If you're outlawing funerals as a venue of protest are you comfortable protecting all events that people deem "sacred," and if so, how would you respond to the charge that because "sacred" is a subjective property, protesting anything can be banned essentially under that rule.
3)  If you don't buy into the subjective sacred argument because you see the potential for abuse, what makes a funeral special?  Is it because everyone is so upset who attends a funeral?  If so, what about the myriad of other societal events wherein people are deeply upset.  Why aren't those off-limits too?
4)  Lets say they were protesting the war outside of these military funerals and actually had a positive message for the military men (in terms of wanting to save their life), would that be OK with you?  If not, isn't that outlawing a very powerful form of activism that could be used to end wars, and if so, aren't you essentially siding with the totalitarianism of thought and expression that our soldiers die fighting against to begin with by silencing certain opinions on the basis of the ideas expressed therein?  Doesn't that make your actions more dishonorable than any of the protesters?
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 04:18:46 AM by Jude »

Offline mystictiger

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #105 on: October 19, 2010, 06:46:04 AM »
Quote
1)  How far away would be an acceptable distance to you?  Are you simply opposed to the protest happening at all, even if it wasn't nearby?

Out of sight and earshot. Protest in the same city by all means.

Quote
2)  If you're outlawing funerals as a venue of protest are you comfortable protecting all events that people deem "sacred," and if so, how would you respond to the charge that because "sacred" is a subjective property, protesting anything can be banned essentially under that rule.
3)  If you don't buy into the subjective sacred argument because you see the potential for abuse, what makes a funeral special?  Is it because everyone is so upset who attends a funeral?  If so, what about the myriad of other societal events wherein people are deeply upset.  Why aren't those off-limits too?

You're right - a rule based only on location is dumb. I would therefore favour some kind of nature-and-location test. If you're going to require a large amount of police resources to protect / police such an event (I think of various Marches in Northern Ireland, or the recent gay pride march in Serbia), then there should be the ability to relocate / reschedule the event in the name of public order.
Quote
4)  Lets say they were protesting the war outside of these military funerals and actually had a positive message for the military men (in terms of wanting to save their life), would that be OK with you?  If not, isn't that outlawing a very powerful form of activism that could be used to end wars, and if so, aren't you essentially siding with the totalitarianism of thought and expression that our soldiers die fighting against to begin with by silencing certain opinions on the basis of the ideas expressed therein?  Doesn't that make your actions more dishonorable than any of the protesters?
Quote

That's quite a leap. Protests and hate-speech directed at the military has never stopped a war. Rather, demonstrations addressed as elected officials does that quite well.

Would you be equally as sanguine about me protesting outside a gay wedding / civil partnership, holding banners saying that, I dunno, Judy Garland was staight or something? Or perhaps outside a Bar Mitzvah in an SS uniform saying that "The only good Jew is a dead one" (I actually met someone like that. I gave him a hug, and he was so revolted at the thought of being a jew hugger, he ran off). Or perhaps outside a predominantly African-American church in a KKK outfit with a burning cross?

I think I might build an effigy of Hobbes and ceremonial burn him outside your house! :)

Offline Caeli

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #106 on: October 19, 2010, 06:56:31 AM »
Out of sight and earshot. Protest in the same city by all means.

The protests are happening out of sight and out of earshot of the actual funeral. They are not happening during the funeral, and they are not happening inside funeral grounds. This has been stated several times by me as well as a few others.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 06:57:35 AM by Caeli »

Offline mystictiger

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #107 on: October 19, 2010, 07:32:58 AM »
I did a quick google search, and it seems that WBC protest 'close' to the funeral:

Funeral Protests
"... but as they filed into the funeral, they were confronted with..."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11488556
"Mr Snyder filed the lawsuit in March 2006 after members of the church picketed the funeral of his son, Lance Cpl Matthew Snyder, who was killed in a Humvee accident"

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/6507971.stm
"In any country, let alone one as patriotic as the US, few actions are as provocative as protesting at a soldier's funeral. "

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=wbc+funeral+video&docid=280621614177&mid=1AC86FD42D7C7188474B1AC86FD42D7C7188474B&FORM=VIRE3#
The Patriot guard would be pointless if they weren't within eartshot ;)

Offline Caeli

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #108 on: October 19, 2010, 08:07:37 AM »
"But as they filed into the funeral" could have been in a car that was in a procession on the way to the funeral site, as far as I'm concerned; your news report in that video doesn't make it very clear how close or far away they were. It would be quite a different story if you had documentation from an article or a news site about them trespassing inside a church, funeral grounds, etc.

I did not state that the protest was not happening 'close', only that it did not take place inside funeral grounds. Legally, that makes a difference. As I stated in my first post, Phelps & WBC do make sure that they stay within what is legally allowed.

Furthermore, while WBC did picket at Snyder's funeral, he did not even see them until he saw it on television after the funeral itself, because the city police (who had been informed about the protest) called Snyder, who rerouted the funeral procession.

Quote
On the other side, the ACLU and other free-speech advocates are supporting Westboro's right to offend, as are many news organizations. Chief among their arguments: having changed the route of the procession, Snyder did not directly encounter the picketers or any of their signs at his son's funeral. He saw and read about them afterward while watching the news and searching online.

...

Aside from the sometimes cruel irony of First Amendment law, some specifics of Snyder's case could hurt him. At the jury trial, Snyder won an invasion-of-privacy claim. But how, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wondered during the oral argument, could Snyder's privacy have been invaded if Westboro picketed in an area at the edge of the church's property, some 200 to 300 ft. (60 to 90 m) from the rerouted funeral procession, as directed by law enforcement? Snyder insists that the stress of dodging the Westboro group was an intrusion, that the protesters forced him to change the funeral route and to practically sneak into a church he attended for years. Privacy law, however, tends to require a stricter, "up in your grill" prying standard. The picketers were not inside the church, shouting above the priest. In fact, they left shortly after the service started.

Also, Snyder first saw what was on the protest signs on TV, not at the funeral. Yes, the Phelpses send out press releases about their upcoming protests, but should they be held liable for what the media choose to cover? And although the Phelpses posted an awful rant against Snyder on the Internet, they did not mail it to him or pin it on his door. He found it using Google.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2021068-1,00.html

I haven't got much time to research about instances in which the Patriot Guard have shown up, but "within earshot" is rather subject to interpretation.

My impression is that the presence of the Patriot Guard serves more as a shield for funeral attendees than to actually block out noise during the actual funeral. If they were blaring music and revving their bikes during the funeral itself, you wouldn't be able to hear the priest, now would you? :P

I'm not going to derail this topic further by stating what has already been repeated. The facts of the protests are fairly clear; the issue is not whether or not they've broken the law, but whether or not the protests should be allowed "at" the funerals military servicemen and servicewomen.



When debating and posting in P&R, please find sources with evidence to back up your claims.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 08:20:21 AM by Caeli »

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #109 on: October 19, 2010, 10:12:12 AM »
My impression is that the presence of the Patriot Guard serves more as a shield for funeral attendees than to actually block out noise during the actual funeral. If they were blaring music and revving their bikes during the funeral itself, you wouldn't be able to hear the priest, now would you? :P

I was pretty sure I'd seen this somewhere else, but a lot of the older articles on the Patriot Guard Riders' website for media sightings are expired.  Forgive me for resorting to a Wikipedia quote.

Quote
The Patriot Guard Riders is a US motorcycle club that attends the funerals of members of the United States Armed Forces at the invitation of the deceased’s family.

The group was initially formed to shelter and protect the funerals from protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church, who claim that the deaths of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are divine retribution for American tolerance of homosexuality. The Patriot Guard positions itself to physically shield the mourners from the presence of the Westboro protesters by blocking the protesters from view with their motorcade, or by having members hold American flags. The group also drowns out the protesters' chants by singing patriotic songs or by revving motorcycle engines.

Offline mystictiger

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #110 on: October 19, 2010, 10:41:12 AM »
I'm not familiar with US federal procedure, but I understand that this is is document that made the appeal to the Supreme Court. I understand further that appealate jurisdictions deal with questions of law rather than fact. I therefore find the following quote to be both insightful and horrifying;

Quote
(ffOL. ffiii AT 2156, 2195.) mR. sNYDER KNEW THAT THE
PHELPSES WOULD BE PRESENT; NONETHELESS, HE ATTEMPTED
TO PUT THEM OUT OF HIS MIND AND FOCUS INSTEAD ON HIS
SON’S BURIAL. oN THE DAY OF THE FUNERAL, THE PHELPSES
PLACED THEMSELVES AT THE MAIN ENTRANCE OF sT. JOHN’S
¢ATHOLIC ¢HURCH PROPERTY TO ENSURE THAT mR. sNYDER AND
HIS FAMILY WOULD ENCOUNTER THEM. iN RESPONSE, mATTHEW
sNYDER’S FUNERAL PROCESSION WAS RE-DIRECTED TO AN
ALTERNATE ENTRANCE. (ffOL. ffiii AT 2244.) eVEN AFTER
READJUSTING THEIR ROUTE, THE sNYDERS WERE ONLY 200–300
FEET FROM THE PHELPSES DURING THE FUNERAL PROCESSION.
(ffOL. ffii AT 2079, 2141.) oN THE WAY FROM THE VIEWING TO
THE FUNERAL, AS mR. sNYDER WAS TRYING TO FOCUS ON THE
MEMORY OF HIS SON, HE LOOKED AT HIS DAUGHTERS AND SAW
THE PHELPSES’ SIGNS BEHIND THEM. (ffOL. ffiii AT 2144.)

At the Church gate is too close.

Edit: I have no idea why the text is fubared.

Edit 2: Can someone find me a link to the case reports from the two courts this has previously been through? Sadly, my Westlaw sub only covers UK cases, and I've been unable to find them reported anywhere else.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 10:58:56 AM by mystictiger »

Offline Caeli

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #111 on: October 19, 2010, 02:27:11 PM »
Again, the issue isn't one of legality. 200-300 feet away is within the bounds of what is allowed. If you're saying that is too close, then how far do you suggest is far enough? 500 feet? 1000 feet? Not allowed to picket? When should it be allowed - before and after two hours? Not on the same day? Not allowed at all?

Once you start setting regulations on how close funeral protesters are allowed to protest and allowed to express their free speech, you move onto a slippery slope of "how much". If you rule this a case of free speech that shouldn't be allowed, what's to say that some other protest or form of free speech will be cut because it offends someone's religion and sensibilities?
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 02:28:15 PM by Caeli »

Offline mystictiger

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #112 on: October 19, 2010, 03:28:16 PM »
There are two seperate issues: what is said and also where it is said.

If the Phelps were holding a prayer vigil while sat on the church fence / roof / doorstep, and said nothing offensive, carried no hate-filled banners, then I wouldn't have any problem with that. Given the content of their messages, the deliberate targetting of Mr Snyder, their anti-catholic, anti-war, anti-gay message (and the random conflation of all of these), I do have a problem.

You talk about 'slippery slope'. Towards what? Towards the backwards and tyranical regime we have in Europe? Still, this precious freedom of expression is routinely curtailed on grounds of national security, public decency, libel laws, public order, and so on.

The American concept of the freedom of speech is the product of a very strongly individualist approach to human rights. By contrast, the rest of the world is less extreme in their approach to this, giving varying weights to the views of the rest of the community. The Phelps can protest anywhere and anywhen. The Snyders could only bury their son once. I know which party I favour there.

Freedom of speech should never be used an excuse for hate.

Too much tolerance means that the intolerant can take over. We should be utterly tolerant, except of intolerance. Is that hypocritical? Maybe. So what.

This strongly divergent opinion stems from the divide across the Atlantic I suspect. Go and try and denying the holocaust in mainland Europe ;)

Offline Jude

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #113 on: October 19, 2010, 03:40:58 PM »
Europe has terrible free speech laws, so yeah, that is what I'm afraid of.  There's a reason why the UK's libel and slander laws are the shame of the entire western world and the subject of legal tourist suits to silence controversial speech throughout the globe.  Then you have France, which is stripping away the rights of Muslims, Germany which is saying multiculturalism has failed, and that's really just dipping your toe into the problem.  Europe doesn't have enough respect for the rights of individuals in my opinion; society doesn't need to be protected by one person's words, that's idiotic, words do no real harm unless you internalize and obsess over them (except in the fire in a crowded theater, but that's got nothing to do with this) which is the personal choice of the supposed "victim."

When we get so thin-skinned as a society that we start mandating nice behavior by law in any circumstance, we're heading towards a place I don't wanna go.  That isn't the purpose of law; law exists to allow individuals to pursue whatever course they wish as long as they don't stand in the way of other people pursuing their goals.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 03:46:20 PM by Jude »

Offline Noelle

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #114 on: October 19, 2010, 03:48:15 PM »
If the Phelps were holding a prayer vigil while sat on the church fence / roof / doorstep, and said nothing offensive, carried no hate-filled banners, then I wouldn't have any problem with that.

All you're saying is that if you personally find it offensive, it should be banned. This has been gone over so many times in this thread that I think it should answer why offense is not a valid excuse to ban speech. If there's any lingering questions, I'd be happy to address them.

Quote
Given the content of their messages, the deliberate targetting of Mr Snyder, their anti-catholic, anti-war, anti-gay message (and the random conflation of all of these), I do have a problem.

Already been covered. Content-based discrimination isn't acceptable. The WBC does not target these people personally, they make general statements in order to keep from being sued on charges of slander and the like. Covered here already.

Quote
You talk about 'slippery slope'. Towards what? Towards the backwards and tyranical regime we have in Europe? Still, this precious freedom of expression is routinely curtailed on grounds of national security, public decency, libel laws, public order, and so on.

What works for Europe does not work for the US. See also: socialist benefits, attitudes towards nudity/sex, secular laws, etc. This isn't Europe, this is the US, and as much as I'd like to adopt some of Europe's finer ideas, this is not one of them. In fact, you said it yourself. We have a different culture here and in this culture, we don't require laws to prohibit people from saying something stupid. That's the beauty of it. Everyone knows it's stupid. It works for us.

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Freedom of speech should never be used an excuse for hate.

Freedom of speech that you don't want to hear about is still a form of speech that's protected. The only violence their speech has incited has been other people physically attacking them. They haven't moved anyone else to protest funerals, to beat up gays, or to evangelize that America's going to hell. Freedom of speech that has limits is no longer as free as it starts out. We always err on the side of pre-established rights because it's much easier to take them away than it is to give them back.

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Too much tolerance means that the intolerant can take over. We should be utterly tolerant, except of intolerance. Is that hypocritical? Maybe. So what.

This is an exaggeration. The WBC is in no way "taking over". If taking over means having laws passed that LIMIT you by moving your protest away from funeral grounds and limits it to certain times before and after, then yeah, I guess taking action the way we have and threatening even more legal cases to further limit their rights means we're doomed, or something.

Offline mystictiger

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #115 on: October 19, 2010, 04:28:01 PM »
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All you're saying is that if you personally find it offensive, it should be banned. This has been gone over so many times in this thread that I think it should answer why offense is not a valid excuse to ban speech. If there's any lingering questions, I'd be happy to address them.

See the new thread! :)

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Already been covered. Content-based discrimination isn't acceptable. The WBC does not target these people personally, they make general statements in order to keep from being sued on charges of slander and the like. Covered here already.

I strongly suggest you read the two cases. Phelps admits deliberately targetting Snyder.

Offline Will

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #116 on: October 19, 2010, 04:33:00 PM »
Snyder had to deliberately -seek out- the stuff that was offensive.  His only legal complaint was that rerouting the procession was "stressful."  I'm sure it was.  But, really?  Can we really sue someone for stressing us out?  If so, I've got quite a list, and I need to find an attorney like yesterday.

Offline Asuras

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #117 on: November 04, 2010, 02:57:05 AM »
Quote from: Noelle
I'm pretty sure they don't. At least not the way you're making it sound. The WBC isn't even protesting on the funeral grounds thanks to the laws passed. That's the only thing that's really been done, is to limit the distance from the funeral they can be and their allotted time slot to do so. Congress has only agreed that they shouldn't be directly ON the site and shouldn't hang around too long, not that their speech needs to be removed entirely. Maybe I missed something?

Thanks to the laws passed. If you agree with the law we have nothing to argue about.

Quote from: Noelle
Time and time again, our judicial system, the very thing that is supposed to be interpreting the intent of our Constitution, has upheld their right. Sorry you don't agree, but the last I checked, they have just as much of a check and balance as the other branches.

Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire. The Court said unanimously that even if you have political content to your message there is a level of incivility - even in a public place - which does not fall under First Amendment protection. The Supreme Court continues to uphold that reasoning to this day.

Quote from: Noelle
Not all of the laws you're talking about involve offense. Pot is not banned because people are offended, pot is banned because of the false notion our government has upheld that legalizing it will be a detriment to our society.

Wrong or not people think that society will be worse off.  They think they'll be worse off. They think they'll be hurt, offended, annoyed. I don't think they're particularly concerned with the pot smoker.

Quote from: Noelle
Again: laws are passed to maintain a functioning and healthy society, not just because some people take personal offense to it.

Which is in the eye of the beholder. I think funerals free of heckling are cogent with a functioning and healthy society.

Quote from: Noelle
That's absolutely ridiculous.

Thanks.

Quote from: Noelle
Suicide is illegal, as far as I understand, largely to get help for those who are unsuccessful -- and even then, those people aren't usually punished, they're sent to a mental health facility. Suicide is unhealthy for society, so we discourage it.

But there you are. It's not about the individual doing what he/she wants - as you say, it's about being unhealthy for society.

So you agree that society can dictate whether a person dies of his own accord. It seems like less of an imposition to dictate that they can't protest within some distance of a funeral.

Quote from: Noelle
I believe I already mentioned earlier that there ARE "offense laws", so yes, things like public nudity and public sex and banning nudity/swear words/etc on TV are offense-based. And they're largely not always in the right. I think at least the swearing/nudity on TV/radio/etc ones are ridiculous, but that's a whole different topic.

It's not a different topic since you've invoked legality and constitutionality on several occasions, and yet.

As I said before we aren't lawyers, though, so I think it's irrelevant.

Quote from: Noelle
IDK, my BFF The Social Contract which is also closely related to the more generalized social contracts, the very things by which our society -- and government have formed? Hahaha, ridiculous commercial reference aside, I think Hobbes and Rousseau and the gang would be awfully offended at their long-researched, debated, and well-formulated philosophies were boiled down to little more than people getting offended. It's a little more complex than that.

No one that has read Leviathan would cite Hobbes in defense of free speech. It is the most fervent argument in favor of fascism since Plato and he would say that I'm not being nearly hard enough on the WBC.

And "social contract." It has nothing to do with "sovereign rights," which you have cited before. These concepts are incoherent with one another. Neither Hobbes nor Rousseau thought that there was such a thing as "sovereign rights" - they thought society should arrive at a contract, a purely artificial thing, based on what materially benefits them. Harm and offense are part of that. Rousseau had a far more expansive concept of liberty than Hobbes did but I'm not sure that even he would see the social value in protesting a funeral.

Quote from: Noelle
But the people writing them weren't writing them solely to avenge their own offense, that's selfish and undermines the life that was taken.

When I was growing up I used to think that, but then I realized - why don't people care about people dying in Rwanda or the Congo? It's on TV all the time, they see it when they sit down for dinner, why don't they care? Why don't they do something? They pay for police, an army, they're prepared to fight for their country - if it was their family being shot up what would they do?

It's because they don't value human life. They value the people they love and they protect them. Anyone else is charity. It's selfish.

Quote from: Noelle
I'm saying if the majority didn't want to hear you talk about being gay and banned it, you'd probably be pretty indignant about it.

Actually since I'm closeted I probably wouldn't mind but if they closed my gay clubs I'd be pretty fucking pissed.

But I'm not asking the WBC to stop talking. I'm just questioning the venues.

Quote from: Noelle
They're not protesting on funeral grounds. They are not literally at the funeral. They are OUTSIDE the funeral. They are NOT there on the grave dancing in top hats and pissing on the headstone. They are literally NOT at the funeral at any point in time during their protest.

Yeah, there's a line drawn in the sand at the edge of the property line that magically hides the protesters from the funeral...

They don't have to physically be on the tombstone to disrupt the funeral. And frankly even if the funeral cortege has to see them I'm not sure that's far away enough.

Quote from: Noelle
Kind of like how there are plenty of other places to put a mosque away from Ground Zero?

As someone who works in one of the tallest buildings in Manhattan, I want that mosque there. The people setting up that mosque are the kind of people that Islam needs to represent it in America. And actually there is already a mosque in that building.

But if people show up next to Ground Zero with placards saying that me (a gay guy) or my friends in the military deserve to die, there is a place for them in American political discourse but there can be certain reasonable limitations on where they can do that. The WBC and the people setting up that mosque downtown are not the same.

Quote from: Noelle
What places are we talking exactly? If a public place that can be used by any other group isn't good enough, then you can refer right back to content discrimination.

Does the WBC need to be at a funeral to get its point across? Because I fervently agree that it its valuable for an unpopular viewpoint to have a place to state its beliefs. The WBC, Muslims, and gay guys all deserve a place to speak. But society (the judiciary) can - and does routinely say - that they can do that somewhere else if it causes greater harm to American society than it benefits American democracy. A funeral is not the only place these people can go. Can we not draw a line without erasing them?

Offline Trieste

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #118 on: November 04, 2010, 11:27:02 AM »
Ugh, boo for catty necromancy.