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Author Topic: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.  (Read 7569 times)

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Offline ReijiTabibito

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #25 on: October 04, 2010, 02:34:51 PM »
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.

Wait.  Someone is actually willing to represent these people in civil court?  Criminal court I can understand, since there everyone has the right to a lawyer, but that's not the case in civil court...

Offline kylie

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #26 on: October 04, 2010, 02:38:00 PM »
          Myeh.  Emotional distress suit, pushing them further out to the edges of civilization...  If it can be done to them, it can be done to someone else too.  And we're back to Hairy's "wedge" problem.  That would be another case of legislating privileges for "normality."  But most everyone's ideas are improper to someone. 

Quote from: OldSchool
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.
          The WBC is claiming this is about their idea of God's take on gay identity.  So there is a flip side to this here.  People in a same-sex relationship who want to be recognized publicly as equal, who want to go about their lives without being harassed at media-worthy public events if they are out of the closet, are not fully and regularly protected under the law as "normal" or "everyday" across much of this country.  They don't get to just go about their business -- neither under the laws of business, nor in the face of protests. 

          Who actually gets the most thickly defended privacy?  People with very big bucks and/or government support (often, one and the same).  I'm thinking of those ultra-fortified Republican conventions.  I do happen to find their ideology pretty "bizarre and obnoxious."  I wouldn't characterize their convention leaders and their financial backers as "everyday" people in terms of racial mix or income.  They insist they are because hey, they are "business" and "family" people.  And very much like the WBC, the neo-conservative leaders keep arguing that family/business success is the sign of what should be considered normal and untouchable: 'If you were doing it right, obviously you would be prosperous like us and God (or Deity Whomever) would not frustrate you and deny you assets and companions.' 

          I'd be concerned about how you would propose to determine just who gets the "normal" identity cards.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #27 on: October 04, 2010, 02:40:43 PM »
Wait.  Someone is actually willing to represent these people in civil court?  Criminal court I can understand, since there everyone has the right to a lawyer, but that's not the case in civil court...

No. A bunch of them are lawyers.

Offline ReijiTabibito

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #28 on: October 04, 2010, 02:42:44 PM »
No. A bunch of them are lawyers.

This particular WBC clan are lawyers?  Damn.  Sometimes I forget our educational system has its downsides...

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #29 on: October 04, 2010, 02:44:28 PM »
Several of them are, yes.

Offline Jude

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #30 on: October 04, 2010, 03:01:37 PM »
Phelps in particular has a lot of experience with this sort of thing since he was part of the Civil Rights Movement.  He's using pretty similar tactics, just for an unpalatable reason, which is exactly why their actions need to be protected now, or we run the risk of other causes that are legitimate suffering the same fate as this.

The damage being done to any bystanders or even the family of those suffering is minimal at best, I don't see how someone saying something stupid could possible result in deep-seated emotional distress that does long-term damage, especially when the majority of our society disagrees with them and openly shows extra support in exchange for their nonsense.

I reject the notion that people are so fragile that simply seeing this kind of idiocy for one day in their life causes permanent, lasting trauma.  It makes a terrible day worse for the families of our fallen soldiers, which isn't right, but unfortunately weakening protections on speech would be far worse.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2010, 03:06:25 PM by Jude »

Offline ReijiTabibito

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #31 on: October 04, 2010, 03:04:29 PM »
Phelps in particular has a lot of experience with this sort of thing since he was part of the Civil Rights Movement.  He's using pretty similar tactics, just for an unpalatable reason, which is exactly why their actions need to be protected now, or we run the risk of other causes that are legitimate suffering the same fate as this.

When you say 'part of the Civil Rights Movement,' do you mean on the side of Martin Luther King and his people, or on the other side?

Because if he was a proponent of King's Civil Rights Movement, then it's quite jarring for me to learn that he's fallen so far in the last forty-odd years.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #32 on: October 04, 2010, 03:08:30 PM »
Below is the section of his Wiki page that deals with his legal career and education.  The general feel I've gotten in other pages is that he went into Civil rights to make cash, just like he and his family do with the lawyer fees over the suits.

Quote
Education

In 1947, Phelps enrolled as a student at Bob Jones University, which he left after three semesters.[citation needed] He then spent two semesters at the Prairie Bible Institute.[citation needed] In 1951, he earned a two-year degree from John Muir College. While at John Muir, Phelps was profiled in Time magazine for preaching against "sins committed on campus by students and teachers ... promiscuous petting ... evil language ... profanity ... cheating ... teachers' filthy jokes in classrooms ... [and] pandering to the lusts of the flesh."[10]
[edit] Civil rights attorney

Phelps earned a law degree from Washburn University in 1962, and founded the Phelps Chartered law firm in 1964.[citation needed] The first notable cases were related to civil rights. "I systematically brought down the Jim Crow laws of this town," he says.[8] Phelps' daughter was quoted as saying, "We took on the Jim Crow establishment, and Kansas did not take that sitting down. They used to shoot our car windows out, screaming we were nigger lovers," and that the Phelps law firm made up one-third of the state's federal docket of civil rights cases.[11]

Phelps took cases on behalf of African American clients alleging racial discrimination by school systems, and a predominantly black American Legion post which had been raided by police, alleging racially based police abuse.[citation needed] Phelps' law firm obtained settlements for some clients.[12] Phelps also sued then-President Ronald Reagan over Reagan's appointment of a U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, alleging this violated separation of church and state. The case was dismissed by the U.S. district court.[12][13] Phelps' law firm, staffed by himself and family members also represented non-white Kansans in discrimination actions against Kansas City Power and Light, Southwestern Bell, and the Topeka City Attorney, and represented two female professors alleging discrimination in Kansas universities.[11]

In the 1980s, Phelps received awards from the Greater Kansas City Chapter of Blacks in Government and the Bonner Springs branch of the NAACP, for his work on behalf of black clients.[14]
[edit] Disbarment

A formal complaint was filed against Phelps on November 8, 1977, by the Kansas State Board of Law Examiners for his conduct during a lawsuit against a court reporter named Carolene Brady. Brady had failed to have a court transcript ready for Phelps on the day he asked for it; though it did not affect the outcome of the case for which Phelps had requested the transcript, Phelps still requested $22,000 in damages from her.[citation needed] In the ensuing trial, Phelps called Brady to the stand, declared her a hostile witness, and then cross-examined her for nearly a week, during which he accused her of being a "slut", tried to introduce testimony from former boyfriends whom Phelps wanted to subpoena, and accused her of a variety of perverse sexual acts, ultimately reducing her to tears on the stand.[15] Phelps lost the case; according to the Kansas Supreme Court:

    The trial became an exhibition of a personal vendetta by Phelps against Carolene Brady. His examination was replete with repetition, badgering, innuendo, belligerence, irrelevant and immaterial matter, evidencing only a desire to hurt and destroy the defendant. The jury verdict didn't stop the onslaught of Phelps. He was not satisfied with the hurt, pain, and damage he had visited on Carolene Brady.[15]

In an appeal, Phelps prepared affidavits swearing to the court that he had eight witnesses whose testimony would convince the court to rule in his favor. Brady, in turn, obtained sworn, signed affidavits from the eight people in question, all of whom said that Phelps had never contacted them and that they had no reason to testify against Brady. Phelps had committed perjury.[15]

On July 20, 1979, Phelps was permanently disbarred from practicing law in the state of Kansas,[15] though he continued to practice in Federal courts.

In 1985, nine Federal judges filed a disciplinary complaint against Phelps and five of his children, alleging false accusations against the judges. In 1989, the complaint was settled; Phelps agreed to stop practicing law in Federal court permanently, and two of his children were suspended for periods of six months and one year.[16]


Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #33 on: October 04, 2010, 07:39:24 PM »
I'm just opposed on principle to decent society having to undergo these contortions because this one man and his family following him around like Grateful Dead fans decide to pointlessly disrupt the lives of innocence people.

Offline Will

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #34 on: October 04, 2010, 09:15:02 PM »
Unfortunately, you can't make it illegal for people to be tasteless/classless.  It's far too subjective, and it's shooting yourself in the foot in the long run.

Offline kylie

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #35 on: October 04, 2010, 10:31:44 PM »
Pulling some stuff on Phelps from the Southern Poverty Law Center. 
http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/profiles/fred-phelps

Callie has mentioned some of Phelps' less successful legal maneuvers.  Another summary:
Quote
Since 1951, Phelps has been arrested repeatedly for assault, battery, threats, trespassing, disorderly conduct, and contempt of court. He has been convicted four times, as well as disbarred, but has successfully avoided prison.
Perhaps he/his defense team can yet trip and fall in deeper waters...

I also thought this was pertinent.  Phelps is apparently himself a major inspiration in some of the laws that do exist protecting military funerals, etc.
 (among other laws he probably would not approve of)
Quote
...his attempts to picket in Canada resulted in that country's first hate-crime law, informally known as the "Fred Phelps Law." Other legislation sparked by Phelps' protests includes the federal "Fallen Heroes Act." Passed in May 2006 after Phelps made headlines targeting the funerals of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, it prohibits protests within 300 feet of any national cemetery from 60 minutes before to 60 minutes after a funeral. Twenty states have since passed laws similar to the Fallen Heroes Act, while many cities, including Phelps' hometown Topeka, have enacted local ordinances tailored to thwart Phelps. The American Civil Liberties Union filed suits in Missouri and Ohio on behalf of Phelps' church, without success.



Offline kylie

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #36 on: October 04, 2010, 10:50:22 PM »
Quote from: Jude
It makes a terrible day worse for the families of our fallen soldiers, which isn't right, but unfortunately weakening protections on speech would be far worse.
          Well I can agree with you about all of that, and yet I feel that something very pertinent is missing:  SPLC begins their report: “Fred Phelps is America's most notorious anti-gay activist.”  Not anti-military per se, but most consistently anti-gay!
Quote
He and his flock — primarily composed of most of his 13 children, their children and other relatives — have picketed events ranging from theater performances to the funerals of fallen U.S. soldiers to children murdered or killed in traffic accidents. These protests share a simple theme: Attacking America's perceived tolerance of homosexuality and celebrating God's perceived wrath as just rewards for "fags" and "fag-enablers."
This is not going to be a case only about military funerals.  I wager as the Phelps gang goes on talking about it (not least in the media outside the courtroom), it will continue to be about the public representation of same-sex relationships.   

          Again, Phelps and Church are often saying that they are critical of soldiers because according to them, things to do with the military like casualties are (among other symbols of state power), symptoms of the country's trend toward recognizing LGBT.  Unfortunately, it seems that public opinion allows them the largest leeway on the anti-gay front -- and that is actually the one they mean to push.  It's only for challenging 1) soldiers and 2) the shining image of American policy as generally benevolent that a large public backlash is notable. 
Quote
Phelps and his followers have crisscrossed the country to picket the funerals of AIDs victims and engage in other, similar protests. But it is his group's picketing of the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq — to tell the world, as Phelps argues, that their deaths are God's punishment for America's "fag-enabling" ways — that has inspired almost universal revulsion and contempt.

On that note...  Hey, Politics thread:  I have to wave a little fidgety hand up and say:  Okay, I realize that a couple individuals have produced some easy excuses for mods to shut threads on gay politics recently, including some barely out of the gate.  Yet, here is the issue come knocking again.  Locking stuff up doesn't make it go away.  Phelps is using military funerals (among various other events) as a stage to bash at gay rights.  Nonetheless, here on this site supposedly so adult and devoted to relatively open understandings of sexuality, most of the extended discussion thus far is primarily about how funerals and soldiers must be protected.  I'm almost waiting for someone to cue the gymnasium to play "Proud to Be an American" here, as if that is the only marketable public response? 

          I think speaking as if Phelps' agenda were confined to the chosen thread title is missing Phelps’ own central front.  That means allowing him space to go on with all sorts of annoyances.  You can say, but this is a funeral; I have to complain about this, no matter what I think about gay rights.  Meanwhile, he has another how many weeks before the cameras ranting drivel about Sodom.  So for the sake of relevance, how about this: How many opportunities to stir an anti-gay media platform is a Supreme Court case going to give this guy?  Could it backfire on Phelps and further gay rights, simply because he's produced such negative publicity, even by the standards of some anti-gay figures?
« Last Edit: October 04, 2010, 10:54:36 PM by kylie »

Offline Asuras

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #37 on: October 04, 2010, 11:03:49 PM »
This would be my soundbite if I were the Oliver Wendell Holmes of the day (which fortunately for American jurisprudence I have no intention of being):

"A funeral is as sacred and more than the home, and as as no man has the right to enter my home against my desires despite petitions to exercise 'freedom of speech,' much less does a man have a right to violate my funeral and petition or force the same. It is an invasion."

Offline Will

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #38 on: October 04, 2010, 11:26:50 PM »
It's because Phelps' right to protest against gay rights (or anything, just like any citizen) in public spaces is well-established and accepted.  You're not going to find an uproar about that, period.

But when it crosses into the realm of protesting funerals, whether they're for soldiers or not, it switches up the game for some people.  It crosses a line for them.  It's disrespecting a member of someone's family that has just died.  As in, recently.  As in, they're still grieving, weeping, etc.  Lots of people feel like this is just too much, that it is somehow so bad that it transcends the right to protest.

And if it actually disrupts the funeral, then I agree.  But I think pushing them further away from the funeral is the answer, not shutting them up entirely.  If he wants to protest gay rights, that's totally fine.  If he wants to protest anything at all, that is fine, as he is an American citizen and has the right to do so.  A funeral just isn't the place for it.

Offline OniyaTopic starter

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #39 on: October 05, 2010, 01:31:41 AM »
But when it crosses into the realm of protesting funerals, whether they're for soldiers or not, it switches up the game for some people.  It crosses a line for them.  It's disrespecting a member of someone's family that has just died.  As in, recently.  As in, they're still grieving, weeping, etc.  Lots of people feel like this is just too much, that it is somehow so bad that it transcends the right to protest.

Recalling the thread about the Phelps clan showing up at a sci-fi convention, I'm firmly of the opinion that the average person who wants to combat the hate-spewing is capable of doing just that, with sometimes humorous results.  Turning them into something pathetic takes away from the 'Crusaders for Morality' image that they want to put out there.  Funerals, weddings, baptisms (or the equivalent in whatever faith you have), are private and worthy of respect.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #40 on: October 05, 2010, 02:58:09 AM »
He's doing nothing any worse (or better) than the American Nazis marching through Skoke in the mid 70s.

Does it make the stomach of any moral and sensible person that he does these things? Yes.

Thing is.. if you don't allow those you can't stand the same measure you'd allow someone you like, you're not protecting your own personal freedoms.

That being said, I personally hope that Fred Phelps screws up and does something that they CAN legally hammer him for HARD.

He's the type of person I would gladly pour gas on if he was in a ditch on fire. He makes me ashamed to be an American and furious to see him spit on the faces of the men and women who served so that he can have the right mock and insult them.

Offline kylie

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #41 on: October 05, 2010, 04:15:38 AM »
Quote from: Will
It's because Phelps' right to protest against gay rights (or anything, just like any citizen) in public spaces is well-established and accepted.  You're not going to find an uproar about that, period.

But when it crosses into the realm of protesting funerals, whether they're for soldiers or not, it switches up the game for some people.  It crosses a line for them.  It's disrespecting a member of someone's family that has just died.  As in, recently.  As in, they're still grieving, weeping, etc.  Lots of people feel like this is just too much, that it is somehow so bad that it transcends the right to protest.
         Oh yes, I get that.  I just don't think that talk is the biggest political show.  Certainly not for Phelps, and probably not for some of the "sacred space" funeral defenders either.  Many of the same claims about privacy and critical moment worthy of extra protection can just as reasonably be made whether it's a soldier's funeral, any other funeral, a hetero marriage ceremony, or a gay one.  We only see the discussion now and framed in terms of funeral sanctity for the moment, but perhaps that is as much because Phelps realized not enough people really cared, or wanted to make him infamous by responding to defend other sites.  Whether it's going to help or hurt his anti-gay agenda to actually draw larger-scale response (and the Supreme Court!) over this incident remains to be seen.  For the moment, though: 

       I think this case is unique in the sense that Phelps has effectively gambled that he can shake the country (or at least the political right-wing and sympathizers) into an 'oh-so-masculine' backlash against gay rights by continually declaring national policy to be basically "weak"/unmanly.  Here, we have some apparent fans of the military, one of the more infamously masculine-idyllic (and sometimes plain abusively masculinist) state institutions.  By and large they're insisting well, they could care less whatever about "Fag-nation" Phelps is waving at military families...  (I'm not exactly convinced yet.)   But damn, the reply continues, we're going to react because it's a matter of privacy and okay, a little insulted pride and patriotism.  The reaction is phrased in terms of "insult" and a large sympathy crowd gathers around them in ways they do not circle the wagons for Phelps v. AIDS funerals or Phelps speaking v. gay legislative agendas. 

        That seems to imply to me, the "save military funerals" crowd has not fully avoided feeling demeaned by Phelps' talk about failing to be tough and rightist-style (read: anti-gay) masculine?  I'm not so sure they're blind to the gay rights part, although I suppose DADT might keep some people in the military quiet about whatever they do think...  The silence on here about Phelps' orientation message has been pretty loud so far.  One can say, oh never mind the banners being waved as the reason for this whole mess, all that matters is about "respect" for funerals or the troops.  So apparently the fact that Phelps has shown up representing the military as wimpish doesn't count?  "Support the troops" folks would all be happy to listen to that at any other public venue and not bat an eye?  No effect of gender or orientation talk at all in whether "supporters of the troops" (I can't help adding "come what may" after that -- they are symbols of state power like it or not)/defenders of funerals feel this particular protest is especially intrusive or not?  I wonder.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2010, 04:23:24 AM by kylie »

Offline RubySlippers

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #42 on: October 05, 2010, 06:12:13 AM »
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.

Using that logic you could ban speech by any other minority position that is very unpopular just because they Might or Incite a few others to commit violence to them. I would say people that do attack them are not in the right not the people acting within their free speech rights.

KKK people marched in areas that were mainly black or sensitive to their opponents and the Courts have upheld their right to demonstrate.

The case here is narrow a family sued the group on the groups of causing emotional distress. I would argue that the groups right to free speech trumps their right not to be offended - there is no right to not be offended by someone elses speech.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #43 on: October 05, 2010, 07:28:51 AM »
At a funeral though, people are already going to be upset and highly strung. A wedding will generally be a happy occasion, and most of those at a con would just point and laugh at the Phelps, if not outright mock them.

Those at a funeral don't need anything upsetting them more.

Offline Trieste

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #44 on: October 05, 2010, 07:31:15 AM »
At a funeral though, people are already going to be upset and highly strung. A wedding will generally be a happy occasion, and most of those at a con would did just point and laugh at the Phelps, if not outright mock them.

Fixed.  ComicCon, anyone?  ::)

Offline OniyaTopic starter

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #45 on: October 05, 2010, 09:14:21 AM »
A wedding will generally be a happy occasion, and most of those at a con would just point and laugh at the Phelps, if not outright mock them.

I don't know about you, but if someone had tried to turn my wedding/handfasting (it was a complicated situation) into their own personal soapbox, the people doing the sword-arch would have had something to say about it.  Yes, it's a happy occasion.  For many people, it's a day that they want to remember for the rest of their lives. (Regardless of how it ends - even an eventual divorcee has high hopes at the beginning.)  To have that disrupted by Mr. 'Look-at-me' Nutcase would likely enrage just as many people as when he disrupts a funeral.

(Thanks, Trie - for some reason, the name of the con wasn't sticking in my head.  That was precisely the incident I was referencing.)

Offline Will

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #46 on: October 05, 2010, 10:44:04 AM »
        That seems to imply to me, the "save military funerals" crowd has not fully avoided feeling demeaned by Phelps' talk about failing to be tough and rightist-style (read: anti-gay) masculine?  I'm not so sure they're blind to the gay rights part, although I suppose DADT might keep some people in the military quiet about whatever they do think...  The silence on here about Phelps' orientation message has been pretty loud so far.

The message is not shocking; the venue is.  I fail to see the disconnect in the discussion here.  Should we all preface our threads with a statement of support for gay rights?  Personally, I can't help but feel somewhat accused by your implications.

Looking back over the thread, I've only seen specifically military funerals mentioned a handful of times, and half of those mentions are now by you.  For me, it isn't really a matter of who the funeral is for; it's the fact that they are harassing people who absolutely do not need to be harassed.  I fail to see the "masculine-idyllic" slant in that opinion. :P

Offline Trieste

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #47 on: October 05, 2010, 11:17:35 AM »
On that note...  Hey, Politics thread:  I have to wave a little fidgety hand up and say:  Okay, I realize that a couple individuals have produced some easy excuses for mods to shut threads on gay politics recently, including some barely out of the gate.  Yet, here is the issue come knocking again.  Locking stuff up doesn't make it go away.

As I told you in my PM to you when you asked me about this, it is not the issue itself but the tone and rancor of the posts that caused the thread in question to be locked. In the future, if you have a grievance, the appropriate venue is via PM, with staff - as you did in the first place. However, be prepared for the answer to be 'no'.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #48 on: October 05, 2010, 11:47:43 AM »
Fred isn't just about funerals, he's protested the Laramie Project (which if I recall right portrays the hideous murder of a gay man in Laramie) anywhere he and his nutjobs can drive to. He did the ComicCon this year but I think that it was a wash.

I'm not sure if Ronnie Dio's funeral (I hope survival instinct kicked in) and supposedly would have done the same to Micheal Jackson but I think they didn't have time to set things up.

I'm surprised that they haven't started doing cops and firemen's funerals (again sense might have creapt up.

They don't JUST do funerals, but the military funerals get the most press.

Offline OniyaTopic starter

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Re: SCOTUS to hear case on military funeral protests.
« Reply #49 on: October 05, 2010, 12:41:23 PM »
The SCOTUS case, however, is specifically with regard to protests at military funerals.