Fred Phelps And The First Amendment About To Hit Supreme Court

A most interesting case will land in front of the United States Supreme Court on October 6th.  The case is Snyder v. Phelps, and it asks a question that strikes to the heart of our Constitution.  Though a horrible case to consider, it is one that the Justices must hear and decide upon.  In the end, I trust the First Amendment wins.

In short the justices will consider whether, and to what degree, protesters who yelled inflammatory and vile words during the memorial service of a fallen Marine back in 2006 are protected by the First Amendment.

At the memorial service fundamentalist ‘pastor’ Fred Phelps and his truly irksome followers yelled at Albert Snyder, the father of a 20-year-old son who was killed in war, and was about to be buried. Phelps and his kin go around the nation and protest military funerals over what they perceive to be the military’s tolerance of gays and lesbians.  I think we can correctly assume Phelps is not totally clued into military policy. 

It is important in this case to mention that the dead soldier, Matthew Snyder, was not gay.   Nonetheless, Phelps protested the funeral, marching and shouting with signs saying things such as “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.”

Lets face it, Phelps is not really a servant of God.

Now there is no one that has been a reader of CP that thinks in any way I would ever condone or agree with anything Fred Phelps thinks or does.  I have walked past him at a protest in Madison.  I have taunted his family at the same rally.  I even talked with him one time on a Madison radio show, asking him to sit down and have coffee with me (my treat)  and discuss his views.  He declined on-air. 

Even though I know Fred Phelps to be vile,  I think he needs to prevail at the Supreme Court. 

The father of the dead Marine sued Phelps and family members for the distress he suffered from their actions.  In addition to the actual protest the family clan also made an internet video that others can view. All this is causing the father distress, and I can understand that. 

In the first lawsuit the father won a $5 million verdict in 2007. A federal appeals court overturned the judgment last year, saying the Phelps protest was protected by the First Amendment.  I supported the ruling of the federal appeals court.

The case now pending before the Supreme Court involves Maryland law, where the funeral was held.  The justices in Snyder v. Phelps must deal with  an individual’s claim for damages from offensive messages.  While there have been limits placed on how protests at funerals can take place, that is not the issue before the Supreme Court.   

The bottom line for me is that in spite of the odious nature of Fred Phelps, and all his mis-matched kin, the First Amendment should not be eroded.   Allowing Phelps to undermine a hallmark of our nation gives him far more star-power than he ever deserves.  As disturbing as Fred Phelps and his tribe prove to be, we have nothing to fear from his type.  It would be far more chilling and disturbing to place restrictions on free speech.

All eyes will be on the Supreme Court.

AUDIO: Charlie Louvin At Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree

By now most are aware that the surgery for pancreatic cancer that Charlie Louvin underwent in late July did not go as planned.  Louvin will seek out alternative therapy this month.  But that is not stalling his plans to live every day.  As such he was on the Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree in Nashville for a live session. (The Midnite Jamboree is the second longest running radio show.  The famed Grand Ole Opry is Number One.)  With some live songs, and lots of chatting one was able to feel the grit and determination that Louvin is employing to wage his battle with cancer.

Here is the link for the audio broadcast of this show.  Scroll down to the “Listen To The Midnite Jamboree” and look for the show numbered 3316 dated 8/28/10.  You will need to have Real Player to hear this show.  The real player icon at the bottom of the Midnite Jamboree page will allow  you to download this program.  The program is free, and safe for your computer.

Charlie spent the entire show sitting in a chair at the center of the stage.  Among those singing with Charlie were Grand Ole Opry members Jean Shepard, Bill Anderson, Jan Howard and Carol Lee Cooper.  I think all will love Bill Anderson singing “I Think I’ll Go Somewhere And Cry Myself To Sleep.”  Former WSM announcer, and pure class Keith Bilbrey showed up, and was short but memorable in his words.

Normally the Midnight Jamboree lasts a little more than an hour, but this show was special for obvious reasons and lasts for 1:35, and is worth a listen all the way through.  The sound engineer was slightly off at the start, but things get perfect in short order.  I am a bit picky with such things, so perhaps it is just me.

Charlie really wants to keep going and remain active, and that is clear.  But this cancer, and his age, are making this one tough battle.  CP has long been a fan of Charlie Louvin, and my prayers and thoughts are with him every day.

Sarah Palin Throws Canned Goods, Wears Push-Up Bra “So I Can Get What I Want Tonight”

Might I start by saying what she wants we don’t need!

Vanity Fair has the must read story of the day as they profile Sarah Palin. 

The line that made me burst our laughing was this one.

“As soon as she enters her property and the door closes, even the insects in that house cringe.”

I ripped a few segments that give a flavor of the content.  This is a perfect pitched story.  Well phrased, sassy, great research went into the piece, and it is sourced so to be able to portray Sarah Palin as she really is, versus how she wants the world to think she is.

Palin does not always treat those ordinary people well, however—it depends on who is watching. Of the many famous people who have stayed at the Hyatt in Wichita (Cher, Reba McEntire, Neil Young), Sarah Palin ranks as the all-time worst tipper: $5 for seven bags. But the bellhops had it good in Kansas, compared with the bellman at another midwestern hotel who waited up until past midnight for Palin and her entourage to check in—and then got no tip at all for 10 bags. He was stiffed again at checkout time. The same went for the maids who cleaned Palin’s rooms in both places—no tip whatsoever. The only time I heard of Palin giving a generous tip was in St. Joseph, Michigan, after the owner of Kilwin’s chocolate shop, on State Street, sent a CARE package to Palin’s suite, and Palin walked to the store to say thank you. She also wanted to buy more boxes of candy to take home. When the owner would not accept her money, Palin, encircled by the crowd that had jammed the store to get a glimpse of her, pressed a hundred-dollar bill into the woman’s hand, saying, “This is for the staff.” That Ben Franklin was the talk of State Street the whole rest of the day.


But on she flies, carpet-bombing the 24-hour news cycle: now announcing her desire to meet with her “political heroine” Margaret Thatcher (the better to look like Ronald Reagan, presumably, though Palin seemed unaware that Thatcher is suffering from dementia); now yelping in theatrical complaint (“I want my straws! I want ’em bent!”), to shrug off revelations that her speaking contract demands deluxe hotel rooms, first-class air travel, and bottles of water with bendable straws; now responding (in a statement read on the Today show) to reports of her daughter Bristol’s re-engagement to Levi Johnston; and all the while issuing scores of political endorsements and preparing a fall media blitz. A TV show, Sarah Palin’s Alaska, for which Palin is being paid $2 million, will have its premiere on the TLC network in November.


The intensity of Palin’s temper was first described to me in such extreme terms that I couldn’t help but wonder if it might be exaggerated, until I heard corroborating tales of outbursts dating back to her days as mayor of Wasilla and before. One friend of the Palins’ remembers an argument between Sarah and Todd: “They took all the canned goods out of the pantry, then proceeded to throw them at each other. By the time they got done, the stainless-steel fridge looked like it had got shot up with a shotgun. Todd said, ‘I don’t know why I even waste my time trying to get nice things for you if you’re just going to ruin them.’ ” This friend adds, “As soon as she enters her property and the door closes, even the insects in that house cringe. She has a horrible temper, but she has gotten away with it because she is a pretty woman.” (The friend elaborated on this last point: “Once, while Sarah was preparing for a city-council meeting, she said, ‘I’m gonna put on one of my push-up bras so I can get what I want tonight.’ That’s how she rolls.”) When Palin was mayor, she made life for one low-level municipal employee so miserable that the woman quit her job, sought psychiatric counseling, and then left the state altogether to escape Palin’s sphere of influence—this according to one person with firsthand knowledge of the situation. The woman did not want to be found. When I finally tracked her down, her husband, who answered the phone, at first pretended that I had dialed the wrong number and that the word “Wasilla” had no meaning to him. Palin’s former personal assistants all refused to comment on the record for this story, some citing a fear of reprisal. Others who have worked with Palin recall that, when she feels threatened, she does not hesitate to wield some version of a signature threat: “I have the power to ruin you.”