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I Am Pleased With Supreme Court Ruling Regarding Westboro Baptist Church

March 2, 2011

I am pleased with today’s Supreme Court decision.

I have blogged several times about this matter of the First Amendment and the vile nature of those from the Westboro Baptist Church who protest funerals, and almost everything else.  It is hard to be on the same side as the Westboro Church, but the First Amendment dictates I stand here.

This crazy band of people think they are doing the Lord’s work by trashing gay people and anything that smacks of gay rights.  That they are truly unhinged is not the issue.  

The issue is the First Amendment, and the need to protect it.

I know, as I have personally confronted these nuts from Westboro.   While they crave publicity, I desire to see the First Amendment left alone.  Therefore, I applaud the Court for its ruling today.

As awful and deplorable as the Westboro Baptist Church and their nasty members are, the more important idea to focus on is the reason that free speech matters.  Having faced these people in Madison while voicing my disgust at them I know the two-way street that is protected by the First Amendment.  As disturbing as Fred Phelps and his tribe prove to be almost daily, we have nothing to fear from this type.  It would be far more chilling and disturbing to place restrictions on free speech.

As a result of today’s ruling we all can be proud of the strength of our democracy……even Fred Phelps who sees gay people everywhere has to be pleased with how the process works.

While I feel deeply for those who are taunted and smeared at funerals by the boorish behavior of this group, it is necessary that we not allow these anti-gay zealots to inflict a change to the free speech laws of this nation. We are strong minded enough to turn away from the Westboro Baptist Church, and ignore their presence.  As a result the protesters fail to get the attention they crave, and the First Amendment remains strong.

The issue from the start has been the First amendment, and how it protects even the most outrageous of speech.

CNN reports on the decison.

A Kansas church known for its angry, anti-gay protests at funerals of U.S. troops won an appeal Wednesday at the Supreme Court in a case testing the competing constitutional rights of free speech and privacy.

In an 8-1 ruling, the justices said that members of Westboro Baptist Church had a right to promote what they call a broad-based message on public matters such as wars. The father of a fallen Marine had sued the small church, saying those protests amounted to targeted harassment and an intentional infliction of emotional distress.

“Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and — as it did here — inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.

At issue was a delicate test between the privacy rights of grieving families and the free speech rights of demonstrators, however disturbing and provocative their message. Several states have attempted to impose specific limits on when and where the church members can protest.

6 Comments
  1. Linda permalink
    March 4, 2011 1:02 AM

    I think the Supreme Court got it right on this, and think Deke is right on this.

  2. Trystn M Branwynn permalink
    March 3, 2011 5:06 PM

    Freedom of Speech is what it is. One either supports the entire Constitution of the United States or none of it. On the other hand, Citizens of the United States have a right NOT to live as “live in hostages” – to crime, hate actions, or otherwise. While Phelps and his sick and vile crew have a “right” to what they have to say, I assert that their targets have an equal right to defend themselves and that Phelps and Co. are fully responsible for accepting and dealing with the consequences of their behavior. When fans of Ronnie Dio stood up to him, Phelps tucked his tail and turned and ran. What is imperative is that more people stand up to him and drive him away. Americans have a RIGHT not to be held hostage – by the government or anyone else – to a vocal, self-interested minority, regardless of that minority’s so-called “cause.”

  3. Ferrell Gummitt permalink
    March 3, 2011 1:08 PM

    The First Amendment is in place to protect the rights of Americans, but free speech can be abused. Slander is real. Bullying is real. Inflicting pain on others through words is real. But the Supreme Court does not seem to get that at all.

  4. March 3, 2011 2:47 AM

    Tired of the two tiered approach to the first amendment right to free speech that seems to burdon the people with obnoxious caterwaili­ng, while political figures have security forces to instantly sweep down and taser dissent from their forums. What about a public right to strongarm Westboro with our own force, be it physical, chemical or electrical­? Being at the mercy of the effects of “free speech” is yet another class distinctio­n of current American life.

  5. March 2, 2011 9:48 PM

    These people are despicable, as is the bile they spew at these “protests”. While the rules of decency and respect for others should restrain people from acting this way, there are some that lack even that small bit of human compassion and will act out in inappropriate ways and places. However, free speech does mean free speech, even when what is said is something that we don’t like and recognize as being in poor taste or worse. We have already surrendered far too much of our freedom to the PC crowd and the government. We don’t need to give them any more. At least we can take comfort in the fact that eventually even these idiots will lose their zeal for this and ultimately the Judge of us all will not look kindly on them.

  6. March 2, 2011 6:26 PM

    Is the WBC engaging in free speech, or harassment? I think a big part of the argument hinges on that.

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