Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Freedom Even for Grief-Leeches

I don't expect to say this often, so I will say it now while I can -- I agree with a ruling of the John Roberts Supreme Court on a divisive legal matter:

The First Amendment protects the right of the Westboro Baptist Church to hold anti-gay protests outside military funerals, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday. The 8-1 ruling backs an appeals court decision to throw out a $5 million victory for Albert Snyder, who sued the fundamentalist church after its members picketed his son's funeral.

Asked why anyone would bring signs reading "God Hates Fags" and "You're Going to Hell" to a funeral for U.S. military personnel, church leader Rev. [name of authoritarian parasite omitted] said last year, "When the whole country is given over to sodomy and sodomite enablers ... the country needs this preaching."

The Supreme Court ruled that the right to free speech protects [parasite] and his church members to express their opinions during military and other high-profile funerals.
The full opinion transcripts, including grumpy Sam Alito's lone dissent in which he tried characterizing the hateful preaching as a private quarrel, are here (PDF sorry).

It's hackneyed but it's true -- the right to free speech can only mean something if it applies to unpopular speech. The last eight continuous years of broadcasts of 2-1/2 Men demonstrates that popular speech is under no threat of censorship, no matter how good an idea it might be. It's not so much that the world is not fair, but that it's not necessarily fair in the ways we prefer.

On a sunnier note, this moderated discussion between Anonymous and a Westboro flack is difficult to watch because the church lady evidently loves her voice as much as she hates gay people, but it gets genuinely entertaining at around 6:45 when Anonymous hacks one of the church sites while the interview rolls on. It is a small but well-deserved smacking:


Atlanta Roofing said...

This also means you have the right to counter protest them, no matter how much the child abusing Fred Phelps complains. You can even protest outside his home in Westboro and he can not stop you,he can't even complain about it.

Dale said...

Atlanta Roofing, I can't stop myself from observing that your parents brought a lot of daring and imagination to naming you. That said, you're right -- so long as the counter-protests are done peaceably and otherwise within the law (i.e., no blocking traffic), it's entirely legal.

I will add this: were I on a jury sitting in judgment of a grieving father/mother/brother/sister (etc) who replied to one or more of these Westboro protesters by breaking their fucking jaw with a tire iron, I would have a hard time voting to convict even if the prosecution presented clear video evidence and a loud, proud confession.

I am not advocating that ... I'm just saying. We are free to say things.