Many of you are familiar with Fred Phelps, and Westboro Baptist Church. For those of you who are not, I provide the following link.
As distasteful, if not detestable, as Fred Phelps and his puny band of followers are, there presence forces us to question our commitment to speech in the USA being free of governmental restriction. The laws referenced in the article, restricting protest near funerals, come close to being 'bills of attainder'. That is, laws that are directed at only on individual or entity. Such laws have long been held to be unconstitutional in the USA.
But more to the point, it's easy to defend the concept of 'Freedom of Speech' (that is, the government
has no right to restrict the speech of it's citizens) when you agree with the person. But does not Freedom of Speech also extend to Fred Phelps.
To extend the question to someone who's words I sometimes admire and sometimes detest, does not Freedon of Speech extend to Louis Farrakhan? Or Michael Moore? Or Bill O'Reilly? Or Rush Limbaugh? At some point or another, all of those people have been referred to as the scum of earth and worse, on this message board.
I find I am uncomfortable with governmental efforts to restrict Fred Phelps' ability to spread his message of hate. If they can box him up so no one can hear him, how soon til people I support are similarly enclosed?