PDA

View Full Version : The Phelps': Constitution Quandary? Or just proof that Freedom of Speech is costly?


Volcana
Apr 18th, 2006, 08:32 PM
Many of you are familiar with Fred Phelps, and Westboro Baptist Church. For those of you who are not, I provide the following link.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12071434/

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?

griffin
Apr 18th, 2006, 08:49 PM
I think Phelps and his ilk are a waste of protoplasm.

That said, he should enjoy the same freedom of speech as anyone else, and his protests shouldn't be targeted simply because people find him repulsive - or find him replusive enough to take legal action now that he's targeting military funerals.

THAT said, there are reasonable limits that can be placed on speech and protest: harassment isn't legal; inciting a riot isn't legal. It is unconstitutional to single Phelps out, but I don't think putting a protest-free buffer zone around funerals should count as reasonable so long as it's evenly applied (meaning, I shouldn't be allowed to protest at, say, Pat Robertson's funeral and harass his loved one's while they're grieving).

You can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater - you shouldn't be able to go up to someone at their child's funeral and yell "God wanted him/her dead and good riddance)

GrandSlam05
Apr 18th, 2006, 08:49 PM
Many of you are familiar with Fred Phelps, and Westboro Baptist Church. For those of you who are not, I provide the following link.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12071434/

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?
I agree Volcana, I am from the Topeka area originally. When Fred Phelps first started several years ago, there was some big buzz and alot of hurt feelings. Nowadays, he's pretty much a joke. I mean, they have a big sign in front of their church that says "God Hates America". Really good way to get support behind your agenda in America :retard: . They'll protest ANYTHING. Heck they even protested the neo-nazis a couple of years ago because "they hate based on race, not because of what they read in the bible" :lol: . If Fred's agenda was really gaining in power, I could possibly see reason for a new law, but people just drive by the protesters here and don't look twice. No one takes him seriously anymore.