Author Topic: Should Westboro Baptist Church be Guaranteed First Amendment Protection?  (Read 18467 times)

Offline milomorris

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Is it legal to advocate and incite both of these acts?  The question is where do you draw the line?

This question has been raised in the past regarding gangsta rap that contains lyrics about killing cops, raping women, killing gays, etc. So far, that is still protected speech.
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Offline Clyde-B

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This question has been raised in the past regarding gangsta rap that contains lyrics about killing cops, raping women, killing gays, etc. So far, that is still protected speech.

I believe their argument was to the effect that they were describing the world in their art and not advocating anything.

Westboro Baptists are definitely advocates.

Offline Mikaela

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I voted "yes" because I think it's better they be allowed to state their opinions freely, thus showing the world what they are, than that they be couted martyrs for the cause in being shut down.

Nevertheless, I don't think the Freedom of Speech should trump all other laws and regulations at any time. So for instance, if they're disturbing the peace (say, at cemetaries) they should be removed. And if they abuse their children (I think what they force their poor kids to do and say constitute abuse) the kids should be removed. Etc.

Marge_Innavera

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Washington: The Supreme Court is getting involved in the legal fight over the anti-gay protesters who show up at military funerals with inflammatory messages like "Thank God for dead soldiers."

The court agreed Monday to consider whether the protesters' message, no matter how provocative and upsetting, is protected by the First Amendment.

Members of a Kansas-based church have picketed military funerals to spread their belief that U.S. deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.

I voted that they have the First Amendment right, although of course people who want to counter-picket or block the protestors from the view of the families have their own First Amendment rights.

But it needs to be pointed out that all this flamboyant public posturing about outrage over Westboro is totally dependent on their disrespect for the military.  Phelps and his bloviating band of bigots were picketing the funerals of AIDS victims at least 16 years ago and there was not a peep of outrage.  

Not from churches.

Not from any City councils that I've ever heard of.

Not from legislators.

We need to keep that in perspective.  It isn't the hatefulness that outrages lawmakers and pundits for the most part; and as far as churches go, Phelps is quite useful to many of them.  He functions like the proverbial bridesmaid in the hideous dress.

Offline milomorris

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I believe their argument was to the effect that they were describing the world in their art and not advocating anything.

Westboro Baptists are definitely advocates.

If that excuse works for rappers, the WBs can always claim that they are describing their religious beliefs rather than advocating anything.

Moreover, "advocating" and "inciting" are not cut & dry. There's lots of room for interpretation.
  The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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I wonder how come nobody thought to sue him before?  ???
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Offline Lynne

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...
But it needs to be pointed out that all this flamboyant public posturing about outrage over Westboro is totally dependent on their disrespect for the military.  Phelps and his bloviating band of bigots were picketing the funerals of AIDS victims at least 16 years ago and there was not a peep of outrage.  

Not from churches.

Not from any City councils that I've ever heard of.

Not from legislators.

We need to keep that in perspective.  It isn't the hatefulness that outrages lawmakers and pundits for the most part; and as far as churches go, Phelps is quite useful to many of them.  He functions like the proverbial bridesmaid in the hideous dress.

Excellent point, Marcia.
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Offline louisev

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It's not legal to sit around and plan someone's murder, that is not free speech.

It's not legal to sit around and plan the illegal destruction of property, that is not free speech.

Is it legal to advocate and incite both of these acts?  The question is where do you draw the line?

If I were the Westboro Baptists, I would be careful about claiming that "God loves IED's."   Someone might just decide to send them one.

that's where they skirt the lines, and it is no accident that every spawn of Satan Westboro Baptist offspring (almost all of them are a single family) hold a law degree and are licensed to practice law in Kansas, and possibly elsewhere.  their "God Hates Fags" is protected speech and so is "You're Going to Hell" and "USA Deserves It" - but inciting to riot by making direct suggestions, using personal information, harassment of individuals and invasion of privacy are where their noses are right up against the window of breaking the law.
“Mr. Coyote always gets me good, boy,”  Ellery said, winking.  “Almost forgot what life was like before I got me my own personal coyote.”


Offline Clyde-B

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that's where they skirt the lines, and it is no accident that every spawn of Satan Westboro Baptist offspring (almost all of them are a single family) hold a law degree and are licensed to practice law in Kansas, and possibly elsewhere.  their "God Hates Fags" is protected speech and so is "You're Going to Hell" and "USA Deserves It" - but inciting to riot by making direct suggestions, using personal information, harassment of individuals and invasion of privacy are where their noses are right up against the window of breaking the law.

I have wondered about the wisdom of allowing people to preach hate against any individuals of a society.  It's one thing to debate practices and what behaviors will be allowed and what will not, but preaching hate against individuals comes very close to inciting lynchings.  I'm not sure that's a good idea regardless of who the individuals are.

Marge_Innavera

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This is slightly OT, but Fall From Grace, Ryan Jones' excellent documentary about the Phelpses, is available on Netflix.

I attended the premiere of this movie, which was originally a grad student project, in Kansas City.  Interestingly, I had a strong impression that Mr. Jones is gay and if that's correct, the Phelpses evidently never picked up on it.  He said they were quite friendly to him, even offering to picket the premiere in order to give him more publicity.  ) ???


Netflix link: http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/Fall_from_Grace/70080238?strackid=7fddc2b0c561760f_0_srl&strkid=285479172_0_0&trkid=438381

At Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Fall-Grace/dp/B00197POYK