Westboro Baptist Church & Free Speech

  • Paradigm_Shif...

    Posts: 251

    Dec 11, 2007 4:10 PM GMT
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    We have all heard the news about Westboro Baptist Church and their anti-gay demonstrations. Not only do they spread a message of hate, but they do it to the families of fallen soldiers and I read on their website that they even plan to picket at the funerals of the recent mall shooting.

    They were recently sued for $11 million for inflicting emotional harm. What else should be done about them and how can we deal with them without overstepping free speech and freedom of religion laws??

    Any lawyers out there....?
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    Dec 11, 2007 4:23 PM GMT
    i'd hate to lower my standard to theirs, but we can hold a hate sign against their church.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Dec 11, 2007 4:24 PM GMT
    Well I think what should be done.. is being done.

    2 fronts: The "Legal Front" and thats in process. The courts will decide what is appropriate, where it is and how it should be expressed.

    The "Personal Front", the emotional reaction and toll this takes. Fortunately you have the support of the
    motorcyclists (can't remember their name at this moment) as well as the groundswell of negativism that is a result of what they do. I don't know that to "react negative back" to people that have already been seen for what they are is really appropriate.
    It may add to a "fire" that shouldn't be fed. I'm amazed we haven't had some sort of real violence against this church. I think that is part of what these people are really looking for is the attention
    "to their cause". They shouldn't be given any.icon_mad.gif
  • Paradigm_Shif...

    Posts: 251

    Dec 11, 2007 4:59 PM GMT
    Yeah I just watched an hour long documentary titled "The Most Hated Family in America" on Discovery Times which inspired me to create this post lol.

    I think most people think these folks are nut cases, but I still feel like what they say has an impact. I mean although they may be the only ones with bright neon signs, there are a lot of Christians who, more or less, agree with them.

    Do you think this religious intolerance has an impact on the self-image of the gay community, or on gay individuals?
  • Alan95823

    Posts: 306

    Dec 11, 2007 5:29 PM GMT
    I can see where wanting each other to die makes sense to them. They think this is Hell, and dying gets them to Heaven, so they'd celebrate anyone getting out of here.
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    Dec 11, 2007 5:46 PM GMT
    I still contend that "God Hates Fags" is one of the best things to happen to the gay community. People realize how vile hatred against people is. Anti-gay stations like (foxnews) have come out against Phelps and protected gays. Everytime Phelps protests, local gay rights groups organize and counter protest raising thousands of dollars for causes like LGBT homeless youth, suicide and HIV prevention, education, and building community.
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    Dec 11, 2007 5:57 PM GMT
    Keep in mind that they don't just want us to repent, but they picket the funerals of dead soldiers, they hate catholics, they "thank god for 9/11"...

    Everything is related to their "God" but if you research them as an individual family, they probably have the closest relationships you could ever find. The only difficult thing to find is that they want each other to die..it's odd.

    Sounds like they would fit in with the radical Islam's
  • Paradigm_Shif...

    Posts: 251

    Dec 11, 2007 6:02 PM GMT
    hippie4life: Anti-gay stations like (foxnews) have come out against Phelps and protected gays

    Its true that Fox News does denounce them, yet at the same time its Fox News that is giving these people air time. I don't think any other mainstream news organization has done an interview with one of the members of the church.

    Even though they say "Oh this is so bad, blah, blah, blah" Simply by having them on and covering them enables their message to reach many more people.

    If Fox News really wanted to protect us, they wouldn't give them the time of day. Which is what REAL news organizations do...


  • Barricade

    Posts: 457

    Dec 11, 2007 6:04 PM GMT
    They should all be shipped and dropped off in the middle of Iraq or somewhere. They really should be arrested everytime they show up at funeral, that is despicable!!!
  • jarhead5536

    Posts: 1348

    Dec 11, 2007 6:05 PM GMT
    They are free to spew hatred as much as they would like. Fine. Let them. We are also free to confront them at every opportunity, which makes us look good and them look scary stupid. Also fine...
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    Dec 11, 2007 6:06 PM GMT
    The law is blind to the emotions. It only considers the circumstances and facts.

    Although the Phelps are terrible the law protects them just as much as anyone else. They also just won their appeal in court. Not that I agree with their hatred in any way but the right to protest and free speech is protected. Phelps has just as much right to assemble and protest as anyone else.

    Now if you really wanted to attack them legally you could go of the basis of the definition of a graveyard. Normally its considered a "peaceful" place, so you could attack Phelps as disturbing the peace.
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    Dec 11, 2007 6:10 PM GMT
    I agree, hippie. Though clearly their remarks and posturing are disturbing, they take the central sentiment of homophobia into such a strong, overstated message that those who agree realize that they must throw away all dignity and honor and agree or just back down altogether.

    About thirty years ago there was this book banning controversy that rocked one of my local communities. It reached a huge crescendo of anger and bitterness, but it all ended when the national Ku Klux Klan took the side of the "banners." They realized then that they could only embrace the Klan or end their tirade altogether, and they're overall agenda was nothing close to that of the KKK.

    The Westboro/Phelps group have protested at the funerals of soldiers, people who died in various tragic events and the coal miners in Sago, WV. None of these are families who'd be really big on gay rights, though they would never feel the need to take a public stand on the issue. But now, these people see that in their despair what many gays and their families experience (in the form of hate) and an unlikely ally is created.

    The more this group talks the more sympathy and support they get us. We can only hope this doesn't end in violence, though.
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    Dec 11, 2007 7:17 PM GMT
    Paradigm, while you make a valid point that it seems only fox gives air time to these quacks, they should be given airtime. I mean, I am strongly in favor of free speech, and both sides of the story should be told. Just because we disagree with their point of view, does not mean we should infringe on their rights to get it out there.

    I really don't think they are gaining sympathy, they make no substantial arguments against gays. They just scream "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for 911" so people don't take them seriously. The "Westboro Baptist """Church""" is really mostly Fred Phelp's family and nobody else has joined in their years of publicity.
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    Dec 11, 2007 7:23 PM GMT
    Although the Phelps are terrible the law protects them just as much as anyone else. They also just won their appeal in court. Not that I agree with their hatred in any way but the right to protest and free speech is protected. Phelps has just as much right to assemble and protest as anyone else.


    That is just as much of a shame as the Flying Imams winning there court case with US AIRWAYS. They were invoking “bin Laden” and condemning America for “killing Saddam,” according to police reports.

    Meanwhile an imam seated in first class asked for a seat-belt extension, even though according to both an on-duty flight attendant and another deadheading flight attendant, he looked too thin to need one. Hours later, when the passengers were being evacuated, the seat-belt extension was found on the floor near the imam’s seat, police reports confirm. The U.S. Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader said she did not dispute the report, but said the airline’s internal investigation cannot yet account for the seat-belt extension request or its subsequent use.

    A seat-belt extension can easily be used as a weapon, by wrapping the open-end of the belt around your fist and swinging the heavy metal buckle.

    Still, it seemed like just another annoying development, typical when flying the friendly skies. Days after the incident, the imam would claim that the steward helped him attach the device. Pauline said he is lying. Hours later, when the police was being evacuated, the steward asked Pauline to hand him the seat-belt extension, which the imam did not attach, but placed on the floor. “I know he is lying,” Pauline said, “I had it [seat belt extension] in my hand.”

    A passenger in the third row of first class, Pauline said, told a member of the crew: “I don’t have a good feeling about this guy,” about the imam who wanted the seat-belt extension.

    A married couple one row behind first-class, tried to strike up a conversation with the imam seated near them. He refused to talk or even look at the woman in the eye, according to Pauline. Instead, he stood up and moved to join the other imams in the back of the plane. Why would he leave the luxury end of the aircraft? Pauline wondered. The account of the married couple does not appear in the police report.

    Finally, a gate attendant told the captain she thought the imams were acting suspiciously, according to police reports.

    So the captain apparently made his decision to delay the flight based on many complaints, not one. And he consulted a federal air marshal, a U.S. Airways ground security coordinator and the airline’s security office in Phoenix. All thought the imams were acting suspiciously, Rader told me.

    Other factors were also considered: All six imams had boarded together, with the first-class passengers - even though only one of them had a first-class ticket. Three had one-way tickets. Between the six men, only one had checked a bag.

    And, Pauline said, they spread out just like the 9-11 hijackers. Two sat in first, two in the middle, and two back in the economy section. Pauline’s account is confirmed by the police report. The airline spokeswoman added that some seemed to be sitting in seats not assigned to them.

    One thing that no one seemed to consider at the time, perhaps due to lack of familiarity with Islamic practice, is that the men prayed both at the gate and on the plane. Observant Muslims pray only once at sundown, not twice.

    “It was almost as if they were intentionally trying to get kicked off the flight,” Pauline said.

  • Kman70

    Posts: 33

    Dec 11, 2007 7:28 PM GMT
    It is unfortunate that people point to the bible, interpert things literally and then preach hate on the messages of the Bible. They then teach their kids, at a young age, the same hate that they have been brought up with.

    An interesting clip from the West Wing:





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    Dec 11, 2007 7:35 PM GMT
    Tyler you seem to be overlooking the principle concept here.

    The right to freedom of speech is protected. Now it is of course restricted in clear cut zones ( Yelling fire in a crowded room, etc...) Don't look at the Phelps case for what it is, look at the base concept.

    The rights of a group to speak were challenged because their speech was one of hate. The law still protects them. I for one am glad the court of appeals decided in favor of Phelps. Losing the right to speak freely within reasonable limits is worse than any amount of hate speech.
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    Dec 11, 2007 8:33 PM GMT
    The Phelps family has all the classic earmarks of a cult. Brainwashed people revering a loopy leader, with an ideology that's completely inscrutable to anyone who isn't a member...

    Perhaps the nicest thing anyone can do for them is offer them a vat of refreshing Kool-Aid.
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    Dec 11, 2007 11:02 PM GMT
    Trance, I totally agree with you. As much as I despise what they do and stand for, I will support till the end their right to do so. They have picketed a soldier's funeral locally, and hopefully any even slightly intelligent person will see through their venom and realize they are whack jobs, or so I hope.
  • Barricade

    Posts: 457

    Dec 11, 2007 11:57 PM GMT
    lol, judging by the comments made I guess it is perfectly exceptable what these "people" do? Yes, there is freedom of speech but there should/needs to be a hate clause in there somewhere. Freedom of speech and this "hate-filled" garbage are 2 completely different things and being complacent about it is probably why they are still doing it. incredible. lol.
  • Alan95823

    Posts: 306

    Dec 12, 2007 12:06 AM GMT
    I wouldn't call it "acceptable", but we can't allow freedom of speech for the majority and censor the minority, that sets an ugly precedent that you can't easily get away from.

    Phelps and his family are nutburgers, and the more everyone sees that, the less likely they are to be tolerated. Phelps will die, and then we'll see if the family falls apart or not.
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    Dec 12, 2007 2:36 AM GMT
    You know, I'm not for censorship necessarily but there are cases when some speech oversteps the bounds of human decency and respect, such as the Phelps Co. The irony of their "God" hating "Fags" is of course lost on them OR gives them further fuel to believe. Either way, disgusting.

    I'll save my personal antidotes for another site/day (I was a small child in Topeka, KS, and can recall leaving summer camp and seeing the family/church outside the park (know for gay cruising)spewing their hatred...such a wonderful sight/sound for a 6yr old)and just say...there's no reasoning with these people. They're rabid in a way that neo-Nazis and neo-fascists are --- in no way is anything they say or do worthy of empathy. Of course, they're tolerated because they say what many people (unfortunately) secretly think (and will quite readily profess to you if you ask in the right way and/or are alone).

    Anyway, the Church of Pigs & Vomit aka Westboro Baptist Church can go fuck itself.

    (Sorry if my rhetoric is "hateful" on this issue but I find this group truly reprehensible.)
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    Dec 12, 2007 2:36 AM GMT
    Well I am ashamed to have him from the same state that I live. The problem I have with this group is the fact that they go out to funerals of fallen soldiers and protest. This is sick, wrong and has nothing to do with our community, yet that is the way that they have gotten the most coverage from the media.

    There has been some violence that has taken place at the church, a couple of weeks ago someone attempted to bomb the church. I don't think they know who is responsible but that is not the way to stop them.
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    Dec 12, 2007 3:07 AM GMT
    I'd have to spend some time thinking about it but at the moment I'd say I'm against the addition of any kind of hate speech restrictions. The constitution is after all primarily a tool of protection from the government, not from hateful individuals and groups.

    Speech is still very much protected. Adding a restriction based on hate opens the doors for abuse in other areas. A state could order an anti-war protest broken up over "hate speech" for example.

    Hate speech forces the use of the law to protect groups and assume a stance to support a side. The supreme law of the land should never be used to protect one group or another because that borders endorsement of some groups morals. The government SHOULD NEVER step in and prosecute Phelps just for speech because that would be establishing a stance against a brand of religion.
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    Dec 12, 2007 3:15 AM GMT
    This is not an issue of free speech.

    If this case were to be handled as a "free speech" issue by the defendants, it would crumble - the constitution does not protect against hate speech.

    This is an issue of freedom of religion and the practice thereof.

    I have mentioned this before, but their actions are protected by the Constitution under freedom of religion.

    There are numerous Supreme Court cases where the Constitution was upheld in such a manner - such as granting a church in New Mexico the right to use hallucinogenics to enhance their perception of god and allow a young boy to wear hateful t-shirts to school. ALL claiming freedom of religion.

    Speech is not the problem. Religion is.
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    Dec 12, 2007 3:23 AM GMT
    Unless the author or the news article I read mistyped, this case was taken by the appeals court on grounds of protection of speech.

    Thursday, a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit granted Phelps-Roper the injunction, pending a full hearing on the merits of her claim. Typically, an injunction is granted if the petitioner can prove she is likely to prevail on her lawsuit. In this case, the panel found that Missouri’s law was likely unconstitutional because “any interest the state has in protecting funeral mourners from unwanted speech is outweighed by the First Amendment right to free speech.”

    http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/politics/blog/2007/12/court_allows_group_to_picket_s.html

    The exact workings of the court system is not my strong suit, so If I'm wrong please inform.