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.