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Saturday, Sep. 20, 2014

A Right to Defame

Posted Tuesday, October 19, 2010, at 5:10 AM

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." (Quote generally attributed to French philosopher Voltaire)

This month the United States Supreme Court hears arguments brought in a case involving protests carried out by a Kansas church at the funeral of an American soldier killed in action.

As reported, the facts in the case appear to include:

1.In a legal brief filed with the Supreme Court, church members, Defendants in the matter before the courts, claim it is their right to protest at certain events, including funerals, to promote their religious message.
2.The actions of the protesting group were engaged in on public thoroughfare.
3.Appellate Courts have upheld the Defendants. The Plaintiff, the deceased's father, is appealing the case.
4.The justices will be asked to look at how far states and private entities such as cemeteries and churches can go to justify picket-free zones and the use of "floating buffers" to silence or restrict speech or movements of demonstrators exercising their Constitutional rights in a funeral setting.

The Supreme Court is not expected to rule on the matter for several months.

As one is free in writing a blog to write anything not knowingly libel and/or to express any opinion unaccompanied by slander, allow me to express what will probably be just one of many opinions coming.

Writing from what one trusts is a Christian perspective the following might be worth considering:

1.The Defendants may have a valid argument as regards God's wrath on nations which tolerate, even defend, what the Bible labels sin. In this the written record is relatively clear.
2.The right to religious freedom and to peacefully protest is sacrosanct in America, and it is unlikely the current Supreme Court will deny this.
3.The protestors, it would appear from this vast distance, may have failed the test contained in the proverbial question: "What would Jesus Do?"

A significant influence on my theology, Bob Mumford, once said, "I believe I would let God defend Himself." Generally this has been my approach, too. But, I do have some questions:

When, exactly, did we who claim the designation Christian find it advantageous to defame that Name by exercising every legal right we may possess? When, exactly, did the tactics of terrorist become part of the Christian repertoire?

The Defendants in this case have very good odds of winning the legal battle, if winning is defined by not having to pay the Plaintiff. Their right is likely to be sustained to be obnoxious in the face of non-Christians acting Christian. But, some potential win has already been lost.

Christianity has for centuries held forth as being a religion of love not hate, of grace not legalism, containing a message of hope beyond hope. Certainly there have been men in many ages and places adulterating the message, but it has more often been a message of triumph devoid of villainy. One would think that, regardless of the rulings of American or any other courts, the truth claims of Christ will stand or fail on their own merit -- those exercising a right to defame notwithstanding.

David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at kayanddavid@frontier.com.


Comments
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While our separation of church and state keeps the government from imposing a specific religion upon its citizens, it also "wanders" from the definition of religious based right and wrong which we already know does not always agree with Biblical right and wrong. I actually was involved in a "debate" of sorts with a local minister about this...While we both agreed that the aborting of a child/fetus is killing, we could not agree upon that being the same as capitol punishment. While "socially" acceptable official government policy, the death penalty according to Christian law, goes against the "Thous shalt not kill" commandment just as strongly for a convicted killer as it does for the fetus in the womb. This minister tried to tell me that HIS Bible said thou shalt not murder without society's approval....I asked him what version of the Bible he read as I had studied several including St James, Gideon, and Catholic Edition and never seen that version...Seems that we have many different versions of Christian faith right here in Clay County.

Same goes with those who bomb abortion clinics...How do they justify that killing??

War never really solves anything and those who do the actual killing are not usually the ones who make the decision to go to war but do it for love of country and people...These people, especially the ones who die for what other people decide, and the loved ones who mourn them do not deserve the taunting...Strange that the people doing the taunting are using the right that those dead servicemen died for in the first place. Very sad. If they are SO Christian, why are they not loving their neighbors instead of taunting them, no matter what the government decides is their right. Just like legal abortion...what can we do to prevent them in each individual case instead of declaring them illegal? We can still live as Christians in this country and not make every issue a political us and them statement. THAT would be what makes our country more Christian. Not being involved in a shouting match on one side or another. There are both liberal and conservative Christians. Neither is totally good and bad...Seems that if both sides ACTED a little more Christian instead of proclaiming their own brand of Christianity we would get back our christian country no matter what the official rules were. Just something to think about.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Tue, Oct 19, 2010, at 8:02 AM

What people fail to realize is that, yes you have the protected right of freedom of speech, however, that right ends when it interferes with the rights of another. Freedom of speech does not give a person the right to say anything they want, case in point, ask your local law enforcement what would happen to you if you were to walk into a crowded movie theater or auditorium and yell 'fire'. Also, contrary to popular belief; hate speech, harassment, slander, libel and defamation are not protected under the First Amendment.

Rather than treating the issue with the Westboro Baptist Church as a First Amendment rights issue perhaps it should be treated as hate speech, harassment, slander, etc. But, ultimately, what is probably the best way to deal with them is to quite simply ignore them. They thrive on publicity and attention, so if the news media would stop taking pictures of the protests, stop airing footage of them and stop interviewing the members, thus giving them airtime to spread their filth then you'd take away their power. After all does the news media give coverage to all the other crazy cults out there and let's be honest that is what we are really dealing with here, not a true church.

Having taken part in an interview a few years back with their main spokesperson, Shirley Phelps-Roper, I can say from personal experience they are quite nuts. And the last thing you should do for nuts like that is give them free airtime and publicity.

-- Posted by Village_Id10t on Thu, Oct 21, 2010, at 10:49 AM

The the Village_Id10t, I second that. The more attention they get, the more actions they give. In our society of 24 hour news and instantaneous transmission, I say stop the madness and don't give them a second thought. Idiots don't generally change their minds because we get mad at them.

-- Posted by theoneinthearmy on Thu, Oct 21, 2010, at 7:14 PM


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