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Westboro Baptist Church

Posted Saturday, January 15, 2011, at 7:44 AM

Originally, it was my intent to not write anything about the shootings in Arizona. Frankly, what is there to say that has not already been said hundreds of times already by others. However, I heard on the radio that the Westboro Baptist Church plans to picket the funeral of the 9-year-old girl slain by the Satin worshiping druggy last Saturday.

In the off chance you don't know about the Westboro Baptist Church, they are an alleged religious group that protests the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. As you could imagine, this has generated numerous criminal and civil cases around the country.

As distasteful as it may be, protesting a military funeral is protected political speech only subject to regulation of time, place, and manner the way any other protest or rally is protected and regulated. While the patriot in me is repulsed by this conduct, the lawyer in me can see the free speech civil rights issue. War is a political act and technically this issue is pretty much down the fairway as a First Amendment issue. In a free society, people are free to be stupid, repugnant, and wrong and we are obliged to tolerate them. There is no right to be free from hurt feelings.

In my opinion, this "church" has used their conduct and these courts rulings to create a cash machine. What family member of the deceased, or any other loyal patriotic American, would not want to beat the snot out of these people, even if you didn't agree with the war? The war is not the deceased soldier's fault. It certainly is not the fault of the surviving family. Then after the attack they file suit against the individuals and local government authorities. Winning these cases just encourages more outrageous behavior.

Now they have announced their intent to protest the funeral of the 9-year-old girl who was slain last Saturday. The only thing the girl did wrong was to win a student election and be taken by a family friend to see her congresswoman at a public forum.

What in God's name is there to protest? How is this political speech? To me, it looks more like an incitement to riot, which is NOT protected speech. A "church" member is reported to have said, "Thank God for the shooter; six dead, your federal judge is dead and your fag promoting, baby killing, proud sinner Congresswoman fights for her life."

The Arizona State Legislature either has or is about to pass a law, which would prohibit picketing the funeral. This law will likely be found unconstitutional and will be struck down. However, it will give the Sheriff and local police the cover of law to have these people removed from the funeral until stricken down.

It seems to me that laws cannot cure all problems. Our society revels in its freedoms and generally eschews responsibilities. This makes it difficult to legislate standards of decency. Sometimes, it is up to the decent citizens to impress upon visitors and their neighbors what is decent and what is not socially acceptable.

Therefore, I suggest a better answer may exist. Although it may be legally a bit more complex, perhaps the Arizona Legislature, and the legislatures of other states, should consider something like this:

Specifically make it a criminal act to commit unarmed battery on people who protest funerals. Make it an infraction, or at most, a misdemeanor. The punishment should be a maximum of zero days in jail and a maximum fine of $1. Restitution should be capped at $1. Another law could be passed capping civil damages at $1.

Perhaps this would open up the marketplace of ideas. The ideas of the protesters could then compete on equal ground with the ideas of the mourners. Those with the strongest arguments should win. I suspect, it would put a pretty quick end to the outrageous behavior of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Showing comments in chronological order
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Westboro members claim that the Congresswoman supported the rights of homosexuals and anyone there could be associated with that cause. Yes I know. Crazy. The shooter was a proponent of nihilism media says [chaos in society?].

Seems that respect for fellow man has flown out the window for no matter what one thinks of another's opinion, respect should remain in place. Westboro church has totally missed the boat where the Christian message in concerned.

I believe that same church group protested Elizabeth Edward's funeral because of the adultery committed by family members and her supposed support of gay rights. The solution there was a great one, better than any new law could achieve.

Other groups, such as breast cancer survivors and several others, formed a "line of love" along procession and at church entrance, providing a human barrier between the Westboro members and the mourners.

What better way to show the mourners and the world that these church members are a very small minority and only looking for publicity.

Westboro church members are using their rights given to them by the very same legislators and military personnel they protest because of their work for human rights.

As Martin Luther King Day approaches this Monday, we can to remember that his work helped the cause of human rights for everyone, including Westboro church members and we can use those very same rights to the fullest by forming barriers between them and those they are protesting to show that they truly work.

Prior to the 1960's people debated the "rights" of black people as vehemently as gay rights issues are debated today. In addition many other human rights such as the cause for equal pay in workplace for women was helped tremendously by the work of King. Good way to remember him is to champion those rights in all areas and use them to protest those who protest against them.

Have a good day.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Sat, Jan 15, 2011, at 9:33 AM

I've said this before and I'll say it again, the Westboro Baptist Church is nothing more than an attention whore and we just need to ignore them and stop giving them all the free press and attention that we do. Stop paying attention to them and they lose what power they think they have. If you know they are going to be somewhere protesting, change the route at the last minute and avoid them completely. Keep the media away from them, don't mention them in any news story. They are the true social pariahs and should be treated as such.

Also, having spoken to members of this 'church' personally I can say without a doubt they are disgusting, psychotic, self-aggrandizing individuals with delusions of grandness and their own self-importance.

-- Posted by Village_Id10t on Mon, Jan 17, 2011, at 12:12 PM

Well said......I can't bring myself to call you the village id10t when that was so well phrased!

-- Posted by Proud of My Country on Tue, Jan 18, 2011, at 12:13 PM

Rumors have begun circling that there's a new goal for internet " hacktivist" group Anonymous. An open letter recently posted on an Anonymous related site indicated that the next target would be the Westboro Baptist Church. However, members of the group have insisted the religious hate group isn't one of the top items on the Anonymous agenda.

-- Posted by drake24 on Sat, Feb 26, 2011, at 2:40 AM

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