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Mar 31

Dead soldier’s father ordered to pay Westboro Baptist Church

This is absolutely and outrageously offensive, and stupid.

For decades now the Westboro Baptist Church has run amok with hate speech and public demonstrations that strain the limits of public decency.  I still don’t understand how this country got so fucked up, do you?  How can organizations like the ACLU defend this group’s hate speech as free speech?  Fuck the ACLU.  Free Speech hasn’t been free in a long time, Free Speech is subject to decency rules and bound by the cause of saving the American family.  How does this work?  How does this compute?  Does this make sense in anyone else’s brain?? Because mine wants to fucking explode!  We have to live in a world of the [wikipedia]FCC[/wikipedia], the [wikipedia]MPAA[/wikipedia], [wikipedia]ESRB[/wikipedia]‘s and the [wikipedia]Family Research Council[/wikipedia], and yet the Westboro Baptist Church can run amok and spread this hate speach?

For those that don’t know, the [wikipedia]Westboro Baptist Church[/wikipedia] is an extraordinarily hateful group that claims that the United States is being punished by god with the deaths of soldiers overseas because we allow homosexuality and other levels of “depravity” to continue.  They have taken to regularly protesting at the private family funerals of dead soldiers, holding picket signs reading “You’re going to hell,” “God hates you” and “Thank God for dead soldiers.”

One of these poor grieving families decided to stand up for what’s right and got slapped down by our illustrious justice system.  Albert Snyder, father of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in action in Iraq has been order by a court to pay the Westboro Baptist Church $16,000 in legal fees after a failed attempt to sue them for disrupting his son’s funeral.  Ridiculous.

If you have the means, you can help Mr. Snyder pays these fees by donating via his son’s site, http://www.matthewsnyder.org/.

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10 comments

  1. Nick

    I know I will be unpopular for saying this, but here goes.

    While I find the actions of WBC totally reprehensible, Unfortunately the ACLU was correct here. WBC has free speech rights, same as everyone else. The point of free speech is that we protect the speech of people we disagree with, as well as those we agree with. If we don’t, then what is the point of free speech. There is no need to protect speech everyone agrees with.

    The father sued WBC despite legal advice that what they were doing is within their constitutional first amendment rights, and Phelps and co appealed and countersued under the letter of the law. Phelps and his family are mostly lawyers so they’ve been very good at staying within the letter of the law.

    The law has to be this way otherwise anyone could sure for emotional damages for anyone saying just about anything. What if Phelps and co sued against their counter protesters, saying that people marching next to them with signs like “god hates shrimp” and “I have a sign” was causing them emotion distress? Should they be able to win that lawsuit?

  2. Duiwel

    Speech in this country is limited in an extraordinary amount of ways. A lot of that is done either indirectly or in the name of ‘decency’. Take the MPAA for example, its supposedly a voluntary system, but if you choose not to get rated, people won’t see your film. The guidelines the MPAA uses are completely arbitrary and there is no way to audit their ‘censorship’ because they operate like the CIA. Watch ‘This Film is Not Yet Rated’, you’ll see how the MPAA subverts free speech to hand down baseless judgments of people’s art.

    It doesn’t stop there, there are huge amount of government agencies that police decency and morality. Regularly subverting free speech in the name of family, decency, children, etc. How is the Westboro Baptist Church any less offensive to Family, Decency, and Children than things like the Howard Stern Show or South Park are ‘perceived’ to be? How come the FCC doesn’t sue newstations and the WBC when they show their brand of hate-speech on the airwaves?

    We give a lot of our rights and portions of our free speech over to making the world less ‘offensive’ and to make media conform to a certain moral standard. Yet every newschannel can show neo-nazis and racists all day.

    That doesn’t strike you as odd that WBC is free to do as the please but the naked form is so ostracized in our country? Free Speech and Free Expression has already been taken over and marginalized by special interest groups, allowing the WBC to do as the please to keep the wool pulled over the eyes of the public and pretend that we still have ‘Free Speech’ – duh, WE HAVE to have ‘free speech’ look at what THESE people are allowed to say (‘But please don’t notice these 8 billion other examples of people that can’t say things that I am now sweeping under the rug’). It’s Bupkis!

    Thank you for your comments and thoughts though Nick ;)

  3. Lynnethewife

    Strip it down to the very fundamental laws of society.

    When you’re a little child in school, and you call another child a rude name, you get in trouble. It doesn’t go unnoticed or passed over because you have the right to free speech. You hurt the feelings of another individual and you get punished.

    But we are adults, of course. So we can go up to someone at college or work and tell them they are fat and we hate them. Why not, no one is going to punish you. The only thing you’ll have to deal with is guilt.

    But what happens if we go to someones house, stand outside of it, and scream insults at them? That person has the right to call the authorities and have the HARASSMENT stopped.

    And that is just what this is. This is HARASSMENT, and that is illegal. These funerals are private fucking events, it’s extremely different if these protesters were just doing it on some street corner. They probably would not get sued. But these assholes were standing OUTSIDE of the funeral. THAT is harassment, THAT should be fucking illegal.

    And if it was me, and it was MY son? I wouldn’t sue anyone. I would simply become nothing but fists and anger and destroy anyone holding a sign.

    But that’s just me.

  4. piethefriend

    I’m going to take a stand in the middle on this one.

    What WBC did is vile. Those protests, as they call them, are indecently disgusting in MANY ways. If that was my son’s funeral, then yes, I very well may have ended up in jail for physically attacking as many of those folks that were standing there with signs.

    But, on the other hand… The court was correct in saying they were practicing their right to free speech. They followed the law in how they did their protest. While it was distasteful (to say the very least) it was lawful.

    However, I also find that their message is… Hypocritical. “Thank God for dead soldiers?” Really people? You’re thanking God for killing the men and women who are out there giving YOU the right to free speech, to protest their funeral? The people who are dying to protect the freedoms of this country? God’s message is love, not hate.

    I honestly would love to see what they would do if they were to be “protested” at their church, or place of worship or what have you.

  5. Nick

    WBC basically holds these protests in the hope that people attack them physically and then they sue you for everything they can. That’s what they are hoping for, and sadly people fall for it and give them what they want.

    The far better solution is to ignore them or make fun of them. When people make fun of them they actually leave. You can find pictures of people protesting them with signs like “god hates shrimp”, “I was promised donuts”, the lyrics to rick roll and others.

    That being said, free speech is a right in the constitution. To never be offended is not. Free speech is important to protect speech you disagree with. If I said your page offended me would you take it down? What if I worked for a government agency? What if I said I’m not offended by it but I could see how someone else might be?

    In all the examples you sited, do you really think that’s a good thing? Where do you draw the line. Do you like the idea that someone else can say “your not allowed to watch this, it might offend you.” I personally hated it when my parents did it to me when i was a child, and I like it even less now.

    In the case WBC and similar idiots (holocaust deniers, conspiracy theorists, etc.) let them speak. Give them rope and watch them hang themselves. If there is a bigger advocate of the “WBC are assholes and idiots” lobby than WBC itself, I have yet to see it.

  6. Nick

    Oh, and in regards to the harassment comment, WBC know the rules and go to great lengths to make sure they never cross that line. Many of them are lawyers and they know the rules.

    Unfortunately saying something outside your house/funeral/event is not harassment. Animal liberation front activists and similar groups have been able to use this defense when protesting and researchers, private individuals etc. You pretty much have to advocate violence or breaking the law (something WBC is very careful never to do.)

    I’m not sure on the details of harassment laws in most areas, but protest is considered protected speech, not harassment.

  7. Lynnethewife

    Clearly the only solution then, is to rally a large group of people outside the WBC to protest.

  8. Nick

    That would be awesome. I would so go to that if I lived closer to Kansas.

  9. Ivan

    “Free speech” should not exist as an absolute. I’m in Canada and the rules are a bit different. We have limited free speech, and you don’t see our country turning into a dictatorship. If everyone was a decent human being, absolute free speech would be perfectly fine. Free speech cannot be used for inciting hatred. Stifling these groups will not stop hatred, but it’s a start.

  10. Nick

    I’m in Canada too Ivan. I agree, its not a dictatorship. And the Canadian supreme court has ruled that we do not have the right to not be offended either.

    But for free speech, again, who do you let say “your not allowed to watch this, it might offend you.” How do you decide whether or not to publish anything, knowing it might offend someone and you could be held responsible. If we say offensive speech is illegal, can I say that you saying “hello Nick” to me is offensive and have you arrested/fined/whatever? How do you judge what actually offends someone, or whether it is reasonable to be offended by it.

    Stifling these groups would be the worst thing you could do. It will not change their views, it will just let them complain they are being stifled and repressed. It will give them a legitimate grievance. Why am I allowed to express my views while they are not. Could a fundamentalist christian find my view of accepting gay people for who they are equally offensive? I say again, the best way to show these guys are morons who don’t need to be taken seriously is to let them talk. They have the gun, let them shoot themselves in the foot with it.

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