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The ACLU and Fred Phelps, Part II

Earlier a commenter had a question about which judge would be hearing the case filed by the ACLU on behalf of Fred Phelps’ organization, a.k.a. “Westboro Baptist Church.” As I was scouring around the internets, a post stood out over at Blogcritics.org. The title blared “It’s Painful, But the ACLU Should Defend Fred Phelps.” So…I could help but menader over to see why this would be so important.

It’s the same old story over there. People are so up in arms about “Free Speech! Free Speech!” that they simply cannot see the forest for the trees. Verbatim from Blogcritics.org:

It is important to forget the plaintiff in this case and instead analyze the law being challenged. Although protesting at the funerals of innocent and good people is a repulsive use of free speech, I believe this right must be upheld. If the courts allow free speech rights to be taken away during funerals, where else will lawmakers find a constitutional right to block protests or rallies? If gay rights advocates want to protest outside Westboro Baptist Church or another anti-gay religious institution, will conservative lawmakers pass a ban on protesting outside houses of worship? The precedent is a scary one and I commend the ACLU for looking past the plaintiff to realize free speech needs to be defended.

Based on this logic, shouldn’t I have the free speech right to threaten the lives of other people, or yell “fire” in a theater full of people? Shouldn’t I should have the right to stand in a mosque yelling “who wants bacon?” or a synagogue praising the Holocaust? Bluto says it best:

I support the Constitutional right to freedom of expression, but anyone with any common sense knows that it is not an absolute right. For example, I do not have the right to exhort people to murder the members of the Westboro Baptist Church or the ACLU.

The laws passed in Missouri and Nebraska do not take the rights of freedom or of religious expression away from this group, but protects the right of peaceful assembly these families of fallen soldiers have to honor their loved ones. But the ACLU doesn’t think of that, do they? Instead they think it is much more important for this group to throw hateful statements out in the midst of a funeral all for the sake of “protecting free speech.”

But back to our friends at Blogcritics…

These protests can help conservatives understand the viciousness behind anti-gay spokespeople and may result in changed hearts and minds.

First of all, this isn’t about a gay or anti-gay issue and it CERTAINLY isn’t a conservative issue. This is about rights and freedoms. Nothing more. Secondly, this isn’t an opportunity to “educate” conservatives on anti-gay sentiments - what does that have to do with the issue at hand? Anyone, conservative or liberal should recognize the hate this organization has for not only gays and lesbians but for soldiers, cole miners and every day citizens who just happen to get killed. Their stance is that we are all being punished because the U.S. supports gays and lesbians. Again, nothing more.

A final word from Blogcritics…

Where my frustration lies is not with the ACLU, which is acting appropriately, but with the lawmakers sitting in Congress and state legislatures throughout the country. I do not agree with laws banning funeral protests, but I wonder why such legislation is being proposed at this time. Why is it that lawmakers feel Phelps has crossed a moral line by protesting at military funerals, ignoring the fact that he has demonstrated outside the funerals of gay hate crime victims for years? Are dead soldiers on one side of a moral line and gay hate crime victims on the other side? Why didn’t lawmakers who believe in this law stand up for gay and lesbian people who have faced years of Fred Phelps’ torture? There is a true political calculation in those supporting this flawed law banning the protests.

And a final word from Merri….

I disagree that the ACLU is acting appropriately. The appropriate solution would be - as Captain Ed so eloquently states -

Fred Phelps could get a lawyer on his own; the ACLU and its donors have no obligation to assist him in mocking the loss of family members at funerals. The ACLU has put itself on par with these soulless freaks, and their donors should take note that their money now supports the Phelps traveling hate show.

This is yet another publicity stunt by the ACLU, designed for more attention drawn by huge controversy (in other words, “business as usual”). I love this little gem from Blogcritics: “Why is it that lawmakers feel Phelps has crossed a moral line by protesting at military funerals, ignoring the fact that he has demonstrated outside the funerals of gay hate crime victims for years? There is a true political calculation in those supporting this flawed law banning the protests.” Why does the timing of the law matter, when the law is all inclusive and not selective? Look at the laws in Missouri and Nebraska - it doesn’t say “only military services.” So be happy that families of gay hate crime victims won’t have to endure this either! And quit trying to turn this into a political motive. Again, the only groups with an agenda here are Phelps and his team of freaks and the ACLU, standing behind them.


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