Today, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Westboro Baptist Church has the right to protest at funerals. Even though they are vile, hateful, really petty people, this is the correct decision. Popular speech doesn’t need protection; unpopular speech does.
Posts tagged ‘Fred Phelps’
A United States federal court has ruled a Missouri law prohibiting protesting at funerals is unconstitutional (via). It was targeted against Fred Phelps and his ilk. As much as a vile, despicable human being Phelps is, this is the correct decision. If Westboro Baptist Church does not have freedom of expression, no one does.
Fred “God Hates Just About Everybody” Phelps is an offensive man with deeply hateful beliefs. Rest assured that when he finally passes I’ll have a good riddance just for him. Recently, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a judgement against Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church. The original judgement awarded $5 million in punitive and compensatory damages, but this was thrown out. And I think that this was the correct decision. As much as I think that Phelps is a vile person, it is absolutely essential for a free society that he and his church be allowed to do what they are doing.
Why? Here are four reasons:
- Being offended is part of life. I am often offended by things I see, but I have no right not to be offended. And neither do you. Get over it.
- As Fred Clark at the Slacktivist shows, they have freedom of religion. The fact that they have freedom of religion shows that same-sex marriage is not going to infringe on anyone else’s freedom of religion. They therefore serve a useful purpose, allowing the debunking of the argument that marriage equality infringes on religious freedom.
- They may make opposition to same-sex marriage and LGBT rights so toxic that people switch sides. After all, who the hell would possibly want to emulate Fred Phelps?
- A society’s respect for freedom of expression is demonstrated by its protection for speech that people disagree with. People have to be allowed to express vile and hateful opinions, people have to be allowed to burn flags, the worst opinions by the worst sorts of people have to be protected. That is how a society measures it commitment to freedom of expression. Speech you agree with is always going to be protected. If you disagree with this claim, then don’t complain when your political opponents win an election and use all that censorship power you gave the government against you.
Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars.
Some people argue that allowing same-sex marriage will restrict religious freedom. Such claims are nonsense, of course, and the Slacktivist has perhaps the best argument showing why.
It goes that in order to have your religious freedom restricted, you’d have to exceed the standards of the guy who thinks God hates just about everyone.
You do know where this is leading, right? That’s correct. Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church. These people are in many ways the measure of a society’s commitment to freedom of expression. They protest at funerals, holding signs that say “God hates fags”. They offend people, and express a completely anti-homosexual theology. What they do is completely legal. None of them have been thrown in jail or evicted from their homes because of their religious beliefs. (Phelps’ recent legal issues stem an incident involving physical assault, not his religion). They’re religious freedom has not been infringed upon. And unless you’re planning on topping Fred Phelps, neither will yours.
As the Slacktivist says:
Fred Phelps is a free man, so if you think your freedom is going to be restricted, you must be planning to outdo Fred Phelps.
So there’s the two-word answer for every Tony Perkins or James Dobson or Damon Owens who makes up some dubious claim about being persecuted or punished or threatened or jailed or whatever for their anti-gay beliefs.
“I’m a California doct– ” Fred Phelps!He’s a free man. Are you worse than him? No? Then shut up, ‘kay?
“I’m part of a church group in …” Fred frikkin’ Phelps, buddy. I don’t wanna hear it.
“I’m a Massachu …” Phellllps! Fred Phelps. No one is persecuting you, but your whining is giving me a headache so please just go away now, thanks.