Welcome to the First Church of the Insane. Today’s sermon will be delivered by the Rev. Fred Phelps who will extol the virtues of harassment, intimidation, libel, slander, and desecration of memory.
The egregious and the outrageous are the new norm.
Welcome to the United States of Anarchy where anything goes. Damn the facts, civility or the bizarre notion of balancing rights.
Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder was killed on March 3, 2006 in Iraq. One week later the Westboro Baptist Church members, led by Fred Phelps, protested outside Matthew’s funeral at St. John Roman Catholic Church in Westminster, Md.
Matthew’s father, Albert Snyder of York County, Pennsylvania, sued for defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Apparently the Westboro Cult is not aware the Catholic Church views homosexuality as a sin. But the cult risked God’s wrath, mobilized, and traveled from Kansas across the Heathenland to picket Matthew’s funeral. Their signs were anti-gay, anti-American, and anti-Catholic. The clan visually pelted the mourners with consoling epitaphs including: “God hates you”, “You’re going to hell”, “Thank God for dead soldiers”, and “Fag troops.”
You know, the normal hellfire and brimstone eulogy.
Fred Phelps and his devotees believe America is an immoral nation that supports homosexuality, and anyone who defends, fights, dies or is wounded or taken prisoner for the country is evil. These churchgoers are allowed (“protected”) to destroy and denigrate the funeral and memory of a Marine (and a private citizen) killed in Iraq, because they represent a slippery slope that must be preserved at all costs.
According to the United States Supreme Court, the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, is protected by the First Amendment and is allowed to attack the funerals of servicemen who were killed in action.
Apparently the Constitution now has separate by equal Amendments.
Not allowing the cult to engage in this selfless act of public awareness would be repression, and surly plunge us into a moral abyss. According to the logic of the Wellsboro Church, they are actually saving soldiers through their campaign, because not protesting would only provoke God to kill even more Americans. Of course, this moral math equation is based on the well known fact that America is gay.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote an option for the majority of the Court that certainly doesn’t reflect the will of the American people or the forty-eight states, 42 U.S. senators and countless veterans groups who supported Mr. Snyder’s request to shield funerals based on the Phelps family’s “psychological terrorism.”
Yes, shielding a fallen veteran’s funeral is now an unwarranted protection that would decimate the First Amendment. Frankly, I thought the request was mild and should include protections for public funerals of black children murdered by Klansman or school kids mowed down during recess or victims of 9/11.
Hell, even some of our enemies let us collect our wounded and dead after fierce battles.
Mr. Roberts opined, “Westboro’s funeral picketing is certainly hurtful and its contribution to public discourse may be negligible. But Westboro addressed matters of public import on public property, in a peaceful manner, in full compliance with the guidance of local officials.”
How is this gathering not harassment, intimidation and clear-cut psychological terrorism? Can you imagine what this family endured knowing during the planning and actual burial of their child that they would be accosted by unstable lunatics?
Please tell me how hate speech on public property is a “matter of public import?” Heck, I thought we passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act on October 22, 2009. I guess were all free and equal and entitled to protections under the law until the burial ceremony when all bets are off, and the deceased can’t respond.
“Speech is powerful It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and – as it did here – inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker. As a nation, we have chosen a different course – to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate. That choice requires that we shield Westboro from tort liability for its picketing in this case.”
Thank God for tort reform!
Wasn’t this the same Court that said corporations are people and can spend whatever they want to promote a political message? Shouldn’t Mr. Phelp’s pony-up and pay for political policy campaigning?
What’s worse, taxpayers underwrote the cost to protect the hate preachers. Is this a delightful country or what? You have to post a bond to build a house, but taxpayers get the bill when you try to burn it down.
“The fact that Westboro spoke in connection with a funeral, however, cannot by itself transform the nature of Westboro’s speech,” Roberts wrote. “Westboro’s signs, displayed on public land next to a public street, reflect the fact that the church finds much to condemn in modern society. Its speech is ‘fairly characterized as constituting speech on a matter of public concern,’ and the funeral setting does not alter that conclusion.”
“God hates you.”
“You’re going to hell.”
“Thank God for dead soldiers.”
I don’t know where we would be without this critical debate on how Americans are dying in the Middle East in retaliation for the success of the “Village People.”
Let’s flip the scenario and bring it home to the Supreme Court: How about if Mr. Phelps and his followers planted themselves at the public school bus stop of the Justices’ grandchildren – and on public land – blasted the same hate-laced messages?
Justice Samuel Alito condemned the church, and had the courage to argue that Phelps should not be cleared from the $5 million. Mr. Alito said, “Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case.”
If these folks practiced what they preached, shouldn’t they be living and protesting under the watchful and tolerant protection of Islamist regimes that have outlawed homosexuality? Why hide under their First Amendment right afforded to a gay and degenerate nation of lost souls?
We are a nation of laws. And we are a nation of rules. But we are not a nation of absolutes.
I happen to be a big fan of Amendment IX. In case you forgot, it’s the one in front of Amendment X, and deals with the rights retained by the people. “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
But here’s the deal: It’s a balancing act. You can not be a selective constitutionalist and pick and choose an Amendment-of-the-week.
I kind of remember the Declaration of Independence invoking a commitment to all citizens that was crystal clear and approved unanimously: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
This was not an abstract guarantee or a truth that can be redeemed by allowing the First Amendment to supersede all other rights and Amendments for all things at all times.
I’m thinking of Matthew’s father now. Doesn’t he have rights?
The Declaration of Independence concluded by stating, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Here’s the sad part.
Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder was an honorable man who pledged his life. He no longer enjoys the freedom of speech – whether it’s absolute, protected, or regulated.
Most folks know who Fred Phelps is.
How may people will remember Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder who was killed in action and can no longer speak?
(In the video on Rock The Capital, Albert Snyder and his lawyer talk about the Supreme Court decision)
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