Thursday, March 3, 2011

Snyder Vs. Phelps and why it's the right decision even if it makes us nauseous

Westboro Baptist Church hater-in-chief, the "Reverend" Fred Phelps
The boobs who populate Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas are hate-filled wretches who make me want to puke.  Their demonstrations at the funerals of returning soldiers with signs shouting "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God For Dead Soldiers" despite the fact the soldiers had nothing to do with the homosexuality they fear, they don't understand, and refuse to accept, is ridiculously intolerant for Americans who claim they love their country.  Such views have much more in common with fundamentalist Islam than 21st century America. 
Who actually does this?  Westboro Baptist Church has 80 members including young children that also wear hate attire.
Unfortunately, when a jury awarded $5 million to Albert Snyder, father of Mathew Snyder, a young Marine corporal, killed in Iraq in 2006, I could see the handwriting on the wall.  These foul demonstrations, orchestrated by Pastor Fred Phelps are reprehensible and should disgust us.  Yet they represent political speech on a public issue and as such must be protected by the Constitution.  When the court ruled in favor of Phelps 8-1, my only surprise was that the decision was not unanimous.  The written decision by Justice Roberts as well as Justice Breyer's concurrence both indicate a certain amount of disgust and nose holding while bolstering the rights of unpopular minorities.  While I'd like to praise Justice Alito's sensitivity in his dissent, it's just wrong, sadly.

 So Phelps and Westboro stand with their 1st Amendment protections intact.  It is as it should be.  However, dear readers, that does not invalidate your own rights on this issue.  Don't hesitate to express your own views on the Westboro practice of plaguing the funerals of those they don't know or care about.  Don't hesitate to use cyberspace to dismiss Fred Phelps and his followers as moralizing neanderthals representing nobody but those within their church's walls.  And for god's sake don't hesitate to contact your congressional representative to question the tax free status of any church demonstrating so publicly regarding a political issue.

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