A bitter victory

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The Fred Phelps clan's passion for torment is a pox on America.

Tragically, it's a sickness that those blessed to be living under the First Amendment must live with.

Such is the bitter curse of a civil society. To not only tolerate raw incivility, but to wrap a woolen blanket of protection around it.

Nothing so right ever felt so loathsome.

The Topeka, Kan., preacher and his bounteous family, which forms the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, have made a living in recent decades protesting in the vilest ways outside of institutions, cultural events and, most repugnant, military and civilian funerals.

Their bright signs hold the darkest of messages: In gleeful terms, they actually celebrate the deaths of others and presumptuously confer them to eternal damnation -- including, amazingly, even the good men and women who have given their lives in service to America.

This venomous, contemptible cabal has single-handedly moved the needle on revulsion.

Yet, detestable as they are, they could not move the U.S. Supreme Court off the First Amendment.

It has all the appeal of a punch to the gut. Moreover, 48 of the 50 attorneys general, and likely a vast majority of Americans, disagree with it utterly. But in truth, the high court's 8-1 ruling Wednesday that the Phelpses' protests are protected speech is actually a victory for us all. It means that, because even the Phelpses' toxic beliefs are safeguarded, so, certainly, are our own.

Most of our hearts, to be sure, are with Justice Samuel Alito and his impassioned dissent. But our minds must be with the other eight justices -- an overwhelming majority that masks the difficulty of the decision but speaks to its inevitability.

It is legendary for Americans to say they would oppose the foulest of speech but would defend to the death another's right to utter it. Perhaps never before has that claim been put to so heartbreaking a challenge.

But if the court erred, it did so on the side of freedom.

That the sanctity of free speech is a principle that cuts across all ideological lines is made clear in the high court's near-unanimity. Good and loving liberals and conservatives and all those between stand wounded and bloodied by this war of words. But we stand together -- as the Earth's freest people. Nothing -- not even our own ears and consciences -- can be allowed to change that.

Patriotic citizens have taken to staging their own rallies in the past few years, to counter the Phelpses' bile and to form a buffer between them and the mourners they target at funerals. Good for them. God bless them.

Meanwhile, it provides some comfort to know that the U.S. Supreme Court is guarding the First Amendment too.

Comments (13) Add comment
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Riverman1
98677
Points
Riverman1 03/04/11 - 01:12 am
0
0
Nope, it was not a REASONABLE

Nope, it was not a REASONABLE ruling which is the goal of the courts. These people are in actuality disturbing the peace at sacred events. That's their intent...disturbing the peace.

The problem now is that if local law enforcement tries to come up with a way to keep them out of sight like Sheriff Clay Whittle had planned in Columbia County if they had showed up at Ryan Clark's funeral, the courts will say the intent is to circumvent the law and not allow it.

Sam Alito is the only one making sense, just as he was mouthing "not true" as Obama gave his state of the union address.

Brad Owens
5068
Points
Brad Owens 03/04/11 - 02:44 am
0
0
I agree this is a free speech

I agree this is a free speech issue but these folks would cause me to commit an act of temp insanity if they showed up at a funeral of one of my comrades.

Sick people.

Brad

usapatriot
0
Points
usapatriot 03/04/11 - 02:52 am
0
0
The Constitution cannot be

The Constitution cannot be interpreted with emotion. If so, the vote would have been unanimous against the miscreants.

They notify local authorities, obtain permits if necessary and obey distance laws. Their messages and chants are consistent. These are some of the things that legal folks have been pointing out in regards to the decision.

Emotionally it is a travesty. Legally they are allowed to do what they do.

So to are the Patriot Guard. If this has you torqued, donate to them.

www.patriotguard.org

catfish20
311
Points
catfish20 03/04/11 - 06:13 am
0
0
Find the source of their

Find the source of their funds and cut it off.

Fundamental_Arminian
1871
Points
Fundamental_Arminian 03/04/11 - 06:50 am
0
0
One solution may be to hold

One solution may be to hold military funerals on private property such as a mortuary chapel or even a friend's home. That way, property owners can have Phelps and his followers arrested as trespassers. (Remember the arrest of the late Rev. Timothy Fellows at Augusta Mall?) Graveside services in public cemetaries can be optional.

justthefacts
26927
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justthefacts 03/04/11 - 08:30 am
0
0
RA, if you're so worked up

RA, if you're so worked up about this group, why don't you go protest them. You claim to be former military. Why don't you go stand up for the honor of the soldiers? Or, can your silence be seen as consent?

Chillen
17
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Chillen 03/04/11 - 09:02 am
0
0
They might have the law on

They might have the law on their side but they don't have human decency on their side.

justthefacts
26927
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justthefacts 03/04/11 - 09:03 am
0
0
Attack you?? I merely asked a

Attack you?? I merely asked a question. The same one you were asking of everyone who is a Baptist. Were you attacking them?

justthefacts
26927
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justthefacts 03/04/11 - 10:11 am
0
0
I'm not Baptist or thin

I'm not Baptist or thin skinned. But, methinks you might be.

onlysane1left
223
Points
onlysane1left 03/04/11 - 10:33 am
0
0
They might have the law on

They might have the law on their side but they don't have human decency on their side.

3 for 3 today, Chillen! I'm not in agreement with Westboro, I'll defend their rights to say it to the end, but may they suffer at night for tormenting families already hurting.

seenitB4
103341
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seenitB4 03/04/11 - 10:33 am
0
0
Now wait a minute AC....you

Now wait a minute AC....you speaketh out of both sides of thou mouth...
You know you will delete a post if it doesn't fit with the program......free speech.....who really has that thing called free speech..
Riverman is right.....this is not a good decision.....the only thing now for families is to take drastic action...I'm sorry to say that will probably happen now,,
btw...let us not forget ole Martha Burk & her free speech ..haha...where did the National put her ........in a mud pile behind the bushes....lol
Sooo free speech is in the eye of the beholder....
I agree you do have the right to do what you want with your paper....& I'm sure you will continue to do so. :)

kmb413
533
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kmb413 03/04/11 - 10:38 am
0
0
Aren't thier protests a sin?

Aren't thier protests a sin? What ever happened to judge me not lest ye be judged?

burninater
10179
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burninater 03/04/11 - 11:47 am
0
0
kmb, ICL already sorted that

kmb, ICL already sorted that one out for us. Apparently some of us are so special that we can judge with the same discrimination as the Lord. These individuals call it "righteous judgment", and have decided that since Christ could do it, they must be able to do it too.

They're still working on the loaves and fishes, and the walking on water, and the rising from the dead, but they've got the "righteous judgment" down pat!

socks99
250
Points
socks99 03/04/11 - 12:11 pm
0
0
It's worth noting that the

It's worth noting that the Phelps clan has had stupendous success in getting their message before the public. If the media would not report on their every move and utterance, then maybe they'd desist.

In the meanwhile, the Supreme Court seems to be on solid ground.

Authorities know which funerals these guys will picket; they could organize those events to isolate the protesters and minimize their ability to get out their message.

George
0
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George 03/04/11 - 12:50 pm
0
0
I'm torn on this one. On one

I'm torn on this one. On one hand, I agree, free speech should not be squelched. However, there is a fine line between free speech and psychological abuse. I wonder how a defense of temporary insanity would hold up if someone took a swing at someone in the Phelps family.

Beck Tears
0
Points
Beck Tears 03/04/11 - 02:36 pm
0
0
I wonder how a defense of

I wonder how a defense of temporary insanity would hold up if someone took a swing at someone in the Phelps family.

As evil as those people are in the WBC- they are pretty good with the law, and I've read that's how they make some of their money, by pushing peoples buttons which causes them to react, and the WBC people take them to court. There was an incident a while ago where a passerby sprayed some pepper spray in the WBC direction- and they went after him. Not sure what the result was. Also, I read the other day that people in their community despise them, but use their services in court because they are so good. It's a shame no one boycott's their business.

faithson
5589
Points
faithson 03/04/11 - 05:24 pm
0
0
We have Rush, Glenn, et al

We have Rush, Glenn, et al spewing negative invectives throughout our nations public airwaves every day, day in and day out... These denizens of iniquity 'infect' more minds negatively than the actions of this perverse group the supreme court found to be 'lawful'. Sure they have a right to be there... it is there message of 'selfishness' I find abhorrent.

david jennings
625
Points
david jennings 03/05/11 - 07:16 am
0
0
Im like socks99,I wish the

Im like socks99,I wish the media would stop making thier hatefulness big news.

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