Yesterday the Supreme Court heard arguments concerning a lawsuit that was slapped upon Fred Phelps and his clan by a grieving parent of a fallen soldier who's funeral was picketed by the infamous church. Early reports find the justices feel for the family of Matthew Snyder who were faced with the indignity of Phelps being present spewing his hate filled nonsense while they mourned their loved one. Still the court will probably side with the Westboro Baptist Church given the fact that they are normally prone to upholding free speech regardless of how disgusting and offensive their protests may be.
Phelps is clever in his protests as he always seems to comply with law enforcement when they ask his group to do their attention whoring out of sight of the family. His cult is well versed in law as most of them practice it, so they make sure that they comply with the local ordinances.
Obviously many aren't happy with the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church and for good reason. His family's volatile protests are disturbing and inexcusable. Many veterans groups are taking sides with the Snyder family and giving support for their legal battle. Some, including Matthew's father, argue that no soldier died for the Phelp's right to protest in such a manner. I see many people in the Facebook community pontificating how picketing a veteran's funeral should be illegal.
I empathize deeply with the Snyder family and anyone who's ever come across Phelps while trying to bury their loved one; however, I must side with the 1st Amendment in this case. The Supreme Court has throughout their history sided with ugly messages, such as neo-Nazis marching through Jewish neighborhoods, in the mindset that free speech means that we must uphold unpopular rhetoric to protect us from the tyranny of the majority. The Bill of Rights should apply to all and not just those we find distasteful.
My friend Alec brought up a valid point, that the Court should find the speech obscene, which isn't covered in the 1st Amendment. This isn't the Court's responsibility. They will uphold community standards of obscenity; however, so if every town council decides to deem the Westboro Baptist Church under this manner, then and only then should the justices side with the grieving family. Still I'm opposed to sacrificing the dangers of liberty for the safety of tyranny.
I hate myself for even thinking this, but if one of Phelp's children dies in a horrific manner I sometimes fantasize about picketing their funeral calling their loved one a whore and whatnot. Still that will do no amount of good as he's stated that if any of his family die and go to hell he will be thankful, because he loves God's wrath more than anything. They are that twisted.
"It’s really a question of if the government is going to cut down this public speech because it’s vile, then what’s next?. The Methodists? Is it newspapers? The blogs? The Republicans?” - Dan Winter, ACLU