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Published on October 7, 2010 By terpfan1980 In Current Events

With the news of the last several days that the Supreme Court of the United States has heard the case of the father whose son was killed during military service versus the {please forgive the use of the term, as I think most organized religious groups are fine, but for this one in particular the term fits} nut-jobs that are claiming that soldiers are being killed because of the U.S.'s acceptance of homosexuality and such, I was again struck at just how much freedom we supposedly must allow to those that want to flap their jaws and say anything that comes to mind.  The argument before the court is a question of whether or not free speech trumps all else, no matter how repugnant that speech may be, and it is a question that I too wish to explore a bit.

I seem to recall that there are limits when it comes to free speech.  For example, people can't simply yell FIRE in a theatre when there isn't a fire there.  Over-simplification I'm know, but the idea is that there are limits at times, and perhaps in the case of this ignorance-spewing church and their protests at or near military funerals, should such limits come into play?

I don't begrudge this church and/or it's members their right to speak, but does their right to speak their mind come with the right to be heard?  And does their right to speak entitle them to speak about military members and their families?

Personally I think more limits wouldn't be a bad thing here.  Military families, heck anyone that is involved in a funeral or loss of a family member or friend should be entitled to privacy when it comes to the grieving process and simply serving in the military shouldn't entitle others to a right to "use your name in vain" if that makes any sense.

Perhaps you disagree, and the space in the comments area is certainly an acceptable area to exercise your own free speech rights in, just remember that I may not actually care what you've said and might not pay all that much attention to it as I exercise my right not to listen.


Comments
on Oct 07, 2010

Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.  Westboro is scum.  But there is away around this without compromising the freedom of speech.

The freedom of speech applies to the government only, not private individuals or functions.  In other words, i can go stand on the street corner in my city and condemn Obama, Bush or whomever I like, and there it nothing the "government" can do.  But I cannot walk into your house and do the same thing without your permission.  nor can I walk into the BOA (Benevolent Order of Antelopes) and do it without their permission.

So the answer is simple.  Funerals are not public.  They are private.  Westboro is getting around that by standing on the public ground outside of the funeral.  And the solution is simple.  Allow the government to "lease" the public land to the private function for the duration of the event for some nominal fee (say $1).  Anyone can do it for the purpose stated (in this case funerals).  Once leased, the land ceases to become public for the duration of the lease, and as private land, the leasees can then ban the cretins from the land (and have the police enforce it).

Freedom of speech is upheld (we must be careful not to allow this leasing to be done ANYWHERE just for the sake of stifling dissent), and Westboro has to confine themselves to public street corners and schools.  Where students can jeer and howl.  How long do you think they would continue with only those areas to preach their hatred?

on Oct 07, 2010

Good idea DG.

on Oct 07, 2010

That could easily be used to restrict speech in other places and other ways though couldn't it?  Eg lease the land outside an abortion clinic during hours of operation. 

It is just the case just during funerals of service men then you would have to potential cover a huge area and the practicality could be a problem - eg turn all the surrounding land private could potentially prevent non-funeral related traffic couldn't it? 

on Oct 07, 2010

That could easily be used to restrict speech in other places and other ways though couldn't it?

(we must be careful not to allow this leasing to be done ANYWHERE just for the sake of stifling dissent)

That is why I added the caution.  No plan would be perfect, but with careful planning and enactment, it could be done.  If it was abused, that would mean another fight.  But I believe that my plan can work (at least in this state, many government buildings are leased out during non-business hours to private organizations - same principal).

eg turn all the surrounding land private could potentially prevent non-funeral related traffic couldn't it?

No plan is fool proof, and neither is mine.  That would be a problem.  But I would hope that with some intelligent planning, they could work out those details.

on Oct 08, 2010

I don't have a "constitutional" problem with Westboro doing it's hateful thing.

I have a moral problem with it.

The gov. shouldn't get involved.  Period.  We already have a system in place to deal with this issue it's called civil court.

Isn't this where we go now when someone violates our rights but not criminally?

If the members of the church cause "harm" that can be substantiated in civil court, like emotional abuse/distress, then I certainly believe the families have a right to sue. 

If harm cannot be established, as much as I hate to say it, we need to let the Westobo freaks do their thing.

Doc I can see how renting public land for a time for $1 might be appealing....but there is too much room for abuse:  the very gov. that is often labeled incompetent would be in charge of administering the rights to that land, it opens up a whole world of implications about liability, and 4,987 new affirmative action city employees would be needed to ensure it's all managed appropriately, and of course there is no discrimination in renting the land (so Westoboro could rent it anyway)....just to name a few.  lol

Instead of involving the courts, a community could just as easily show up to support a family.  It's not like Westboro keeps their intent to picket secret...

on Oct 08, 2010

Doc I can see how renting public land for a time for $1 might be appealing....but there is too much room for abuse: the very gov. that is often labeled incompetent would be in charge of administering the rights to that land, it opens up a whole world of implications about liability, and 4,987 new affirmative action city employees would be needed to ensure it's all managed appropriately, and of course there is no discrimination in renting the land (so Westoboro could rent it anyway)....just to name a few. lol

As you and Basmas have both pointed out, I agree.  And I like your reservations (although I think Basmas was trying to say the same thing) best.  You are unfortunately correct.  Government is incompetent when it comes to anything, and my plan does call for a scalpel, not a scythe.  And the government only knows the latter.

However, I would seek to work on my plan as a start that could be finely honed to prevent abuse - but that would require the people - not politicians - to come up with the common sense needed.

on Oct 08, 2010

I'm a member of the Patriot Guards, we are a group that gets between the Phelpsians and the funeral.  I haven't participated in an operation yes, since no funerals have been violated in Wisconsin (yet)..  Thank the Lord!

I think this is a great, private citizen, asnwer to the Phelpsian problem.  Private Citizens acting in the best interest of other private citizens.

~~~~

Dr Guy: Interesting idea, except for one thing.  If the "leases" are offered to the public, then it would be a violation of the rights of the Phelpsians if the government made those leases available to anyone BUT them.

What recourse woud the government have if the Phelpsians applied for the lease during funerals?

 

 

on Oct 11, 2010

I haven't participated in an operation yes, since no funerals have been violated in Wisconsin (yet).. Thank the Lord!

For some reason they have been spending a lot of time here - but not at funerals.  Just protesting local schools and churches.

Dr Guy: Interesting idea, except for one thing. If the "leases" are offered to the public, then it would be a violation of the rights of the Phelpsians if the government made those leases available to anyone BUT them.

No, the leases would be offered to them - but the leases would be offered only for funerals and for the execution of the funeral.  In other words, Moron.org could not lease it at a funeral for a conservative and the freepers could not lease it for a funeral for a liberal.

The law would have to be very narrowly tailored to say that the lease would be to the funeral function only, not anyone who wanted to show up.  And yes, there are still plenty of areas for abuse by the government (in other words, a candidate could hold a "wake" for some long dead clown???? at a campaign stop).  It is not perfect, but at least it does not change the right of Freedom of Speech.

on Oct 20, 2010

the saying goes : "my freedom ceases, when other people's freedoms are involved" ...Gd question!

on Oct 20, 2010

I take that back, we've been invited to 2.. maybe 3 funerals next week.  Hopefully we won't be needed, but...

on Oct 20, 2010

ParaTed2k
I take that back, we've been invited to 2.. maybe 3 funerals next week.  Hopefully we won't be needed, but...

Best of luck in any event.

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