Yellow Grolek

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2,348 posts
Okay, before anyone starts ranting about their opinions over Freedom of speech(though I suppose you are free to rant) I would like to point out that this has a particular subject. All situations are different and I am talking specifically about this one. Also, not every one of you people are from the U.S., I understand but feel free to speak up.

So I'm sure a lot of people have heard about the anti-gay protest that disrupted the funerals of fallen soldiers, by a church no less, in Kansas a few years back The family of one of the soldier sued the church and won. Recently though the church won an appeal by the Supreme Court in an 8-1 vote on the grounds that they were exercising freedom of speech.

The church's protest caused extreme emotional distress to the family at an already distressing time. They were close range, scared people wishing to pay their respects, and shouted things like, "You're going to hell!" and, "God hates you!" They even had signs saying such things as, "Thank God for dead soldiers." The church wanted to tell everyone that God is punishing America for (and I quote) "The sin of homosexuality" by killing our soldiers. The soldiers were not gay (as far as I'm aware), nor did they have anything to do with any homosexual debate (as far as I'm aware) they were targeted because they were simply soldiers to a country that allows homosexuality.

My question to you all is this: Should the right to freedom of speech cover moments like this?
This is not about all churches, or any particular faith. This is also not about your opinions on homosexuality, just the lengths that freedom of speech can protect us. You might disagree with what the church did but agree that they did have the right to freedom of speech, you might agree with the church and supreme court completely, or you might hate everything about this discussion.

In my opinion this is not freedom of speech. This is verbal abuse. If you hear someone emotionally and verbally abuse someone else, isn't that wrong? Can they just claim freedom of speech and keep right on going? No, the authorities will be called and the person will spend time in jail or therapy, or something. The members of this church are entitled to their opinions, yes, but not to the point when it is disruptive to others. That is a basic, elementary school rule. Not only that but these soldiers are meant to fight to protect these laws that they so rudely exercise. I love the law that gives us freedom of speech, heck it is what allows us to have debate forums like this, but to see it abused disgusts me. This is crap that children and teenagers pull. In all actuality, I do not believe that there is such a thing as true freedom of speech for any one person, but that is another debate.
Pair of Loving Plushies
Gotta collect 'em all!
4,924 posts
Well.. Yes and no. I don't believe they had any right to be at the Funerals of the Soldiers or to say "Thank God for Dead Soldiers". That's just not right. Free Speech doesn't protect you against Death Threats or False Claims. I don't think Free Speech should protect you against emotionally harming people. Though I can see where they had to give in at this angle.

Someone cries emotional distress from a clean picket fence at.. an Abortion Clinic, then the people who have a right to be there and state their feelings, get in trouble. Why? Because you can lie about emotional pain. People do it all the time in court. Get millions when suing people for "emotional damages" already.

Do I agree with how they chose to protest? No. Do I think they are nuts? Yeah. Because pretty much every other developed country in this world approves of homosexuality and they seem to be doing better off it seems. But, in some regards, I think they do have the right to free speech there. Not how they handled it but if they used less profane messages like "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" Then..yeah I would agree with them 100%.

In all actuality..its no different then a Church protesting in front of an Abortion Clinic. Many of these Churches and Protesters will even target people coming and going from the Abortion Clinic. Yet I don't believe I've ever seen anything where there is a public out cry for their emotional pain..yet it comes to the pain falling on the families of men and women lost at war to open people's eyes that this hurts people? I dunno.. Kinda makes me frustrated.
"Laugh whenever you can. Keeps you from killing yourself when things are bad. That and vodka." — Jim Butcher (Dresden Files: Changes)
497 posts
The interview with the head woman of the church, David Cole, and a member of Anonymous (who they claimed hacked their site, but they didn't until they were pushed on air to do so) was hilarious/sickeningly sad as you get to see how crazy they actually are. They make the general populous of Anonymous look sane (which is no easy feat).

Westboro Baptist picketed a community college in Longview, WA for performing a play that was about the death of Matthew Sheppard. Guess who was on the front lines to protest them protesting (lol)? This chick. Sure, it's like peeing into an ocean of pee, but it was fun stuff and met good people.

In short, they're horrid people who have the right to protest. The dead soldiers, marines, and sailors don't get to pick and choose who they got to give their lives for for the values of the constitution and bill of rights (which is such a shame).

The WBC are media attention-seekers (we all know right now what I actually want to say) in the absolute worst way. They pick and choose what verses to spout poison over, and what rights they should take away from someone else (eg being gay = THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS).
12,113 posts
I think the church's protest have the right to express their opinion and say whatever they need to say to make them happy but in a more "respectful" way. I think the church seriously needs to chill about this and grow up a little...The protests at the funerals are outright disrespectful for not only the dead soldiers, but for their families. >.<

Last edited, Mar 4th 2011 @ 12:01 am
275 posts
They are derpfaces, but it is their opinion. Like Seither said, it is just like any other controversial topic. They're allowed to say what they have to say, no matter how utterly ridiculous and close minded it sounds. Their disruptive behavior is like any protest, which is a fundamental right that we have as supporters of democracy. We can't say "you're not allowed to think this way. Get off the planet" just because 99.9% of the country thinks they're crazy, because we're Americans, and doing that is just too blatantly hypocritical.

And yea. Disruption is good, in some cases. Or so Unions say. Actually, all forms of nonviolent civil disobedience is disruption. It is what gave african americans and women the right to vote. Disruption isn't that bad, if used maturely

And it depends on the 'verbal abuse'. Many people on the internet are verbally abusing the WBC right now, just not publicly. Satirists mock and criticize, teenagers have their drama, couples have their fights, sports teams have their rivalries and political party candidates have their spats. If we tweak the whole amendment of the constitution for something so minor and specific, it may affect minor, everyday aspects of our living. The constitution affects EVERYONE living in the country and there would probably be a lot more problems >.>
What a shaky foundation our ideals are standing on, huh?

I don't really like how this is allowed, but freedom of speech is freedom of speech. Protests may hurt people, but there is no violence involved (like with the KKK and slavery) and no damaging consequences to the country (such as the exception to the rule during times of war and reporting military secrets). Maybe they should just prohibit people from protesting during funerals or close to places with funerals? (Like, how restaurants prohibit smoking in their restaurants, but allow you to do it outside. They don't force you out of the choice itself; just within their property)

Edit: This kinda reminds me of the Mosque in ground zero situation and how it is protected by freedom of religion. :0

Last edited, Mar 5th 2011 @ 1:01 am
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