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Westboro BaptistsAs a man, a husband and father, as a resident of this country and a member of the human race, I hold no truck with Hate Speech.

If a Constitutional Amendment allows such speech, then that amendment is an ass.

If, however, the speech is protected because Congress has never moved to outlaw such vile and utter filth, then Congress, and by extension the Electorate are wholly to blame.

In common with most sane people, I detest and abhor the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church. Indeed, even though I am an Atheist, I find the word "Church" in their name to be offensive. Offensive on a primitive, almost biological level. Offensive in the way my body would find eating my own feces offensive.

I used the word "God" in the title of this piece ironically, because I can't help but think that were such a concept to really exist, he/she/it would have sent the thunderbolts of eternal damnation to smite this group, probably in their cradles and well before they could inflict their poison on society.

So when I see that they intend to picket funerals in Boston, I react viscerally, much in the way many people in my Facebook feed react.

Then I got to wondering ...

For some time now it has crossed my mind that any civilised society would have already dealt firmly with this odious group. In the UK, for example, they would be arrested for "Behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace". They would then be injuncted against a repeat of such behaviour, and jailed for contempt if they were to persist. Few would have any sympathy.

Here, in the US, we have the 1st Amendment, and I am told that their speech, however distasteful, is "protected speech". Protected from what I'm less sure, but I ask the question ... "Who protects the LBGT community from them?"

Who protects the grieving families? Who looks after the children who are burying their parents? Who has the best interests of the victims of hate in mind?

The Westboro Baptists could not speak about black people, or Hispanics, or folk in wheelchairs, or Jews, or Muslims... in this manner. That would not be protected speech, it would be a Hate Crime because we have laws about that kind of thing. They would, should they try, be prosecuted for a hate crime, and Federal prosecutors up and down the country would line up to take the case and score such an easy and popular win.

The fact is that the Westboro Baptist Church is an unpleasant symptom of this country's complete and abject failure to include our LBGT citizens in anti-discrimination legislation.

Congress has utterly failed in it's principal function, that of protecting the citizens. That Congress is filled with Representatives and Senators who are not fit to walk the same ground as decent, thinking Americans is a consequence of elections, and the electorate. Fed on bullshit and kept in the dark ... the mushroom voters, and there are way too many of them.

When we protest the actions of the Westboro Baptists, and all hate groups, we might bear in mind that they are only able to operate because in the year 2013, America has not yet been able to pass laws to prevent the continued and continual attacks on minority groups in our society.

And that should shame us all.

-

1:29 PM PT: I will remind all those who so fiercely defend the 1st Amendment ... It brings NOTHING to ordinary citizens other than a feeling that you are free to spew at the mouth to your heart's content, with no comeback.

It does, however, bring Corporate Personhood, and Citizens United. It is the amendment that has allowed the corporations to buy the government, and use it to suppress wages, conditions and every aspect of life that you value.

So you might bear that in mind when you defend that amendment.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (19+ / 0-)

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 12:46:45 PM PDT

  •  WBC are professional trolls (10+ / 0-)

    They go from town to town, act in the most provocative manner that's constitutionally defensible, and then sue anyone that assaults them.

    They are, in other words, trolling for lawsuits.

    Best to ignore them.

    ‎"Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor." - Norman Mailer
    My Blog
    My wife's woodblock prints

    by maxomai on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 12:51:09 PM PDT

  •  WBC is a scourge on the face of the earth. (10+ / 0-)

    The founder, Fred Phelps, should be prosecuted for child abuse. What a sick, sick family. Out for publicity.

    "For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it." - President Barack Obama, Second Inaugural Address, January 21, 2013.

    by surfermom on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 12:53:51 PM PDT

  •  Let them talk, sqawk, froth and foam at the mouth. (5+ / 0-)

    And make sure everyone sees how hated they are for it. In a sense, give them what they want -- the spotlight. I predict under the full intensity of it they'll melt like cheap wax candles.

    You can't assassinate the character of any of modern conservative. You'd have to find where it was buried, dig it up, resurrect it, then kill it. And killing a zombie isn't really assassination, is it?

    by ontheleftcoast on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 12:59:35 PM PDT

  •  This isn't true actually (12+ / 0-)
    The Westboro Baptists could not speak about black people, or Hispanics, or folk in wheelchairs, or Jews, or Muslims... in this manner. That would not be protected speech, it would be a Hate Crime because we have laws about that kind of thing.
    Speech is protected as long as it is not an imminent call to violence.

    The KKK is allowed to march. Westboro is allowed to protest funerals for whomever they are currently trolling. Bill Maher is allowed to mock minority religious groups on TV. Catholics are allowed to say that gay marriage is intrinsically evil and promulgate this message from thousands of pulpits on a weekly basis.

    Better to have the hate out in the open where it can be mocked, ridiculed and eventually made irrelevant.

    Look, I tried to be reasonable...

    by campionrules on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:02:27 PM PDT

  •  I disagree with this: (10+ / 0-)
    America has not yet been able to pass laws to prevent the continued and continual attacks on minority groups in our society.

    And that should shame us all.

    I don't want America to pass laws preventing certain kinds of speech on the big social/political issues of the day.  That's exactly the point of the First Amendment.  

    And who is WBC?  They are a hate-filled group whose sole purpose is to stir up as much uproar as they can in the hope of getting publicity and -- in their best case scenario -- having some governmental entity violate their First Amendment rights so they can sue.  They are completely despicable.  And I fully support their First Amendment rights.  If the First Amendment does not protect odious speech, then none of us really have any First Amendment rights.    

    It is important to remember that the First Amendment just prevents government from interfering with their right to speak out (regardless of how odious the speech is).  Nothing prevents other citizens from staging counter-protests and making sure those attending funerals never see WBC.  The solution to bad speech is more speech.  

    •  I disagree with you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCalSal, hnichols

      People whose principal business is the persecution of another group of citizens should never be tolerated.

      Many countries deal with these issues quite successfully, America doesn't.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      Who is twigg?

      by twigg on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:08:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How do you determine who's persecuting whom (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hnichols, aitchdee, VClib

        You mention that you are an atheist - Would you agree to a law that prevented you from speaking about minority religious groups in a derogatory manner? Would you criminalize someone like Penn and Teller for making fun of Scientology? Or Southpark for mocking Islam?

        How exactly do you measure a groups 'principal measure of business' and how it relates to persecution. It could be argued right now that the vast majority of Catholic doctrine would amount to persecution of LGBT individuals.

        Sorry, I'll take a robust first amendment and skip all the hassle that Europeans have to deal with by pushing hate speech under a rug. Or sending people to jail for saying something mean - which England seems to have just discovered.

        Look, I tried to be reasonable...

        by campionrules on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:13:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And America does not (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hnichols

          jail people for their beliefs?

          Hate speech is pretty easy to spot, and we have juries who would help decide what was tolerable and what wasn't.

          The Europeans don't have hassle deciding what constitutes hate speech, and they don't have the Westboro Baptists ....

          What Europe does have is some very tough legislation that protects LBGT folk from discrimination.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          Who is twigg?

          by twigg on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:23:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Agreed, but even is some parts of Europe, (0+ / 0-)

            the legal protection from discrimination is often more form than content.  Although once a case works it way further up and finally gets EU attention, fines and victim compensation do make an impression.  

            It gets on my nerves, and you know how I am about my nerves...

            by ciganka on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 07:40:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  aw, hell, twigg, how would we know which idjits (6+ / 0-)

        were idjits if they weren't allowed to shout their idjicy from the street corners?

        LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

        by BlackSheep1 on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:21:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  lol (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hnichols

          The idiocy I have no problem with.

          They could be idiots all day long. They cross a line into a territory that should be protected from them.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          Who is twigg?

          by twigg on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:24:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  lemme 'splain somethin' ... you're in Oklahoma, so (7+ / 0-)

            there may even be local chapters near you of outfits like college Greeks and the Patriot Riders. They're the ones you get off a Google search for opposition to these jerks. Goodhearted hardworking Americans do protect folks from these idjits, in a ton of different ways which are largely more popular and way more effective than would be a law banning their public crapulence. If we legislated these jerks and morans' idjicy out of the public fora, those folks would have no opportunity to speak out against this kind of crap, let alone act to protect people from it and change the world, to quote Bill Nye, by making the population see what idjits these jerks are.

            Once you can show folks in public and in ways that don't invoke ire or backlash just how foul this that this kind of hatred is, they'll understand the need to be fair. Extrapolation from there is a mathematical function. Just think -- back when Bill Clinton was President, these idjits were heroes to a big swath of the Christian right....now? People are running away from them.

            I feel sorry for the kids trapped in the WBC. Phelps ought to be in jail, not for being a bigoted jerk with a public persona, but for being a child abuser.

            LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

            by BlackSheep1 on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:36:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I agree, we should use those tactics (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BlackSheep1

              against the regular "Tea-Party" type of opposition, it can be very effective.

              WBC goes way beyond this, and it can't be beyond the wit of man to stop it cold.

              Nothing wrong with reducing the violent rhetoric, it makes the reasonable voices sound louder.

              I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
              but I fear we will remain Democrats.

              Who is twigg?

              by twigg on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 02:01:03 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I really wish there were something (0+ / 0-)

                the Constitution wouldn't prevent. However, two generations of lawyers have crafted WBC's tactics to stay about a thirty-thousandths of an inch inside Constitutional limits, and then provoke people.

                LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

                by BlackSheep1 on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 04:55:07 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  And WBC takes lawsuits (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  BlackSheep1

                  all the way to the SCOTUS and wins damages. They are reprehensible, but very effective litigators. They use the legal system to bring lawsuits for damages, and attorney's fees, an important part of their financial model. They consistently win monetary damages from people who respond when WBC provokes them.  

                  "let's talk about that"

                  by VClib on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 07:59:44 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  I'm with you on this, twigg. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        twigg, a2nite, Susan G in MN

        Criticism of the government is and should be protected speech. Hate speech against a group should not be tolerated. Other civilized countries get it correctly, the USA does not.

        The ACLU does a lot of good, but it also has done harm: for example the ACLU's work to support  corporate personhood. Thank the ACLU for its collusion with big business to deliver Citizens United. And another example is protection of hate speech.

        “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children” ― Chief Seattle

        by SoCalSal on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:27:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Under this definition (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hnichols, coffeetalk, VClib

          Half of the diaries on Dailykos at any given time are hate speech.

          Look, I tried to be reasonable...

          by campionrules on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:34:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  How so? (0+ / 0-)

            The Diaries on Daily Kos generally do not spew hate, and certainly not against minority groups.

            I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
            but I fear we will remain Democrats.

            Who is twigg?

            by twigg on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:49:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Read some of the diaries about (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              twigg, Catte Nappe, aitchdee, VClib

              Catholics or fundamentalist Christians.  There is some pretty strong language in some of them, that someone in those groups might think is "hate" speech against them.  

              Even some of the anti-conservative stuff would arguably be "hate speech" (as would anti-progressive stuff that appears on conservative websites as well).  

              •  I don't agree (0+ / 0-)

                You have a point, that not all Kossacks choose their words with as much care as one might hope. That simply demonstrates why Religion should be removed completely from the political discourse. Religion is a private matter of faith, nothing more.

                The anti-conservative stuff is invariably a response, usually backed with links to verifiable sources.

                It's not hate speech if it is true.

                I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
                but I fear we will remain Democrats.

                Who is twigg?

                by twigg on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 02:08:09 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  And boom there you go (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  buddabelly, aitchdee, VClib

                  'It's not hate speech if it's true'

                  Oh that's a slippery slope right there. Holy Hell.

                  Look, I tried to be reasonable...

                  by campionrules on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 02:14:35 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  This is precisely what you DON'T want (5+ / 0-)
                  It's not hate speech if it is true.
                  "Truth" so often is subjective, and the majority is never going to agree with a speaker in the minority about what is "true" or not.  

                  What a jury in NYC decides is "true" about, for example, Catholics is going to be VERY different from what a jury here in very Catholic, very red South Louisiana decides is "true." If you have that standard, the same speech that would be considered "true" in a very progressive area would get you thrown in jail in very conservative areas.  

                  You DON'T want government, or even juries making decisions about what is "true" unless it's a purely erroneous factual statement, like in libel laws.  "He was convicted of a crime" is the kind of factually true or false statement that can be the subject of libel and slander actions.  It's either factually true under the law or it's not, and you can tell by referring to court records to see if the law has a record of a conviction.  But "Catholics are bigots" or "Catholics are ok with pedophiles"  (the kind of thing that is said here all the time) would be considered hate speech, under your standard, by the vast majority of juries here in south Louisiana.  If we go to what you are suggesting, those kinds of statements could be made a crime here in the deep south.  

                •  twigg - who decides what is "true"? (0+ / 0-)

                  Lots of gray there.

                  "let's talk about that"

                  by VClib on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 08:02:17 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  twigg - there is a lot of "hate speech" at DKOS (0+ / 0-)

              if we used the definition of SoCalSal.

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 08:01:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  What I wrote was not intended as legal definition (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            twigg

            Twigg gave a better example than I did when he cited hate speech against LGBT. Appropriate legal descriptions can be easily found or devised.

            “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children” ― Chief Seattle

            by SoCalSal on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:54:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  People whose principal business (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hnichols, Catte Nappe, a2nite, aitchdee

        is verbally persecuting another group of citizens should not be verbally tolerated.

        Which is to say: they're free to talk smack about anybody they like, and we're free to shout over them.

      •  twigg - and thankfully we have our First Amendment (0+ / 0-)

        I don't want any politician to ever have the power to determine the definition of "hate speech" and and therefore the power to criminalize dissent. Our First Amendment is a feature, not a bug.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 07:52:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  How about anti-speech then? To be specific, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      twigg, hnichols, Alexandra Lynch

      set up a series of loudspeakers and microphones that play back whatever they say but altered (180 degrees out of phase) so that it actually shuts them up by canceling out whatever they say resulting in silence.  Surely we could get a bunch of MIT (or whatever) sound engineers who would be willing to set up such a system at a funeral or three.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:46:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I agree with the substance of your diary save this (6+ / 0-)
    Congress has utterly failed in it's principal function, that of protecting the citizens.
    That's a little less than accurate. The principal function of Congress is graft, which they do quite well.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:04:22 PM PDT

    •  I've always felt that WBC sought only to hide (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      twigg, hnichols, Batya the Toon

      behind the 1st Amendment and that a "new understanding" of the right could be found to exclude their vile hatred from protection.  Picketing funerals is beyond anyone's right.

      "In Canada," said Ron Cohen, chairman of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, "we respect free speech but we don't worship it. It is one thing we value, but not the only thing." link

      Guns don't kill people but there's always one there at the time of death.

      by john07801 on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:40:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I would argue that autocorrect is actually (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    twigg, hnichols, marleycat

    God's (or Satan's, your pick) punishment on us all.

    You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

    by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:43:19 PM PDT

  •  Sorry. No. (4+ / 0-)
    I will remind all those who so fiercely defend the 1st Amendment ... It brings NOTHING to ordinary citizens other than a feeling that you are free to spew at the mouth to your heart's content, with no comeback.
    Freedom of Speech. Unfettered Freedom of association, religion, the press and speech are the foundation of liberal democracy.

    Restriction of this right should be minimal and enforced in a manner that is neutral to the content of those practicing their rights.

    Diaries on a liberal, democratic blog that seek to further erode the very right that still allows us to hold back the fascist or corporate takeover of our country are deeply misguided.

    Look, I tried to be reasonable...

    by campionrules on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:47:23 PM PDT

  •  The other half of the First Amendment has (3+ / 0-)

    somehow been interpreted to mean not "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," but that Congress shall tax all Americans, regardless of their personal religious beliefs, to fund religions and allow them to flourish at our expense.

    Rather than discuss their hate speech, I think it is time we just stopped footing the bill for any church. That includes the WBC as well as the church of scientology. And the Catholic Church and all of those in between.

    Let them believe and say whatever they like under the first amendment protection, just don't ask me to pay for it. Any church that actually does any good in the world will have members that support it. Those that don't, won't.  

    Problem solved.

    We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty - Edward R. Murrow

    by Susan Grigsby on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:48:16 PM PDT

  •  I can't agree with this at all. (4+ / 0-)
    I will remind all those who so fiercely defend the 1st Amendment ... It brings NOTHING to ordinary citizens other than a feeling that you are free to spew at the mouth to your heart's content, with no comeback.
    I am reminded of an old folktale about the wise men of Chelm.  The scholars of Chelm came together and asked their chief rabbi:  "Rabbi, which is more important, the sun or the moon?"  The rabbi considered for some time, and answered "The moon -- because it shines at night, when it's dark and we need the light most.  The sun shines only during the day, when it's light anyway."

    The only reason you have the right to say whatever you like about the First Amendment is because the First Amendment exists.

    There are people in this country who detest and abhor us here at Daily Kos every bit as much as you detest and abhor the WBC.  They think everything we say is as vile, as indefensible, as self-evidently harmful and wrong as we think the vitriol Phelps spews is.  They think the country would be far better off if we, and people like us, were never allowed to publicly say the things we publicly say.

    We cannot make it legal to silence the WBC without also making it legal for someone down the road to silence us.

  •  I intend to use the first ammendment to picket (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    the WBC if they ever stray into my neck of the woods with the following sign:

    THANK GOD FOR VAGINAS

    THANK GOD FOR PENISES

    THANK GOD FOR ASSHOLES
    (Even if some of them comprise the WBC)

    A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. - Greek proverb

    by marleycat on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 02:13:35 PM PDT

  •  Change the name! (0+ / 0-)

    If I were a Baptist I would be filing a lawsuit against the idiots at Westboro for defamation. Or something. These jackasses may be a church of sorts, but this is the furthest ideology from Christianity, say, compared to Pluto's distance from the sun. I'd recommend, say, The Westboro Church of Hatred and Malcontents. Too many decent Christians and Baptists get a bad rap because of these twisted fanatics, all of whom have a serious case of a rectal cranial inversion.
    '

    Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

    by richholtzin on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 02:18:41 PM PDT

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