Snyder v. Phelps

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

As many of you probably know, the Phelps case is set for oral argument today at 10 a.m. Scotusblog has an excellent in-depth analysis of issues and arguments by both sides. Basically, what is at stake is whether funerals will receive some level of heightened protection from protests or that there is a "funeral exception."

Not surprisingly, I am not a fan of Phelps and I finds his beliefs indefensible and outrageous. I wish the 'free speech' side had a more likable and sympathetic advocate, but that is not the case. While I find Snyder's arguments to be decent and compelling, I am not sure that I want to carve out an exception for funerals and wonder if the better approach would be to go after the Phelps cult in a different manner. What do you think?

5 comments:

Bob 7:28 AM  

I have trouble believing that the Supreme Ct, won't protect this guys right to free speech. The Klan is protected, why not this asshat?

The only way I can figure it would go against Phelps, based on my layman's analysis is if he somehow violated another person's rights in excercising his own. I don't thing that is the situation in this case.

Smitty 2:23 PM  

A buddy of mine posted on his Facebook Notes a lengthy and well-written post about why we should't fire this Shervill guy. Why the backlash from such a move is worse than having to listen to him.

I bring this up because it's sort of what I feel about Phelps. He is immoral. He misses the point of a mature relationship with the nature of God. But the consequences of his censorship are worse than the pain in the ass it is to have police make him scream from across the street rather than at the site itself.

The other irksome thing about this whole case, and a thing that is *not* on trial here but is more of a personal statement, is the deification of the soldier. We have lent a sense of sacredness to our troops, exemplified in how we stand for them at every game and ovate wildly, about how every politician must give them empty platitudes, about how we can't be critical of certain warfighting methods without being accused of punishing our troops. That does a few things. Relevant to this post, it puts us in positions where we may usurp our own rights(or face vilification for not doing so) to put them in a protected class.

Not relevant to this post but relevant to a longer debate, it makes us unable to question methods they use lest we mar the face of our angels. Folks, when I was a Marine, I recognized what I was: the sharp end of the failure of diplomacy; the pointy end foreign policy. I was an instrument, and was OK with that. I was uncomfortable with recognition, and our drill instructors made sure of that!

Smitty 2:34 PM  

To answer what is technically the second part of your question, other ways of pursuit of phelps, I think we look to local ordinances and existing laws. If he breaks the law, go after him. If he breaks an ordinance, fine him like crazy. Can a case be made that he is violating some sort of harrassment clause or local ordinance against, say, swearing or stalking? Nail him there.

The Phelps family likes to sue; it's how, according to a BBC documentary on the family, they make their money. So...use their tactic to your advantage. Take them to court, over every little thing, over and over. Municipalities can afford to do that, one at a time, community by community that the family invades. Their family, I think, ultimately can't keep that up.

Shit, I bet taking their case this far is setting them back a few pounds.

Anonymous,  7:48 PM  

So...use their tactic to your advantage...

Or we could just shoot their asses.

steves 6:44 AM  

Smitty, I agree with your points. I, too, am generally uncomfortable with restricintg free speech. Other countries seem ok with restricting so-called hate speech and set up elaborate rules and commissions to enforce them. From what I see, they often go too far or are unfair in how they apply the rules.

I also agree that the deification of our troops has had the negative results you mention. As for what to do about Phelps et al., I am not sure. Harrassment would be hard to show because they don't go after a specific person, but rather just make a general protest. The Snyder family is trying to argue that they were a "captive audience" and that Phelps did go after them personally.

I think that some laws could be set up keeping them a certain distance from whatever event, but I doubt they could be completely excluded. I also think some counter protests may be effective, but maybe Phelps gets off on the attention. As for legal fees, the few members of the phelps cult that aren't disbarred typically represent them in their cases.

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