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Posted by on Mar 9, 2010 in Politics, Religion, Society | 59 comments

Supreme Court Takes Up Funeral Protest Case

The US Supreme Court will hear an appeal involving Fred Phelps and his disgusting Westboro Baptist Church. For those not familiar with Mr. Phelps he and his church are vehemently anti gay and among other things they regularly picket the funerals of dead soldiers.

At the funerals they hold up signs celebrating the deaths as divine justice for the US ‘tolerating’ gays (which seems to be defined as not sending all of them to internment camps or something.

The family of one dead soldier was awarded damages for intentional infliction emotional distress and invasion of privacy but the award was reversed by an appeals court on free speech grounds.

I am a strong advocate of the First Amendment. Free speech is free speech, even when we find the view totally disgusting. For the most part I come very close to the Black absolutist viewpoint on the subject

However there are reasonable limits to free speech as well. You cannot yell fire in a crowded theater. You cannot make death threats against a person.The key issue is whether the behavior being punished is merely for expressing a viewpoint or if it is for behavior not directly connected to the opinion.

For example you are free under the 1st Amendment to wish someone dead, but you cannot act on that opinion nor can you threaten them, because then your activity is not simply to express the view but to cause the person pain and anguish.

Similarly, while WBC is fully entitled to their warped viewpoint that the death of a solider is to be celebrated, they are not entitled to deliberately and willfully cause pain and anguish to the family. This is the pure definition of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.

Similarly, while you are entitled to think that all of my writing is pure bunk (and I’m sure there are many with that view) you are not entitled to stand outside my house and scream about it 24 hours a day. I am entitled to a certain level of privacy.

Therefore I hope the Supreme Court rules 9-0 against the protesters.

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CODA
Past TMV articles about Pastor Fred Phelps and his Protests at funerals

— by Holly in Cinncinnati on Snyder funeral law suit against Phelps: http://themoderatevoice.com/18796/couldnt-happen-to-nicer-folks/

–video posted by Allahpundit at Hot Air, re Rev. Phelps and Rick Sanchez “yelling at one another” over Snyder law suit: http://hotair.com/archives/2007/10/31/video-fred-phelps-and-rick-sanchez-yell-at-each-other-over-snyder-suit/

— by Peter Abel on theocracy: http://themoderatevoice.com/12518/addressing-theocracy-just-the-facts/

— by Dr.E: http: Fred-phelps-and-his-god-hates-you-church/...

— by Dr.E: http://themoderatevoice.com/12273/virginia-tech-protection-needed-as-with-columbine-funerals-and-memorial-services-pastor-fred-is-coming-to-spread-his-screed-at-vt/

— by Dr.E: http://themoderatevoice.com/14437/minneapolis-bridge-victims-funerals-it-all-fun-erals-all-the-time-to-pastor-fred-phelps/

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