ACLU supports Westboro Baptist

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by nbs2, Jul 23, 2006.

  1. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #1
    So, for a long time I always found myself fundamentally disagreeing with the ACLU. I'd settled on their only paying lip service to non-partisan promotion of civil liberties and upholding a liberal agenda. Then, today I read this intriguing article from the Post. Now, I know that I may never cease to abhor them....

    (if need be, I can post the article here)
     
  2. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #2
    the aclu defends the first amendment, regardless of how unpopular messages made under it are. i'm thankful that someone is out there defending our freedoms.

    and i'm pretty darned sure that the attorneys assigned to the defense are at least a little disgusted with their clients.

    btw: your thread title should read "defends", not "supports". "supports" is subjective.
     
  3. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #3
    If the law is unconstitutional, are you willing to admit the ACLU was right and you were wrong? Or are you content with the Constitution being ignored in certain situations?
     
  4. nbs2 thread starter macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #4
    If the law is unconstitutional, I will admit that it needs to be restructured to fall in alignment. That being said, I think it is constitutional. Even though "fighting words" is not the most easily applied exception to the freedom of speech, I think that respecting burial of the dead meets that category (kind of like the infliction of emotional distress as applied to mishandling a corpse). The hate speech from Westboro really should be cut off...
     
  5. CorvusCamenarum macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

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    #5
    Does the law say this hate group can't be silly and protest? No. It just says they can't protest at place X within time frame Y. Reasonable restrictions can and have been legally placed on freedom of speech, assembly, etc (i.e. yelliing "Fire!" in a theater = not allowed). This isn't any different.
     
  6. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #6
    Agreed- but as vile as they are, they still have a right to express themselves. Ha- but I've said this before: There should be a caveat that says I can punch them in the face without reprisal. :) But then, that would be bad, wouldn't it? ;)
     
  7. dmw007 macrumors G4

    dmw007

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    #7
    Same here zimv20. :)
     
  8. mischief macrumors 68030

    mischief

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    #8
    ah but the catch...

    The problem seems to be though that when the ACLU steps in to take up a case it's almost always someone who's a little too far out into wackyland.

    It's become somewhat of a cliche that if the ACLU stamp is on you it's like the Consumer Reports thumbs up for crack-pots. Oh, My bad... pot smokers, hateful zealots, etc. It's like they're the DOT Rating stamp for foil hats.

    But hey, if I want to claim that my addiction is medicinal (yes, there ARE many cases where that's true but I know far more Heads with cards than Cancer survivors with cards) or fling poo as a form of artistic expression I guess the ACLU will always be there to wrap my loony ass in the flag.:p
     
  9. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #9
    that's a media distortion, imo. they take up TONS of cases, 99% of which don't make the news. lots o' info at their site.
     
  10. aquajet macrumors 68020

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    #10
    These two situations are different. Yelling "Fire!" in a movie theatre is a potentially serious safety hazard. Saying mean things about dead people to the faces of the grieving is a fundamentally different situation.
     
  11. mischief macrumors 68030

    mischief

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    #11
    Touche.

    I suppose I'm a bit biassed being in a town where the whole "legalization" schtick has been perverted to such an extreme. Who're the folks with the cards? Growers mostly. They were growing before and they grow a lot more now.

    But seriously: There's got to be some working ground between the spirit and the letter of the Constitution. Where does freedom of speech end and hate-crime begin? I can be arrested for spanking my kid or yelling at him enough to damage his mind. Both are considered assault. How is this any different? Both do violence; one simply leaves more forensic evidence than the other.

    Must we now have cameras and PI's handy to track who's out there spitting on our dead under the umbrella of the first amendment, seek them out individually and bring suit of "Intentional infliction of emotional distess"?

    Ludicrous.

    The basis of criminal law is to deter violence of any kind between citizens. The basis of the Constitution is to do the same between the citizenry and the government.

    Which is the greater violence: Allowing hate to spread and fester or criminalization of acts most would consider unconscionable?
     
  12. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #12
    i went to the aclu website and found a press release, here, about a similar case they took up in kentucky. note the basis on which they took the case:

     
  13. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #13
    That's why the ACLU is bringing suit. The courts will decide.

    The Constitution primarily establishes the framework of government and, with amendments, limits the scope and power of that federal government. Its purpose is not simply keeping the government from harming you.

    The KKK has as much right to parade down Main Street as do the VFW. Ignoring the Constitution when you don't like what it's prohibiting the government from doing is not acceptable.
     
  14. mischief macrumors 68030

    mischief

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    #14
    Precisely, all else is keyboard punditry eh?

    I could argue that the bill of rights serves to limit the harm the fed can do to the populace. Pardon the generalization... The hour and the beer I figure (shrug).;)



    Yep, they can march down the street all they want but the moment they use any of their more colourful slogans in the presence of a person of colour they do violence to that person. I'm not ignoring the constitution, Im making the point that speech can do direct and personal harm every bit as much as a physical blow.
     
  15. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #15
    That opens the door to some very subjective standards that depend too much on the person hearing or reading the speech. For instance, a woman wrote an op/ed published by the local newspaper where she called for the execution of homosexuals. Should she be in jail? Should the editor? What if no homosexuals read the paper that day? Can I be offended for them?
     
  16. Bobdude161 macrumors 65816

    Bobdude161

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    #16
    These actions really give Christianity a bad name. Obviously this pastor has a personal objective not a spiritual one.
     
  17. mischief macrumors 68030

    mischief

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    #17
    She can be sued. She can be fired. If anyone commits a hate crime that can be traced back to her article she can be tried for conspiracy. But your arguement seems to preclude any leeway for recourse at all...

    Time for a look at the text:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    A literal take on that would mean that if I were to, over several weeks say, work on your mind over a few beers and bonghits enough that you decided to kill someone I'd be guilty only of free speech. Charles Manson agrees with that take, a jury didn't.

    There comes a point where what comes out of your mouth ceases to be speech and begins to do harm. There must be a mechanism available to find recourse when that harm is grievous.

    Shall we look at that first statement and go over the copious case law on religious sexual misconduct in sects that practice polygamy, rape and incest? That whole body of convictions could be argued to be in violation of the first amendment because it curtails the free exercise of religious practices.

    Shall we consider defamation and slander to be unprosecutable because they involve speech or press as a vehicle?

    Shall we say that statements made by our young and confused friend in an adjacent thread can do no possible harm?

    Speech is not just a mechanism for thoughts; it's a vehicle for ideas and a reflection on the character who births it.

    A violent mind, when allowed to do violence of a lesser sort is more apt to do greater violence in the future. Mass murderers all attribute their sprees to the utter lack of consequences to their early misdeeds.

    The option of pressing charges for verbal assault should exist just as it does for physical assault: as an option and a misdemeanor, escalatable to a felony with appropriately scaled outcomes.
     
  18. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #18
    Which is why I support the ACLU even when I disagree with them. Someone has to defend the undefendable. Even in this case.

    Personally, I believe they shouldn't be able to harass mourners at the funeral. Should fall under privacy, personal property, and disturbing the peace laws. But if they want to protest outside, as long as it's peaceful, on public property, and they don't block people from coming in or out, it's legal. As hateful as it is, as disgusting as I think it is.

    The ACLU should argue the case. Someone has to. Believe it or not, it's better for all of us. Greater good and all.
     
  19. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #19
    Wow, you're getting awfully broad there.

    The restrictions you are advocating would prevent the VFW from marching in largely anti-war Santa Cruz because they would "do violence" to many of the "No Blood For Oil" crowd. It would prevent these same Westboro Baptist folks from protesting at gay pride events because of the "violence" those protests would do to the gay folk. It would prevent gay pride events from taking place so as not to "do violence" to the Westboro Baptist crowd. It would prevent the NAACP from rallying so as not to "do violence" to the white supremists among us. And so on and so forth.

    Under your proposed rule the only protests / celebrations / parades etc. that would be allowed are ones that support moms and apple pie. And you still might find some people who are offended by those items.

    Remember, there is no right not to be offended in this country.
     
  20. CorvusCamenarum macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

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    #20
    They're the same in that they're reasonable and lawful restrictions on "free speech". But to clarify, I'll use a different example. If you want to hold a demonstration/protest/whatever, you generally have to file for a permit to have said event. If the issuance of said permits is reasonably restricted from certain areas and/or time frames, then it's hard to see how one's freedom of speech is being unlawfully abridged. If this wacko church group was truly interested in protesting on principle rather than getting in peoples' faces and causing a stink, then they shouldn't have a problem with being told to move down the road and letting mourners grieve in peace.

    To paraphrase the film Tombstone, they're not saying you can't own a gun. They're not saying you can't carry a gun. They're just saying you can't carry a gun in town.
     
  21. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #21
    We'll see. That isn't a settled area of law, or this case would not be brought. I have my doubts that you can stifle protests at funerals.
     
  22. maestro55 macrumors 68030

    maestro55

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    #22
    I will chime in here, because I am against the ideas and thoughts of this Westboro church. It is a group of radical Christians who like many other radical groups fill the world with hateful propaganda towards one group or another. While I disagree with this, I will defend their right to say what they please any day.

    To compare this to yelling "Fire" in a crowded room is asinine. That can cause physical harm or even death. People often argue how certain propaganda can cause mental harm, this must be taken on a case by case basis. Also the mention of permits to protest, I find that very silly. Recently laws were passed that wouldn't allow Anti-War protesters to get too close to Bush's Ranch in Crawford, TX. Even though these protesters were on public land, I find that to be without logic and against the Constitution.

    When they stop a peaceful protest outside a memorial service of a group of Radical Christians, next week they can stop me from getting a permit to protest in D.C. against our tyrant president.
     
  23. mischief macrumors 68030

    mischief

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    #23
    Who's proposing rules?

    I'm just trying to illustrate that an absolute stand on the first amendment is just as ludicrous as the law that started this thread. As posted by maestro55: case by case.
     
  24. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #24
    Everyone knows that an absolute stand on the 1st Amendment is ludicrous. We're taught that from the "Fire! in a crowded theater" example. You were proposing we move beyond restrictions on speech that has great potential to cause bodily harm, to speech that only offends.

    And as I said before, there is no right not to be offended in this country. If there was, our society would be as bland and boring as possible. The lowest common denominator would rule.

    And I certainly don't believe that being offended is the same as being physically harmed.
     
  25. CorvusCamenarum macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

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    #25
    And it doesn't already?

    I just have a really hard time believing that the Founding Fathers had this in mind when they put ink to paper. To my limited, non-legal interpretation/opinion, what they meant was that people could be free to say King George was a horse's rear and not be jailed for it. But that aside, the current legal interpretation is a bit broader, and I'm not going to dispute that.

    Notions of offense aside, throwing stones, be them verbal or otherwise, at a corpse not yet in the ground crosses all bounds of decency, at least with me. I'm willing to wager that anyone who thinks a law keeping hecklers away from a funeral-in-progress is a bad idea has never had anyone show up at one they were attending for said purpose.
     

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