So the Westboro jackasses are going to be going to the funeral of the 9 year old victim of Jared Loughner’s shooting spree. And they are going to get exactly what they want, outrage, attention and law suits. The State of Arizona is going to try to keep them away form the funeral, and they are going to lose. Which as much as it pains me to say is the proper thing.
You see the Westboro faux religionists are not in it to bring people to their deity with the message that "God Hates Fags". They could not care less about the state of your soul or if the nation reverses its trend towards full rights for gay citizens. They aren’t in it for politics or religion, they do this for the money.
"Originally posted at Squarestate.net"
What money you ask? Well the money that comes from well meaning people and municipalities trying to stop them from harassing funerals with their hateful signs. You see they know they are being inflammatory. They know even people who are bigoted towards gay citizens will find it completely objectionable that they come and harass grieving families with their hate. This is trying to provoke a reaction, and when they do, they sue.
Several members of their so-called church (which is mostly the sons and daughters of Uber-Asshole Fred Phelps) are attorneys who have specialized in First Amendment issues. They know exactly what is going to be considered constitutionally protected speech and they stay within that boundary. They are not like the KKK or Neo-Nazis in who also spout unacceptable shit, they don’t threaten anyone, they don’t do anything other than spout an egregious set of speech that because it is loosely tied to the a political issue, civil rights for gay citizens, is fully protected.
When someone tries to prevent them or gets so outraged that they act out they are taken to court. When that person loses to Westboro in court, and they always do, the Westboro lawyers ask for legal fees, and they get them. This lets them fund more of their sick little field trips to other funerals and the cycle goes on. I don’t know what the Phelps family charges themselves per hour, but Dad was a fairly high powered lawyer and he charged several hundred dollars per hour. I would guess the Phelps family attorneys value themselves in that range too. It could be a lot of money, though the courts will keep it to "reasonable expenses" but I bet there are a couple of accountants in the family too in order to document all the costs.
It is not religion or even politics, its is a legal scam. The thing is that we should not try to curb the rights of these scammers. Sure they are among the worst scum our society has produced, gaming our legal system and preying on the moral outrage and grief of others, but if we start to limit their rights, we start to limit our rights.
As objectionable as their speech is, and lets not kid ourselves it is as objectionable as possible on purpose, the right to say damned fool and objectionable things is too important to let a bunch of in-bred griffters force us to give it up. Anyone reading this benefits from the right to say any damned fool thing we like. If the Bush administration thought they could have gotten away with suppressing speech on the Left, they most certainly would have done so, but the same protections the Phelps family enjoy protect us as well.
I think that it is better to treat the Phelps’s clan as trolls. We should not feed them even as we denigrate them. That is what they want, to cause a ruckus to get a well meaning someone to react in a way that will allow them to sue and make a profit on the trip.
The best thing we can do is ignore these bottom feeding disgraces to the human species. Groups like the Patriot Guard (Bikers who turn up at the request of grieving families) are the right response. They may be big and bad and ride bikes, but they don’t turn up to kick ass, instead they hold up sheets to isolate the demented Phelps family from the mourners. It is still a disruption at time of grief but it is at the choice of the grieving families and not the Phelps’s.
The best way to deal with objectionable speech is more speech not less. This applies to all the Right wing talkers who are trying to break the land speed record in disassociating themselves with the violent rhetoric that seems to have contributed to an environment where people like Jared Loughner can murder little children.
If we want to be able to speak our mind we will have to recognize that there will be those who speak their mind and it is sick and twisted mind indeed. What we can do to stop them from poisoning our discourse is to drown them out. To call them out in the most aggressive terms when they speak of killing Michael Moore or blowing up the New York Times building. Just as we would make our social and moral outrage known about Fred Phelps and his griffter children, we can push back on the Becks and O’Riley’s and Limbaugh’s of the world.
Perhaps the best way to stop this heinous and continuous call to violence is to lump the Rightwing talkers with the Phelps scammers. After all who would want to be in the same category as a ghoul who makes this money by provoking people at a funeral?
The floor is yours.