Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Let 'em talk

 People like to sit in college classrooms, places where coffee is slurped, and other places where the talk is mostly theoretical, and come up with situations to be discussed ad infinitum.  Or, add a bisciotti for just $2.50 more.  

Such as, "If God can do anything, can He make a rock that is so heavy that He can't lift it?"

or, "Is it possible to create an acid that can eat through anything - even the container you'd put it in?"

or, the ultimate, "How come no one has ever come up with a suitable vehicle for the comedic talents of Norm MacDonald?"

So it's no surprise that all across America, the debate rages about the Westboro Baptist Church.  They certainly are making friends everywhere, aren't they, with their insistence on displaying the most disgusting messages in the most wholly inappropriate places?  

Here is a link to the entire Supreme Court decision that ruled in favor of the church.  It was not a close vote, 8-1, with only Justice Samuel "Snooki" Alito being willing to overturn the Constitution.  See, here is the thing in a nutshell - and it's never been more appropriate to use the word "nut" - if you stop these people, as abhorrent, abominable, appalling, awful, disgusting, distasteful, dreadful, evil, foul, fulsome, gross, hideous, horrendous, horrible, horrid, loathsome, nasty, nauseating, nauseous, noisome, noxious, obnoxious, obscene, odious, rancid, repellent, repugnant, repulsive, revolting, scandalous, shocking, sickening, and ugly of spirit as they are, then where does it end?  This country was based on freedom of speech for all.  It took a couple of centuries, one civil war and lots of legislation to extend that benefit beyond the ruling class, gender, age, and race, but we did it, and we can't go back now.

Here is information from the Baltimore SUN about what our great congressman, Dutch Ruppersberger, has proposed as a compromise that would retain the rights of free speech for these galoots, while drawing a line that retains a certain amount of dignity for the rest of us:

Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger on Tuesday provided more details of his bill to limit protests at military funerals. The Baltimore County Democrat is introducing the “Safe Haven for Heroes Act” in response to the Supreme Court ruling last week upholding the right of the Westboro Baptist “Church” to protest America’s supposed tolerance of homosexuality at memorial services for fallen troops.

The legislation would prohibit protests for the 5 hours preceding a military funeral and the 5 hours after. Protests before or after those limits could be held no closer than 2,500 feet from the funeral facility.
“I believe the Constitution allows for reasonable restrictions on the time, place and manner of protest activities,” Ruppersberger said in a statement. “This bill enables groups like Westboro to exercise their right to free speech without disrupting the funerals themselves or forcing funeral participants to encounter the protesters.”
The Supreme Court case stemmed from the group’s crude demonstration outside the Westminster funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder in 2006.
The small group, which consists largely of members of a single family, has created an outsized profile in the media with picket signs that read “God hates fags” and “Thank God for dead soldiers” and a website that has featured stick figures engaged in anal sex and an animation showing torture/murder victim Matthew Shepard in Hell. It has been identified by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.

That seems fair enough to me, although there seems to be no limit as to how far these people will go to make others cry bitter tears.  

But, what if everyone in the community opposed having a certain type of house of worship in the neighborhood?  Can we say, "We don't like your faith, so we decided you have no right to practice it"?   All you'd need is a few intolerant yahoos, and there you go.

What if almost everyone didn't like certain magazines?  Could we all decide, Hey, no more "Hustler," "Atlantic Monthly," or "Jack and Jill" for you?

Any society can support the works of Da Vinci, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Tom Wolfe, Thomas Wolfe, and most of Andy Warhol.  It's the mark of our society that the Larry Flynts and the Phelpses of Westboro KS can spew their words into the same air as you and I.  Don't like 'em, loathe them if you will, but shut them down?  

Why, when Karma awaits with more than we can ever dole out on earth?

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