Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My thoughts on Snyder -vs- Phelps

I just received a private message from a friend on Facebook commenting on today's oral arguments before the Supreme Court in the Snyder -vs- Phelps case. I wanted to share the response I sent to him:

In the run up to today's oral arguments there has been an explosion of articles throughout the U.S. touting the unassailable right of people to exercise religion and free speech in America. However, one of the primary purposes of the Supreme Court is to interpret the Constitution and address issues where two or more rights conflict in American society.

In my five years in Canada, I've come to better understand this notion that with rights come responsibilities. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. But that's an aside.

My own opinion on this matter flows from the certainty that no founding father could have imagined ever having to deal with people standing outside a funeral taunting the family and loved ones of the deceased. It is my hope that this is the reason the Court agreed to hear this case and that they will find good cause to protect the rights of mourners from the untimely exercise of free speech rights.

In other words, the limitation of my family's right to speak freely and exercise their religion outside a funeral should not be viewed as an onerous burden on them or anyone else in our society. Nor should it be viewed as an intolerable erosion of our rights to free speech. There already exists a pantheon of exceptions to the right of free speech. If ever there existed a new, justifiable, restriction on free speech, it is this one.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a tough call I feel the courts should protect from harm first and formost

October 6, 2010 at 11:09 AM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

Hi Nate. Just read about this today at the Washington Post, and I previously had no knowledge of the activities of this 'church' before today. I replied in the comments section, and found your site through one of the other comments. Thank you for providing some perspective on this puzzling and alarming situation. I've copied my own response to the article below (if it seems too self-promoting, please remove it from my comment), and the only thing I can take away from this behavior is that it is assault, not free speech. Because we live in a relatively free society, there are competing rights, and I'm afraid we haven't sorted them out properly yet.

"It is to be hoped that our supreme body of law will be able to discern the difference between assault and free speech, and decide accordingly. Whether or not the Phelps family remained 1000 feet from the funeral, their activity is blatant assault, as it likely has been at many of their other 'protests'. And it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with God (I hope She is not reeling too much from this incident; let us pray She doesn't strike us with more stink bugs for these sins). It has to do with a power hungry fascist hiding behind a curtain of religion. Which unfortunately has become all too common in many of the Western religions."

(Note about the stink bugs reference- the Mid-
Atlantic was riddled with a stink bug explosion recently, which may have been even more horrifying than a plague of locusts!)

October 6, 2010 at 5:57 PM  
Blogger Dark Star said...

I disagree that this is a good cause for a limitation on Free Speech because I would rather these people speak out in public and show themselves to be the hate filled people they are rather than having them hide it and letting it fester and grow unwatched.

I absolutely feel bad for the people they cause unwarranted emotional pain BUT if someone was a rapist and murderer and white supremacist and that person was getting a full honors burial then I would want to be the one protesting at their funeral.

That said, I find it hard to believe that the Westboro cult's only crime is speaking out in public at funerals. For example, as bad as I might feel for the adults offended by their protests I feel 10x WORSE seeing how those people treat their own children which is Every Single Day. It is sickening and I cannot understand how that is not counted as emotional abuse.

Not to mention the allegations Nate himself has made, and if those are true these people belong in prison for a very long time. Have those even been throughly investigated?

Just my 2 cents I guess.

December 15, 2010 at 1:21 PM  
Blogger redneckgirl1 said...

I visited the website mentioned mentioned in ur blog When God Intervens and I read some of the articles, one that really got my blood boiling is the New Scientific Evidence for the Existence of God. To me it is the rantings of someone who is so into his religion that he needed to be able to provide proof but what ultimately ended up happening was the making of more proof for the scientific part of the world. "There had to be a beginning therefore there had to be a beginner." Give me a break, the big bang may have happened and I can buy that but to try to make me think because of that there was some infinate being sitting there out in nowhere land and just loved humans so much he decided to create us and this perfect universe for our earth to live in is just a leap beyond being rediculous. Maybe I am not getting what they were saying but I think I am so I'd be interested to hear what others and Nate think of the site and that piece to be exact. celestialmechanic.com

January

January 12, 2011 at 10:05 PM  

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