Third Party & Independents Archives

Even Homophobes Have Right to Protest

Few fundamental liberties are as cherished as our right to free speech. That as American citizens we can speak our minds freely without fear of prosecution sets us apart from the many lesser nations that make up our planet.

But part of being able to express oneself naturally requires a tolerance for unpopular forms of speech. On such undesirable mode comes from a church that has the audacity to protest at military funerals for fallen soldiers of the war in Iraq. Not because these churchgoers oppose the war, but because they believe those soldiers died as a result of God's punishment for America's newfound tolerance for homosexuality.

While I rarely support the endeavors of the American Civil Liberties Union, this fight is required if we truly value our First Amendment rights:

FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY (AP) -- The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging a Kentucky law aimed at preventing protests from disrupting funerals for soldiers killed in Iraq. Members of a Kansas Baptist church have protested at military funerals, claiming soldiers' deaths are a sign that God is punishing America for tolerating homosexuality.

The ACLU says the Kentucky law goes too far in limiting speech and expression. The law, which was signed in March, bans protests within 300 feet of memorial services, wakes, and burials. Violators can be charged with first-degree disorderly conduct, punishable by up to a year in jail.

The ACLU argues that people could unknowingly violate it by stopping to chat on a public sidewalk near a funeral home. The civil liberties group says it could also prevent pro-military people from participating in counter-protests outside memorial services.

A spokesman for Kentucky's governor says, "It's inconceivable why anyone would want to protest at a military funeral while family members are there."

In April, Indiana Senator Evan Bayh announced plans to introduce federal legislation to limit protests at funerals for soldiers who die on active duty. The Dignity for Military Funerals Act will require protesters to stay 300 feet from a funeral. The legislation would also limit where protesters can gather an hour before and after funerals, as well as during the services.

Representative Mike Rogers of Brighton, Michigan, and two fellow Republicans announced separate plans to introduce legislation in the House that would keep protesters 500 feet from funerals.

Protests in general are simply not a good idea at funerals where mourners come to pay final respects for a loved one. Disrupting such events are rude, insensitive and should be discouraged at every available opportunity.

But lawmakers in Kentucky have gone too far by barring protests within 300 feet of memorial services. While the Republican legislators have their hearts in the right place, to permit a ban on protests outside a funeral service within 300 feet could open the door to allowing protests outside anywhere within any given number of feet (Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty just signed a 500-feet law aimed to stop the same kind of protests, and Kansas isn't far behind).

The agitators who belong to the Kansas Baptist church, to be sure, are despicable people for brining politics to a venue that doesn't call for it. Adding salt to the wound these "believers" shout before the victims' families and friends that they died because America isn't locking up, or better yet killing all the queers.

I won't miss the protesters if they do in fact obey the new laws, but once a federal court strikes them down as unconstitutional we must not impede any renewed demonstrations. Of course, we don't have to give them a helping hand either.

Posted by Scottie at May 11, 2006 7:20 PM
Comment #147387

It seems to me that the graveyards are private property, so the protests would not allowed there. I can see the theory in allowing the protests - it’s a very crucial part of our country…

Damn… they actually protest funerals? Sheesh. OK - freedom of expression - put each person’s face on the news who protests… at least let people in the community have an opportunity to “thank them” for exercising their right to protest.

I’m very much a pacivist ex-hippie tree hugger… but damn, sometimes people just seem to need to be bitch slapped.

Posted by: tony at May 11, 2006 8:26 PM
Comment #147390

The private property isn’t an issue…it’s the 300 or 500 feet that extend into public territory.

Posted by: Scottie at May 11, 2006 8:31 PM
Comment #147395

Yea - I guess there’s always a problem with “barrier” lines that move or are unknown. I’ve always supported the ACLU - mostly because they do exactly what they say they do - fight for American Civil Liberties… and especially with cases like these, you have to admit that they do stay true to their cause.

I remember a case where they supported the KKK’s right to march. One argument made what that to prevent them from marching would give them a cause to fight against… but letting them march and having no one there would send the perfect message - nothing to fight for and no one to preach to.

To me, though - if someone can be thrown out of a speech by the President or other public official for protesting, then preventing a protest at a funeral should be a given. But I guess all freedoms must be protected, even for those who might be considered too vile to deserve them.

Posted by: tony at May 11, 2006 8:48 PM
Comment #147401

i agree protesting a funeral is the pentultimate in bad taste and stupid politics.

My mother is buried on private propety in Kentucky with other members of my family. It’s less than 300 feet from a public road. I’m surprised that they haven’t been shot at yet, knowing the people of Kentucky.

That aside, It seems to me the bikers that have been acting as sheilds is a reasonable reaction. But then there was Altimont. I doubt these bikers are Hell’s Angels though.

I do have a problem with ristricting protests i this country, however. Perhaps we should just protest these churches at their place of worship and then follow them home and protest there all night and see how they like their own lack of sensitivity.

Posted by: gergle at May 11, 2006 9:02 PM
Comment #147426

Protest at the church? Interesting.

Posted by: Scottie at May 11, 2006 10:12 PM
Comment #147436

The government is wiretapping civilian communications. I believe my communications should be private, but so should my funeral. As a libertarian I have no problem with the law. Even Hitler should have a peaceful funeral. Just my opinion.

Posted by: Max at May 11, 2006 11:03 PM
Comment #147453

What’s the difference between protesters at a Military Funeral having to stay 300’ from it and abortion protesters having to stay 300’ from an abortion mill?
Where’s the American Communist Lawyers Union on that?
While I will fight to the death for these idiots right to protest, I think they are showing very poor judgement to protest at any funeral. Military or otherwise.

Posted by: Ron Brown at May 11, 2006 11:53 PM
Comment #147466

The ACLU does have an abortion agenda but I thought the same for religion. They usually argue against religion but here they’re defending them.

But on abortion, they claim protesters are a burden therefore are not protected.

Posted by: Scottie at May 12, 2006 12:25 AM
Comment #147500
Damn… they actually protest funerals? Sheesh. OK - freedom of expression - put each person’s face on the news who protests… at least let people in the community have an opportunity to “thank them” for exercising their right to protest.

Oh, to-o-o-ony! You want to have a look at Conservative Moral Values? Look here:

Isn’t that Special?

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 12, 2006 2:09 AM
Comment #147501

Hmmm… Let’s just make that a Clickable Link - it’s far too Special not to be…

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 12, 2006 2:12 AM
Comment #147517

One of the very few really disturbing neanderthal penchants of Americans that bothers me continuously, is our politicians lack of imagination in dealing with problems. There first and ONLY response to any problem is to pass a law.

Think about it, for just a minute. Are there not other solutions that would protect the ABSOLUTE Necessity of humans to conduct funerals and grieve for their loss which is part of the healing process without attacking the fundamental freedoms and liberties of our nation’s constitution?

Think of one? Bravo, you are a thinking American. Please post it below. Can’t think of one? You should run for Congress. You’d make a great law passer among other ‘passing’ activities.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 12, 2006 3:04 AM
Comment #147549


As seems to be your wont, you show such a closeminded view of what conservatism is. I readily hail myself as a conservative, and were you to look through previous WB posts, you’d find my posts excoriating the hateful presence of Fred Phelps and his ilk. They are sick people full of hatred and venom.

To attempt to paint these people as conservatives, or to paint conservatives as akin to the Phelps gang, is unworthy of someone of your obvious intelligence. I don’t mind your sarcasm, don’t mind your wit, don’t even mind your point of view (which I often disagree with). But this? It’s just beneath you, and what’s worse is that I suspect you already know that.


The obvious solution is to have the funeral invite only and on private property. The bikers who shield the funerals can be invited—that way their actions are in no way a protest, but actually part of the ceremony. Alert the police ahead of time regarding noise restrictions.

That someone in mourning should have to do these things is terrible. Phelps is a disgusting piece of trash, and most of his followers are related to him, in some strange mutation of humanity.

I think the ACLU can find better things to do than to come to the aid of someone like Phelps. They could help craft a law that would not infringe on people unduly, but would protect the sanctity of the funeral. That would be a more productive use of their time, efforts and talents, in my opinion.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 12, 2006 8:01 AM
Comment #147552


Phelps group out of Kansas believes that most, if not all, the problems facing the US are the result of the US “accepting” homosexuality. They believe that as long as the US accepts homosexuals, God will rain down retribution. When asked why they are so hateful, they respond that they are telling the truth, and what could be more loving than be honest about the truth.

As with any such group, there is a scrambled logic to their thought. We all want honesty and truth to come to the forefront—-Phelps says that’s all he’s doing. He’s so deluded that he cannot even see the hate that he spews—to him it appears as righteous love.

The Bible that he quotes talks about love, and how to treat others as we would want to be treated. Phelps takes that to mean he should treat people with honesty—-but its his peculiar and repulsive brand of hateful honesty.

Its almost best to leave such creatures alone. They tend to die off from anonymity, whereas they actually like the publicity and even the often hateful response they get. Though they deserve that kind of response, ignoring them is the harder, but more effective means of quieting them.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 12, 2006 8:07 AM
Comment #147565

JBOD, thanks. I knew you were a thinking American, just didn’t know if you would take up the call.

As an ACLU member, I believe in principles. The ACLU does not bend and break its own principles because a unique situation arises that fuels burning passion or revulsion. Individual rights set out in the Bill of Rights, are to be vigilantly protected, for once lost, they are gone forever without civil war.

This thing with funerals is repugnant, but, temporary, and will not be an issue when our involvement in Iraq is over. But, our absolute need to keep our Bill of Rights intact, uncompromised is an infinite need, not temporal at all. Thus, I carry proudly the ACLU card in my wallet.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 12, 2006 9:03 AM
Comment #147571


You had to know I couldn’t resist your clarion call. An open request to spout my opinions?….. sheer heaven for a loquacious wordsmith.

I have no problem with the ACLU maintaining rights—I’ve said before that I would fight to the death for the right of someone to speak. But…just as we cannot yell “FIRE” in a crowded theatre, neither should we allow the minority to harrass the majority out of spite.

I don’t mind, for instance, the abortion protest laws that set standards for appropriate dissent. I do mind laws that prohibit
dissent. I can see the ability to restrain these hateful protestors to some degree, in order to protect the rights of the funeral goers. There needs to be a balance of whose rights we are going to protect, especially in cases when both sides cannot retain their full rights.

In my opinion, the ACLU sometimes bends over backwards to fight fights that don’t need fighting. They sometimes blunder blindly into the wilderness, bumping into trees in their virtuous quest for the forest.

I’m sure Phelps and his gang will not stop when we exit Iraq. They will find a new means of antagonizing others with their hateful and spiteful messages. I’m amazed at the ability of mankind to be so hateful, and that hateful types can attract followers.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 12, 2006 9:24 AM
Comment #147593

Let me add to JBOD’s thoughts. The prophets of the Old Testament said a great many things to an audience not thrilled to hear the message. If we even allow the thought that this is “God’s judgment”, then how does what KC Baptist’s actions serve to call people holiness? First, the God I know does not rule with an iron fist, waiting for us to screw up so He can judge us and rain down destruction on us. Sure, God does bring judgment but I think these clowns have it back a**wards. Second, their actions in no way reflect God’s love to the nations; and even more so, where is God’s comfort for the families who are burying their loved ones.

Certainly they do this for notoriety, and that the ends justifies the means. In the big (soul-saving) picture of the church, they choose sacrifice the souls of the funeral attendees (by offending them, by using them) to reach a bigger audience thru media coverage.

One of the ways churches measure effectiveness is thru growth. I wonder how many are knocking down the door in KC saying, “Golly, you’re right…I saw you on the news at that funeral and headed straight over to repent.” I think they are actually offending more than they reach. I wish the MSM would ignore these clowns so they would go away but this is an easy news story that makes Christians look bad.

I’ve often wondered why homosexuality is such a BIGGER sin that it trumps every other sin in the book. Is this the ONLY reason God has to judge our nation? Hardly… I could go on and on because this is wrong in so many ways and on so many levels…but I won’t.

Posted by: Stephen at May 12, 2006 10:53 AM
Comment #147599


“I wish the MSM would ignore these clowns so they would go away but this is an easy news story that makes Christians look bad.”

I disagree.

I think that a spotlight and a huge magnifying glass should be focused on Phelps and the sheep that follow him.
Anyone with intelligence can see his perverse interpretation of the Bible has nothing to do with Christianity.

Posted by: Rocky at May 12, 2006 11:05 AM
Comment #147628


Just in this thread, Betty stated that Phelps is an example of conservative thought. While that’s not the same as saying Phelps is the epitome of Christianity, its the same kind of misconception.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 12, 2006 12:19 PM
Comment #147635


What can I say?

Posted by: Rocky at May 12, 2006 12:53 PM
Comment #147641


We have had this discussion before.

Fred Phelps represents the worst case of people’s perception of what is called Christianity. There are indeed others, but he is the extreme, and those that call themselves Christians should condem his message with every fiber of their being.

Is he entitled to his opinion?
But has anyone ever been so wrong?

Posted by: Rocky at May 12, 2006 1:10 PM
Comment #147643

If this bunch were true Christians they wouldn’t be out there protesting. That’s not the job of the church. The job of the church is to spread the Gospel of Christ. Not run around protesting.
And as a Baptist myself I wish they’d do all Baptist a favor and the the word Baptist out of their name. Because with carrying on like that they aint Baptist either.

Posted by: Ron Brown at May 12, 2006 1:16 PM
Comment #147688


Is he entitled to his opinion? Absolutely! But has anyone ever been so wrong?

There are a number of WB posters of whom we could ask the exact same questions :)

Were I to name some of them, there’d be repercussions from the masses, as well as from the WB Editors, and they would be well deserved. So in the interest of all things good, I’ll let the guilty parties figure out who the guilty parties are. They probably already know who they are anyway.

The answers are “Absolutely yes” and “unfortunately, probably others have been as wrong” (see Jones, Jim; Koresh, David; Comet, Hale-Bopp etc.)

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 12, 2006 3:17 PM
Comment #147752


I have had my moments of stupidity here as well, so there won’t be any stone tossing by me.

Of the people you named (whack jobs every one), however, none of them had the poor taste to protest at anybody’s funeral.
As much as I abhor the morons doing this, the ACLU is right to defend them, and if nothing else we should applaud the ACLU for their consistancy.

There has been enough trashing of the ACLU around here to last at least till the end of the year.

Posted by: Rocky at May 12, 2006 7:16 PM
Comment #147844

JBOD said: “But…just as we cannot yell “FIRE” in a crowded theatre, neither should we allow the minority to harrass the majority out of spite.”

Let’s see, that would mean you would not have allowed the demonstrations of the 1960’s in the South by Blacks, because as a minority, they were disrupting the lives of he majority whites with their demonstrations. Then there are the demonstrations in the North and West against the War in Viet Nam conducted by students, a definite minority compared to the population.

You see, your minority to majority standard would tear the heart out of our Bill of Rights which for the most part protects minority rights against majorities. That is the sophisticated wisdom and beauty of our Constitution to allow individuals to retain rights even when the majority would silence them.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 13, 2006 5:36 AM
Comment #147845

JBOD, I disagree, I don’t believe the ACLU fights fights they don’t need to. They know all too well, that the way to change a society from free to enslaved, is very easy in tiny slippery slope steps. They fight for those so called “inconsequential” minor points of liberty because collectively over time they would equal a precipice of fallen and lost freedom.

Hitler did not set out a single dictum to enslave the German people into a mindless mob mentality. That would never have worked. He did it incrementally, bit by bit, requiring the people to rationalize that yes, this is not so good, but, it is only temporary or just a small infringement for a greater cause.

We in the ACLU take that lesson of history with every breath with us throughout our lives. Liberty is more easily lost in inconsequential baby steps, than by a massive revocation of freedoms. The former has the consent of those losing their freedoms, the latter has to fight intense resistance.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 13, 2006 5:45 AM
Comment #147855
One of the very few really disturbing neanderthal penchants of Americans that bothers me continuously, is our politicians lack of imagination in dealing with problems. There first and ONLY response to any problem is to pass a law. Posted by: David R. Remer at May 12, 2006 03:04 AM

True, True! Pass a law, ie. The Magic Wand Syndrome.

I have one solution that politicians can try instead of constantly waving the magic wand. They could get up on the soapbox when there is no campaign and speak against this type of behavior. They could use their bully pulpit to condemn this type of behavior as crass and insensitive and morally wrong and shame these bigots into silence.
But, I don’t think politicians have the constitution to do something like that. It’s easier and they have been conditioned to think the only way to fix a problem is to lock themselves away in a room and write a law. To “show” they care. To “bring attention to the problem”.
To justify their existance.

Posted by: Weary Willie at May 13, 2006 9:07 AM
Comment #147864

So, Joe - are you denying that Phelps and his followers are Conservatives???

If you are, I think all of Them would take issue with you!

Are you denying that all of these people:

are Conservatives?????

They would strongly disagree with you, you know!

Of course, they ARE Conservatives; just as every single Nazi, Klansman, Fascist, and Racist in History has been.

You can Deny it all you want: it doesn’t mean that it’s UnTrue - it just means you are In Denial, that’s all.

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 13, 2006 10:26 AM
Comment #147891


Personally, I think people, and I’d find you included in that list based on your postings, who try to label others too closely are just being intellectually lazy.

For you to try to suggest that Phelps is an example of conservativism, and then to try and brand other conservatives as therefore being like Phelps is simply a game you are playing. At least I hope its just a game. If its real, then you have far less intelligence than I give you credit for.

The logic paths you are following to produce your results are woefully flawed. Lets for a moment say that Phelps is a conservative. That does not make me, as a conservative, even remotely like Phelps, nor him like me. Yet that is what your logic tries to produce, when you write a line like “You want to have a look at Conservative Moral Values” and link to Phelps’ website. You attempt to equate Phelps with other conservatives, even though there is no equality there.


I doubt you could consider that the civil rights movement has anything in common with Fred Phelps. But I suppose there are principles involved that are similar. Note please that I didnt bash the ACLU for their beliefs, nor even for all their actions. I simply stated that I think they need to be more judicious in what battles they fight.

Note also that by NOT fighting a battle, you aren’t necessarily giving in—you simply are staying out of the fray. Just as an abstention does not qualify as a vote for either side, neither does avoiding involvement at certain times.

You seem to take exception to my idea that there are limitations to how, where and when you can protest. Yelling fire in a theatre is a limitation of free speech, yet its one most would support. Would you?

I support limitations on protests, such as abortion protests outside abortion clinics. I would also support the same kind of limits on Phelps and his ilk, and for the same reasons.

Its not a limitation on the protest itself, but rather on how when and where it can be done. It simply makes sense, and does not infringe unduly on the protestors. It protects the rights of those being protested against, and that is the other side of the coin.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 13, 2006 12:23 PM
Comment #148242


You don’t address the Point:

Not a *SINGLE* Liberal is a member of Phelp’s organisation, nor of any other organisation which acts in the same way.

Not a *SINGLE* Liberal is a member of *ANY* organisation which promotes Fascism or Racism: ALL members of such organisations are Conservative - as are the organisations themselves.

Now, how do you explain that?

Come on. I’m waiting.

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 15, 2006 5:47 AM
Comment #148287


You seem stuck on the idea of labeling groups or individuals. I already stated that once you do that, then everything depends on your definitions, and people typically do not fit into strict definitions.

i hppen to know a lot of people who would fit the common definition of “conservative”. None of them—not a single one—acts even in the remotest way similar to Phelps, nor would any of them condone any of Pheps actions. To try and paint conservatives as similar to Phelps, or Phelps similar to conservatives is simply intellectual laziness, yet you persist in attempting to do so, to your own detriment.

I can see you are trying hard to get me to fall into your trap of labeling people, but I’m not going there. Suffice it to say that there are those who would qualify for the common definition of liberal who are guilty of racism, for example, or who have committed racist acts or spoken racist comments. Yet even if they were a self proclaimed liberal, that wouldn’t taint ALL liberals. It would taint the individual, and I suppose others who agreed with the person’s actions or statements.

In conclusion, I dont ascribe to your game—its beneath me. Its beneath you too, as I’ve said, but you persist in it anyway. You may do so—-I’ll stay above.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 15, 2006 10:57 AM
Comment #148496
I can see you are trying hard to get me to fall into your trap of labeling people, but I’m not going there.

I can see you are trying Very Hard to avoid answering the Question, and to wriggle about and use the ol’ Dazzle and Baffle to do so.

But it won’t work: you are light on Dazzle and topheavy with overmuch Baffle.

The American Nazi Party, the White Aryan Resistance, the Ku Klux Klan - ALL are Conservative Organisations, with 100% Conservative Membership. Period. This conversation is indeed at an end - because you are reduced to temporising and attempting to divert attention through the employment of meaningless meta-conversations consisting of nonsensical rhetoric designed to make you look better.

Once again: you lose.

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 15, 2006 10:13 PM
Comment #148562


I see you are still thinking of this as a competition. That mindset explains a lot about how you post. You see, my idea is to have conversations with people. Its a win-win proposition. You maintain its a competition.

In a competition, tossing out strawman arguments in order to trap the other side into a “wrong” rebuttal is a means of winning. And you continue to try that tactic. Problem is that I’ve seen it before, I’ve handled it before, and I know a strawman when I see one. Agreed though, its a wonderful tactic to use, IFFF you are attempting to simply choke the conversation to death and then claim a victory.

On the other hand, if you are interested in learning, understanding and looking for solutions, then your strategy is woefully inadequate. So I guess it comes down to what your goal is. And it appears your goal (trying to ‘win’) is written in stone. Its different than mine, but you have the right to do what you choose.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 16, 2006 8:08 AM
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