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View Full Version : Supreme Court v. First Amendment?


adbullock
03-09-2010, 08:26 AM
Anyone who knows me well knows that there are few people on this board who believe more strongly in honoring our soldiers or fighting for the equality of all citizens of this country - that includes gay people. That being said the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that really has me concerned for the sanctity of First Amendment rights.

Supreme Court to rule on anti-gay protests at military funerals - washingtonpost.com (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/08/AR2010030801578.html?hpid=moreheadlines&sid=ST2010030804965)

I believe what these people do is abhorrent. I believe there is no defense on earth for the type of hatred they spread. But, I believe that they are within their rights according to the laws of this country and the First Amendment to do it.

If we start limiting the protection of rights to the people we agree with or who have popular opinions we are not only completely turning our back on the intent of the law but also on the hope of any kind of real freedom or equality period. If these laws don't apply to everyone then they really apply to no one because we can chip away at them and wear them down with precedence until no one has the right to freedom of speech or religion or assembly.

I'm curious about what others think because I know this is a hot topic and many of us have discussed how disgusting those people are for what they do. What do you think about this? Should we circumvent the First Amendment in order to shut these evil people up?


CammiB
03-22-2010, 08:02 PM
As much as I hate it...freedom of speech is freedom of speech. There's no good answer.

simplesahm
03-22-2010, 08:41 PM
....thanks for bringing this up, Ad. I hate that group....they are evil - but that being said, I agree with you.

- and kuddos to you because I am not so sure I would have agreed with you on this issue in the past. You (and a few others here) have really made me think twice about protecting my rights (as well as the rights of others) when it comes to freedom of speech, religion, etc...

- while it might feel good and morale (for a moment) to limit the free speech rights of this nasty group - it certainly is a slippery slope. What's next? Christians? conservative talk radio (oh...it's coming)....pro-life groups? pro-choice groups? NRA? - who decides who is worthy to express themselves? The government?

We've recently seen the will of the people stomped on by a power / control hungry administration. Let's hope our freedom to express ourselves freely isn't the next thing stomped upon.


Bailey4
03-23-2010, 06:14 AM
I do think they have a right to protest, but I do think depending on where they are, there are rights to restrict them on private property grounds. I think in the past few years we have started to lose property rights which are also guarenteed in the Constitution. People seem to think if they are pissed off, they have a right to be where they choose, regardless of what rights they violate. They should not be allowed on Church grounds which they have attempted to do in the past. That is private property. If they want to protest in the street so be it subject to the other protestors who have joined the battle to protect the families attending their own funerals.

The same goes for the private cemetaries. Not all cemetaries are public facilities owned by cities and towns. If they are private, they have a right to evict these bastards to the streets surrounding the area and again subject them to others who are working to circle the families.

Frankly the best deal I've seen so far are the biker groups who are offering family escorts to block the bastards from getting close. They have an equal right to be present and "protest" the protestors from reaching their goals.

However, speech is free. It is a slippery slope when we try to restrict it. The best thing the media could do is stop covering these bastards. When they stop getting attention, they lose the purpose for existing.

adbullock
03-23-2010, 08:47 AM
- and kuddos to you because I am not so sure I would have agreed with you on this issue in the past. You (and a few others here) have really made me think twice about protecting my rights (as well as the rights of others) when it comes to freedom of speech, religion, etc...


Welcome to the dark side....cookie? LOL. Call it delirium but I couldn't resist.

Back to the topic at hand I'm glad I'm not the only one struggling with this. On the one hand I'd love nothing better than to never see these folks in the headlines and on the news. On the other, I don't think it should be at the hands of a court decision overriding something as fundamental as free speech. I worry for our country if that happens - not that I'm not extremely worried now. But that is a game changer for the cause of freedom and liberty.

Bailey4
03-23-2010, 10:50 AM
The time freedom of speech is most important is when you don't like what is being said. It's always easy to defend when you support the speech. The same goes with assembly. When you take away the rights of others, don't expect those rights to be available for you when you are looking for them.

I know with this group and some local protest one issue that has arisen as I stated are conflicting property rights. People have the right to protest on public property or private property they own. However, they do not have the right to trespass on others property rights and those rights also need to be upheld.

adbullock
03-23-2010, 10:58 AM
"The case will seek to balance a group's free speech rights with the rights of private individuals to be protected from unwanted demonstrations and defamatory remarks."

This is the argument in the Supreme Court Case. Bailey I'm sure they've had skirmishes over where they assemble but this particular case is focused specifically on freedom of speech issues. The circuit court ruled that it isn't a violation because it was related to matters of "public concern".

OT but along the vein...does anyone know if Sheehan is camping out in front of Obama's house now that he has decided to remain in Iraq?

Bailey4
03-23-2010, 01:41 PM
I read it. As much as I find many protesting groups annoying as long as they are following the Constitutional rules you have to accept what is good for what you agree with is good for what you find offensive. It is the only way to protect all our Constitutional rights.

For those that want to defeat these bastards the best way is to beat them at their own game. Providing coverage for these families that blocks access with other "legitimate" protests will make them their efforts less succesful. Arrange for every group in the area to surround them in a circle so their signs can't be seen while the familes are exiting and entering the services. There are plenty of groups they won't enjoy hanging out with who can get permission to be present.

philena30
03-23-2010, 07:45 PM
Ok, I got a question about this comment: "Acts of incitement" are against the law. It is like burning a cross to intimidate, frighten and enrage African-Americans or presenting a Star of David superimposed with a Swastika. The First Amendment is pretty accommodating, but not unlimited in scope."

So this wasn't considered an act of incitement because the family didn't charge over there to kick their assets?

OK.. maybe I'm gonna have to get a little ghettofabulous on this but.. um.. they wouldn't have lasted 10mins w/my famo.. MAX.

I know alot of people personally feel this way when they consider if it would happen to them, so, I'm just wondering why didn't that happen? Not looking for a fight, but something like this would make the most humble a BEAST.. if you know what I mean. :p

Bailey4
03-24-2010, 08:03 AM
Unfortunatly the family would have ended up charged with assault and battery. These jerks are looking for a fight. That is why I would love to see other groups show up and block there protests from being seen. Surround these families and allow them privacy. Bring nice black shrouds that block the jerks from being seen and they can state they are protesting the overuse of black color in the funeral industry. Don't care. However, there are ways use the same tatics against them making their protests ineffectual.

philena30
03-25-2010, 08:03 AM
I understand that Bailey, and it's a good strategy. :D

However, I'm still don't understand how funerals became American? Rituals for the dead is a human condition, no matter which religion or country. During these rituals we are usually at an extreme emotional state. The protesters are there because he was a fallen soldier? Not many people I know attend funerals because they are American, they are there because they knew the person, or knows someone that knew the person. The whole folding of the flag ritual is what it is, another ritual. Do you know any place on this planet where protesting at funerals is a very common thing to do? And wouldn't the majority agree that it would provoke a fight? If that is the case, then this has nothing to do with the constitution. I just thought that was the point of the Act of Incitement, so what makes this issue so different?

Bailey4
03-25-2010, 11:54 AM
It isn't a matter of traditon, but law. Once you start restricting speech and assembly because you disagree with it, it becomes much easier to lose it when you want it. People always start with the extremes you want to disapear because it then becomes easier to restrict the rights people want to defend.

I would love to see these bastards removed from funerals. However, doing so makes it easier to stop offending others. I was listening to a woman from a Canadian newspaper talking about Canada's hate speech laws and it was disturbing to hear her justifying why the laws restrict free speech. It restricts speech because people don't "like" the people speaking and don't approve of their thoughts and ideas. Based on the current mood in this country of our congressmen calling their own voters teabaggers and then complaining about rude comments in return, I can only imagine how far we would go if we started down that road. Perhaps someone should explain to our Democratic Congressional delegation that teabagger is a not sexually complimentary when used. Especially towards their own voters. While they are quick to point out hate speech, they are not quick to stop using it when it suits them. The do unto others rule seems to be lacking.

So I continue to believe the best defense at these funerals is an offense. Create groups that will show up to protect military families and make these protests challenging and difficult. As long as we allow these families to be victims they will. If they make a stand these cowards will back off.

CammiB
03-25-2010, 12:08 PM
My understanding is that the picketing at military funerals gets them more publicity. In this case particularly, I'm assuming because it didn't say that the soldier that died was not a homosexual. Had he been, then I would definitely have to say "yes" that it would be an act of incitement. I have to agree with the ruling that it is a "matter of public concern" that is their motivation.

Philena you have a good point. And my question would be...what about common law tradition? What about respecting the dead? Would this have been accepted 100, 50, or even 25 years ago by the core of society?

Its pretty twisted to me that a group would be protesting the decline of morality in America, while picketing at a fallen soldiers funeral, or any funeral for that matter. The crazies are everywhere...

philena30
03-25-2010, 05:23 PM
My understanding is that the picketing at military funerals gets them more publicity.

But the publicity is not good. Have more people joined? Is this effective?

For example, if I went around America (or the world really) protesting funerals (following the local laws) yelling..."the act of a ritual for the dead is satanic... anyone that has funerals are going to hell... We should just recycle bodies after they drop and move on..." I don't think I would last long. Sure there may be some naturalist that may share some of these beliefs, but I don't think protesting at funerals would work for anyone, no matter what the cause, it would be rather dangerous for both parties.

Philena you have a good point. And my question would be...what about common law tradition? What about respecting the dead? Would this have been accepted 100, 50, or even 25 years ago by the core of society?

Its pretty twisted to me that a group would be protesting the decline of morality in America, while picketing at a fallen soldiers funeral, or any funeral for that matter. The crazies are everywhere...

Yeah, you're right about respecting the dead. According to many religious traditions, that's a big no.. no.. So what type of Christians are these people? :confused:

Well, I hate to get into the 'conspiracy theories' but something is just not right about this case. Maybe this is some type of way to break the constitutional spirit of the rising tea party movements. I don't see anyone using this tactic as being effective to increase their number of followers, just increasing publicity for another purpose other than their own. How is this solving the problem the protest is addressing? That's like protesting at a funeral of a mother who had a stillborn, and yelling about how abortion is the reason for the rise in stillborns and SIDs as punishment for our sins. Now that is supposely a "public statement." However, the funeral attendees may agree with you and your cause, and still want to kick your assets. So, I just don't get it. :confused:

I love how they try to reverse it, and say it's the language, and if people were holding up signs saying, "I love you.. " and "we miss you" and such and such, then it wouldn't be an issue. And I say that's BS, because the family of famous celebrities always close off the private funeral to people that knows the deceased very well. Sure they have a public ritual, but they don't have fans around the burial site, 300 feet away, and blah.. blah....

So, even if the protesters or fans where shouting good or bad things at a funeral, I think most people wouldn't like it. If they did, you would hear more about that. Who wants to deal with strangers yelling about anything really.. smh

CammiB
03-25-2010, 08:42 PM
Yeah, you're right about respecting the dead. According to many religious traditions, that's a big no.. no.. So what type of Christians are these people?

It said they are Baptists, but it didn't say what kind of Baptist. Baptists range from ultra fundamental and legalistic to very liberal. Wherever they fall on the spectrum, doesn't matter. I'm not condemning their passion and concern for the state of America. I'm pretty concerned myself. But their acts are also extremely disrespectful and unfruitful. You see it all the time though from extremists on every side. They think they are justified in their actions, but in the end they are only hurting their cause.

I think we have taken "freedom of speech' too far to where nothing is sacred anymore. It's already being used against us, ie Hate Crimes. It was never intended to protect all speech. It was intended to protect us against abuse of power. Not justify our every action.

ETA: Our Founders always coupled freedom with responsibility. We live in a society where everyone wants freedom apart from responsibility. Anarchy will always open the door to totalitarianism.

CammiB
06-18-2010, 06:03 PM
Just found out this group plans on protesting at a military funeral in my hometown. Grrrrrr...
The churches are giving out flags for all patriotic Americans to hold to block these protestors. They are being asked to line the street I think from the church to the cemetery. Yes, they do have the right to protest, but again, this is not the time or place. So disrespectful!

kaylacox
06-24-2010, 12:09 PM
CammiB, I think you've hit the nail on the head. Freedom of speech is about limiting tyranny, it's not to protect every word that comes out of your mouth. Here are some examples:

Yelling FIRE! in a theatre, when there's no fire. Or telling someone you're going to kill them...

Ann Coulter did a great legal analysis (she's a lawyer) on this exact topic here: AnnCoulter.com - Printer Friendly Article: GOD HATES JUDGES (http://www.anncoulter.com/cgi-local/printer_friendly.cgi?article=363)

adbullock
06-30-2010, 08:23 AM
I won't even get started with how vile Ann Coulter is BUT there is a huge leap between invalidating the write to assembly and free speech to people who are offensive and making it unlawful to threaten physical harm or yell "Fire!" which has in the past lead to physical harm (and yes, even death) in a crowded room.

That is just an oranges to apples comparison.

The problem is that we can't pick and choose who we extend rights to. We either extend the same rights to everyone or no one is free (that is why gay marriage should be legal). The government can't pick and choose which citizens are worthy of which rights. We either give everyone the same rights (until they do something that warrants the removal of those rights ie. convicted felons cannot vote) or we risk becoming the same type of totalitarian regime we're supposed to be fighting elsewhere.

Bailey4
06-30-2010, 10:27 AM
I still think that these people can be given a right to protest and that you can still deny them the right to protest on private property or allow cemetaries, even public ones, to restrict the right to assemble without restricting free speech. If these people are going to protest across the street, can't touch them, but they will not be allowed on any private property. Allowing cities and towns to restrict access to people protesting on public cemetary grounds would also allow privacy. Again if they want to protest across the street from the cemetary, free speech rules hold. You can't touch the idiots. However, they would not be allowed to assemble on areas that people should be deemed to have rights to privacy.

If you think about it we restrict the right to assemble on many public areas. You can't assemble in your local public school. Even though it is "public" there there is deemed a need for saftey that prevents citizens from assembling in the public school to protest even if it is school related. People certainly can assemble across from the school to protest on public land as long as they do not violate private property or violate public ways. I can see no reason why families could not be allowed the same rights.

CammiB
06-30-2010, 04:30 PM
Update: 9000 people showed up at the military funeral. They came from all over to line the streets and protect the family from the protestors. It worked.

I read Ann Coulters article and one thing stuck out to me. I agree our society does not want to draw lines anymore. You don't want to take away the right of one for fear that the right of the other might be taken away also. How can a society stay civilized with no lines and no standards? This is why many predict America will fall (or is falling) from the inside.

adbullock
07-01-2010, 07:11 PM
But Cammi,

We do have lines. We HAVE drawn lines. They are the lines written in the Constitution. We guarantee all people, even those who say things no one wants to hear, the freedom to speak. If we start picking and choosing who the Constitution applies to and who is and isn't protected by the Constitution then no one is. Not really.

Bailey4
07-02-2010, 11:27 AM
But Cammi,

We do have lines. We HAVE drawn lines. They are the lines written in the Constitution. We guarantee all people, even those who say things no one wants to hear, the freedom to speak. If we start picking and choosing who the Constitution applies to and who is and isn't protected by the Constitution then no one is. Not really.

I would argue that there are place we have agreed you cannot walk into and exercise your free speech without being removed for disordly conduct. Try just opening up your mouth at your local city council meeting during inappropriate times and you will be removed. It does not violate your free speech rules, there are times the public is allowed to speak and times it is not. The same is true at the state and federal levels. You cannot walk into your child's school and start a protest without expecting to be arrested. There are rules that do not allow for complete free speech and assembly that the Supreme Court has allowed.

I have no idea why someone is allowed to violate a private gathering at the cemetary. Should they be allowed to protest across the street. Yes, just like you can protest across the street from the school or outside a public meeting you can't speak at. There is a difference and one should be clearly drawn between harrassing people burying their family and the right to assemble and speak. They can assemble and speak and hold their vile signs. However, why should they be allowed to do it on ANY private property (without permission) and why shouldn't cities and towns be able to restrict their access to public cemetaries? If you can restrict a school for the saftey of the children, why is a cemetary not protected? Why can't they be restricted to protesting off the grounds, especially when they are not obviously not protesting the people who are burying their dead? There arguments about the right to protest would hold a great deal more relevence if they were in fact actually not SPAM protestors. They are attaching their protests to an event that has nothing to do with their complaint. Then they can complain that their rights to assemble and protest an event are violated. They aren't protesting the war, so why are they harrassing these people?

adbullock
07-02-2010, 11:40 AM
My understanding is that that is exactly what they do. They protest at the entrance of the cemetery and not actually inside the cemetery. That doesn't mean it isn't disruptive but as long as they are on a public street, the powers that be have been powerless to stop them within the letter of the law.

The leader of this church is vile and reprehensible. There's no way around that but he's also very well educated bout the law and very cagey in how he goes about exploiting the laws. BUT, if we go and change the laws or excluding some people from the protection of the law then those soldiers really are sacrificing their lives for nothing.

Bailey4
07-02-2010, 03:08 PM
I had read they had actually crossed on to the property claiming it was public land. That can and should be stopped.

I also think it is time the media started calling it SPAM. Instead of giving attention to their cause they should address the issues around the bizarre protests that have nothing to do with a cause being protested. Why don't they protest outside public schools? They would find themselves investigated for all kinds of questionable issues. They choose military families because they feel they are vunerable. You didn't see these nut jobs at Ted Kennedy's funeral. They knew they would suffer consequences. No I am not implying that they support Ted they are obviously opposed to his views, however, protesting his funeral at least would have had relevence. Teddy was an ardent supporter of the issues they oppose. There is at least a direct connection. However, they know they would have been bagged, tagged, and sitting in jail if they dared disturb a Kennedy. Instead harrass a family that has no means to fight back and the media rushes to give them free publicity. The media has loved promoting these people as nut job conservitives gone wild. That is why they continue to do this, because they get tons of publicity from a media that loves them.

CammiB
07-02-2010, 10:58 PM
Ad, I don't disagree with you about the Constitution being our "lines". I just think that our Constitution is being trampled on, and misinterpreted, added to, and in many cases ignored (like when they look to international courts as precedent for rulings). The "lines" are blurred.

I also agree that this group has the right to protest within the boundary of the law. I was thrilled to see so many exercising their right to protest these protesters in my hometown.

I think the media likes this group because they are a religious "Christian" group. If they are getting media attention, its to make conservative Christians in general look like right wing nut jobs. I don't know, but I highly doubt that the fact that it was Christian churches rallying to get people to hold flags and line the street to stop these protesters, got any national media attention.