Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Free Speech or harassment?

This week the Supreme Court takes up the “free speech” case of Rev. Fred Phelps who, with members of his church have protested at over 200 veteran’s funerals. The supposedly Rev. Phelps believes that U.S. deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are God's punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality. Based on that belief, he and his congregation demonstrate at funerals of veterans with signs that say "Thank God for dead soldiers," "You're Going to Hell," "God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11" and worse. Needless to say the demonstrations are distressing to members of the veterans families who are grieving the loss of a loved one, one whose life was forfeited as an result of patriotism. Rev. (and I use the title advisedly) Phelps and his followers defend their protests on the grounds that it is free speech protected by the Bill of Rights. In my view it is harassment pure and simple, however should the Supreme Court decide that it is protected free speech I propose that for every funeral Fred Phelps and his followers thus disrupt, a group of protesters should stand outside his church during services carrying signs saying vile and offensive things about the pastor and his parishioners. After all the Bible does say “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” and turn about is fair play. It won’t happen of course. Why? Because the vast majority of folks in this country are far more Christian in their behavior than Fred Phelps and his followers, even most who don’t count themselves as Christians.

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