General chatter - That grieving father won his case!




cbmare
10-31-2007, 09:15 PM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071031/ap_on_re_us/funeral_protests

I don't like hearing about any of our service people getting killed in Iraq. But when people start protesting outside their funerals, it REALLY makes me angry.

I'm glad this guy won. The reason for the protests was stupid, too! One has nothing to do with the other.


mandalinn82
10-31-2007, 09:18 PM
The Westboro people are nuts. I try to get worked up about them, but honestly, they are crazy people.

Crazy. People.

I won't link to their website out of personal policy and common decency, but trust me.

cbmare
10-31-2007, 09:23 PM
The link is to the news story. I'm so glad the jury came back with what they did. I don't like those people.


mandalinn82
10-31-2007, 09:32 PM
No, I won't link to their website. But they have some strongly passionate horrible ideas.

The link to the news article I clicked on. But I won't give them a single click to their site, and I won't link anyone else there.

cbmare
10-31-2007, 10:10 PM
Totally understood. I didn't realize my link would send anyone there.

almostheaven
10-31-2007, 10:51 PM
Their attorneys maintained in closing arguments Tuesday that the burial was a public event and that even abhorrent points of view are protected by the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and religion.
::sigh:: I wonder just how badly our founding fathers would cringe in their graves right now if they knew how their words, meant to enrich our country, could have been turned into such blatant circus side shows and acts of mockery.

drake3272004
11-01-2007, 12:10 AM
There was a funeral here last year that these crazy people wanted to protest at, a local radio station was able to convince them to use some air time in exchange for them not to pickett. It worked, thank goodness! Before then I had never even heard of this group:( Very sad and pathetic that they feel the need to ruin these soldiers funerals.

FrouFrou
11-01-2007, 01:06 PM
I am glad that father won and wish more families would file lawsuits against these people. They ARE crazy! And it kills me that they have the nerve to call themselves Christians! Thank god for the patriot guard!

Amy8888
11-01-2007, 02:10 PM
I'm living about 45 miles from Fred Phelps, so we have to hear about him quite a bit. He's been doing the convoluted argument thing forever. We drove by a theater one day and saw his people (including young grandchildren) protesting a play. We found out the reason was the lead actress was from Canada, and Canada allows gay marriage. And he protests every college graduation here. He's essentially a media whore and the best thing to do is ignore him. But once he realized how much more media attention he would get by protesting military funerals, well, the rest is history.

Amy8888
11-01-2007, 02:19 PM
::sigh:: I wonder just how badly our founding fathers would cringe in their graves right now if they knew how their words, meant to enrich our country, could have been turned into such blatant circus side shows and acts of mockery.

I don't know, one thing I truly admire about the ACLU is that they defend the rights of any group to speak freely, even if you know it must cause their stomachs to churn as they're defending them. I think the founding fathers realized this could happen, and while it is sickening, it takes all kinds of people. The Phelps' viewpoint certainly presents a challenge for most people, and I think that's good to consider and affirm your own beliefs.

I'm not articulating this well. I think the Phelps are despicable, and I don't know anyone who sees them on TV and thinks "What a great idea!" But if we don't allow them to do it, then I'm afraid it becomes a slippery slope.

One of my friends, who happens to be gay, said she feared legislation about protesting at funerals because she'd LOVE to protest at Freddie's funeral. I don't know exactly what to think about that...is it better to rise above or to reply in kind? But I think anyone should have the option to decide.

almostheaven
11-01-2007, 11:45 PM
I don't know, one thing I truly admire about the ACLU is that they defend the rights of any group to speak freely, even if you know it must cause their stomachs to churn as they're defending them. I think the founding fathers realized this could happen, and while it is sickening, it takes all kinds of people.
I'm not sure the founding fathers had any inkling. When they drafted our rights, I'm certain they would never have thought that the KKK would walk into a black church and claim freedom of speech. I'm sure they never thought ****s would walk into a Bar Mitzvah to exercise their freedom either. Or more likely, they probably never thought their sons and daughters would put up with it. And I seriously doubt they would EVER have thought ANY American would be so insanely crazy, much less an entire group of them, to protest a soldier's funeral. :(

mandalinn82
11-02-2007, 12:00 AM
I am very hesitant to celebrate this verdict. What they do is morally reprehensible, utterly disgusting, and completely unnecessary. Period.

However, lots of people believe that about lots of things. And given our current administration and the way people try to shut down speech they disagree with more and more frequently, I think it sets a dangerous precedent to hold someone liable for damages caused by no more than speaking their (incredibly misguided, disgusting, morally reprehensible) ideas and not breaking any laws.

If they had been in a state where protesting within X # of feet of a funeral was illegal (as it is, because of them, in several states), it'd be a different story. But a multi-million dollar fine just for speaking aggressively in a particular situation? Bad precedent, in my opinion. Not quite as scary as they are, but still scary.

veggielover
11-02-2007, 12:37 AM
I saw Shirley Phelps On TV, in a live debate with a news cast... all I can say, is that these people don't need others to tell them they're crazy.... their image and argument speaks for themselves...

lunatics.. no wonder they only have 100 family members as followers...

Lovely
11-02-2007, 12:55 AM
Freedom of speech gives us the right to speak our minds without fear of punishment from the federal government. However, this does not mean that it is without reprecussions of any kind.

Were I to slander someone the goverment couldn't lock me up, but the person who I slandered could in fact sue me over it, and were I guilty, I would most likely owe them a chunk of change that I do not have.

These people with their protesting are perfectly allowed to protest when and where they want when they get the proper permits to do so. If they follow those guidelines then they won't be arrested or taken to jail. But, I'm not so sure it legally protects them from being sued.

I agree that this is a slippery slope. I enjoy my free speech. (I sure use it often enough.) And while I am smiling and nodding to the verdit, there's still a part of me that's asking "Uh... Is this morally okay when I think everyone deserves the freedom to speak their mind?"

At the moment I'm justifying it by thinking that the protesting group was slandering that soldier and so that's why it's okay!

mandalinn82
11-02-2007, 01:06 AM
A type of defamation. Slander is an untruthful oral (spoken) statement about a person that harms the person's reputation or standing in the community. Because slander is a tort (a civil wrong), the injured person can bring a lawsuit against the person who made the false statement. If the statement is made via broadcast media -- for example, over the radio or on TV -- it is considered libel, rather than slander, because the statement has the potential to reach a very wide audience.

I wish it counted, because I, like you, really want to believe that there is a valid reason for suing their pants off. But unfortunately, that group is VERY careful about doing everything legal to the letter.

veggielover
11-02-2007, 10:07 AM
At the moment I'm justifying it by thinking that the protesting group was slandering that soldier and so that's why it's okay!

The slander doesn't make it very jury-convicting to me. Like Mandalinn pointed out, this group is very careful on what they can to to NOT cross the legality line, even though they attempt to offend most through radical measures. People who say these things have to be careful, and so they tried. I think the signs they held, their "protests", literally do nothing to break the law as annoying as it may be. People can hate them and still not get them into trouble. But what makes it very appealing to the jury to charge them is that the church members did it AT HIS SON'S FUNERAL :mad:, a private ceremony held in honor of a soldier that died and they had to spoil it. The church may have been doing this for a while now, but I'm glad they've been charged. I don't think they even have this sort of money. This should hold them back for a while if their budget is low...

Amy8888
11-02-2007, 10:25 AM
You're right about them being very careful not to cross the legal line. Many of the Phelps kids are lawyers, and I'm sure it's just so they could defend themselves as cheaply as possible.

NoVaVTFan
11-02-2007, 02:37 PM
I first read about this church and Fred Phelps when I learned that they were planning on protesting at the funerals and memorial services of the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings in April of this year. They used the argument that the 32 victims deserved to die because they were in an institution of higher learning and because of homosexuals, and the regular BS that this church spouts as their reasoning to protest. When I heard this, it made me want to VOMIT. I am from the town where Virginia Tech is located, and my heart was broken in a million pieces when the shootings happened in April. To think that there are people out there who think it is OK to protest at a private thing like a funeral, when people are grieving, it makes me HATE mankind. I sometimes wonder what makes people so incompassionate, like they have a defective chip in their brain or something. I am a huge supporter of free speech and allowing people to have their opinions because I tend to speak my opinions quite loudly whenever I want, but I am NOT a supporter of people being downright HATEFUL and DISGUSTING with their free speech as to protest at a funeral saying the person died because of homosexuals, and whatever other crazy reasons. The bottom line is, free speech or not, these people make me sick to the stomach and are not human to me.

mandalinn82
11-02-2007, 02:50 PM
Yes, you (and I, and in my opinion, all people with even a small amount of common sense and human decency) find them disgusting and disturbing. THAT BEING SAID - they feel about gay people how you feel about them, disgusted and disturbed. So, because they feel that way, should they be able to shut down gay pride parades?

It is SO HARD for me to support the free speech of a group that has a "days Matthew Shepard has been in ****" counter on their website. But I worry about awarding damages due to emotional distress simply because they were expressing their opinion. They obviously find gay people as disgusting and horrifying as most people find their opinions - if a gay pride parade marched past their place of worship or even a funeral of a loved one, couldn't they then sue for emotional distress?

I think if they stop getting media coverage, they'll fade into obscurity, but they are like screaming toddlers - it takes a lot of will to not cover them, to not be horrified, to not give them an audience. They scream and shout with delight every time they go to court, every time they get photos of their signs posted on a news media outlet. They see it as spreading their message further. Of course, they are so sensationally cruel and horrifying that most media can't resist the story, which is why they are still around.

nelie
11-02-2007, 03:21 PM
This is a very difficult case. Yes they are crazy and the question is do they really believe that soldiers are being killed in iraq because of homosexuals? I don't think so. I think they have a message and have a radical and controversial idea how to spread their message. It gets them press coverage which basically gives them the power to spread their message.

It is a horrible thing to do but I do think it is within the law. Yes they can be sued in civil court, as they were and I am sure there was emotional harm done but its still a fine line.

cbmare
11-02-2007, 03:27 PM
"days Matthew Shepard has been in ****" counter on their website.

That is truly disgusting and vile!

I think if they stop getting media coverage, they'll fade into obscurity, but they are like screaming toddlers - it takes a lot of will to not cover them, to not be horrified, to not give them an audience. They scream and shout with delight every time they go to court, every time they get photos of their signs posted on a news media outlet. They see it as spreading their message further. Of course, they are so sensationally cruel and horrifying that most media can't resist the story, which is why they are still around.

You may have hit on something here. Much like sporting events won't show streakers. Maybe we should start contacting the networks and let them know that we won't be watching their news or shows if they cover it. If the print media does, we'll boycott them as well.

cbmare
11-02-2007, 03:32 PM
I agree with everyone about the free speech rights. I'm glad some states have made laws about protesting outside someone's funeral.

I don't think that father will collect on this suit. But, it has set a precedent. Many many years ago, Carol Burnett sued The National Enquirer. She won. They have so much money, but she had money, too. She did it to at least make an aisle for others to get to those underhanded reporters. I'm hoping that this will happen to those people as well.

Manda, I am sitting here chuckling at the picture in my mind. While I've never been to, yet alone participated in, a gay pride parade, I'd join one to go past their church! Not during a funeral. But a Sunday morning service would be fun!

mandalinn82
11-02-2007, 03:36 PM
Nelie - I think they actually do believe it. I've watched interviews, read articles, etc. and think they really do believe that God would be protecting soldiers, students at VTech, etc. if the country were more "Godly". They see the destruction of all things American, including American citizens and soldiers, as God's will because of the immorality of the country. If you believe in a vengeful, wrathful God, and you believe that homosexuality is the root of immorality in America, and you believe that everything that happens is God's will and should be honored, I can see how the logic would go that way. Understand? No. But I can follow how they got to that point.

I just watched their response video to the verdict. They said, essentially, "Thank God for 10.9 million because it is impossible to discuss it in the news without bringing up the tenets of our faith - that America is doomed at that God hates (derogatory word for gay people)". And then one of them said "You can't PAY for that kind of international publicity, not even with 10.9 million dollars". Covering them, suing them, etc. all have the same end result - giving them more publicity for their hateful message.

They aren't going away until we ignore them. The verdict is only going to result in a new "Thank god for 10.9 Million" sign at their next protest.

nelie
11-02-2007, 03:50 PM
I guess I would equate them somewhat to the snake handler types where they believe that god will protect them from the snakes. If you put yourself (or others) in harms way (going to war, handling snakes) then god will protect you. If you don't then you (or your country) has done something wrong.

Maybe they forgot the bible verse that talks about judging others.

alinnell
11-02-2007, 05:33 PM
We were visited by the Phelps crew a month back for Tammy Faye Messner's memorial service. What a bunch of looney-toons (and that's being nice). I actually had to turn the channel on the news when they were interviewing the bunch. It really makes me sick that people can turn good things (the constitution) into something that works only for them and they think they're right to act in such a despicable way. Everyone here has said it much more eloquently than I.

ETA: The LA Times had an article on this today that said that although the father won the lawsuit, it probably won't hold up.
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-protests2nov02,1,1442204.story?coll=la-headlines-nation&ctrack=1&cset=true

goinforthegold
11-03-2007, 09:13 AM
I get the whole free speech thing and all, but I think that some things should just be sacred enough to not be touched...by anyone for any reason. It's just common decency, no matter what your beliefs are. How would they like it if this soldiers family started a protest when one of their sons died with signs like "thank God the freaks are dead?". I believe strongly in do unto others and all that and do not think they would like it too much if the tables were reversed and it was their loved one they were putting in the ground while being forced to listen to such horrific rantings.

Further, isn't it a little hypocritical of them to crap on the US and state how much God hates America, etc...but then to use the AMERICAN constitution as their main defense??

I don't know, I just never cease to be amazed how utterly deranged some of our fellow human beings can be.

mandalinn82
11-03-2007, 01:29 PM
Goin for the Gold - but in this country, you don't really have legal justification to sue for "common decency". Of course they aren't decent, but they aren't liable for anything either.

They'd love it if you came to protest their son's funeral. It'd bring media attention to them.

EZMONEY
11-03-2007, 01:58 PM
I would say that I am amazed at how smart my my 3FC gals are...but I'm not....that is just the way they are!!

This thread shows the great "thinking caps" they wear.

Before anyone thinks otherwise let me just say these people make me SICK! I feel so bad for the families that have had to endure their painful attacks.

I have seen several interviews with these people. I will finish with saying that I believe that they are christians that have lost focus on Christ's teachings of LOVE.

I have seen it happen to politicians, people in all walks of the ministry, friends.

When greed of "something" takes over the teachings and focus of Jesus. These people have made their "agenda" their own god.

almostheaven
11-03-2007, 04:32 PM
Freedom of speech gives us the right to speak our minds without fear of punishment from the federal government. However, this does not mean that it is without reprecussions of any kind.
AMEN! That's the perfect way to put it. It's not without reprecussions. And the Bill of Rights doesn't guarantee freedom of speech "without reprecussions". I can say anything I want. Some of those things may land me in jail, some in a lawsuit. And I can scream about my rights. AFTER personally taking away the rights of a family to a private funeral that I was invited to. I know if I spent a lot of money on a funeral, or say my wedding even (something you'll remember for life). These are things you cannot do over. And you go out and spend a load of money on them, and you get a party (or funeral) crasher who makes this one memory **** for the rest of your life. You absolutely have the right to sue their pants off. And you should get every penny.

mandalinn82
11-03-2007, 07:33 PM
Comment from the ACLU lawyer who defended the crazies:

From here, the Westboro Baptist Church case will be appealed - Nov 1, 2007

This case arises from the picketing and related activities of Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) members concerning a soldier's funeral. I very much disagree with WBC's views, including its decision to picket soldiers' funerals. Of course, I believe strongly in responding to reviled speech with counterspeech, rather than seeking court intervention against such speech.

In addition to allegations of emotional distress and intrusion upon seclusion, the lawsuit filed by the soldier's father alleged defamation, which the court dismissed the week before trial commenced. Committed to robust First Amendment protection, I accepted the role of defending WBC and its pastor in this lawsuit, while departing strongly with their message and actions.

Having declined to dismiss the remainder of the lawsuit, the judge sent the case to the jury, which on October 31 returned a total verdict of $2.9 million in compensatory damages and $8 million in punitive damages. These are huge numbers, to say the least.

This case stirs people's passions. I have heard from people taking issue with my defending WBC and its pastor in this case, and from others agreeing with my standing up for First Amendment rights, which I do again and again for people from across the political spectrum, believing that picking and choosing within the political spectrum is disingenuous to upholding the First Amendment. I went to law school idealistic about using my law degree for civil liberties, learned during law school that First Amendment rights are suppressed all the time, and feel heartened about being able to light a candle rather than to curse the darkness, through my First Amendment defense work.

Protecting free expression often requires defending dark and/or controversial views and actions. It includes defending against cross burning statutes, defending the right of neo-****s to march in Skokie, and defending the rights of the adult entertainment industry, As the American Civil Liberties Union's website proclaims: "It is easy to defend freedom of speech when the message is something many people find at least reasonable. But the defense of freedom of speech is most critical when the message is one most people find repulsive. That was true when the ****s marched in Skokie. It remains true today."

This WBC case will now proceed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, where the First Amendment issues will be argued and reviewed.

almostheaven
11-04-2007, 11:04 PM
Yikes, didn't read my post after I sent it and just got back here. Didn't make much sense. SHOULD have said: "AFTER personally taking away the rights of a family to a private funeral that I was NOT invited to."

Comment from the ACLU lawyer who defended the crazies:

But the defense of freedom of speech is most critical when the message is one most people find repulsive.
Just because people find the FORUM used to express the message a repulsive way in expressing it, doesn't mean they automatically find the message repulsive.

There are many people who feel abortion is wrong, and many who feel it's not. Yet, regardless of my beliefs on it, if EITHER group were to decide to use a soldier's funeral as the location to express those beliefs, I'd find that GROUP to be repulsive in that they would emotionally devastate a family in their time of grief in such a manner.