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I too yearn for the good ole days...

... when a sound butt-kickin' would solve more than a few problems.

A reader of Jonah Goldberg's leads me to reminiscing:

The entire situation that Fred Phelps causes is purely a result of our legalistic society, where rather than deal with issues in a cultural manner, we resort to the ever more burdened courts.

To be blunt, in the days of my grandfather, a good sized group of men would have peeled off from the funeral, and informed Rev. Phelps he was not welcome within eyesight of the funeral, and that it was time for him to leave. Like, right now. If he didn't, then he would have been bodily removed, likely with a variety of lumps and bruises, from the scene and warned that if he returned, he would get a serious beating.

And nobody would have batted an eye. Any cops that were called would have exercised discretion, looked over the situation, and told Phelps "You had it coming, bub, beat it". Any judge that Phelps petitioned would have looked at the case, told Phelps he was a horses hind end, and tossed it out of court with prejudice.

However, that was in the days when the US had pretty much one culture. Sure, lots of variations, but in 1950 a jerk like Phelps would have gotten pretty much that reaction whether he was disrupting a Marine's funeral in Georgia, or Brooklyn, or California. Because in those days, most people believed in the same standards of behavior.

The sixties changed that. I can trace a direct line from the "Do Your Own Thing" of '68, to Phelps standing outside of a cemetery with "God Hates Fags" signs in 2009. By smashing cultural norms, the left moved simple disputes such as this from the cultural, low-level form of conflict resolution into the legal system. And so now we have the absurdity of a mentally disturbed man petitioning the Supreme Court for the "right" to
disrupt military funerals.

Thanks a lot, hippies...

The argument is that we've progressed from that regressive bygone era.

Really?

H/T to Tony Woodlief.


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Comments (63)

Better to live in free soci... (Below threshold)

Better to live in free society, with a dishrag like Fred Phelps, than a society without freedom.

"I do not agree wi... (Below threshold)
Eric:
"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it. " - Voltaire


I've always liked Jonah Goldberg. But I disagree with just about everything in this article, from its superficiality to its tacit endorsement of violence.

I've never liked Fred Phelps. I think he is a completely loathsome individual. But if we demand free speech from the Left and expect not to get beaten up like Kenneth Gladney and Allee Bautsch, then we should not endorse violence ourselves in any form.

"But if we demand free s... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

"But if we demand free speech from the Left and expect not to get beaten up like Kenneth Gladney and Allee Bautsch, then we should not endorse violence ourselves in any form."

We should not need to demand it - it's already a right. They have no right to keep us from exercising it, and though it's all sorts of satisfying and generates virtuous feelings to go "We must eschew violence in defense of our liberties", it's also the sort of thinking that ends up going "Well, I shouldn't fight - so I'll temporarily be quiet to avoid a confrontation." It's reinforcement of the folks who believe it's THEIR right to silence you, or act in ways that show that THEY don't respect YOUR rights. Can it honestly be said that the Westboro folk respect anyone else?

That said - I think the idea of a cohesive national culture is a lot better than the mini-Balkanizations that are going on. Seems like every contemporary ethnic and culture ever imported to the US is worth preserving, except european, or (as Jonah's reader pointed out) any sort of national consensual structure. Yes, it's fun to break apart and trash cultural norms - but if you don't have something to replace them with then you're stuck with whatever grows in their place.

And truthfully, I'm not at all sure that having no expectations for civility and decorum is producing tolerable results.

though it's all so... (Below threshold)
Eric:
though it's all sorts of satisfying and generates virtuous feelings to go "We must eschew violence in defense of our liberties", it's also the sort of thinking that ends up going "Well, I shouldn't fight - so I'll temporarily be quiet to avoid a confrontation."

Don't misrepresent what I said. I didn't say anything about eschewing violence in defense of our liberties. I don't think we should endorse violence at the expense of someone else's liberties.

To be blunt, in the days of my grandfather, a good sized group of men would have peeled off from the funeral, and informed Rev. Phelps he was not welcome within eyesight of the funeral, and that it was time for him to leave. Like, right now. If he didn't, then he would have been bodily removed, likely with a variety of lumps and bruises, from the scene and warned that if he returned, he would get a serious beating. And nobody would have batted an eye. Any cops that were called would have exercised discretion, looked over the situation, and told Phelps "You had it coming, bub, beat it". Any judge that Phelps petitioned would have looked at the case, told Phelps he was a horses hind end, and tossed it out of court with prejudice.

The article pines for the "good old days" when someone like Fred Phelps would get his ass kicked while the police and courts look the other way. While Fred Phelps is loathsome, all he is doing is exercising his right to free speech.


How about if I rephrase it this way?

To be blunt, in the days of my grandfather, a good sized group of union guys would have peeled off from the meeting, and informed Kenneth Gladney he was not welcome within eyesight of the meeting, and that it was time for him to leave. Like, right now. If he didn't, then he would have been bodily removed, likely with a variety of lumps and bruises, from the scene and warned that if he returned, he would get a serious beating.

And nobody would have batted an eye. Any cops that were called would have exercised discretion, looked over the situation, and told Gladney "You had it coming, bub, beat it". Any judge that Gladney petitioned would have looked at the case, told Gladney he was a horses hind end, and tossed it out of court with prejudice.

Unlike Eric, Goldberg took ... (Below threshold)
CZ:

Unlike Eric, Goldberg took the thoughts right out of my head. Thanks a lot, hippies!

If it were the funeral of my son or nephew I would walk right up to these MF'ing demons and clean the street with their bare asses. Try and stop me.

This is how it's done.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2PXb7xKhcI

To be blunt, in the days... (Below threshold)
steve:

To be blunt, in the days of my grandfather, a good sized group of men would have peeled off...

and gone and lynched the prisoner waiting trial because they just knew he was guilty... beat up a bunch of long-haired freaky people just because... torched a neighborhood house because they didn't like the color of the person living there. Yeah, the good old days that we should all pine for.

While I agree with Jlawson, ... the idea of a cohesive national culture is a lot better than the mini-Balkanizations that are going on, that culture shouldn't extend to mini-mobs using violence to deal with people doing things not to their liking.

And putting it another way, I wouldn't want a 'good sized group of men' knocking me around because they didn't like something I had to say... so I won't and can't condone doing the same to a group doing things I don't like.

I like the idea that disagreements are dealt with in a civilized manner and if they can't be worked out between the parties, the issue goes before a supposedly neutral panel for resolution.

6. Posted by steve... (Below threshold)
CZ:

6. Posted by steve

"And putting it another way, I wouldn't want a 'good sized group of men' knocking me around because they didn't like something I had to say"

Then don't say it Steve. Have some respect. Would you walk into a black urban neighborhood and scream the N-word, Steve? Go ahead, nobody will bother you. They're very tolerant of opposing viewpoints.

But if we demand f... (Below threshold)
iwogisdead:
But if we demand free speech from the Left and expect not to get beaten up like Kenneth Gladney and Allee Bautsch, then we should not endorse violence ourselves in any form.

There is no comparison. Gladney was attacked for expressing opinions at a political meeting. And who knows why Bauthsch was attacked.

Phelps' actions were indecent.

By the way, no one is saying that Phelps and his dipshits don't have the right to free speech. They can say whatever they want. That right should not extend to acting like dumbasses at a funeral. Knuckle sandwiches sound like balanced reply.

This would never have happened in the world I grew up in, many decades ago. Or if it did, it would have been quickly remedied. It wasn't a bad thing--children respected their elders, men respected women, parents took care of their children, people acted respectfully at funerals, and most everyone maintained some level of civility in dealing with others.

Those days are gone, of course.

Eric -"I don't ... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Eric -

"I don't think we should endorse violence at the expense of someone else's liberties."

At what point, though, does the right to your liberties infringe upon the liberties of other people?

(Oh, god, I'm sounding like a lawyer.)

Yes, Phelps has the right to do what he does. As amoral and unpleasant as he is, as repellent as his actions at a funeral (which is a pretty highly-charged emotional time, which holds cultural expectations of respect for the deceased and sympathy for the feelings of the family) he has the RIGHT to do it.

But he also, in my humble opinion, has the RESPONSIBILITY to take into account the feelings of the bereaved and respect them.

Cultural norms establish the responsibilities that are the flip side of rights. Admittedly, cultural norms change over time but there's usually an expectation of politeness and civility. Not so much any more, because that's seen as 'restricting personal freedom of expression' - and when you throw out those expectations, you end up with problems.

Respect for others serves as a real social lubricant - what would you think of a high-end restaraunt that had servers who go "Well, what the fuck do YOU want today?" and "Dammit, I didn't want to make any salad, the shit goes stale before it's eaten - pick something else."

I'm sure you'd patronize them - after all, don't they have a right to stay in business no matter how obnoxious they are to the customer?

Your rephrasing the passage with Gladney doesn't really fit, by the way. He was an organizer, not a speaker, and didn't seek out the folks who beat him (unless he's some sort of rather odd masochist, which I don't believe) to harangue them with his opinions.

If people these days weren'... (Below threshold)
Roy:

If people these days weren't so thin-skinned and whiny, they'd be able to deal with opposition to their beliefs without running and crying to a court about it.

There is no compar... (Below threshold)
Eric:
There is no comparison. Gladney was attacked for expressing opinions at a political meeting.

Phelps is expressing his opinions too. The location may be different, but that is irrelevant. You are saying that you would give Phelps a knuckle sandwich because he is expressing opinions offensive to you.

I see that as NO DIFFERENT from the union thugs that attacked Ken Gladney. Again I disagree with Phelps and I too find his views offensive and disrespectful.

By the way, no one is saying that Phelps and his dipshits don't have the right to free speech.

Actually that is exactly what this article is saying. It condones not only vigilante justice, but wants the police and courts to turn a blind eye to it. That is a slippery slope where the government only protects some speech.

Steve - And ... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Steve -

And putting it another way, I wouldn't want a 'good sized group of men' knocking me around because they didn't like something I had to say... so I won't and can't condone doing the same to a group doing things I don't like.

I like the idea that disagreements are dealt with in a civilized manner and if they can't be worked out between the parties, the issue goes before a supposedly neutral panel for resolution."
Again we've got a problems with separation of rights and responsibilities. If you go out with the express, determined intent to offend someone, you shoudn't be terribly surprised to find that you're the target of their offended feelings.

Think of it as the difference between standing on a streetcorner soapbox shouting about how evil and horrible it is that we eat meat and use leather and all that - and going into a biker bar intending to splash paint on their leathers to stage a protest. True - you're simply 'expressing yourself' in both cases, but in the second - if you 'express yourself' you're liable to get a severe beating.

Having Phelps getting the c... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

Having Phelps getting the crap kicked out of him for his unsolicited comments directed at a fellow private citizen in a very private moment does not infringe upon his freedom of speech. Now it might involve other unlawful acts on the part of the respondents but infringing upon his freedom of speech doesn't seem to be one of them. If dissenters can be hustled out of a venue where a politician is delivering a speech then Phelps can be similarly removed a very far distance from where this private, personal ceremony is taking place. I believe that common decency suggests a right to privacy in this case.

Frankly, that good old fash... (Below threshold)
oldpuppymax:

Frankly, that good old fashioned "butt kicking" you mentioned would STILL be quite effective in myriad cases. It's long past time "we the people" began to exercise such a solution when faced with the perpetual, unwanted intervention of SMACK-OFFS!

With rights come responsebi... (Below threshold)
just bob:

With rights come responsebilities, you do not yell fire in a theater,use racial terms or antagonize people. If you do you are prone to payback. We have become less civilized because there is little retribution for bad behavior. Punk ass kids disrupt schools and threaten lawsuits if confronted,idiots in theaters or restaraunts yelling in their phones or drivers cutting you off and then flipping you the bird, We need to find the opener for that can of whup ass.

Eric, this is not solely a ... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

Eric, this is not solely a "freedom of speech" issue. There is more involved here. Having freedom of speech does not grant the user a waiver from responsibility for that speech or exemption from consequence that result from that speech. These are different issues.

Liberals love speech codes ... (Below threshold)
howcome:

Liberals love speech codes in colleges and society in general. But a lot of them are for unrestricted free speech when it comes to certain segments of the population they do no like. I guess I can safely run around the ghetto yelling racial slurs knowing liberals would defend my actions. It would be a lot of comfort from the grave.

I personally think he and h... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

I personally think he and his little group need to be put down like rabid dogs but the US has descended into a lawyers paradise where everything is now settled in a courtroom.

The right to freedom of speech and expressing one's religious belief's ends where it infringes on the right to someone to bury a relative in peace.

Let the nasty bastards hold a get together in their 'church' where they can say or do anything they want to protest the dead, not at a funeral where they are causing a disruption.

There is 'free' speech and ... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

There is 'free' speech and then there's 'free' speech. How would you react were you walking down the street with your wife; some guy comes up and asks her "how much for a suck and fuck?".
What would your reaction be? Tolerance? A laugh?

I know what mine would be, and it would also apply to assholes like Phelps. Sure, he can have his "free" speech, but sometimes it comes with consequences.

People who blather on and on about "rights" always conveniently overlook the part about 'with rights, also comes responsibility'.

Sec 415 of the Calif Penal Code (Disturbing the Peace) recognizes that someone can say or do something 'so outrageous as to provoke an immediate and violent reaction'.

There are still ways to dea... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

There are still ways to deal with Phelps and his ilk via social pressure. The merchants in the area should refuse to do business with him. The hotels should refuse to house him. The gas station owners refuse to sell him gas. The restaurants/grocers refuse to sell him food...etc.

No one is under any moral obligation to conduct business with another person.

Some rights need to end whe... (Below threshold)
dnb:

Some rights need to end where they meet and conflict with the rights of others. There is probably no more private moment than the funeral of a loved one. No one has the 'right' to dispute that.
Like the GZM, Phelps has the right to do something, but is that something the right thing to do?

Meant 'disrupt' not dispute... (Below threshold)
dnb:

Meant 'disrupt' not dispute.

Couple of questions here:</... (Below threshold)
Mycroft:

Couple of questions here:

1. Was this funeral held in a public cemetary or a private one? Most cemetaries are private property to my knowledge. As such, the police could have been called to remove him/them.

2. What in the *heck* do these people think they are achomplishing with their protests in the first place? If you are picketing a military funeral, then that family has already lost. You are not going to "change their mind" by picketing them????

3. Did these people go to the funeral expecting to be welcomed with "open arms"? If they did, better check them for what they are smoking.....

I am troubled by two aspect... (Below threshold)
Eric:

I am troubled by two aspects of the article that starts this post.

1) The idea that private citizens can beat the crap out of another citizen who is exercising free speech, even if it is offensive. As I understand it, Fred Phelps is not crashing the funeral homes, he is standing outside them in a public venue with signs and shouting offensive things. Is it distasteful? Absolutely. Is it infringing on other people's rights? No, actually. The Constitution clearly spells out that WE ALL have a Freedom of Speech. It doesn't define speech in any way and it doesn't say anything about a freedom FROM speech.

What about the Tea Party protests? Ask the left and they consider them to be highly offensive and racist. What's to say that they can't apply the same logic used here to justify beating up a Tea Party protester?

2) The second issue I have with the article, is really the most troubling one for me. Not only does this article endorse or encourage a violent response to Fred Phelps. The article encourages that the government turn a blind eye to that violence.

Think about that one really hard for a minute. Where is the line for that one? Who defines that line? What kind of government tolerates speech for some but not for others?

Some talk about taking responsibility for their speech. But what about the people who hypothetically beat up Fred Phelps? This article says that the police and courts should let those people go.

Frankly, I am dismayed that someone would find that to be okay.

What about the Tea Party... (Below threshold)
Roy:

What about the Tea Party protests? Ask the left and they consider them to be highly offensive and racist. What's to say that they can't apply the same logic used here to justify beating up a Tea Party protester?

They did that one already.

They did that one ... (Below threshold)
Eric:
They did that one already

What's your point? They did it, so that makes it okay?

"Some talk about taking res... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"Some talk about taking responsibility for their speech. But what about the people who hypothetically beat up Fred Phelps? This article says that the police and courts should let those people go."

Next Eric will regal us with how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

"This article says that the police and courts should let those people go."

It does? Or does it indicate that a jury would decide?

I think most of you are rig... (Below threshold)
ron:

I think most of you are right about freedom of speach. We may not differentiate between good and bad speach.

All of that aside that church is not following after the great commision and are not preaching the gospil. What ever the world throws at them; ostracizes or whatever, well thier personal persecutions are their problems.

Now if they got declared mentally defecient they would of course not have the right to freedom of speach and we could consider them a potential danger to themselves and others around them. To that end I think this whole thing should go, because I do happen to think that preacher Phelps is hearing ethereal voices.

He ain't serving God in other words, he's a really insane.

The legalistic approach you... (Below threshold)

The legalistic approach you're taking, Eric, is precisely the problem Jonah's highlighting. If some jackoff had burst into my mother's memorial service spouting political opinions, my brother and I -- and probably my then-77-year-old father who was tethered to an oxygen bottle at the time -- would have thrown that person out bodily and perhaps offered additional encouragement for that person to exercise his freedom of speech somewhere else.

And that's not even taking into account the possibility that his political opinions included personally insulting my mother with his words as well as his actions.

"Think about that one re... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

"Think about that one really hard for a minute. Where is the line for that one? Who defines that line? What kind of government tolerates speech for some but not for others?"

What kind of college tolerates speech for some, but not for others? How many colleges, which are supposedly bastions of free thought and inquiry, have put codes of conduct and speech into place explicitly banning speech that makes others uncomfortable - and then allow all sorts of socially left groups yet enforce those codes on conservative groups?

Guess it all depends on what you find 'uncomfortable', doesn't it? If the thought of having both rights AND responsibilities makes you a bit uncomfortable, you're going to want to avoid exposure to such ideas. Far better to silence them than have to put up with any introspection and deal with WHY such ideas make you uncomfortable, isn't it?

If you've got someone who's spring-loaded to the 'offended' position, we attempt to placate them - and each step gained by such a person or group is used for the next one. Eventually you get to a point where you cannot say anything without fearing to offend someone - especially if your thoughts are those not of the supposed mainstream as pushed by the media.

And then you get to a point where even unrelated words or concepts can be construed to be offensive... Niggardly, anyone? Dare I mention black hole if I'm not an astronomer? Dare I even ask for a black hoe if I'm in need of a gardening tool in Home Depot, and prefer a particular finish? Is a red hoe something offensive to Amerinds or Communists? Dare I ask a woman clerk for a hoe in the garden department?

The answer, as Roy implied, is to grow a thicker skin and not rush for a lawyer when your feelings get hurt by an offhand comment. When you've got someone insistently and systematically going around intending to hurt others, that action and thinking needs to be addressed.

Phelps tips that scale, to my thinking. BTW, where DOES he get his money, anyway?

More and more I think people are confusing the rights and responsibilities that come with liberty with the freedom to be libertine in our society today. (The two words ARE quite different, despite similarities.)

I'm not advocating a return to the social repressions of the '50s (though I do think there might be something said for getting married before you have kids - and contraception today is certainly capable of providing that) - but there should be a willingness to think the best of others until proven otherwise, and an intolerance of people who are determined to offend others.

(I also think we've got too many lawyers any more - after all, they've got to find work somehow and I think we're seeing the results of that.)

laughing out loud at Eric's... (Below threshold)
Dane:

laughing out loud at Eric's wake-up call.

You're just now figuring out the type of people you're aligned yourself with, eh Eric? It's enough to make you stop drinking tea, isn't it?

One thing to keep in mind, Eric. These loud mouthed blowhards are full of shit and just talk a big game. They HATE a large segment of the American population and they get off on talking trash and acting tough. In reality they are nothing more than simple-minded idiots.

They HATE a large segmen... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

They HATE a large segment of the American population and they get off on talking trash and acting tough. In reality they are nothing more than simple-minded idiots.

Oh, Dane, you really shouldn't talk about yourself like that. Hasn't the therapist taught you ANYTHING?

If a young man gives up his... (Below threshold)
Maddox:

If a young man gives up his life fighting for our country and freedom we have a duty to fight for his right to be laid to rest with dignity.

Would a judge defend the right of the KKK to protest at the funeral of a black man? That is a disgusting thought, but it would certainly be a right under the 1st Amendment.

There are a group of motorc... (Below threshold)
JPO:

There are a group of motorcycle riders who have taken it upon themselves to respond to these idiots that protest the military funerals.
Here
is the website to check out what they are about. I have a coworker who is a member of the Patriot Guard. The Patriot Guard was also in attendance at the funeral of my uncle, who was retired navy.

It would seem they are providing a middle ground solution to the two sides of this issue being debated.

Eric: if Fred Phelps was pr... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

Eric: if Fred Phelps was protesting at a funeral I was attending I would walk over to him and suggest/request he move further away from the funeral. If he rejected my suggestion any further action on my part would be done with the expectation of my subsequent involvement with law enforcement and the criminal legal system.

It seems only union and commie thugs avoid involvement with the criminal justice system under such circumstances these days (see: Gladney and Bautsch).

I am one of those riders. ... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

I am one of those riders. A wall of chrome, denim and leather has done well to keep the nuts and hippies at bay.
Dane, good to know that you make common cause with Fred Phelps.

SCSIwuzzy -Thank y... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

SCSIwuzzy -

Thank you for that.

SCSIwuzzy,As JLaws... (Below threshold)
Hank:

SCSIwuzzy,

As JLawson said, thanks for doing that.

Well, heck. If you pussies ... (Below threshold)
Virgil Lanty:

Well, heck. If you pussies are gonna let the constitution keep us from stompin' the shit outta Fred Phelps, the next thing you know you'll be sayin' we can't string up a darkie for whistlin' at a white woman. Why's this constitution of yours against community standards?

It does? Or does i... (Below threshold)
Eric:
It does? Or does it indicate that a jury would decide?

No it doesn't Garandfan. Here let me help you since you won't read what's at the top of the screen.

Any cops that were called would have exercised discretion, looked over the situation, and told Phelps "You had it coming, bub, beat it". Any judge that Phelps petitioned would have looked at the case, told Phelps he was a horses hind end, and tossed it out of court with prejudice.

This is after a group of guys have beaten up Phelps. At this point Phelps is the victim of assault and battery. If its justified enough for a beat down, why not go all the way and shoot him in the head?

That's where your penal code citation is poorly applied. It applies to Phelps and would give the police cause to arrest and remove him for disturbing the peace.

It doesn't absolve private citizens from beating up Phelps. It doesn't justify a judge throwing out assault and battery charges against the people who gave him a beat down. The purpose being to diffuse a bad situation from getting worse.

Next Eric will regal us with how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

42

laughing out loud at Eric's wake-up call.

Dane, go away. You won't appreciate it, but we are able to have a discussion with opposing points of view without resorting to ad hominen attacks. That is until you showed up.

Eric, you just got my up vo... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

Eric, you just got my up vote for knowing the correct answer, 42. Obviously, you know where your towel is.

I agree with Eric. There a... (Below threshold)
epador:

I agree with Eric. There are ways to handle Phelps and his ilk without resorting to vigilante violence. The Patriot Guard has a fairly good record here.

Now if Phelps comes storming into the funeral parlor and starts physically threatening people, THEN you have license to neutralize his threat physically and violently if necessary. But looking back to the "good ol' days" where majority or plurality allows violence against minority without legal retribution, well, those were not the good aspect of old days, they are the paths of bullies, bigots and tyrants.

Thanks epador. I'm glad so... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Thanks epador. I'm glad somebody gets it. As for your second point. I agree there too. If Phelps barges into the funeral getting physical, that changes the whole dynamic. That's a different story. I've got no problem with him getting tossed on his ear. But resorting to vigilante justice, when all someone is doing is speaking is not how I was raised. Its not how I want my country to be.

I'm of two minds here. On ... (Below threshold)
Big Mo:

I'm of two minds here. On the one hand, any American has the right to be a jackass if he wants to. And folks like SCSIwuzzy can keep the jackasses at bay without violence.

On the other hand, the more wicked part of me wants to see such cretins as Phelps get what's coming to them. Maybe along the lines of the Blues Brothers and Illinois Nazis.

Regardless, our lawsuit-happy society has succeeded in emasculating many Americans. Would that more men today were like the Patriot Guard.

This discussion reminds me of a great story from El Rushbo's show about 15 years ago. A real Nugent-outdoorsman type named Mick from the mountains of New Mexico often called into Rush's show in the early years. Mick once told how while riding his horse one day he stopped to offer a panhandler a job. The man declined, but Mick quoted St. Paul and how if a man doesn't work, he won't eat.

Mick, delightfully censoring himself to Rush's audience, said that the panhandler responded by saying angrily, "Sexual penetration on Paul, you and the horse you rode in on."

"What did you do?" Rush asked.

And Mick said "Well, I drew my .44 and he repented."

BTW, Eric, very good and th... (Below threshold)
Big Mo:

BTW, Eric, very good and thoughtful points.

Dingy Dane-... (Below threshold)
914:

Dingy Dane-

"They HATE a large segment of the American population and they get off on talking trash and acting tough. In reality they are nothing more than simple-minded idiots."

Hasn't Barney taught you anything?

I hate you, you love me, november ends your fantasy.

This is a really interestin... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

This is a really interesting thread. I agree with Big Mo that Eric is making some really good points here.

@JLawson:

"Phelps tips that scale, to my thinking. BTW, where DOES he get his money, anyway?"

NO SHIT!!! Who on earth funds those people? The WBC agenda is just pure insanity (and stupidity).

@Dane:

You know, sometimes it's good to just chime in with your views and leave the name-calling BS aside. Seriously. I can understand the fact that you have your political disagreements and opinions with folks around here, but is it really necessary to pull the same ad hominem card EVERY time? News flash: not everyone who disagrees with you politically is an idiot. So why treat them as such? Respect goes a long way, and it IS possible to disagree and make strong points while still staying civil. Just sayin.

Phelps and the WBC psychopaths: Exhibit B for a reason to avoid the insanity of one-sided, ideologically blind politics.

The idea that priv... (Below threshold)
iwogisdead:
The idea that private citizens can beat the crap out of another citizen who is exercising free speech, even if it is offensive.


The difference in our points of view is that it is not Phelps' speech or his ideas which are offensive to me (for this discussion)--it is his action in trying to disrupt the solemn ceremony of a funeral by "exercising" his right to free speech.


As I understand it, Fred Phelps is not crashing the funeral homes, he is standing outside them in a public venue with signs and shouting offensive things.


OK, here's a hypothetical. What if Phelps, still outside, and still in a "public venue," set up speakers so loud that the funeral service inside the funeral home could not be heard. It's still "speech." Does he have a "right" to do this?


The Supreme Court has always recognized time, place, and manner restrictions on "free speech." There's no issue that Phelps was in violation of some ordinance here, but your argument keeps going back to the right of "free speech." If the town passed an ordinance saying that it is illegal to protest along a funeral route, I believe there's a good chance that such an ordinance would be upheld.


My point being that the "free speech" refuge is not quite so absolute.


Is it infringing on other people's rights? No, actually.


Well, of course it is. How about the right to privacy? If that "right" protects the right to have an abortion, does it not protect the right to have a funeral without the intentional infliction of emotional distress on the grieving relatives of the deceased?

The Constitution clearly spells out that WE ALL have a Freedom of Speech.


No, it doesn't. It protects against laws "abridging the freedom of speech." There are a whole bunch of restrictions on this "freedom." Just ask a lawyer about the right to free speech in a courtroom ("Hey, Judge, you're an dumbass, you stink, and you look like dead cow!"). How much free speech does a private have when he's talking to his captain? How about defamation and copyright? Zoning laws? Obscenity? What about permits for parades? How about abortion protesters outside of clinics? I won't even mention "yelling fire inside of a crowded theater." Ooopppps.

You know, I always thought ... (Below threshold)
Sky Captain:

You know, I always thought the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution said "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

By golly, it does. CONGRESS is the key word. Although it is supposedly extended to legislatures at all levels.

Anyway, Freddie is protected from laws being made that keep him from showing his true insanity.

I just don't see where Freddie is protected from civil lawsuits for invasion of privacy.
Or a good ass-whippin'.

To be blunt, in t... (Below threshold)
warchild:
To be blunt, in the days of my grandfather, a good sized group of men would have peeled off from the funeral, and informed Rev. Phelps he was not welcome within eyesight of the funeral, and that it was time for him to leave. Like, right now. If he didn't, then he would have been bodily removed, likely with a variety of lumps and bruises, from the scene and warned that if he returned, he would get a serious beating.

I don't know if I'd call them the good ole days. my grandfather watched a black man get lynched when was a boy for being "uppity." That's no exageration he was 9 years old. Mob rule is a scary thing. Even when it really is deserved.

Having said that, Fred Phelps deserves an ass kicking like no other. the man is scum, total and complete scum. I'm not sure I could restrain from doing it if he showed up at a funeral for someone I loved, but it is a dangerous thing to turn the idea of who gets an ass kicking over to the average man.

Ryan A - "Respe... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Ryan A -

"Respect goes a long way, and it IS possible to disagree and make strong points while still staying civil. Just sayin."

Part of it, I think, is simply what the person is taught growing up. If he's 'taught' early enough that there's no repercussions for being disrespectful then there's no plus side for learning to BE respectful.

For us, with the little guy, we're aware that we're what he's learning from. Honesty, respect for others, self-control, he learns from us first. He also learns from us how to stand up for what's right, how to behave in public, how to question what he's exposed to. (Still working on getting him to keep his mouth closed when he chews, though.) Disagreement, when backed by facts, is appreciated. Whining and stomping his feet didn't get him anything at all - and he learned that lesson pretty fast when he tried it in the Twos.

So far, it's taking pretty well. Now, at twelve, he's a bit more subtle about how he manipulates us. He addresses adults respectfully, he holds open the door for folks following him or if someone's approaching it - his manners (except for chewing) are all I could wish for. Kids learn through the example of the adults around them.

Simple courtesy is a social lubricant that'll take you a long way. Assholery, however, is sand in the gear-box of civilization.

And sometimes it seems like they're determined to ladle in the sand in bucketsful...

BTW, Ryan A - I was agreein... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

BTW, Ryan A - I was agreeing with you, in case it wasn't apparent.

There is, of course, the "f... (Below threshold)
Walter Cronanty:

There is, of course, the "fighting words" doctrine [exception, if you will] of the First Amendment. I would argue, and have argued, that Phelps verbal excrement is nothing but a challenge to fisticuffs. See,Phelps-Roper v. Strickland, No. 07-3600 (6th Cir. 07-3700). Thus, his, and his followers', speech is not protected by the First Amendment. That specific issue has never been decided, but in our genteel society, the "fighting words" doctrine is not looked upon with favor. Too bad - they deserve an ass-whuppin'.
That being said, the arguments before the USSupCt yesterday involve an entirely different issue. As I recall the facts [and I haven't read them recently, so if I'm wrong, I apologize in advance], this case involves a tort claim of invasion of privacy wherein the next-of-kin at the funeral did not see/hear the "speech" at the time of the funeral, but some time after, as in a news report. I do not believe in expanding tort law to cover such events. There is enough law "squeezing" our right to free speech.
And, as to where Phelps gets his money - lawsuits, my friend. If a police force does not sufficiently protect him [he/they call the police department of the city where they are going to protest in advance, demanding protection - they often will call several police departments for the same date, knowing they will not appear and knowing that the funeral home and/or the next-of-kin will be notified, merely to enrage those attending the funeral - they are truly evil, malevolent, barbarians] they will sue the City. And if you give 'em an ass-whuppin', you better hope the "fighting words" doctrine applies or be judgment proof. And just so the record is clear, I'm a Baptist, though not one of their kind, and I probably claim the Baptists more than they claim me.

Based on the article above,... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Based on the article above, if having a bunch of guys beating up Fred Phelps is an acceptable response. Where is the line? What isn't acceptable? What makes the line?

Help me out here. Tell me which of the following are acceptable responses to Fred Phelps standing outside a funeral on public property with signs?

Telling him to leave or you will open a can of whoop ass on him. AKA Assault

Opening a can of whoop ass on him. AKA Battery

Telling him to leave or you will open a can of whoop ass on him while holding a baseball bat. AKA Aggravated Assault

Opening a can of whoop ass on him with a baseball bat. AKA Assault with a deadly weapon

Making your day with a .44 Magnum. AKA Homicide

Based on the article above, if having the police and courts excuse beating up Fred Phelps as legally acceptable. Where is the line? Which of the above are legally excusable? What makes any of them excusable?

So help me out. What penalties are expected for the above responses?

Why are some here having di... (Below threshold)
Mike Giles:

Why are some here having difficulty telling the difference between a mob lynching a black man, just for the hell of it; and stopping someone from interrupting a funeral service. The idea that we have to silently accept all forms and manners of "speech" is idiotic.

Eric - Many states have pas... (Below threshold)
Walter Cronanty:

Eric - Many states have passed a law that keeps Phelps and his merry band of hate-mongers "away", say 300 feet, from the funeral home, in an attempt to mitigate the harm from their speech.
Let me put it in context. If you go to a wedding, and in the reception line, pipe up and say: "Your wife's a fucking whore," the groom and/or father of the bride is probably going to jack your jaw - and nobody's going to to feel sorry for you. If, on the other hand, you type on a post like this: "Your wife's a fucking whore," probably nobody would excuse you from going through the expense and effort to find out who the poster is, stalking him/her, and then blowing them away ala Dirty Harry. All that is in the middle is a judgment call - probably ending up on the side of no violence.

Based on the artic... (Below threshold)
iwogisdead:
Based on the article above, if having the police and courts excuse beating up Fred Phelps as legally acceptable. Where is the line? Which of the above are legally excusable? What makes any of them excusable?

I've never said that such a response would be legally excusable.

I did say that a violent response would be a "balanced reply." I would support any fair charges against those who "reply."

My point has always been that a reply based on what our civilization deems to be fair is what is called for. Believe me, judges and lawyers are not the best folks to decide what that is.

Eric -"What pen... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Eric -

"What penalties are expected for the above responses?"

In the case of decking Phelps, I suggest one hour litter pickup for the county, with three 20-minute coffee breaks.

Decking Phelps for being an obnoxious asshole doesn't rise to the level of murder - and I'm surprised you're trying so hard to conflate the two to prove your point.

As I said before, feelings run high around funerals. I've seen some theories that Phelps actually WANTS confrontations and hopefully to be assaulted, so he can go ahead and sue the assets off whoever strikes him. (Guess that's how he pays his way, Ryan A) Interesting info on him in his wiki. Guy's 81, BTW, so perhaps when he passes on his 'Church' will also.

The premise misses a more i... (Below threshold)
MunDane68:

The premise misses a more important point: In the good old days, there would have been a degree of civility to the thing. No fisticuffs would be needed because there would be no protest at a funeral. People would respect things like private moments and not use them for political gain (or monetary in the WBC case).

Protests happened in town squares where there were places to talk and debate, and the idea of suing people who committed no physical harm to you was preposterous. Alas we all walked away from that, probably never to return for our own, inherently selfish, reasons. Phelps and his clan are clearly Simoniacs, and will be adjudged as such, whether on Earth or the hereafter.

JLawson - It's not a theory... (Below threshold)
Walter Cronanty:

JLawson - It's not a theory. The Phelps clan does make money on its lawsuits. Fred was, strangely enough, an apparently semi-successful civil rights attorney, years ago.
Oddly, I partially agree with one of their premises. They believe that God is mad at the US for our tolerance of gays, and His anger is manifested in the deaths of US soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan.
I believe that God is mad at the US, a theory empirically proven by Fred Phelps having 13 children, 11 of whom are lawyers. This is a plague of truly Biblical proportions.

ONE MILLION LAWYERSB... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

ONE MILLION LAWYERS
By Tom Paxton

Humankind has survived some disasters, I'm sure.
Like locusts and flash floods and flu.
There's never a moment when we've been secure
From the ills that the flesh is heir to.
If it isn't a war, it's some gruesome disease.
If it isn't disease, then it's war.
But there's worse still to come, and I'm asking you please
How the world's gonna take any more?

(CHORUS:)
In ten years we're gonna have one million lawyers,
One million lawyers, one million lawyers.
In ten years we're gonna have one million lawyers.
How much can a poor nation stand?

The world shook with dread of Atilla the Hun
As he conquered with fire and steel,
And Genghis and Kubla and all of the Kahns
Ground a groaning world under the heel.
Disaster, disaster, so what else is new?
We've suffered the worst and then some.
So I'm sorry to tell you, my suffering friends,
Of the terrible scourge still to come.
(CHORUS)
(BREAK:)
Oh, a suffering world cries for mercy
As far as the eye can see.
Lawyers around every bend in the road,
Laywers in every tree,
Lawyers in restaurants, lawyers in clubs,
Lawyers behind every door,
Behind windows and potted plants, shade trees and shrubs,
Lawyers on pogo sticks, lawyers in politics!
(CHORUS)
In spring there's tornadoes and rampaging floods,
In summer it's heat stroke and draught.
There's Ivy League football to ruin the fall,
It's a terrible scourge, without doubt.
There are blizzards to batter the shivering plain.
There are dust storms that strike, but far worse
Is the threat of disaster to shrivel the brain,
It's the threat of implacable curse.
In ten years we're gonna have one million lawyers,
One million lawyers, one million lawyers.
In ten years we're gonna have one million lawyers.
How much can a poor nation stand?
How much can a poor nation stand

I would willingly whip some... (Below threshold)
Olsoljer:

I would willingly whip someones ass for the kind of filth they are excreting. Then I would request a jury trial. Were I on a jury, regardless if they had video footage of the beating, I would find for the defendant. A violation of the law is only illegal if the jury says it is. That is the problem we have today, too many people think they cannot vote their conscience. "Jusifiable Homicide - Justifiable Ass Whipping" not guilty or hung jury. How many times can you get a hung jury before they finally give up?

MunDane,Agreed. The... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

MunDane,
Agreed. The simple fact that as a society we knew that pushing it too far at a funeral would result in an ass kicking meant that people didn't take ittoo far very often, if at all.
Watch kids on the playground. There's always one or two that will stir the pot then go hind behind the adults. Now much of society are children...




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