Free Speech, for the dumb.

Anti-gay church’s right to protest at military funerals is upheld
By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
March 2, 2011 – Updated 2247 GMT (0647 HKT) … ch/?hpt=C2


Voltaire - “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

Fuck you Voltaire. You become the maniacal ramblings of every asshole’s idiotic voice when you defend such a thing, you are the epitome of all that is perverted, because you Voltaire, defend it all. Condoning perversion and hatred, slander and lies, emotional abuse. You would be an evil man, if you weren’t so stupid.

Free speech was never free to begin with, for practical reasons. We cannot threaten to kill someone, we cannot spew sexual vulgarities at children, soldiers aren’t fighting for our right to say these things. Nor are they fighting for our right to shit on the commemorations of their lives post mortem. There is no free speech nor will there ever be in any sense of the word, so why does the supreme court decide to defend this crazy act of “free speech”?

The ‘reasoning’ they gave for the verdict is that such a limitation imposed on “free speech” would stifle public debate. What I don’t understand is that, in this particular context, public debate will eventually turn to violence. The ruling against the church would have likely been in their own preventative interest, but they are too stubborn in their faith to see it. They are verbally provoking people in extreme emotional states – something is bound to happen.

And, as you said, the church is not even interested in setting up a forum for debate. They are determined to preach louder than any voice of reason is willing to speak. I suppose the trouble comes in the form of discerning some line between utilization and abuse of a ‘right’.

The protesters stayed on public property at all times, did not enter into or physically disrupt those whom they were protesting toward, they were not violent and they complied with every order from police. They did not break any law. They have every right to organize and protest as they please, within the confines of the law, which is what they did.

You don’t have to like it, of course. And you are free to say so, as you wish. You have that right to disagree and voice this disagreement publically within the confines of the law. Just like any idiot asshole bible-thumber retard has, too.

I don’t think free speech is as much of a problem here as a free and objective press.

Actually no, this could be considered harrassment under the defined laws. Regardless, the supreme court did not need to rule in the manner they did.

Super slippery slope.

Not in this instance… same as with the instance of not being allowed to threaten people, or slander them, or speak sexually to children

If we were to pass laws limiting free speech, that would effect all instances. The reason the media is playing this up right now is because they want to pass those laws.

People have been screaming shit at gays since the dawn of time. I don’t agree with hate speech but I will take being called the N word every day over not being allowed to speak my mind when the time comes.


I had a long response to this, but then, for some reason it logged me out when I went to post and I forgot to copy it before hitting, “Submit,” which is what I usually do.

OK, Cliffnotes version.

Agree with OG and TTG.

Understand Staiktech’s point that such speech could lead to violence, but counter that violence is illegal and such speech is not. Argue that every individual is responsible (legally) for his/her own actions.

Agree with Statiktech that the Church is hateful, bigoted and prejudicial, and has no interest in setting up a Forum for a good-faith Debate, but point out that the Church is allowed to be all of those things and is perfectly within its right not to set up, or participate in, such a Forum.

Understand WW_III_Angry’s point that some speech is not permitted, but counter that said speech all involves patently illegal acts within the speech itself.

Point out that apparently the Supreme Court has determined that there’s nothing illegal about what the Church is doing. Of course, the Supreme Court should only judge things on a basis of Constitutional/Not Constitutional, but apparently they have determined that such speech is Constitutionally protected. I imagine that Congress could theoretically draft a law that prohibits protests of any kind (and it would have to be of ANY kind) at military funerals, and then the Constitutionality of that law would probably be tested in the Supreme Court. I don’t know how that test would go, but there’s a chance that the Supreme Court will uphold the law.

I’m going to try to find the full decision, and transcripts of oral argument, if applicable.

The full decision won’t be available yet, probably a few days. They usually release the transcript of the oral argument at the same time.

Anyway, Massachusettes counter-attacks already: … s-20110307

I could see this Church attempting to do something similar in Massachusettes, then the Supreme Court will eventually determine whether or not the States are permitted to make laws prohibiting funeral protests. It’s going to get really interesting.

What I have been screaming is that we already have laws limiting free speech. How do these current laws affect all instances? What does it matter?

That’s not an argument if the question is whether the speech should be legal or illegal.

Incitement, threat and provocative speech affects the legal status of others’ actions in many jurisdictions.

That’s not an argument if the question is whether they should have that right.

Well, of course. It’s illegal because it’s illegal. What does this even say? :stuck_out_tongue:

Is this about free speech or about the OP’s views re religious people’s right to speech, or anti-gay folks’ right to speech? Or perhaps you really do hate Voltaire that much. By the way, Hall said that, not Voltaire.

Not long ago, anti-gay sentiments were “the norm” and not particularly associated with fundamentalist religious people. Times change, of course, and now it’s all about human rights, minority rights, gay rights, women’s rights, the rights of the mentally ill and disabled, etc.

I think once we have decided on what is legal–which essentially means it doesn’t cause trouble for local businesses :smiley:–we should allow people to voice their opinions in a respectful manner. Not just that, we should actually try to hear them out. Behind anti- (Jew, Muslim, women, pedophile, transsexual, American, French, etc) sentiments are usually valid and important concerns. Yet, it’s easier and “better” for the media to simply label them as “extremist” or “religious” or whatever, so it’s easy for the viewer to stereotype these groups.

Nothing better than to have the two groups (x and anti-x) face to face, however. I’ve often noticed that when people meet face to face and talk, some real issues behind the anger come out. It may be important matters re limited resources, health and disease, finances, safety, moral standards, family, love, respect, etc.

Agreed, with Pav. Free speech protects ugly and offensive speech too, as long as no crime is committed; typically real harm would need to be proven to result from speech directly, or be reasonaly likely as a direct result of speech for it to be deemed criminal. This does not mean that speech is criminal when someone else takes offense to your speech and then commits a crime as a result of being offended - they are still responsible for their actions. Speech that causes direct and reasonably inferrable harm is pretty rare, but certain cases do exist of course, such as falsely yelling fire in a movie theater.

But this is not the case with these church protests. There is no direct and reasonably inferrable harm that resulted from their speech. It is just ugly speech (by our standards). Yet in our country, we don’t get to choose the legally allowed speech based on one group’s ideas of what is appropriate or acceptable. And thank god for that.

As OG said, very slippery slope. The Court ruled well in this case.

No Crime is committed because its legal, so if we make it illegal then a crime is committed. You present your case as if the legality makes it right or good and if it is illegal it is wrong or bad. If this is not the case your first paragraph is absolutely useless and redundant. If it is the case, then you have a whole lot of explaining to do.

As for “no direct and reasonably inferrable harm” that resulted from their “speech” (or protest), I have a bone to pick with that as well. How are you to decide who is harmed by their actions. Do you think as a parent of a the little girl who was killed by Jared Loughner when he shot the congresswoman in Arizona, that if they showed up there (which they were talked out of) that they wouldn’t feel further hurt or saddened by their actions proclaiming their daughter as evil? Creating more unnecessary stress on their lives to have them visibly spewing hatred at them when their 9 year old daughter just got killed by a mad man? Proclaiming that its good she is dead, that she deserved it, or that God hates them… Do you lack the empathy to see this inference as possible yourself?

There is certainly a cause for emotional distress, which our court system does recognize as worthy of consequence [pain and suffering, that sort of thing]. While I do agree that it is essentially just hate speech, the problem arises in their persistence and vulgarity. In other words, they are walking a line of verbal abuse and/or harassment.

I’m not sure where you were going with the last bit. We pick and choose what speech we deem contextually ‘acceptable’ all the time. If that weren’t the case, expectations in language would be standardized across the board, regardless of forum. Instead, we talk in a particular way in court, or church, or school, or even home, etc.

I could get arrested for saying “Fuck you” to a police officer. You could probably sue me for spreading a rumor around school that you have two assholes [if you were negatively impacted]. Even a joke about the death of the president is technically considered illegal.

We claim to have free speech, but it never really has been. We are free within the confines of what the ruling class, or majority, says is acceptably “free”.

I’m not sure how Westboro doesn’t fall under that umbrella of non-protected speech. Since “fighting words” decisions have normally been a result of direct physical action, I suppose it could be argued that they haven’t actually incited anyone to violence yet . . . though even that isn’t true since a veteran was planning to kill them at one point (and was arrested). That would be sufficient for Brandenburg v. Ohio as well, the other big “free speech” case. But I think that they tend not to be interpreted that way (thank goodness) since that would incentives disagreeing parties to engage in violent action.

What it seems needs to happen is for that case to get brought before the Supreme Court. Unless other “fighting words” cases were addressed in the decision – which they probably were. Any legal scholars/nerds have more info on what the majority (and minority) wrote?

That said, I do think they have a right to spew this vitriol as defined in the American Constitution.

Emotional distress is a civil tort, as you already seem to know. It does not appear as though there were any kind of civil case seeking monetary damages, and that’s the remit emotional distress typically falls under. Furthermore, emotional distress is something of what I call an, “Add on,” tort to the extent that emotional damages are generally sought in connection with a civil case brought under a different civil law. Essentially, you can’t just sue on a basis of emotional distress.

If someone wanted to bring a civil for harassment, then maybe you have a case for emotional distress, that’s a looong maybe, though.

With all due respect, your later point here is misguided. You’re talking essentially about a slander/defamation type of suit in which even the speech has a negative impact on a particular (read: specific) person, that’s not the case here.

Whether or not you can get arrested for, “Fuck youing,” a police officer is a matter of jurisdiction. Typically, they’d have to actually charge you with obstruction of justice or something like that. Saying, “Fuck you,” to an officer is typically not a crime in and of itself.

The Supreme Court wasn’t deciding (and, strictly speaking, doesn’t decide) legal or illegal. They decide Constitutional or Unconstitutional. If they overturn a criminal conviction, for example, it is either because they deem the law the individual was convicted on unconstitutional, or due process was somehow violated.

It depends on the jurisdiction, that’s exactly right. When the Supreme Court decides something, though, it’s a national “blanket,” type of decision. There are jurisdicitons where provocative speech does not affect the legal status of the actions of others, so the Supreme Court is typically going to lean towards avoiding affecting all jurisdictions, absent a clear and present Constitutional violation.

I’m not discussing should/should not, I’m discussing, based on present Constitutional interpretations and jurisdictional law, do/do not.

It says that there is nothing inherently illegal about the Church’s protest.

Per the link in my second post in this thread, such a protest would be illegal in Massachusettes if it is within 500 feet of any funeral. If the Church wishes for that not to be the case, then they’d have to go up there, stage such a protest, get arrested, have the trial and then the whole thing would have to go the full appeals process all the way to (presumably) the Supreme Court.

Res Judicata would not apply because the Supreme Court would not be deciding whether or not the speech itself is Constitutional, but whether the law prohibiting the speech (under those conditions) is Constitutional.

The thing about actual law, particularly Constitutional Law, is that it is designed to be a, “In all cases,” sort of thing. What that means, then, is that laws (federal, state, local) will often defy common sense.