08 October 2010


"I keep wondering whether the existence of homosexuality is proof that God hates Fred Phelps"

There's an interesting free speech case working its way through on Phelps' rather disgusting tactic of protesting DADT (as in he thinks it a pro-gay policy) by showing up at soldiers funerals and having signs and so on. Finally someone sued over this and so far has won a judgment as a private citizen who was offended by these protests. I'd have to agree that's a legitimate use of free speech, and a lawsuit does not seem appropriate there, because there are no protections against being offended (only being lied about deliberately as a private figure, as in slander or libel laws), but as with lots of other protected free speech acts, it also seems important that we not abuse that liberty to say ridiculous and harmful things. There are some considerations over whether the Supreme Court will carve out some sort of free speech exclusion zone surrounding military funerals, in the same way that you can't yell fire in a theater or hold a public demonstration at 4am in many jurisdictions, which I might be okay with if they do. Though not really, because there are many, many reasons someone might choose to protest at a military event, no merely stupid ones like this.

But this is overall an annoying problem to have that people use their basic liberty of speech to communicate bigoted nonsense on a public forum. The most appropriate public response we can give is to ignore it and wait for them to go away when they realize there aren't any cameras following them around. Maybe mocking it is funny a couple times, but this shit gets old really fast.
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