This is a case of not having enough hands as I ponder the points.
The US Supreme Court is faced with a decision concerning Free Speech. Free Speech is a right granted to Americans in the US Constitution. Basically, we have the right to say what we want. I agree with that. I may not agree with what you have to say but I will defend your right to do so.
The particular case is Albert Snyder vs Westboro Church. Snyder is the father of deceased Matthew Snyder and Westboro Church is where the Phelps are from. The church members picketed outside the funeral of Matthew (who died in Iraq). They held signs that said their usual acidic “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “You’re going to hell”. The Phelps and their followers believe the US is being punished because of tolerance toward homosexuality and abortion.
So on the one hand, Phelps and his idiot followers have every right to stand out there and protest.
On the other hand, this was a soldier killed in action. As his father said, “I had one chance to bury my son and they took it from me.”
On another hand, the Phelps are idiots who are wallowing in the media attention as they always do.
On still another hand, Matthew Snyder is still dead. The money awarded to the father via the lower courts will not bring him back but it will smack the Phelps down a peg. Maybe.
Yet, it goes back to that first hand. The idiots have every right to say whatever idiocy they want to say. Take away their right to do so and it will open up all sorts of issues. How can the Supreme Court word it so it has enough ‘howevers’ and ‘buts’ that it won’t happen otherwise? What if the situation was reversed? What if, when Phelps dies (the good die young so he’ll be around a long time) soldiers stand out there with signs that praise God that the vitriol from Phelps’ mouth is now stopped? That God Loves Fags? That God is Dancing with Joy that the Earth is now cleansed? What if Phelps’ family took those soldiers to court, saying they couldn’t do that? We would all be a lot more comfortable with that scenario, wouldn’t we? Would the case had even made it to the Supreme Court?
No matter how painful it was for the father to see that sign about God being happy his son is dead, the idiots had every right to hold it up. Just as he had every right to take them to court for it. There are groups now that block the view of the signs from funeral attendees just as the “angels” did for Matthew Shepherd trials and stuff. The Phelps had the right to hold up signs and the angels had the right to wear big huge wings to block their view.
I’m truly sorry, Mr. Snyder that your son is dead. He was a man of honor, I am sure. I am even sorrier that you had to bury him with that filth so close to you. I wish you didn’t have to experience that. God doesn’t hate your son and God didn’t have him killed in order to prove a point. That’s not how God works. At least not the God I know. Are you a homosexual? Was your son? Have either of you funded an abortion? If not, then why would God kill him and punish you?
But, I’m also sorry I have to agree that the Phelps have the constitutional right to stand out there with their signs.
The other issue, and perhaps the one the court will latch onto, is how “private” was the funeral? Were they the proper distance away, as set by the local laws? Did their follow up internet posts that were derogatory toward the Snyders cross the line? I don’t know if the court is ready to make a judgement on the internet aspect. But I think the privacy issue of the funeral will play a huge part. They want to shut Phelps up. That’s evident in the fact they are having problems with the case. No sane person truly believes what they (Phelps and Westboro) have to say. The problem though is whatever the Supreme Court decides will set a precedent for future cases. Just because a picket sign is painful and hateful and full of shit and it severely and permanently hurts someone, that doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to be there with the sign. Who decides what is painful enough to be wrong? Many many people believe gays shouldn’t marry and that we are all sinners and that for the governments to say we can marry is so very very wrong. If gays were picketing them, and the signs gays held were painful for the others (the truth hurts), then do the gays not have the right to picket?
As much as it hurts me to say this, the US Supreme Court has no choice but to say it was within their First Amendment Rights to be assholes with dumbass signs that severely hurt an already hurting family.