Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Phelps Guilty

The Associated Press is reporting that homophobic Westboro Baptist Church and three of its leaders--Fred Phelps, Shirley Phelps-Roper, and Rebekah Phelps-Davis--have been found guilty by a federal jury in Maryland. The church and its leaders have been ordered to pay the Snyder family nearly $11 million dollars for disrupting the funeral of their son who was killed in Iraq.

Snyder sobbed when he heard the verdict, while members of the church greeted the news with tightlipped smiles.

Fred Phelps is confident that the decision will be overturned upon appeal.

"Oh, it will take about five minutes to get that thing reversed," he said.

Earlier, church members staged a demonstration outside the federal courthouse. Phelps held a sign reading "God is your enemy," while Phelps-Roper stood on an American flag and carried a sign that read "God hates fag enablers." Members of the group sang "God Hates America" to the tune of "God Bless America."

Blah. This church disgusts me so much. The gall to protest anyone's funeral. The gall to stand on the flag of any nation. What pinheaded stunts.

I am intrigued to see how this verdict holds up under appeal. Everybody's discussing whether the church was practicing free speech as protected by the First Amendment. But there are limits to freedom of speech. Case in point: the Supreme Court is hearing arguments this week on pornography--specifically, the issue is what types of pornography constitute "free speech." Child pornography is "speech" that is criminal in the U.S., and there is legal precedent for treating this as something outside the purview of the First Amendment. But the Supreme Court has taken issue with the last two anti-child porn laws the Congress has passed and overturned the laws. Another such law is before the Court this week.

Defining what is and is not free speech is a very touchy issue.

It will be interesting to see what the Supreme Court decides this week. And it will be interesting to see what the appelate court in Maryland decides when the case of Snyder vs. Phelps comes across its desk.

Hat tip: Box Turtle Bulletin, AP

1 comment:

Pomoprophet said...

Ahhh!! They are so arrogant. Why doesn't God smite them like they want everyone else to be smitten?

I do, however, have a problem with anyone being fined $11 MILLION dollars for something they say. That is just plain stupid and unreasonable. It would be more appropriate for someone to just beat these people up. Not force them to pay that huge amount of money for protesting anything, reguardless of how tasteless it is.