Thursday, November 8, 2007

Phelps' Appeal: Free Speech vs. Privacy

NPR has some interesting coverage of the verdict of a Maryland jury ordering Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church to pay $10 million in damages to the father of a dead marine whose funeral the church picketed. It's clear everyone hates Phelps' family and his church (check out the BBC documentary The Most Hated Family in America), but is this ruling against the church just or does it infringe on their freedom of speech?

Hard to say. NPR interviewed Rodney Smolla, Dean of the Washington and Lee University School of Law, about what's at stake. According to Wikipedia, Smolla is a well-respected First Amendment scholar who in 2002 argued Virgina v. Black before the U.S. Supreme Court, a case involving Virginia's cross-burning statute.
This issue is not whether the church has a constitutional right to express its message; it certainly does. The much tougher issue is whether it has that right at the funeral of a fallen service member. We have public spaces and private spaces in our society, and the free speech rights that we all enjoy in our public spaces don't always give us the right to intrude into the private spaces of others. A lot will turn in these cases on exactly where the protesters assemble

There is a line, and that line will be drawn in close proximity to the funeral events. That kind of division will divide the public space and the private space. Even though what the church engaged in here does appear to fall within the realm of the is hate speech, the church has a right to engage in that hateful speech unless it invades in someone else's privacy.

A jury found that it was an invasion of privacy, and the interesting question on appeal will be whether the first amendment allows us to treat what happened here as the kind of invasion of privacy that trumps free speech rights.
Check out the full piece by clicking the link below.

Hat tip: NPR


jonty said...

We have a freedom of right to speech in any issues in which we are involved and interested. We have a public spaces where we can speak with open mind. So, we have to utilize the Speech Privacy system and make ourself feel comfort with the society.

tomkat7099 said...

no the king james bible does not say the word rapture but the bible is a book of concept it does say caught up which is rapture just like the bible says no one knows the day or hour but we know it is near look up your redemption draweth nigh.

Delfina said...

No one knows the day or the hour, the scripture tells us that. How many times has there been a prediction about the end of the world and GOD proves the wrong discoveries. As Christians we sometimes tend to slide back with our believe, we tend to believe people more than the word of GOD and that shows that our faith is limited and that limits the power of the LORD to work in our lives. Know one can predict GOD. GOD is unpredictable. The end is near, we believe that but know one knows when and how. Some scientists don't believe that there is GOD, but why are they trying so hard to prove that there is no GOD and coming up with their own theories? It's because they can see that there is GOD and don't want to believe therefore they come up with things which will support their theory, they are scared of the truth. NO ONE KNOWS THE DAY NOR THE HOUR.

May said...

I feel bad for you so-called christians, you are blinded, and if God does not open your eyes in 34 days, then you will see for yourselves that this business of MAY 21 2011 being judgmentday and the day of the rapture, was never a joking matter, you will see it was indeed very true, but it will be tolate, the door of salvation will be shut.

This will come to pass in just 34 days, not years, or months, but in only 34 days, but many of yous are to lazy and proud to look at the work Mr C and study to see if what he saids is indeed what God is saying in His word, because i can assure you, it is indeed what the word of God is teaching, Judgmentday will begin on MAY 21 2011, and God provides many proofs to assure us this is the case.

Again you people have only 34 days and counting, and then you will see these things are indeed true.

tchize said...

Well, it's May the 22nd, here, 00:24 AM. I think i missed the rapture :/. Did someone take pictures ?