Thursday, April 12, 2007

Once again Kansas tries to force Fred Phelps to do the decent thing

By Diane Silver

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has signed the bill regulating funeral picketing. We'll see what happens. The last time Kansas tried to do this, the law got tossed out by a court.

The fact that people would picket funerals -- anyone's funeral -- is appalling, but that's classic behavior for Fred Phelps and the handful of family and followers who attend his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka.

They view God as a violent, abusive father. ("You cannot understand God's love, until you understand God's hate.") The sad fact is that they have no understanding of love or compassion because they are so fixated on hate. What a horrible, small-minded God they have.

I blogged about Fred and his obsession with picketing funerals in Yet Another Fred Phelps Commentary.


KSDP Focus said...

Where do I start on this one????

As much as I find Phred and his family disgusting, I'm not happy with stepping on their first amendment rights. Keep in mind that if Phred can be restricted in where he can speak, so to can the LGBT community.

Also, it irks me that the legislature did nothing (with this force or fury) when Phred was picketing LGBT funerals. It took him going after soldiers to make them decide the issue was political enough to really fight it out.

This one just disgusts me on so many levels.

Diane Silver said...

Hi ksdp!

A couple of things.

First if I'm remembering right, the Kansas Legislature did pass a law against funeral picketing when Fred was largely known for picketing funerals of lesbians and gays. That law, though, got struck as being unconstitutional.

Second, I am personally conflicted about passing a law limiting anyone's First Amendment rights, and I'm not certain this law is a good idea. In other words, I agree with what you say. However, I have always wondered if protesting at funerals is one place where we should draw the line. (Hence the conflict.)

Actually, there shouldn't have to be this law because decent human beings would have the compassion not to picket a funeral. Alas, though, we all know the Phelps are lacking in the area of compassion and empathy.

Bottom line: Are there times when the First Amendment should be limited? Is picketing a funeral one of them? Funerals are once - in - a - lifetime events that put people at their most vulnerable. Is that enough to limit the right to free speech?

Whatever we do about the law, I do believe one thing: No one's funeral should be picketed, not even Fred's when the time comes.

Becky said...

Don't you think the courts follow public opinion rather than set the standard? Seems they're always a decade behind. Maybe enough time has lapsed since the initial attempt, and maybe public opinion has shifted enough against the haters (Phred and Imus-types), that the court will be compelled to support the law. And maybe the moon really is made of cheese.

I agree that limiting free speech is a bad option but a funeral should be off-limits. It's just too personal to be public.

KSDP Focus said...

Diane -

I think you're right about a prior anti-picketing bill. But, as I recall what pushed that one was the flack Kansas was taking from other states because of Phred, not that he was picketing the funerals of LGBT citizens. Notice also that when it was struck down that was the end of it until now. Why no push to fix the problem with the legislation then?

I agree that no funeral should be picketed. I'm sure many will want to (and may in fact) picket Phreds when his time comes. That's just what his family would want, attention. Instead, on the day of his funeral there should be HUGE statewide LGBT party to celebrate all we have accomplished and how much more we will accomplish in the fututre.

Anonymous said...

The 1st Amendment gives us the freedom of speech, but should not be used to infringe upon the rights of others. You could look at what Phelps is doing as infringing upon the rights of people to grieve?