Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Thoughts

When it comes to free speech, the right to it was never intended to be a free-for-all, any time, any place type of thing. I believe that there is a time and a place to say certain things, and a time when there isn't.
This goes beyond the proverbial yelling of "Fire!" in crowded theater. I'm sure most would agree that while movies like "Deep Throat" might be protected, child pourne should not be. Likewise, the right to show, or to view "Deep Throat" has it's limitations as to time and place. (Like, maybe not at a drive-in movie theater located within a residential neighborhood?)

Free Speech was intended to allow political/cultural ideas to see the light of day. I whole heartedly defend this concept, and would not want to live in a society where it wasn't. That said...
I think the Phelps' have had their times in the light, and plenty of it, with more to come should they choose it, to deliver the warning message about American faggery. If anything, the one thing that hasn't been violated is their Right to Free Speech.

Still, I can't see where the First Amendment applies to the targeting of a family in their most terrible of moments of grief. Like I said, there are times and places for free speech, and these need to be recognized. Though I believe as strongly as any proper thinking American in this right, somethings... such an an proper/improper time and place, if you ask me, should be respected.

Listening to various commentary the last two days, it appears the me that this case was decided along a rather narrow view, pertaining to the one particular instance as opposed to the overall assholishness of the Phelps clan.
This is probably as it should be, and though I find myself in agreement with the decision itself, I absolutely disagree with who the victors should have been.

Also, it's hard to argue with a near unanimous decision that puts Ginsberg and Scalia in the majority, but I give props to Alito for doing so. And Alito has made a good point or two that are worthy of some reflection.

I don't come to this issue disinterested. You all know that my brother serves, and has done his times in the war zones. He's close enough to the shit to have lost friends. It has entered my mind that there is a chance of myself personally experiencing the abuse of the Phelps family. My dearly departed sister had once ridden with the Patriot Guard for the funeral of an Orange County soldier. She'd told me just how vile these Phelps people (and I use the term loosely) are in person, and how the news footage is no exaggeration.

Given all this, its easy to think that an act of brutal violence committed against the Phelps' would be a good and righteous thing. I'm not so sure I'd be the one to do it, but it sure does piss me off to know that they've gotten away with it all this time, and for the foreseeable future, likely will continue to do so...

My final two-cents: it's a sad day indeed when the rights guaranteed within, and to, a polite society are abused in such a way as to hold that same society hostage by barbarians.


Bike Bubba said...

My take is similar; the kind of "activism" engaged in by the Phelps crowd (would he PLEASE stop calling himself a Baptist?!) just begs for a vigourous application of the legal doctrine of "fighting words."

In short, you may have a legal right to be a total ***hole to people in their time of grief, but the law will recognize your grief and rage as a significant mitigating factor when you do so and get punched in response.

Brian said...

I think Alito's dissent is beautifully worded, morally sound...and legally untenable.

The Court is right, as hard as that may be to swallow. However, if I were on a jury for someone accused of violence against the Phelps clan, I would vote to nullify with a completely clear conscience.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

I tend to think the court (for once) got it right-- mostly because I don't trust any future court to agree that a funeral is a sacred time, rather than interpret it as "saying things that someone finds offensive is bannable." (We already seem to be headed in that direction, so I'm extra-cautious about it.)

Goldberg agrees with you-- Alito and Goldberg are NOT bad company in any view!

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

I like Bubba's solution.

Of course, I also think that part of the solution to bullying is to make sure that "hitting back" is NEVER punished as harshly as starting the fight, so I'm clearly a violent horrible bad person.

Gino said...

i wrote that peice for Goldberg, and let him use it for a few quid. thats why.