And apparently my god has more pull in this country as Fred Phelps, the hate mongering leader of the Westboro Baptist Church and his two daughter were found guilty and hit with a $10.9 million dollar verdict this past week.
Of course, it is easy for most any reasonable person to applaud this. But there is some concern. Some, while in no way attempting to support Phelps worry and wonder Is Phelps Loss, a Loss for All? And I understand and appreciate the concern. Being on the “wrong side” (read in the minority) of issues like women’s rights, gay rights, and against the war in Iraq, I can say that I, as much as anybody, worry about anything that can erode free speech.
That being said (although admitting I am no lawyer), think that this has already been well established by the Supreme Court, that First Ammendment rights, does not allow a person to infringe on the rights of others. In Cox v. Louisiana (1965) the court stated, (c) The rights of free speech and assembly do not mean that everyone may address a group at any public place at any time. (Pp. 554-555). and (d) Communication of ideas by picketing and marching on streets is not afforded the same kind of protection under the First and Fourteenth Amendments as is pure speech. (P. 555.). These two statements go right to the heart of the matter. While Phelps may certainly have the right to say whatever the hell bile he wishes, he is not guaranteed the right to do it “at any public place at any time.” and picketing and marching is NOT afforded the same kind of protection as pure free speech. So the court has clearly drawn some lines already for exactly this sort of situation.
There are other cases as well, if you really wanted to dig into them you could check out, this synopses of Supreme Court Cases.Â I am not going to, because I feel like I have already dedicated more time to Fred Phelps and his band of vile idiots than they are worth.