Thursday, March 03, 2011

SCOTUS upholds Phelps hate speech

Surprisingly, it was Alito, of all people, dissenting. Sadly, the court ruled correctly. As Adam so adroitly put it:
By 8-1, the Supreme Court voted no. It's one of those rulings that reminds you that at least on some very basic understandings of what "free speech," means, both conservative and moderate jurists on the court are on the same page: You don't forfeit your First Amendment rights just by being an asshole.
Exactly. Unless there's a clear line between the hate speech and actual physical harm, you can't outlaw speech you don't like and still protect the speech you do. In any event, the public has already discovered the antidote. The counterdemonstrations that effectively block out Phelps paltry showings at these funerals. As we used to say at the ACLU, the antidote to bad speech, is more, good speech.

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Blogger TDC said...

Libby Spencer wrote in part "Unless there's a clear line between the hate speech and actual physical harm, you can't outlaw speech you don't like and still protect the speech you do. "

Once in a while there are a few issues we agree on. This is one of them

I can't help but hope that the Phelps 15 minutes of fame is over

8:05:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

When Phelps & Family showed up here a couple of years ago he was met by about ten bazillion bikers with roaring engines, drowning him out.

Shortly thereafter a typical and wrathful tropical thunderstorm chased him away entirely.

Sometimes justice has nothing to do with the courts.

8:42:00 AM  
Blogger Jerry said...

Since Phelps cannot be kept away from military funerals, abortion protestors cannot be kept X distance from abortion clinics.

And this is the first nail in the coffin of the bogus "hate speech" nonsense that the left has created. Free speech is free speech, even if it pisses off Liberals, Conservatives or those in between.

The fact remains that Phelps is an asshole. When his fellow idiots showed up in Flushing MI to disrupt a soldier's funeral, they were reduced to insignificance by hundreds of motorcycles drowning him out. My only concern is that by not putting limits on his activities, some bereaved family will one day react violently to his hate with a predictable result.

11:23:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Yes, the old false dichotomy ploy. Just call it Liberal and you cover up your contradictions.

The "left," old sod, hasn't been asking for any more restrictions on speech than the "right" who traditionally ask that people protesting wars be prosecuted for aiding and comforting the "enemy."

Busting up picket lines and political demonstrations isn't quite the "liberal" thing is it? Arresting people for anti-administration bumper stickers isn't a "lefty" thing, is it? Nor is hanging a black man for whistling at a white woman when the Constitution guarantees his right to do. Is the Klan a bunch of lefty, liberal extremists?

Words can have unjust and even deadly consequences. It's easier to set limits and assign responsibility when we drop the juvenile liberal bashing and talk about justice instead. You do like justice, I assume.

12:00:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

While I agree with you about Phelps and free speech, I disagree about clinics. I disagree about restraining orders being an infringement of civil rights. The difference between interfering with someone's personal freedom and expressing an opinion has a lot to do with physical distance. Ask the Bush Administration about it's "free speech" zones located conveniently out of earshot of political conventions. I don't recall that George was a "Liberal."

As military funerals are a military activity, I'm not sure why interfering with military operations is constitutionally protected, but should I follow at your heels all day with a sign saying "kill this man?" Should I put up a sign in front of your church saying "Baptists eat Jewish babies and they should all be killed?" Of course not. You'd want a restraining order, for sure. Just don't call it a hate speech law!

Call it slander, call it interfering with our right of peaceful assembly and maybe it comes clearer. "Hate Speech" is simply another Republican shibboleth. You know quite well that no freedom is unlimited and it ends where someone else's freedom begins.

Yes, of course, there's a strong possibility that someone will take a shot at Phelps. People have already shot doctors and blown up nurses and bystanders because of the constant hate speech. Perhaps that's what you really are concerned about - interference with a presumed freedom to issue religious fatwa?

12:00:00 PM  

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