Your First Amendment Rights Don’t Extend To Protesting Funerals
Some well intentioned people would say this is covered under the First Amendment, but I’d have to disagree:
“A hate group based in Topeka, Kan. released a press release on Wednesday entitled “Thank God for 12 dead miners” and promises to picket the funerals for the slain men.
The hate group, which operates as Westboro Baptist Church, runs a website.
The release states, “God is laughing, mocking and deriding hypocritical fag-infested West Virginia.”
The release also says the WBC will picket the funerals of the miners.
When reached by phone, member Shirley Phelps-Roper confirmed that 10 to 15 picketers were making plans to protest at the funerals of the West Virginia miners.
When asked why the group was planning protests at the miners’ funerals, she responded with questions of her own.
According to the press release, “They died in shame and disgrace, citizens of a cursed nation of unthankful, unholy perverts who have departed from the living God to worship on ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and who have replaced the Bible with ‘The Da Vinci Code.’”
The group has picketed at 80 funerals since June, as many as four to five a week, according to Phelps-Roper. Most of these funerals have been for soldiers.
“Our purpose is to cause America to know our abomination,” she said.
God is punishing America, according to Phelps-Roper.
“America is doomed,” she said. “We have cracked the Bible. We know.””
It goes without saying that what Fred Phelps and the rest of the lunatics in God Hates F*gs are doing is completely beyond the pale, especially when they’re protesting these funerals. That community can — and should — be able to legally ban their funeral protests without running afoul of the First Amendment.
If it’s permissible under the First Amendment to require permits to protest, prohibit the use of, “fighting words,” and disallow people from disturbing the peace by, let’s say, holding rallies at 3 AM in residential neighborhoods, then certainly communities should be within their rights to ban people from protesting funerals — and again, they should.
At a minimum, Phelps and his group of wackos are incredibly disrespectful to people who are mourning and at worst, their behavior is so intentionally provocative that it could very easily lead to violent confrontations.
That’s why it’s time for local governments to step in and shut down these funeral protests once and for all.