Arizona passes “funeral protection zones” law

posted at 10:55 am on January 12, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

After the tragic and senseless massacre in Tucson this week, Fred Phelps and his despicable band at the Westboro Baptist Church announced plans to protest at the funerals of the six people murdered.  Arizona has acted to block those protests by passing a law creating “funeral protection zones” that bar political protests:

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed emergency legislation Tuesday establishing “funeral protection zones” to keep protesters away from the memorial services for the victims of Saturday’s shooting in Tucson.

Earlier in the day, the Arizona Legislature passed the bill unanimously. …

The law will establish a 300-foot perimeter around a funeral location beginning one hour before a service until one hour after a service.

A 300-foot perimeter?  That won’t get any kudos from Peter King, who’s more into 1000-foot bubbles.  It’s also not likely to bother the WBC vultures who prey on the grief of families and friends who just want to bury their dead in peace.  They probably wouldn’t normally get within 300 feet anyway, and that kind of distance will still put them in range of the media, which is their primary goal anyway.

The WBC ghouls are despicable, but is this the right approach to take?  The restrictions on speech will almost certainly get overturned on First Amendment grounds, especially if the restricted area is public property.  In fact, it almost certainly will apply to public property; after all, owners of private property can bar people from entering already, and I doubt any funeral director would be happy to see the WBC idiots arriving en masse for one of his client’s funerals.

As much as the WBC disgusts me and most other people, the WBC have the right to make their political protests on public property, and the imposition of speech zones (or, more accurately, no-speech zones) is a bad precedent to set.  What other no-speech zones should be established?  Around the White House, for instance?  Congress?  College campuses?  The temptation to do away with messy demonstrations of free speech can generate a lot of bad law.

Perhaps, though, Arizona already knows this, and doesn’t intend on defending the law too vigorously once challenged.  The legislature may have quietly come to a consensus that a one-time imposition of this law for just these funerals would be enough — that Arizona had suffered enough from lunacy followed by irresponsible political blamethrowing, and deserved a break for these particular victims.  If so, then I can’t condone the attempt to restrict free speech … but I can at least understand it.  Nevertheless, it is a law that should be overturned.

Update: Patterico thinks it will pass muster, constitutionally.  I don’t think we should be rooting for that outcome, though.  Also, I replaced “it” with “WBC in the second-to-last paragraph to make clear exactly what disgusts me.


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I hope they put a time limit on this.

I hate it – but I fully understand and respect it.

jake-the-goose on January 12, 2011 at 10:57 AM

The restrictions on speech will almost certainly get overturned on First Amendment grounds, especially if the restricted area is public property.

Patterico seems to think it will pass muster. It’s narrowly defined enough that I think it will.

KingGold on January 12, 2011 at 10:58 AM

Anytime Fred Phelps is referenced it should be noted that he’s a Democrat.

flyfisher on January 12, 2011 at 10:58 AM

Wasn’t that considered unconstitutional by another city that passed a similar law?

mizflame98 on January 12, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Bah, this is a bad idea, especially so because if the victims didn’t include a congressmember it probably wouldn’t have been enacted.

Bishop on January 12, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Can’t do it. Period.

MNHawk on January 12, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Ed, the AZ law is based on a similar Ohio law that was upheld (6th circuit, iirc).

jbsaff on January 12, 2011 at 11:02 AM

I’m just going to repost what I said in Portnoy’s GreenRoom article on the WBC’s plan to picket these funerals :

While I nod my head in complete agreement with anything nasty said about these aholes, that stops when people want to silence them.

Because someday what I say or do may become a target too.

Those kind souls that volunteer to arrive early and provide ‘blocking’ from the WBC deserve the highest praise. So does that entire town that refused to fix one of their flats for them.

I may detest what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it– Voltaire.

GnuBreed on January 11, 2011 at 1:17 AM

GnuBreed on January 12, 2011 at 11:02 AM

Its becoming, the Year of The Perimeter!!
==============================================
Ya know,I have never seen a Funeral being protested,
and,you really must be a special human being to pull
that off,

some things,are just sacred,especially,saying good by
to love ones.If its 300 feet,I say,do whatever it takes
to stop the protests!!!

canopfor on January 12, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Is that WBC folks in the picture? The poor souls look as if they had been recruited from some nursing home for the mentally challenged, handed a sign and placed into a tableau.

jeanie on January 12, 2011 at 11:03 AM

What about picketing the homes of those who do this stuff 24/7/365? There’s more of us than them. A few industrial spotlights shining into their homes at night, a few dozen citizens on rotational basis, an accidental skunk or two… there has to be a creative way to give them back what they’re giving.

beatcanvas on January 12, 2011 at 11:04 AM

The WBC ghouls are despicable, but is this the right approach to take?

It’s not. I am an Arizonan and as soon as we found out Phelps and his band of subhumans were headed down here, over 1500 private citizens organized to create a human barrier around the funerals to keep them away. I appreciate the intentions of our legislature to show a united front and a unanimous vote in the wake of this tragedy, but we all know where good intentions can lead. More laws and more government is rarely, if ever the answer to a problem, least of all done hastily and with emotion.

Kataklysmic on January 12, 2011 at 11:04 AM

I dont buy the slippery slope nonsense on this one. The White House and Congress are horrible examples. This is a private citizen having a funeral, not some political figure.

So it’s either this or turn the other way and let the bikers physically remove them.

Dash on January 12, 2011 at 11:06 AM

Bah, this is a bad idea, especially so because if the victims didn’t include a congressmember it probably wouldn’t have been enacted.

Bishop on January 12, 2011 at 11:01 AM

And if the shootings hadn’t gotten so much publicity, Fred Phelps would still be focused on military funerals. It’s all about where the focus lies.

I think that speech restriction that serves an extremely narrow public safety goal – as it does here – doesn’t herald the death of the Republic. Much as it pains me to say so, I don’t want to see those WBC zealots maimed or killed by a righteouls-outraged mob. But the critical difference between this and Peter King’s idiotic bill is that this is remedial while his is restrictive in response to nothing.

KingGold on January 12, 2011 at 11:06 AM

no it shouldn’t be overturned…this isn’t “freedom of speech”

NRA Lifer on January 12, 2011 at 11:08 AM

Not seeing much difference between what Westboro does at funerals and what the political-left and the sheriff did politically the day of the murders.

eforhan on January 12, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Democracy in action. Good work, Arizona.

KillerKane on January 12, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Hey, there are JUST AS MANY conservative right-wingers doing this as the left-wing Democrat Fred Phelps!!!!!!

Oh wait, no there isn’t, there’s nobody even remotely like that.

darclon on January 12, 2011 at 11:10 AM

the WBC have the right to make their political protests on public property

I would be inclined to say yes, but in this day and age, I’m going to say “no”.

Now, 100 years ago, even 50 years ago – the first time Phelps and fellow scum tried this (anywhere), they would have been strongly discouraged from ever doing this again by John Q. Public and friends.

Not by government, but by regular citizens, as it should be. I’m not talking about shooting anyone, either, so don’t start.

So we can’t have it both ways. We have given too many rights away and we have had too many rights taken away over the years.

If these people want to show up with those signs, I should have every right to turn that sign into a hat, and send them on their way. I don’t want government doing it for me, but I also don’t want government hauling me off to jail.

This is how it should be.

reaganaut on January 12, 2011 at 11:14 AM

Anytime Fred Phelps is referenced it should be noted that he’s a Democrat.

flyfisher on January 12, 2011 at 10:58 AM

I don’t think it matters, other than as a type of egregious mudslinging of the sort the libs are doing to Sarah Palin right now. If you read the news, the Tucson Republican and Democratic parties are working together to build a human “zone of exclusion” so the Phelps’ won’t be in view of the funeral procession. The Phelps family has said they intend to infest one of the intersections on the procession’s path to the cemetery.

unclesmrgol on January 12, 2011 at 11:15 AM

Oh wait, no there isn’t, there’s nobody even remotely like that.

darclon on January 12, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Not even abortion clinic protesters?

GnuBreed on January 12, 2011 at 11:15 AM

I think that speech restriction that serves an extremely narrow public safety goal – as it does here – doesn’t herald the death of the Republic. Much as it pains me to say so, I don’t want to see those WBC zealots maimed or killed by a righteouls-outraged mob.

Eh, a bunch of senile shitt-for-brains yapping about God hating you isn’t a public safety concern, no one is going to panic and run for the exits as they would if someone yelled “fire!” in a crowded theater.

Their personal safety has never once been a concern from the supposed dangers of an “outraged mob”, they’ve been picketing soldiers funerals for a decade and if that hasn’t brought out the pitchforks then nothing will.

You could just as easily apply this sort of law to any lawful protest done by any American, the notion that they will be beaten to death by those opposed to them.

Bishop on January 12, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Who funds this group? They are clearly fakes. Has no one dug into their financials?

truth2power on January 12, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Ugh.. I hate those subhuman cretins and every time I hear about them I want to do and say despicable things. When I heard that they were going to picket that poor little girl’s funeral, some very un-Christian thoughts were going through my head.

Illinidiva on January 12, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Does this really suppress their free speech rights? It sounds to me as if they’re simply assigning times they can, and can’t protest. They’re not saying they can’t protest at all?

capejasmine on January 12, 2011 at 11:18 AM

OT but at the same time somewhat related. From Kevin Smith’s Website:

“Via @ItsPakusTime “REDSTATE trailer, looks awesome. As a midwesterner I’m curious: any chance a complete stereotype will be avoided?”

Okay, as hard as this may be to believe, we don’t trade in stereotypes in RedState. The location is never identified, but that doesn’t matter, as the Red in the title isn’t political; it’s, y’know: blood. It’s a horror flick. But anyone thinking we’re taking shots at conservatives is in for a severe let-down. It’s just NOT that movie. I’m not a political creature at all. I’m not a liberal, I just like doing my own thing.

I was raised in a faith, and if you’ve ever seen DOGMA, you can argue taste or craft questions, but even the insanely pious have to admit: that’s a pretty devout flick. Sure, it’s got anal jokes in it, but it’s DEFINITELY pro-Faith. DOGMA had lots on its very young mind, & tried to say it all at once. RedState is a more confident affair. It knows exactly what it is: a horror flick. It doesn’t strive to be much more’n that. So no worries: this isn’t some kinda turkey shoot where I open fire on people who don’t live or feel the way I do. Again: IT’S JUST A HORROR movie. You bring a political agenda to RedState & you’re coming prepared to watch an entirely different film than what we made.”

I really hope he’s being honest. I hate to not see a Kevin Smith Movie. Granted, “Zac and Miri Make a Porno” SUCKED but overall I’m still a fan.

DethMetalCookieMonst on January 12, 2011 at 11:19 AM

Bah, this is a bad idea, especially so because if the victims didn’t include a congressmember it probably wouldn’t have been enacted.
Bishop on January 12, 2011
at 11:01 AM

Not so sure about that, particularly since, thankfully, the Congresswoman is still alive.

YYZ on January 12, 2011 at 11:20 AM

This for me is a slippery slope. I despise all that they stand for, and their actions disgust me…but for me that’s the beauty of the Freedom of Speech. To outlaw it now just starts us down a troubling path. If these knuckleheads get their asses kicked a few times, maybe they’ll stop…but to give government the power to regulate these kinds of things is troubling to me.

search4truth on January 12, 2011 at 11:20 AM

The Democrat Fred Phelps only cares about the publicity.
AZ citizenry should just stop at a human shield.
If they put out the call, they would have more shield than they could possibly need.
Democrat Fred Phelps really has already gotten his publicity. The actual day of, today, is meaningless to him.
Remember last month or maybe November,Democrat Fred Phelps was going to two sites in MI, I can’t even remember the targets. Anyway it was peaceful and quiet and the Democrat nutjobs of WBC didn’t even last 20 minutes of a 30 minute scheduled protest. He just wants the publicity, he must get an increase in donations, or something, each time he is in the news.

ORconservative on January 12, 2011 at 11:20 AM

No new laws needed. As a person once said; “Get in their faces”. We can take care of this ourselves.

Electrongod on January 12, 2011 at 11:22 AM

Anytime Fred Phelps is referenced it should be noted that he’s a Democrat.

flyfisher on January 12, 2011 at 10:58 AM

I don’t think it matters, other than as a type of egregious mudslinging of the sort the libs are doing to Sarah Palin right now.

No, it does. Because the left loves to use Fred Phelps and his band of loony nut jobs as an example of how all Christians/Republicans think regarding homosexuality.

It should be evident that if we don’t speak up, loudly and forcefully, against these kind of smears, the left won’t hesitate to perpetuate them.

englishqueen01 on January 12, 2011 at 11:22 AM

Hey Ed, how is it constitutional for political parties to have “protest zones” during presidential nomination conventions? They’re almost always in public places.

JavelinaBomb on January 12, 2011 at 11:23 AM

Not even abortion clinic protesters?

GnuBreed on January 12, 2011 at 11:15 AM

Well if you want to consider an abortion clinic a place where dead people are, but then you’d have to admit that abortion is murder.

DethMetalCookieMonst on January 12, 2011 at 11:24 AM

Democrat Fred Phelps is extremely important. The left controls the rhetoric and the rhetoric says the right does not tolerate homosexuality therefore Freddy must on the right.
Enough is enough.

ORconservative on January 12, 2011 at 11:26 AM

Well if you want to consider an abortion clinic a place where dead people are, but then you’d have to admit that abortion is murder.

DethMetalCookieMonst on January 12, 2011 at 11:24 AM

Indeed.

KinleyArdal on January 12, 2011 at 11:26 AM

“I may detest what you say, but I will defend to the death my right to spray you with Mace,” -Akzed.

Akzed on January 12, 2011 at 11:27 AM

Who wants to bet that Fred Phelps is a closted homosexual who’s merely projecting his shame and frustration?

Getting back on topic … I like the idea of a biker wall protecting the family much more than this law.

What I would like even better is the cops turning their backs while those bikers beat the crap out of Phelps’ goons … after the families have left, of course.

JSGreg3 on January 12, 2011 at 11:27 AM

The law has to hold for a few days only. Any judge who would grant an emergency injunction against enforcement would be in deep doo.

bbhack on January 12, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Not so sure about that, particularly since, thankfully, the Congresswoman is still alive.
YYZ on January 12, 2011 at 11:20 AM

She was a victim of the shooting, yes? Or we could use the federal judge as an example, he died, good enough for you now?

Private, non-politician citizens don’t rate this nor should they. Westboro is a pack of execrable hyenas, free societies have to endure such people from time to time.

Bishop on January 12, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Are there already laws regulating funerals to some extent? For example, is the code of conduct for funeral processions (lights on, single file, slow speed) just a tradition, or can it be regulated? I often see police escorts for funeral processions, even ones that don’t appear to be for public figures. And I *think* I recall reading rules in Driver’s Handbooks about what to do if a funeral procession approaches or passes by.

I haven’t read Patterico’s article yet, but I think some of this can be easily permitted under public safety guidelines.

Y-not on January 12, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Scary precedent. Emotional knee jerk reactions by legislatures is a bad thing. Always has been, always will be.

No doubt this will be overturned, but the precedent it sets is frightening.

ButterflyDragon on January 12, 2011 at 11:33 AM

Anytime Fred Phelps is referenced it should be noted that he’s a Democrat.

flyfisher on January 12, 2011 at 10:58 AM

I don’t think it matters, other than as a type of egregious mudslinging…

unclesmrgol on January 12, 2011 at 11:15 AM

I wouldn’t want to be labeled a Democrat, but since he has run for office as a Democrat multiple times, I doubt Phelps would consider it egregious mudslinging at all. And the proper label matters because the left dishonestly use Phelps against the GOP and conservatives.

flyfisher on January 12, 2011 at 11:38 AM

What other no-speech zones should be established? Around the White House, for instance? Congress? College campuses? The temptation to do away with messy demonstrations of free speech can generate a lot of bad law.

I agree with your argument, but much of this has already been done with “free speech zones.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_speech_zone

This was controversial at UNR while I lived in NV. I think FIRE was able to get this policy dropped, but it makes for interesting reading.

http://thefire.org/public/pdfs/797406444b072de787e564fe4c5e4ab9.pdf?direct

cs89 on January 12, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Now, 100 years ago, even 50 years ago – the first time Phelps and fellow scum tried this (anywhere), they would have been strongly discouraged from ever doing this again by John Q. Public and friends.

reaganaut on January 12, 2011 at 11:14 AM

Agree.

Dash on January 12, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Not even abortion clinic protesters?

GnuBreed on January 12, 2011 at 11:15 AM

I attended my first clinic protest(We were caroling outside abortuaries while standing behind an empty cradle) last month.

We were/we ARE nothing like Phelps and his gang of cockroaches.

annoyinglittletwerp on January 12, 2011 at 11:40 AM

Seems to me that there is an obvious and legal solution.

Filmmakers close off city streets all the time for shooting movies and television, during which they temporarily control entry and exit from public property for a private purpose — including sightlines. Why not have the funeral home use exactly the same process over the cemetery and adjacent street?

cthulhu on January 12, 2011 at 11:41 AM

She was a victim of the shooting, yes? Or we could use the federal judge as an example, he died, good enough for you now?

Good enough for ME? Well, any attempt to stop the WBC is good enough for me. We were talking about the motives of the Arizona Legislature. I have no problem with what they did, whatsoever. But I think they were motivated by the protesting of the funeral of a nine-year-old more than anything else. Not that it matters. Every syllable spent discussing WBC is a syllable wasted.

YYZ on January 12, 2011 at 11:41 AM

While we’re on this “xyz-free zone” meme … can we propose a “no illegals within X-miles of the state line”, where X=>500 ?

/.

CaveatEmpty on January 12, 2011 at 11:45 AM

flyfisher on January 12, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Phelps also campaigned for Al Gore in his 1988, 1992, and 2000 presidential bids, and actually served as a campaign manager in the 1988 and 1992 campaigns.

Vic on January 12, 2011 at 11:46 AM

I hate it – but I fully understand and respect it.

jake-the-goose on January 12, 2011 at 10:57 AM

I think that is how most sane people feel. I know I do.

jeffn21 on January 12, 2011 at 11:47 AM

A need created as the result of conspiratorial deconstruction of community authority.

Speakup on January 12, 2011 at 11:51 AM

I heard the state senator, Kristen Sinema, talking about introducing the bill. She conceded that it would be struck down but that it only needed to hold for a few days until the funerals of the deceased had been conducted. She’s a lefty but at least she acknowledged the law might not be constitutional.

JackofNoTrades on January 12, 2011 at 11:54 AM

A similar law was struck down as unconstitutional in Missouri. My state passed it with flying colors, but it was overturned. Hopefully, it serves it’s purpose for right now, to block these cretins from protesting at the funerals. Once that’s done, it will get overturned.

Torch on January 12, 2011 at 11:57 AM

Who funds this group? They are clearly fakes. Has no one dug into their financials?

truth2power on January 12, 2011 at 11:17 AM

People that keep trying to pass laws, or otherwise prevent DEMOCRAT Fred Phelps from doing his thing. They sue. They win damages. Next protest funded.

MNHawk on January 12, 2011 at 11:59 AM

I just heard on Fox that the “church” has decided not to demonstrate at Christina Greene’s funeral.

Cindy Munford on January 12, 2011 at 12:03 PM

How much power do 12-30 people have. For all 4 people that will travel to AZ there will be thousands of Patriot Guard Riders there. Even if WBC did not threating to show up the the Guard would be there.

Patriot Guard Riders

tjexcite on January 12, 2011 at 12:08 PM

I think zoning laws already restrict some free speech. Religous speech is highly protected… but usally religions are not so in your face as this.

Especially if this was designed to be a one time thing they should have made it a mile.

Are those motor cycle guys coming? There are probably lots in AZ anyway in to wintertime.

I truly do not get what the motivation of these crazies is. They cannot possibly think they are doing the work of Jesus Christ. Not if they are at all familiar with his ministry.

They, like Loughner are probably into chaos.

petunia on January 12, 2011 at 12:12 PM

I just heard on Fox that the “church” has decided not to demonstrate at Christina Greene’s funeral.

Cindy Munford on January 12, 2011 at 12:03 PM

Does it boggle the mind to try to understand them even considering it? I just can’t imagine the conferences these people must have to set the agenda for what they do.

hawkdriver on January 12, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Democrat Fred Phelps got his publicity, he did not need to make the trip.

ORconservative on January 12, 2011 at 12:18 PM

What a friggen waste of time. Just ask the local MC clubs to help out and the problem will be solved. The solution to hate speech is more counter speech, not restricting speech. When conservatives engage in limiting speech, they play into the Statists hands. This is why we have the Dept of education, medicare, epa, and other Marxist programs that limit individual freedoms.

If you’re a Tea Party person, you should be opposing these moves.

csdeven on January 12, 2011 at 12:19 PM

Its not a freedom of speech issue. Its a freedom of religion issue.

Funerals are religious services, Fred Phelps and the rest of his Westboro Baptist Church seek to inflict their religious beliefs on another denomination. Which is why it is unlawful.

meci on January 12, 2011 at 12:20 PM

hawkdriver on January 12, 2011 at 12:13 PM

They are ridiculous. I think most of them are related to each other and their numbers are small but they sure do a lot of damage with what they have. Of course their damage is mostly to themselves.

Cindy Munford on January 12, 2011 at 12:30 PM

If I were the chief law enforcement officer of the locale where Phelps’ bunch planned such a protest, I’d have a press conference to announce that:

‘under the present budget conditions, the ___ department simply does not have the manpower to spare to provide a protection detail for this protest. if the group does decde to go ahead with the protest, and something does happen, the ___ department will respond to it in the same manner as any other incident that occurs in the jursdiction, and give it appropriate priority under the particular circumstances presented.’

These whackos would likely not show up if they didn’t know they’d be protected from any harm.

krome on January 12, 2011 at 12:41 PM

The WBC is a lawsuit scam. They get themselves thrown out of places, and then they sue. That is their business model, and it is a successful one.

All of the repugnant rhetoric and outrageous actions are done to make sure their speech is restricted, so they can have a successful lawsuit.

Haiku Guy on January 12, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Ugh. Those of us living in Kansas are subject to these people constantly. They’re out picketing all the time – not just funerals, even high school plays draw them out of the woodwork. They claim that the media attention they generate is a way of spreading their message.

One of the AZ lawmakers was on Fox last night and said that the law similar to those in 6 other states. He didn’t think there would be Constitutional issues.

Who funds this group? They are clearly fakes. Has no one dug into their financials?

truth2power on January 12, 2011 at 11:17 AM

They’re a small church, really just a family clan. But at least one of Phelps’ daughters went to law school, and I believe a lot of their funding comes from the law suits she files on behalf of the church.

When they go to Arizona, they’ll need to show up really early. They weren’t able to picket a funeral in Missouri last fall because all of the parking spaces in town were already taken up. And if they do find a place to park, they’ll need to post a guard at their van. In Oklahoma, vandals slashed their tires (not a nice thing to do) and no tire shop would fix them. Ahhhh, Karma.

NavyMom on January 12, 2011 at 1:01 PM

I wrote my feelings on this topic months ago. Obviously I was presciently inspired by Loughner, in the same way he was inspired by Palin in 2007.

http://www.chrisofrights.com/2010/10/westboro-baptist-church.html

Chris of Rights on January 12, 2011 at 1:07 PM

I am not saying he would be that stupid to even think of doing it, but based on what I have seen from this rodeo clown of a lawman so far, what stops this idiot Sheriff Dupnik from declaring that not only will he not enforce the law as that HE sees it as being unconstitutional, but he even goes as far as actually give these WBC assclowns an armed police escort to where they actually want to hold their insane protest?

Again, I am not saying he is THAT stupid; I am just basing this on the stupidity I have seen come from him up to now.

pilamaye on January 12, 2011 at 1:25 PM

Ed, it is very rare that I disagree with you, but in this case I will. The First Amendment does not guarantee freedom of VENUE. Picketing a funeral–especially in the appallingly offensive tone of the WBC–seems to me a clear case of harassment.

q2600 on January 12, 2011 at 1:31 PM

I would agree with teh high-minded rhetoric here if AZ were to pass a law that prohibited the protesting, period. But no one’s free speech has been impacted here, just WHERE they can exercise it, out of respect for the OTHER people involved in funerals.

I see zero problem with this – none, zip, nada.

Protest all you want, as is your right. It is also the right of those people to mourn their losses in peace.

PJ Emeritus on January 12, 2011 at 1:50 PM

Let the law get overturned- a week or so AFTER the funerals of these victims would be soon enough.

People have a right (maybe not a legal one but a moral one) to bury their loved ones in peace without these ghouls causing them even more emotional upset. In fact, I’m surprised that no one has tried to sue the WBC on grounds of their deliberately inflicting emotional distress.

Jay Mac on January 12, 2011 at 1:54 PM

Fred Phelps and his despicable band at the Westboro Baptist Church Loony Hategroup announced plans to protest at the funerals of the six people murdered.

Fixed it for you Ed!

OhioBuckeye7 on January 12, 2011 at 2:12 PM

This reminds me of the action by the town of Thurmont, MD in 1988 to prevent a Christian group from marching in their town. The court, in that case, sided with the Christians.

hicsuget on January 12, 2011 at 3:03 PM

The WBC is a lawsuit scam. They get themselves thrown out of places, and then they sue. That is their business model, and it is a successful one.

All of the repugnant rhetoric and outrageous actions are done to make sure their speech is restricted, so they can have a successful lawsuit.

Haiku Guy on January 12, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Why are they allowed to call themselves Baptists? I don’t know how that denomination works but don’t they have some kind of central authority that either sanctions a group or not?

I can’t see how this behavior falls under any Christian denomination. It is so very unChristlike.

petunia on January 12, 2011 at 3:06 PM

People need to learn to ignore detractors. Restricting free speech is not good.

Only threats of violence or mayhem fit in that realm.

scotash on January 12, 2011 at 3:08 PM

I am not saying he would be that stupid to even think of doing it, but based on what I have seen from this rodeo clown of a lawman so far, what stops this idiot Sheriff Dupnik from declaring that not only will he not enforce the law as that HE sees it as being unconstitutional, but he even goes as far as actually give these WBC assclowns an armed police escort to where they actually want to hold their insane protest?

Again, I am not saying he is THAT stupid; I am just basing this on the stupidity I have seen come from him up to now.

pilamaye on January 12, 2011 at 1:25 PM

I didn’t see it but my husband said he told Meagan Kelley that even if the Supreme Court held the Arizona immigration law Constitutional he wouldn’t enforce it, because he doesn’t believe it is Constitutional.

That is pretty much saying, “I’m the law in this town.”

petunia on January 12, 2011 at 3:09 PM

People need to learn to ignore detractors. Restricting free speech is not good.

Only threats of violence or mayhem fit in that realm.

scotash on January 12, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Society should protect mourners at a funeral. That too is a religious freedom, to mourn in peace.

Besides, is this really a religious group or a political group, because there seems to be little religious basis to protest the burying of murder victims. I mean these were not even soldiers, they were just victims.

petunia on January 12, 2011 at 3:12 PM

I don’t see this as a big freedom of speech issue. In fact, I think mourners should be able to have a funeral without having to fend off a bunch of political protesters. As long as the restriction is temporary — just for the duration of the funeral, limited — allow so many feet or yards for a buffer zone, then it appears to nicely balance the wish for a quiet send-off with the ability to make a political protest.

There’s something very unfair about having political protesters surrounding a funeral when you’re just wanting to buy your dead and say farewell.

tom on January 12, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Why are they allowed to call themselves Baptists? I don’t know how that denomination works but don’t they have some kind of central authority that either sanctions a group or not?

I can’t see how this behavior falls under any Christian denomination. It is so very unChristlike.

petunia on January 12, 2011 at 3:06 PM

No, Baptists don’t have a central authority. Each church is independent. The flip side is that if a church claims to be Baptist but teaches heresy, no other Baptist church can be told they must accept them as Baptists.

Even Baptist churches in the Southern Baptist Convention are not in any sense controlled by the Convention. Each church has the ability to withdraw from the Convention if they see the need, or to continue to participate.

tom on January 12, 2011 at 7:41 PM

Once upon a time some very nice people, Jon Michael Bell along with Joe Taschler and Steve Fry, decided to write a story about Fred Phelps.

Addicted to Hate: The Fred Phelps Story

By Jon Micheal Bell, Joe Taschler, and Steve Fry

Read it, distribute it, share it.

Learn about how much of a monster Phelps really is.

SgtSVJones on January 12, 2011 at 7:46 PM

SgtSVJones on January 12, 2011 at 7:46 PM

That’s one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever read. And it’s a tragedy that someone like that could use the system to profit rather than be locked in prison by it like he should have been years ago.

All you “die to defend your right to say it” types have no idea who you’re sticking up for.

R. Waher on January 12, 2011 at 10:23 PM