Freedom of Speech

I’m in a bit of a quandary.

I’m a big freedom of speech advocate … I think that everyone is entitled to their opinion and to voice that opinion in the appropriate forums.

Enter Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church.

There is a case currently in front of the Supreme Court where the family of a fallen Marine sued Phelps for “intentional infliction of emotional distress”.

I absolutely despise what Phelps and his group have to say … Phelps is one of the most evil, black-hearted, hateful people I’ve ever heard of.  If there is a hell, as his religion suggest, there is a very special place in the lowest level’s reserved just for him.

None the less … I think Phelps has the right to present his message as long as he obeys the law.

I disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.

— Voltaire

So the question is … how do we balance a person’s first amendment right to free speech against a message that is, almost universally, considered to be hateful?  Do we balance it?

Personally, I wish the media would stop giving Phelps the attention that he apparently so desperately wants.  Perhaps, if he’s not getting the media spotlight, he’ll shut up and crawl back into the hole he came out of?

2 thoughts on “Freedom of Speech

  1. Ryan

    The media is completely complicit in keeping this loon and his group in the headlines. Just 15 years ago, he would never gotten this much attention from the press. Now, with the fierce competition for online and cable eyeballs, sensationalist nutjobs like Phelps get unwarranted attention.

    But, I agree with you regarding the free speech idea. He’s perfectly within his rights to spew his loony rantings. And we’re perfectly within ours to judge him a nut and move on, without dwelling on the matter.

  2. Mitch

    I would agree with the free speech arguments, if it weren’t for the grievous harm visited upon the family of the soldier who was killed. Put yourself in the shoes of the father of that boy. You’re in the process of burying your son, who went where his country told him to go and died for it. I have trouble thinking of any more delicate time in a life than having to bury your child.

    I truly believe that they should find a way to categorize this as a hate crime. This is NOT what the founding fathers had in mind.


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