God Hates Signs protest waged against Westboro Baptist Church

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332 Responses to “God Hates Signs protest waged against Westboro Baptist Church”

  1. Phikus says:

    FOETUSNAIL: Ok, I agree that free speech zones are bullshit. I was just saying there is precedent. But then is it just funerals that get to be exempt from protest?

    A lot of the impeachment crowd might be classified as hating bush, and the government might put them on a list saying they are terrorists even. I agree with Talia that once the government starts classifying what type of message you have we have stepped onto a slippery slope. Obviously we all agree these folks are abhorrent, as well as all the Aryan racist douchbags, but should the law draw the line? If so, how do you define that line?

    TAK: That depends on how the law would define nut-job. Who gets to make that distinction?

  2. bardfinn says:

    Foetusnail:

    I have two uncles who are / were drug addicts and Neo-Nazis. One of my cousins is an out-and-out Hammerskins wannabee, one is a closeted KKK wannabee. My grandparents on that side of the family denounced racism, but were incredibly strict Dominionist Southern Baptists. My mother is mostly-mainstream-Baptist.

    My father’s just a product-of-Mississippi-in-the-fifties-and-the-US-Army-in-the-1960′s bigot, despite being one-quarter Native American (not that he knew until we had genetic marker tests run long after I became an adult – his father vanished when he was three).

    I was exposed to a wide array of human shit and intellectual vomitous mass, while growing up.

    I wasn’t exposed until age eight – until then, my parents were stationed in Italy, and my father was always at work.

    In addition to the white-anglo-saxon-protestant-supremacist relatives, I had the lucky chance to be forced to attend the exact same public schools my mother attended thirty years previous – now, filled to bursting in the 1980′s with hispanic immigrants and african-americans, who all called me “cracker”, “pendejo”, “whitey”, “the man”, etcetera. Not that I can imagine I might have any sort of break had they known I was 1/8 native american, either. But I got to know the politics of La Raza, where parents refused to discipline their children for disrupting class because they were “milking the cow”. This I know because I was standing by my father’s side when he demanded to know from his mother why Alex beat the crap out of me every day for getting A’s.

    Later in life I worked at a school for underperforming kids in Dallas. The principal and John Wiley Price both called me “white boy” to my face in front of my colleagues and the kids; Kids whose sole professed wish was to be rappers or basketball players, and refused to participate in education because it was “a game for dopes” and they were “fighting the system” – by chanting Ludacris. Not that the teachers were on track to help – between listening to music while taking the attitude of babysitting and actively pushing Dominionist propaganda in class, and a small handful of kids (or even one) being able to disrupt an entire fifteen-child classroom, the school’s model was probably doomed to failure for the kids – as it seems now to have been designed as a concentration camp for the benefit of Dallas’ standardised mandatory statewide test’s scores.

    Who decides what’s abusive? What’s neglect? Who really is anti-bigot / enlightened, and who is abusing the appearance of progress for the sake of gaming others? Who makes these decisions? Who draws the line? How do you test?

    Humanity is rife with bullshit notions, and they’re not special to any one class, creed, culture, colour, country or code. What single test may be applied equally to all of them to stand the line between free speech and criminal activity? How do you get everyone to agree that such a standard is fair?

  3. Takuan says:

    oh right, marry the bloody mammal! I’m chopped kalamari?

  4. FoetusNail says:

    While I agree children should not be indoctrinated into religious cults, that is indeed a slippery slope. Personally, I believe ALL religions other than Taoism, UU, Secular Humanism, and Zen Buddhism are dangerous cults and therefore guilty of abuse.

  5. remmelt says:

    #238, Teresa,
    “Got it. Everybody should have freedom of speech except Antinous.”

    If I’m missing intended sarcasm, please ignore this post, or better yet, make that WOOOSH noise they do on Slashdot.

    If not, you’re re-enforcing the point everyone is making. That one liner is a straw man: no-one is saying that Antinous should have less freedom of speech than anyone else.
    The point people are trying to make is that it’s scary when the mods on an otherwise very (VERY) reasonable and well spoken board can be so short sighted when it comes too close to home.
    I understand the reasoning behind Antinous’ point, and understand the emotion. Regulating freedom of speech is not the way. In the parlance of our times, that one will turn around and bite you on the ass. Gay pride parades are gone. The Onion? Propaganda! Who decides where to draw the line? Democracy -> tyranny of the masses, etc etc etc.

    I think there are more than enough ways to have these people shut up. Hate speech is forbidden, right? Get them locked up.

  6. workergnome says:

    Actually, the proper counter-counter protest sign would be, “Signs Hate God.”

  7. bardfinn says:

    Takuan:

    The fact is that – pragmatically – the moderators of this forum must use their judgement and not be wedded to a hard-and-fast, well-defined policy on what will and won’t be published.

    Comment #37, among others, from antinous is what I am referencing:

    “… but I’ve run into plenty of other hatemongers and have cheerfully ripped up their signs and trashed their propaganda while they gaped at me. Actions have consequences and I seem to be one of them.”

    I am presuming that these people did not freely /hand/ him the signs they presumedly were carrying – for him to rip up. I wish I could trash the Palin/McCain signs I pass every day because I’ve read (and you know this) the GOP Platform and know that they’re racist, sexist homophobes explicitly forwarding a social agenda of oppression by hijacking the government. Those signs are on private property and it is therefore a /crime/ for me to act on my strong impulse, for me to /censor/ the speech of another. I’m not committing a /crime/ until and unless I have no other recourse to immediately defend myself and my family.

    Then, the fact that he states that free speech, in the way it is being discussed herein, is an adolescent fantasy for privileged white heterosexual males;

    He equivocates Phelps’ message with assault in several places , among them “In the real world, you trivialize Fred Phelps and he inspires people to go out and kill fags. That’s what really happens …” – despite that no prosecution against him for incitement to violence has withstood judicial scrutiny.

    By claiming that Phelps’ message inspires people to go out and assault and kill homosexuals, and that Phelps is directly responsible for that, and that he deserves censure for that – he is (and I am speaking from no small amount of academic authority and experience) issuing a statement that is the moralist and legalist equivalent of “women dressing that way inspires men to rape and kill them and they therefore deserve to have burqas required for them.” – it is a fallacy in both situations, it is bigoted and wrong in both situations, it is oppressive in both situations.

    The principle of freedom of speech – with the sole criteria for drawing the line being incitement to a crime – is important to be preserved for /everyone/, even unpopular and offensive speech. Society must demonstrate a present and pressing need to deny someone’s speech – based on the clear and reasonable foresight that such speech will actually destroy our society – that it is an incitement to a crime.

    Phelps repeats a literalist reading of a 2000-year old compilation of a 3000+ year-old religious tradition. Forcibly stopping him from his speech is no different than stopping the vast majority of the Southern Baptists all the way to mainstream Christians to Re-Incarnation Buddhists and Hindus who claim that homosexuality will prevent enlightenment / cause karma accumulation / causes suffering in /this/ life. Phelps’ clear /delight/ in his message is his own moral failing but is not in any way justification for censoring him – else you must censor every single person who says “Good News, Christ Died for your sins to keep you out of Hell!”. You must censor the kids that write fiction about their high school being invaded by terrorists and shot up.

    I’d like to quote the entirety of Ani DiFranco’s “32 Flavors” at this point but it is my understanding the lyrics are copyrighted and I don’t have a license. In stead, I will merely refer you to the avenues by which you might listen to – or read – her poetry for yourself(ves), and merely claim Fair Use for a two-line cite:

    “I will never try to give my life meaning
    by de-meaning you.”

    Personally, I think that if I or anyone else is /forced/ or intimidated to never utter or publish something that someone finds offensive – then it removes any and all meaning behind my supposed “choice” to refrain from uttering/publishing it, from someone else’s “choice” to not utter/publish it. I reserve the absolute right to freedom of speech because my expression encompasses the void as well as the delineated. I perceive others by what they leave out as well as what they put forward.

    From the perspective of abnormal human psychology, I /want/ to know that Phelps exists and what he’s saying because if society prevented him from speaking, I expect that he’d act instead, and there would be no way to see warning signs and keep an eye on him.

    Mostly, I want him (or anyone else with whom I disagree and/or find morally abhorrent) to be frustrated to the point of stepping over the line and actually committing or advocating a crime. I can give him the finger all day long but that just doesn’t satisfy me.

  8. Takuan says:

    how about polygamous mormon cults with child brides?

  9. Phikus says:

    What does His Holiness have to say on pride in the name of love? =D

  10. Antinous says:

    Mostly, I want him (or anyone else with whom I disagree and/or find morally abhorrent) to be frustrated to the point of stepping over the line and actually committing or advocating a crime.

    We get to die so that you can make a point. Thanks.

  11. Mindpowered says:

    “how about polygamous mormon cults with child brides?”

    Positively medieval. and thus very retro but passe at the moment. Not allowed unless you can really up the mountains (Eg Bountiful, British Columbia).

  12. FoetusNail says:

    If the protesters are peaceful, they should not be restricted from protesting at the funeral of a public figure, just leave private citizens alone.

    They can say whatever silly ass shit they want on their website or standing outside a military base or anywhere else I can flip them off, but stay away from the funeral. I don’t see that as unreasonable.

    Hell, civil respectable protest of the war outside a funeral home or on the route of the procession would even be acceptable. You could say something like, we share your grief and are working to stop this war. Some families may even find this type of protest comforting. Not every family thinks their soldier died for a good cause.

    But this shit is outside the pale.

  13. Toast451 says:

    @ #5,
    Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Sodomobile.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ra_fAYl4Th4

  14. Mindpowered says:

    I wonder about their choice of a soldiers funeral.. it’s probably the last place left where people don’t break out into gales of laughter upon seeing them.

  15. Takuan says:

    must bestride dark realms yet untrammeled by unholy hooves, tomorrow then, insomnia and accursed conscience permitting. Smoke me a kipper.

  16. Takuan says:

    “I feel the role of music and internal linkdance in helping planetary peace can be very useful. I have the opinion that any message can be channelled in different ways to reach its audience. Dance or music, I think are a very effective method to reach millions of people who may not have the capacity, interest or awareness to find out about Tibet otherwise.”

  17. wynneth says:

    Alright I cut out right around comment 50 or so because it’s been a long work day and it’s 1:25am. Lemme just throw this in. Where I live we had an outbreak of the right to lifers. I don’t mean the nice ones who go around holding signs that say abortion is sin or any or that mess. I mean the ones who had actual pictures of grotesque aborted fetuses plastered to their van and parked it on the street near the free clinic, IN DIRECT VIEW OF AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. You know, so all the children walking home or riding down that particular stretch of road had to see THAT. That right there is where the line of free speech gets curled at the ends. We have laws that make it a crime to display things that are obscene/profane and alot of places even have laws based on “reasonable good taste”. Explain that to me? Can I or can I not where my FCK Y (self disemvoweled) t-shirt on public property? I mean it’s not a dead baby ffs. Thankfully I am the kind of father who raises his son to ask questions of me directly and think for himself. When my son see’s hatemongers I explain to him that those people are very confused and their minds were not strong enough to interpret the world in a loving way as they should have, but that maybe one day they will understand.

  18. bardfinn says:

    No, They get to step over the line and because people are paying attention, they are prevented from killing.

    The point is that until and unless they actually commit or advocate a crime, their speech – however unpopular it may be – is still just speech.

    I want him to throw a punch because he’s not getting a rise out of people. I don’t want him to pre-meditate it. And I want him to feel so unashamed of expressing his opinion that he does it in public, with all eyes watching – and not in a back alley.

  19. minTphresh says:

    antinous, after another days thought about it, i’m still with ya homes. they can say whatever comes out of thier pointy little heads on their blogs, newsletters, flyers, etc…, but doing this at funerals ( and even out in the world at large) puts a whole different spin on it. i also feel that using words like fag and faggot are inciteful. especially when used the way they mean them. i say they are inciting hate and violence and should be arrested. i don’t think it is completely a ‘free speech’ issue. that being said, i just want alla you OWist Bingers out there (sniff) to know that(snniff) deep, deep in my (snifff) heart, I LOVE YOU , MAN! err, men. ( and ladies!) with love,-el Screwfly

  20. bardfinn says:

    One day, I am going to hold my son’s hand, and point at the hatemongers in parade, and tell him “We aren’t them – our lives are defined by love, and not by hate – by justice and fairness, not by excuses for privilege at the expense of others. No matter who is telling you that they, and they alone, are better and should hold more power – that society should be rebuilt to their advantage at someone else’s expense – they are wrong.”

  21. Phikus says:

    FOETUS: It could be argued that those are philosophies rather than religions. And don’t forget Discordianism. =D

    So no protest of any kind should be held anywhere near the funeral of a private citizen? How do you decide by law who is private and who is public? And how do you define civil respectable protest then, if you allow it en route? It seems that this still implies someone deciding which groups can protest and which cannot. How can you define that line for all to live by? Is it just their behavior? Other than their hateful language and signs, these people seem to be behaving non-violently. Maybe it’s just the word “hate” that we don’t like. No protest with the word hate in it? Will that do? What if we want to say “Down with hate?” Do we say certain inflammatory words are not allowed in a protest and make a list of them?

    There has been much discussion here of late about inflammatory language. I agree with George Carlin on this. It’s not the words but how they are used (although I understand why certain words are banned from internet forum discussions in most cases.) Lenny Bruce deserves some credit on this as well. Why empower these words in themselves? Wouldn’t it be wiser to remove the power from said language?
    ____

    Mmmmm chopped Kalamari…

    Perhaps the ability should be added to communicate one on one here through the Profile, to forward messages to email while masking the real addresses and allow people to block if they like. That way, people who get to know each other here and want to get to know each other even more closely may do so. Just an idea.

    TOAST451@112: JARDINE@85 beat you to it. Skimmed over most of the previous comments, hunh?

  22. Anonymous says:

    @ Zuzu #88,
    The problem is murder and assault. Intention should not be brought into the law.

    Intention is what makes murder different from manslaughter. For hate crimes, though, there’s an extra distinction – besides the crime being committed, it’s a threat against everyone in the target demographic. So long as threats are illegal, that justifies treating them more seriously.

  23. FoetusNail says:

    I don’t know. This shit just brings out the liberal fascist in me. As I said early this morning, maybe I’m just plain wrong and I’m letting my disgust cloud my thinking, wouldn’t be the first time.

    I just believe when it comes to funerals we could agree to a truce out of deference to the grieving families. I don’t believe that is tooo hard a line to draw.

  24. Takuan says:

    Dear Bardfinn:

    I am concerned about: “I have issues with his expressed intent, and the expressed willingness to exercise – by whim – a power to modify or ‘depublish’ the speech of others”

    You use “whim”. Can you please show me where you have received this impression from in any of Antinous’ postings?

  25. bardfinn says:

    On top of that – I am just as likely to be killed by a violent bigot for my lifestyle preferences, appearance, choice of religion, choice of clothes, behaviours, stated opinions, and advocacy as you are, Antinous – and do not deign to claim that I am speaking from a comfortable position. My /Relatives/ have threatened my life, I’ve had to cut ties with large parts of my family and acquaintances from college to protect myself and my family. You do not know how many times I’ve been kicked in the ribs nor how much of my life has been dedicated to learning to defend myself out of simple necessity of survival. No matter who it is that’s holding me down, I cannot and will not sacrifice a principle for political expediency.

  26. ripley says:

    Phikus – there is no way to remove the power from the language unless remove the power from the people using the language. But their language is part of how they maintain and perpetuate power, because it creates fear and incites hatred and violence.

    OF course it is a delicate balance, but it is a balance that our government already makes!

    Why have none of the free speech defenders on this thread taken up Antinous’ point that in fact the US government limits speech all the time?

    As one of his examples: the law prevents adults from describing graphic sexual acts to children. Why is that not protected by free speech? even if they don’t touch the kids? it’s only speech, it’s not an act, right?

    think about why it might seem okay to limit that speech – does it have something to do with the unequal power relation between adults and children? does it have something to do with the fact that speech itself is an act that can affect the listener?

    then consider the power imbalances in society -which means the disproportionate risk of violence and harassment– facing gay people (RIP Matthew Shepard, black people (RIP James Byrd, Brandon McLellan, & Tarika Wilson) and women of all races (RIP Enora Calrdwell, stay strong Mildred Beubrun) – and consider why a speech act evoking and condoning that is harmful. That’s what hate speech is about.

    it is not an easy judgment to make – but I don’t think we should shy away from making it. And let’s not kid ourselves that we already have made it in certain contexts (again with the children, with fire in a crowded theater, with defamation) – so it’s worth discussing our reasons for the lines we draw and trying to figure out how they can best be drawn to allow society to flourish and not be overridden with hatemongers.

  27. AGF says:

    Wow. I got a little behind on all that. SO my two cents. Foetusnail – I love what you have to say about tolerance. I had never thought about it that way. I just remember walking out of “christian ethics” classes in high school feeling absolutely enraged by messages of ‘tolerance’ that was basically hate the sin but love the sinner.
    Takuan – cool. as always thanks.
    About Antinous – ok yes Antinous is a mod. He also has opinions and feelings and is human. At bb mods are not bots that float around without prejudice or voice. They are mod because BB respects and values their opinions and judgement, and want s to hear what they say. So it is really unfair to get all uppity and start assuming Antinous is going to silence you because you disagree with him. If you act like a jerk about anything (including queer issues) you will get moderated – but it will be by any of them. SO back off. Antinous is a really good person. ( I’m guessing -but i think this was what Theresa was getting at – correct me if I’m wrong.)
    Bardfinn I don’t completely agree with you but I really respect your opinion and where you are coming from. I also now it sucks when people make assumptions about your feelings/sexuality etc – without really knowing who you are at all. It makes it really hard to have a conversation.
    And yeah. Here’s Ami with much love to you all.

  28. FoetusNail says:

    I was addressing everyone that throws up this general response to moderation. Maybe I should have added, or witnessed others being disemvoweled or unpublished. I was disemvoweled once, complained, then learned. I like it here and tend to enjoy the discussions. Our best friends voted for McCain/Palin, so I am not entirely surrounded by liberal clones. I would have disowned them, but they are not of the homophobic fundamentalist branch of the party, I think it was abortion. Oh well, good friends don’t come easy.

  29. bardfinn says:

    I think Antinous has all the freedom of speech that I have.

    I have no issues with Antinous’ speech. He has every right to say that I live in a fantasy world.

    Along with his rights, there are responsibilities – and one of his responsibilities is as a moderator on these forums, with an attendant power that extends solely in scope as to the freedom of expression of others.

    I have issues with his expressed intent, and the expressed willingness to exercise – by whim – a power to modify or ‘depublish’ the speech of others.

    There is an implied social contract inherent to any forum moderation responsibilities – with the power to guide the conversation comes the responsibility to not do so for one’s own ends. This is not (merely) my expectation – it is apparent to anyone who reflects upon the nature of the task.

    My end of the contract, as a dutiful citizen of any community – is now and always has been to point out when and where such happens or is likely to happen.

    I have never apologised for it and never shall.

    I speak not to appeal to a particular law or code or regulations, but to the human nature that we all share – the notions of Reason. I speak to the reputation of Antinous, and to his behaviour, and how such can follow him and colour his interactions with others and – whether he is officially acting on behalf of BoingBoing or not – how it will colour the interactions of others in the commentary on BoingBoing.

    This is a hopeful reminder to Antinous that – though he may not be aware of it – he does wield power (an elite power) in a community. He should take care that it is only ever seen as being done for good reason and not for fickle.

  30. FoetusNail says:

    Phikus, you and others have brought up some good points. Most of that could be determined when pulling the permit which is already required for most protests. Obviously, simple laws are the best, so maybe we should consider a proximity law or even a ban on all protests at funerals. Though I can see the RNC or the DNC scheduling a funeral to stop protests. Maybe I’m just plain wrong and I’m letting my disgust cloud my thinking, wouldn’t be the first time.

    As usual I love this place, off to bed. Take Care

  31. FoetusNail says:

    tooo, ooops

  32. Takuan says:

    Dear Lizardman;

    Your honour has been impugned. You are entitled to satisfaction. Have you given due consideration to what that satisfaction truly is?

  33. Phikus says:

    WYNNETH@115: You raise a very good point and I like how you explain this to your son. If they get to display a fetus to our kids, why can’t you openly display “pornography” near a school or church or on daytime TV? Indecency is a double edged sword, and its definition is very hard to nail down in a legal sense. It also changes from generation to generation.

    I think you’ve figured out the only real approach. You can’t control everything your kids are exposed to, nor should you. If you protect your children too much they grow up without the tools to deal with the real world. How about if we EDUCATE our kids so that they can build understanding as they mature? Maybe then we’d have fewer folks picketing hate for alternative lifestyles and people protecting the right of women to having a choice about making the difficult decision of whether to bring a child into the world.

    RIPLEY: I agree and that’s why I am asking where these lines should be realistically drawn by law. I just said I agree with Talia that it is indeed a free speech issue and we have to be very careful about how we draw these lines. How would you answer these questions I have posed? I don’t pretend to know the answers, which is why I am sincerely asking.

  34. bardfinn says:

    Takuan: My vocalisation is my allowance. If I had no allowance to give, I would write him / the remainder off.

  35. theWalrus says:

    I don’t think free speech is an absolute right, nor should it be. Absolutes don’t really work for humans or their institutions. I think hate speech laws are good. Yes, they limit speech, but they recognize the reality of bigotry in America.

    Take cross burning as an example. The Supreme Court has decided (and rightly so) that you can’t burn a cross in your own back yard. That’s right: It might be your property, your lighter fluid, and your party of white-hooded friends, but most people would understand the message you’re trying to send.

    There is a person in West Hollywood that has a Halloween decoration of Sarah Pailin hanging from a noose in front of his house. I think it’s clear that this is not a form of hate speech because there is no history of lynching of white women, and most people would recognize this as an individual expressing his hatred of Sarah Pailin, and not as a call to action. Put an effigy of Barack Obama in that noose, and you’ve got another story.

    Yes, it’s messy. Yes, you might have to work things out in court. But, that’s better than saying to the African-American neighbor of the cross burner, “Sorry it scares you, but the guy has a right to free speech.”

    “Is it ok to shout ‘movie’ in a crowded firehouse?”-Steve Martin

  36. zuzu says:

    @117 Ripley

    IMHO, “inducement”, “solicitation”, etc. laws and legal judgments are always bullshit. Law should stick to acts (based on empirical evidence) and not grope in the dark at the psychology of intent.

    Also IMHO, the law should not infringe upon the 1st Amendment in any of those other cases you cited either. Freedom of Speech must be absolute.

    (Someone yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater and causing a panic would still be guilty of fraud.)

  37. loganbouchard says:

    “TIT$!”

  38. Takuan says:

    Antinous:

    No one can tell you they love you if you keep apart.

  39. Takuan says:

    how can two on the same side of a chasm be shouting to each other to be heard?

  40. minTphresh says:

    tak @114, you quoting ace rimmer? also, im gonna have to side with antinous on this one and ill tell ya why. it’s a variation on the old “fire-in-a-crowded-theater” theme. they are obviously attempting to incite people to violent action. you certainly would be arrested now for signs with “god hates N*&&*rs” on it or its equivalent, the flaming cross. whether they are arrested for inciting violence, or hatespeech or whatever, they should have to do some REAL penance for the hurt they cause, and vitriol they spew. work in a soup kitchen in the castro district, or hard labor on a marin county chain gang, perhaps. i’m all about free speech, but this is WAY far and above the pale. they ooze hatred from their pores! there is no politics or religion involved in this, other than the complete misrepresentation of some unnamed ‘god’, just the fucked up ramblings of a deluded control freak.

  41. Takuan says:

    Dearest Teresa:

    You have set the cat among the pigeons, with cause or not. No progress can be made here until you speak again.

  42. bardfinn says:

    Really? Because from where I’m sitting, I’m putting my life and safety on the line to defend my principles.

    Please refer to the parts of this thread where I explicitly mention that I am not heteronormative.

    And then go research Phelps’ stance on how God hates Buddhists, Atheists, non-christians, and on and on.

    And then read the parts where I mention that some of my family are KKK members. No, fucking really – someone my grandparents on my mother’s side of the family raised, whom I may have to deal with when my parents die to handle legal issues, would like to know where I live so that he can hurt me, and has said so in court.

    I did you the courtesy of reading and understanding all of what you said. You have explicitly stated, in this thread, that you are uninterested in what people may or may not be saying.

  43. zuzu says:

    But, that’s better than saying to the African-American neighbor of the cross burner, “Sorry it scares you, but the guy has a right to free speech.”

    Property law provides sufficient protection against someone trespassing onto your lawn and burning a cross on it. (You’d possibly be within your rights to shoot them too, according to castle doctrine.)

  44. Phikus says:

    Well, we can try. Antinous: I love you!

  45. bardfinn says:

    And that’s where I’m leaving this. When I have to point out and repeat what I’ve already said, I personally make it a point to end the discussion.

    My orientation or personal choices are irrelevant to my argument, and I have – once again – made the mistake of conceding to someone I am debating /against/ that they might possibly be relevant, to seek personal identification from someone to persuade them – when they’ve already decided that their choices on an issue are made from personal identification and that I am an outsider.

    My mistake.

  46. Takuan says:

    christian ethics class? You would enjoy then reading Irshad Manji’s experience in muslim school.

  47. Phikus says:

    RIPLEY: I should have been more specific. I agree with your general thrust that “OF course it is a delicate balance, but it is a balance that our government already makes!… …(again with the children, with fire in a crowded theater, with defamation) – so it’s worth discussing our reasons for the lines we draw and trying to figure out how they can best be drawn to allow society to flourish and not be overridden with hatemongers.”

    THE WALRUS makes a good point as well, and I agree that I generally eschew absolutes. These are not cut and dry issues and there don’t seem to be easy answers. Obviously there are many kinds of speech that are harmful, like making death threats or harassment, which are not covered by free speech laws for good reason. The context is always relevant. Anyone who can quote the definition of hate speech as defined by law, I would like to see how it is worded.

    I was just talking about removing the power from certain hateful words, like REDISTRIBUTOR, for instance, and not assuming that allowing some ignoramuses to assemble peacefully is defending their stance, but merely their ability to have the same rights as everyone else, even though they choose to abuse them. If everyone were better educated, then perhaps the ignorance of these folks would be self evident and no one would take them seriously. But I guess that depends on where and how folks are educated.

    FOETUS: Thanks for tossing around these ideas. I agree that maybe in respect for funereal rites, a good perimeter should be established where protests should not occur of any kind. That seems to be the only way to define this fairly. People can protest a war without doing it at a funeral. It seems very disrespectful of people at the time when they are most vulnerable to be using it to take any kind of stand. As you brought up, however, where a funeral and a political event might conflict, however, would have to be provided for so as not to be abused.

    I am off to bed as well. G’nite all.

  48. Takuan says:

    The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
    It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
    Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
    It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
    ‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
    The throned monarch better than his crown;
    His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
    The attribute to awe and majesty,
    Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
    But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
    It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
    It is an attribute to God himself;
    And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
    When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
    Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
    That, in the course of justice, none of us
    Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
    And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
    The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
    To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
    Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
    Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there.

  49. W. James Au says:

    Here’s a very weird thing about Fred Phelps: 30-40 years ago, he was a very admirable civil rights attorney. I kid you not, WTF happened to him?

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

    Phelps earned a law degree from Washburn University in 1962, and founded the Phelps Chartered law firm in 1964. The first notable cases were of a civil rights nature. “I systematically brought down the Jim Crow laws of this town,” he says. Phelps’ daughter was quoted as saying, “We took on the Jim Crow establishment, and Kansas did not take that sitting down. They used to shoot our car windows out, screaming we were nigger lovers,” and that the Phelps law firm made up one-third of the state’s federal docket of civil-rights cases.

    Phelps took cases on behalf of African American clients alleging discrimination by school systems, and a predominately black American Legion post which had been raided by police, alleging racially-based police abuse. Phelps’ law firm obtained settlements for some clients. Phelps also sued then-President Ronald Reagan over Reagan’s appointment of a U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, alleging this violated separation of church and state. The case was dismissed by the U.S. district court. Phelps’ law firm, staffed by himself and family members also represented non-white Kansans in discrimination actions against Kansas Power and Light, Southwestern Bell, and the Topeka City Attorney, and represented two female professors alleging discrimination in Kansas universities.

    In the 1980s Fred Phelps received awards from the Greater Kansas City Chapter of Blacks in Government and the Bonner Springs branch of the NAACP for his work on behalf of black clients.

  50. Sekino says:

    Good grief: Somebody brought their 8 year-old to some hateful religious demonstration(on picture)?

    America is doomed.

  51. Lauren O says:

    W. James Au, I now have to pick the shards of my skull up off the floor.

  52. FutureNerd says:

    signs…

    Q: WHICH
    LORD HATES?

    CHRIST
    i need a
    BATH

  53. Xopher says:

    Just to clarify: I find Antinous’ reaction entirely understandable and I have every sympathy with it, but I think his prescription for appropriate behavior toward these human scum is counter-productive.

    And btw, those of you who are offended by the term ‘breeder’: it was invented to insult straight people. Take how you feel about that and multiply it by years.

    In fact, imagine that you’ve been called that since first grade, whenever anyone suggested you might be straight. Imagine that in high school you had to be in the locker room of the opposite sex, and if any of them caught you reacting to their presence in any way that made them even suspect you might be heterosexual, they could and would pound you without mercy. Imagine that the very ones who were the most attractive were the ones with the most capacity and inclination to so pound you.

    Imagine that you’ve had it shouted at you by a teenage boy, over and over in time with him punching you: “Breeder!” PUNCH “Breeder!” PUNCH He and his friends all take turns, and leave you bleeding in the street.

    Now imagine how a lifetime of living in fear of that, of the word itself being associated with violence, and you might get some inkling of why Antinous and I react with decades of accumulated rage at the sight of a “God Hates Fags” sign.

    Consider straight people being called “breeders” a bit of pedagogy. I would not use that term about anyone except in jest, or with that purpose in mind.

    Or maybe during a fight. But then I’ve made up my mind that the next time I’m bashed I will defend myself with any level of force that seems appropriate, up to and including deadly force. Don’t expect to be able to do that AND hold back on the epithets.

  54. AGF says:

    Cool – is it in her blog or her book?

  55. Takuan says:

    and now you are arguing with yourself. Be angry, you have cause. I do ask you return.

  56. Eseck says:

    I lol’ed

  57. avidd says:

    They gave us permission to take that photo. The lady said “I mourn for your sins, but go ahead”.
    Afterward we thanked them. There were only 6 protesters including the kid, and they were silent except for some hymnals. They were protesting Paul Newman, btw, who is apparently in hell.

  58. johninsapporo says:

    I thought man made God in his own image.

    Maybe I got it wrong.

  59. Rick. says:

    8 year old kid: “Okay…I’ll come to the protest. But I get to express my love of reggae!”

  60. John Mark Ockerbloom says:

    “Why have none of the free speech defenders on this thread taken up Antinous’ point that in fact the US government limits speech all the time?”

    The government does, and often for good reasons. But the reasons need to be carefully justified, and as content-neutral as possible, to preserve freedom of expression. I see at least three possible justifications brought up here, and they’re worth considering in turn:

    A few folks have brought up harm to minors with the “crudity outside an elementary school” examples. It’s easier to justify this restriction in speech specifically targeting minors, as in the school examples. But this principle has also been invoked to stifle expression generally on the Internet and elsewhere, which folks at BB and elsewhere have justly decried. I don’t think the signs I’m seeing in the article photo, displayed to a general audience on the street and not specifically to young children, warrant censorship on “harm to minors” grounds.

    Inciting violence may be relevant here, but this is often highly dependent on context. I think most of us here would agree that speech specifically telling people to get violent is not subject to free speech-protection. And the Supreme Court ruled in the 1940s that “fighting words”, or speech that can be reasonably expected to enrage a listener into violence, can fall under the incitement category. I could easily see yelling, say, “I’m glad your son is burning in hell!” in the face of a newly bereaved mourner as meeting this criterion. But saying the same thing in a general rally in a public park well down the street probably would not. Which brings us to…

    Time, place, and manner restrictions that apply to *any* protest or competing parade. If these restrictions apply regardless of content, and are not unduly restrictive, they can be okay too. Basically, you want to have rules that allow ordinary civic activities (like funerals and conventions) to go on without interference or harassment, but that don’t go to the unreasonable lengths of stifling expression that we see in the “free speech cages” that are a fixture of recent political conventions and presidential appearances.

    I think a good rule of thumb on protest restriction is that you have to at least let protestors get close enough to an event that people attending the event are aware that there’s a protest going on, and can choose to go to listen or respond if they want to. But you can regulate the distance and the noise level so as to keep the protests from disrupting the event itself. (And yes, this also justifies arrests of people who block sidewalks and streets against, say, Republican convention delegates.)

    So, my takes: Phelps and co. have the right to protest, but can be justly kept out of a reasonably-sized funeral buffer zone. Counter-demonstrations like “God hates signs” that show him up as the hateful, mock-worthy git he is are cool with me too.

    As far as the discussion here goes, I think we can reasonably hold writers and moderators here to a higher standard of conduct than what’s implied by simple First Amendment rights. That said, there’s been interesting discussion here on all sides of the issue amid the heat, and I thank the posters and our hosts for helping shed light on a charged issue.

  61. Takuan says:

    “Antinous is a really good person. ( I’m guessing ”

    well, yeeahhhh….
    http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Corridor/1086/rancor.jpg

  62. Jesse M. says:

    In comment 50 Antinous wrote:
    Defending Fred Phelps is a prime example of door-slamming. You’ve drawn the line on free speech to protect your wife and your children, but you don’t want to move the line to protect people of color, Jews, Muslims or queers. You’re safe, so everybody else can just wait outside and deal with the KKK and the Nazis. Hate speech is an assault. You have chosen to defend the assailants. Shame on you.

    And in comment 67 Antinous wrote:
    Free speech always exists on a continuum and we choose to draw a line somewhere. They can put whatever they want on their website or their newsletter. When they take it to the streets or disrupt a funeral, it is an assault. They have no more right to do this under the free speech doctrine than I have to stand outside your house yelling obscenities about your mother.

    I think your first comment is wrong but your second is more on-point. “Hate speech” should be permitted as long as it is published in a place where those who don’t wish to see it can avoid it, like books or webpages (the problem with ‘hate speech’ laws in other countries is precisely that they do try to censor things like books and webpages). But it should not always be legal to force such speech on people in a way they find threatening or disturbing. For instance, someone can blog all they want about how all children should be killed, but standing outside a schoolyard holding a sign saying “death to children” is not protected by free speech laws (or at least I don’t think it should be), and the same sort of distinction applies to “god hates fags” slogans.

  63. Sis B says:

    It’s hard for me to discuss those people without cussing, but I’ll try really really hard.

    I’ve seen them several times here around the Army post where I live. They have children and babies holding horrific signs. Everything from “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” to pictures of stick figures having gay sex.

    Typically, when WBC comes out to protest, the Patriot Guard Riders are right behind them. They are a group of bikers who guard the families of fallen troops from seeing the hateful a-holes. They’re an incredible and diverse group of people who stand in the rain, wind and cold to bring honor and dignity to our memorial services. I can’t write about them without crying in appreciation.

    I love the “God hates signs” sign. I’ve been trying to come up with something to counter-protest with, and that’s the best one I’ve seen yet. Kudos to the guy who came up with it. It’s the first time I’ve ever smiled after seeing the WBC #$%@& $#@^ #%$@#@ %$#’s.

  64. Takuan says:

    “In his formal remarks, the Dalai Lama spoke in English with his interpreter, Thupten Jinpa, occasionally offering more exact phrasing for some of His Holiness’s more complex viewpoints as expressed in Tibetan. Throughout the afternoon, the Dalai Lama advocated a compassion “that is not based on the positive attitude of others toward you,” but rather on the conviction that others are human beings and thus have every right to compassionate treatment, even if they are strangers.

    “That kind of compassion can extend toward your enemy,” the Dalai Lama said. It also is markedly different from the “usual kind of compassion one feels toward a loved one�a loving kindness that is very much mixed with attachment.”

    Moreover, compassion, as conventionally understood, can turn to hatred when some slight disturbance occurs in the relationship. Anger, he said, can destroy friendships�even a close friendship usually can’t withstand the raised voice or shouts of anger on a continuous basis. A perhaps unexpected effect is that “your bad mood serves your enemy,” he said.

    On the other hand, with “warm-heartedness”�a term the Dalai Lama used repeatedly during his address and throughout his three-day visit to UB�”there is no room to exploit or to bully others.” He spoke of warm-heartedness as synonymous with the favored “unbiased compassion” and also likened it to the immune system, the health of which can withstand even the most pernicious of influences. The Dalai Lama also contrasted “genuine satisfaction” with a “false satisfaction;” that is, being overly reliant on material possessions or comforts.

    Reinforcing the theme of compassion, he described how a monk of his acquaintance�who had spent more than 18 years in the Chinese gulag�spoke of the dangers experienced there. What were these dangers, the Dalai Lama asked his colleague? The monk replied that he perceived the danger not to be one of personal vulnerability, but rather in not being able to feel sufficient compassion for his captors. With compassion, the Dalai Lama argued, the mind acquires perspective, even if the problems one faces are serious. “The mental outlook is very, very crucial to sustaining peace of mind,” he said. “I believe the most important element for peace of mind is human compassion.”

  65. Phikus says:

    FOETUS: Have you seen Religuous? Best thing I’ve seen Bill Mahar do yet, and one of the best docs I’ve seen this year.

    BTW, I believe we have come to total agreement now.
    ____

    The problem with laws regarding speech said to incite violence is that all too often such laws are used on people to curb legitimate protests, like we saw happening at the RNC and DNC conventions this year and just about every time they have been held since 1968 (remember the Chicago 10, or 7, depending on who’s counting?) where people were arrested often just for being at the wrong place and time. These sorts of laws have have been used to legitimize slap-downs of what is essentially thoughtcrime. We should be very careful when we draft up such laws or the good intentions behind them could indeed pave the road to hell.

    P.S: I like you ANTINOUS, and have the greatest of respect for you.

  66. bardfinn says:

    O my Antonio, I do know of these
    That therefore only are reputed wise
    For saying nothing; when, I am very sure,
    If they should speak, would almost damn those ears
    Which, hearing them, would call their brothers fools.
    I’ll tell thee more of this another time.
    But fish not with this melancholy bait,
    For this fool gudgeon, this opinion.
    Come, good Lorenzo. Fare ye well awhile;
    I’ll end my exhortation after dinner.

    and the notional reply,

    Why, then you must. But hear thee, Gratiano;
    Thou art too wild, too rude, and bold of voice;
    Parts that become thee happily enough,
    And in such eyes as ours appear not faults;
    But where thou art not known, why there they show
    Something too liberal. Pray thee, take pain
    To allay with some cold drops of modesty
    Thy skipping spirit, lest through thy wild behaviour
    I be misconstrued in the place I go to,
    And lose my hopes.

  67. Takuan says:

    I understand he’s doing a charity dinner today.

  68. marksany says:

    My favourite anti-WBC sign is: “God hates cotton-polyester blends” by the central Arkansas Pastafarians. They actually parodied WBC to go home.

    http://www.venganza.org/2008/09/26/a-proud-day/

  69. Skullhunter says:

    PHIKUS,

    I’ve advocated no one’s extinction at any time. Thus, I think I’m done here in this thread.

  70. AGF says:

    Nice ;) Now – just to be clear – The ‘I’m guessing’ refers to the part about what Teresa means not Antinous’s claws of DOOM.

  71. anthony says:

    Are there no gay performance art flash mob organizations in the area?

  72. Wingo says:

    Full of win.

  73. anthony says:

    Surely Antinous is not off the thread because he is unaware of how the community feels about him? That doesn’t sound right.

    However, since folks are sharing the good thoughts, I’ll take the opportunity to state that I love Antinous as well. You too, Takuan. There, I’ve said it.

  74. Takuan says:

    Hear hear! If every one of their sick little “protests” were to be overwhelmed by a thousand decent humans holding “God hates signs”, perhaps then, this inbred little abscess might be lanced once and for all.

  75. Takuan says:

    there has always been a link between the compassion the Dalai Lama describes above and the martial arts whether Asian or those of European chivalry.

    I spent many years in the study of different forms of budo and relentless time rusted every physical sword. Nothing remains but those lessons of mind, heart and spirit.

  76. MadFist says:

    Leave the little kid alone. . . He was so doped up on God’s morphine-like, opiate lovin’ that he really didn’t know where he was. . .

    And he had the munchies. “Fags” is a Jamaican term for “the munchies”, and God does not like them, no, he does not. In fact, If I read the sign correctly, he hates them.

  77. jstigma says:

    someone I met a while ago makes some good paintings with these protestors as his jumping off point. it’s not work that you can take at face value:

    http://andrewgrahamstudio.com/home.html

  78. Sis B says:

    #5 Unfortunately, at this time military towns aren’t a very friendly venue for gay performance art flash mobs. Although if one showed up to humiliate the WBC people, progress would probably be made.

  79. jonathan_v says:

    god hates fred phelps.

  80. Blue says:

    Fred Phelps, from what little I’ve seen of him in the Louis Theroux documentary, seems like a hateful, twisted, demonic little man. And what seemed clear from that documentary was that the more you hated them, the more they felt persecuted and the more they entrenched themselves in their (knowing or unknowing) hate – it strenghtened their identity of being the chosen few to know the truth – it drew the lines ever deeper in the sand between them and us.

    Hating and condemning these people will never change their minds. It will never reach them and only send them further into their psychosis.

    Of course what can’t be denied is their contribution to our culture: [quicktime]

    http://www.d-kitchen.com/video_popup.php?p=128

    (best tv title sequence ever?)

  81. IamInnocent says:

    Why even bother?

    I mean, there are actually such nut cases in our societies but not that many. The medias, even BB, is making them much more important than they are.

    Instead of being a megaphone for cracked pots, if the voice of the vast majority of fairly sensible people was heard over theirs, maybe common sense would have a chance to prevail.

  82. minTphresh says:

    these people are the lowest form of pond scum.

  83. grimshaw says:

    It’s a bit late for me to jump in here. Phelps’ army was planning on protesting the funeral of Tim McLean, the young man murdered on July 30th on a grey hound bus on route to Winnipeg. A counter protest was almost immediately planned, but the Canadian Government opted to bar Phelps’ entry. They’re classified as a hate group in Canada. They snuck in anyways, but didn’t show up. A few hundred counter protesters showed up in support of Mclean’s family.

    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20080807/funeral_folo_080808/20080808

    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20080809/bus_funeral_080809?s_name=&no_ads=

  84. Xopher says:

    I like “God Hates Shrimp” better. That one is at least equally justified by scripture (that is, not at all, but you can balance anything the WBC says by pointing out that they’re going to hell if they’ve ever had a cheeseburger).

  85. The Lizardman says:

    Its a tough pill to swallow but I find I must defend the WBC’s rights to say these things…but I also soon hope to defend the judiciary discretion of the justice who dismisses all charges against the group that cleans their clocks.

    • Antinous says:

      Its a tough pill to swallow but I find I must defend the WBC’s rights to say these things

      Why? Because you’re a breeder and it doesn’t apply to you? Thanks for the solidarity.

  86. FoetusNail says:

    Antinous, hope you are well, after everyone’s comments I still agree this type of hate filled street performance should have limits.

    I also support people taking action on their own to confront these attention seeking idiots.

    When I was younger some skins left the club where my friends bounced, I was standing outside talking to the doorman. The skins walked down the middle of the street screaming crap at the gay club across the street, a very large bouncer came out and politely asked them if they wanted to go home and tell their mothers they got their asses kicked by a fag. I never saw two skins shut up so fast. They scurried away like scolded dogs. Not to support violence, but sometimes some people need reminding of the consequences of hate speech.

  87. Takuan says:

    with nought but letter of marque
    nay, no powder nor shot
    yet he doth serve the reign
    of Gloriana

    anon,

    Most sacred vertue she of all the rest,
    Resembling God in his imperiall might;
    Whose soueraine powre is herein most exprest,
    That both to good and bad he dealeth right,
    And all his workes with Iustice hath bedight.
    That powre he also doth to Princes lend,
    And makes them like himselfe in glorious sight,
    To sit in his owne seate, his cause to end,
    And rule his people right, as he doth recommend.

    Dread Souerayne Goddesse, that doest highest sit
    In seate of iudgement, in th’Almighties stead,
    And with magnificke might and wondrous wit
    Doest to thy people righteous doome aread,
    That furthest Nations filles with awfull dread,
    Pardon the boldnesse of thy basest thrall,
    That dare discourse of so diuine a read,
    As thy great iustice praysed ouer all:
    The instrument whereof loe here thy Artegall.

  88. Anonymous says:

    Omigod’n’ponies! I think I am actually going to completely disagree with Antonius, which is rather a rare thing for me.

    Like Voltaire & the Lizardman, I will defend to the death the absolute right of freedom of speech.

    I will also similarly defend my right to visit instant death upon any persons who credibly threaten the life and/or property of any persons under my protection.

    I believe these two rights are necessary complements to each other, and I believe the US would be a better place today if we had never allowed the absolute right of freedom of speech to be infringed by the State.

    Burn a cross on my lawn and you will achieve a higher trophic level. Burn a cross on your lawn and I will laugh and jeer at you from my own property, in the hopes that you will step over the line and give me a clean shot at you.

    –Charlie

    • Antinous says:

      Burn a cross on your lawn and I will laugh and jeer at you from my own property, in the hopes that you will step over the line and give me a clean shot at you.

      Are you African American? Had any relatives or friends killed by the Klan?

  89. Takuan says:

    then we are as one, reconciled.

  90. Antinous says:

    Antinous is producing a charity luncheon for 200 people tomorrow and is fried.

  91. mhlaxp says:

    There are more ways to protest this than by being blatantly anti-sign.

  92. trimeta says:

    #10:
    > god hates fred phelps.

    +5 Insightful, my good sir.

  93. franklyimshocked says:

    Well done people.
    Fight fire with fire.

  94. OM says:

    “Its a tough pill to swallow but I find I must defend the WBC’s rights to say these things…”

    …Sure. And treason is protected under the FA too, huh? Because their abuse of our fallen heroes can’t be defined as anything other than treason. I say the Patriot Guard needs to take things a step further, and do what biker gangs do best: beat the crap out of wimps, hippies and bibble-thumping religious nutjobs who piss on those who’ve died to help keep America free.

  95. acx99 says:

    I am not a religious person, but surely if god hates anything at all its those who practice hate itself? Otherwise he wouldn’t have reserved that eternal-fire-pit malarkey for them?

    In a way I almost hope god *does* exist, because i know that even in not beleiving in him i am still a better person than those hateful cnts from WBC.

    oh. And that kid? I’d put money on the prospect that he’ll grow up to sexually abuse his own children.

  96. anthony says:

    A fried Antinous is to be distributed to the masses? That’s so Jesus-y.

  97. sammich says:

    Rusty sword Takuan? Perhaps the salty lifestyle contributed in part?

  98. ill lich says:

    Let’s up the dada quotient:

    “God Hates Yahweh”

    “God Hates Chicken Salad”

    “God is NOT Going to Pay A Lot For This Muffler!”

    “God Told Me To Shut Up”

    “God Hates Funerals!”

    “God Likes to Boogie!”

    “God + Satan = Gosatand”

    Someone should join the Westboro group, infiltrate it, and once you have their trust, bring your own silly signs to hold– see how long it takes them to notice.

    Or better– when the leader of the Westboro Church (“church”?) dies, let’s show up aat his funeral with our own signs.

  99. Phikus says:

    OM: Yeah, that’ll keep us free. I feel freer already. Everyone who disagrees with you should be beaten into submission. That’s the American way.

  100. fnc says:

    I like the logically circular : “God hates those who hate things!”

  101. Takuan says:

    I wonder if Phelps had a brain aneurysm decades ago?

  102. Beedie says:

    OM @#191

    No, nobody needs to “beat the crap out of wimps, hippies, and bibble-thumping (sic) religious nutjobs who piss on those who’ve died to help keep American free.”

    That’s not the answer. The way to deal with bad speech is with more speech. Suppressing it via the law, or violence, or any other means is not the appropriate response. Defeat the ideas and they go away. Make the ideas illegal or dangerous and you give those ideas a certain cachet.

    I’m going to just take a wild guess that I’m among the few members of the armed forces commenting on BB. People I know have died in war. But I don’t begrudge anyone who has a reasoned and principled stand, one way or the other. I don’t think that someone who is against a particular war is pissing on my friends who died, nor are they pissing on me or anyone else. The “wimps” and “hippies” as you call them are entitled to their opinions. So are vile human beings like Fred Phelps, even if they are far from being reasoned or principled. Beating them up might feel good to certain people, but it would be transitory and it wouldn’t make them go away. I said above that defeating their ideas is the way to deal with them. In the case of Phelps, his ideas already hold little traction beyond the handful of followers he has, so that part of the battle is already won. Step two is to ignore them. Attention, even negative attention like physical violence, is what feeds them. Deny them the attention and they will eventually fade away.

  103. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Sorry I’ve been away. This seems to be the week for people wanting private e-mail responses. The trouble is, they only speak to one person, and I’ve only got so much writing time. I may cannibalize a few of them when I respond.

    I’ll respond as soon as I’ve cleared out the latest batch of eyeball-notes and caught up with this thread.

  104. teddanson says:

    I think “God hates hate” brings about a conclusion that is too philosophically subtle for these people – that God must hate part of himself. Better would be “God harbours a long-standing dislike for hate”.

  105. Phikus says:

    You’re right, I prefer fried kalamari, but we still love you.

    Anybody feel left out? I love you too! (*group hug over teh internets*) =D

  106. Takuan says:

    what is the purpose of free speech?

  107. george57l says:

    Just a short ramble around some things that came to mind.

    What if you happen to be not gay but also not having bred or going to breed (on a point of principle), or not capable of breeding? If I were a non-gay in those categories I’d sure as heck find “breeder” a very offensive term.

    The WBC are tragic and comic. Louis Theroux showed them in all their awfulness.

    Free speech is fine – incitement to violence is not. But in between….

    Hate crime, or incitement to hate crime, are difficult things to pin down. If some (and it appears some do) think WBC utterances/behaviour do not qualify as free speech and should be stopped, I assume it might be on the basis that it is in effect “incitement to hate crime”.

    Where does that end? What about Anil Dash’s assessment of Sarah Palin? (I commented on that thread to the effect that Palin was clearly guilty of incitement to hate crime)

    Takuan asked the best question at #51

    “now why is it, do you suppose, that in a land awash with guns and cheap ammo, Phelps is still walking around with a nationwide police force that loathes him – and there is genuine mortal fear that Barrack Obama might yet be assassinated?”

    I apologise in advance for using simplistic and possibly to some, offensive, generalisations. I can’t imnmediately find better ways to express it – but the answer, sadly, is that wrong thinking people (i.e. tendency to independent violent action rather than social – as in society – collective action – as in “law”) fear things (like Obama – as instructed to fear by Palin) in a way that makes their fear objectified in something – (often something they can see, touch feel, shoot, kill and generally wreak violence on) and right thinking people (respecters of the rule of law) wring our hands over what is free speech, incitement or hate crime, and if we fear anything it is getting the definitions wrong.

    (ends rambling)

  108. The Lizardman says:

    @17

    It has nothing to do with sexuality.

    I defend anyone’s right to say anything because I believe in that level of freedom of speech and don’t temper it – even for assholes like the WBC. I will wish the WBC didn’t exist but I won’t wish for them (or anyone else) to be silenced

  109. Takuan says:

    didn’t you read the second part, Antinous?

  110. Takuan says:

    Trimalchio?

  111. Wookalar says:

    And next sign up:

    Matt 12:39 An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign…

  112. Phikus says:

    Or how about: God abhors a vacuum,and you suck!

  113. Pipenta says:

    The kid, the little kid, just pity him. He’s having a childhood right out of a Stephen King novel. He’s being raised by monsters in a atmosphere of hate.

  114. the Other michael says:

    are we sure theyre homophobes and not radical antismoking activists becuase id be down with that

  115. Daneel says:

    Of course God hates signs. He hates everything, he’s all-evil. Leastways, as convincing an argument can be made for that as the for him being all-good.

    http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/2007/03/god-of-eth.html

  116. arkizzle says:

    That a message not be lost to a law.

  117. Anonymous says:

    Luke 11: 29
    And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.

  118. Takuan says:

    so what do you think of the video linked in`#148?

  119. flosofl says:

    I keep telling people the only way to stop these nuts is to tirelessly mock them.

    Ridicule is their kryptonite.

  120. arkizzle says:

    However, all messages are not equal.

  121. Takuan says:

    what sauce is appropriate for Antinous-yaki? Can you recommend a wine?

  122. The Lizardman says:

    At this point, I can’t believe Antinous is interested in discussion but is rather dedicated to the idea of maintaining the position that he alone has a personal stake in this and that that makes him right and the rest of us are simply far removed and playing games regardless of how much we do or what scars we bear.

    I’m out.

  123. Takuan says:

    that is the problem. At what point does the state have the reason and duty to rescue children from a nut-job upbringing?

  124. FoetusNail says:

    Main Entry: tol·er·ance
    Pronunciation: \ˈtä-lə-rən(t)s, ˈtäl-rən(t)s\
    Function: noun
    Date: 15th century
    1: capacity to endure pain or hardship : endurance , fortitude , stamina
    2 a: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own b: the act of allowing something : toleration
    3: the allowable deviation from a standard ; especially : the range of variation permitted in maintaining a specified dimension in machining a piece
    4 a (1): the capacity of the body to endure or become less responsive to a substance (as a drug) or a physiological insult especially with repeated use or exposure ; also : the immunological state marked by unresponsiveness to a specific antigen (2): relative capacity of an organism to grow or thrive when subjected to an unfavorable environmental factor b: the maximum amount of a pesticide residue that may lawfully remain on or in food

    Nothing here mentions enlightenment, just a little sympathy, but no empathy.

    I hope for and expect more than mere tolerance. Tolerance means you are still a n—-r, or still a f-g, or still any number of things, but my equal. I tolerate your presence, that’s all. I suppose if that’s the best we can do it’s better than nothing, though just barely. Tolerance is separate, but equal in the same room. Tolerance is a quiet hate.

  125. Takuan says:

    so Bardfinn@181: how could you possibly be at odds with Antinous then?

  126. Takuan says:

    The Waco Siege[11] (also known as the Waco Massacre[12] ) took place on February 28, 1993 when the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) attempted to execute a search warrant at the Branch Davidian ranch at Mount Carmel, a property located nine miles (14 km) east-northeast of Waco, Texas. An exchange of gunfire resulted in the deaths of four agents and six Davidians. A subsequent 51-day siege by the Federal Bureau of Investigation ended on April 19 when fire destroyed the compound. Seventy-six people died in the fire, including 21 children and two pregnant women, along with Davidian leader Vernon Wayne Howell, better known as David Koresh.

  127. Takuan says:

    good link Daneel

  128. Anonymous says:

    What about

    “God Hates Hate”

    as a retort sign

    !!!!!

  129. arkizzle says:

    TNH/Ant/Avram :

    Re: 305

    Thanks, that was genuinely nice :)

  130. Takuan says:

    as to suing the Kansas bar; get an out of state lawyer.

  131. FoetusNail says:

    …separate and unequal in the same room.

  132. Takuan says:

    “As tyme hem hurt, a tyme doth hem cure”

    Let all retire to their tents then.

  133. Takuan says:

    if you were allowed but ONE message, what would it be?

  134. rebdav says:

    These guys are so far off the wall I have trouble beliving in them. I have always suspected them and the other big sign wavers as something planned and provoked in some Pentagon propaganda think tank to rally the nation against those whould speak badly of the “Troops”. If in 30-40 years if they reveal the unsealed secrets on some history channel show this conspiracy would not surprise me, I really just can’t belive these guys are for real.

  135. Takuan says:

    tolerance no good, then: compassion

  136. sammich says:

    Indeed – Happy Samhain Everybody- I’m off to commune with my dead…

  137. sfazzios says:

    @antinous You can believe that statements and actions are stupid and morally reprehensible without believing that they should be made illegal. You can also be in solidarity with the individuals that the actions are directed towards. I, for instance, really don’t like the way you call heterosexuals “breeders”, but if you want to hold up “breeder” signs in a public area, go ahead.

    • Antinous says:

      Free speech is a delusion. Go stand outside a grade school with a sign that says ‘Blow Me’ and find out the hard way. Of course you don’t care if I hold up a sign that says ‘breeder’. That’s the point. You have all the rights. You can afford to be cavalier and open-minded about hate speech because you’re not affected by it. Privilege is an opiate.

  138. jimbuck says:

    People are crazy. But signs are evil.

  139. anthony says:

    I’m going to say the sauce should start out with a strong citrus presence and get progressively spicier from there.

  140. arkizzle says:

    “Don’t underestimate Potatoes”

  141. Mitch says:

    I thought the kid was holding the God Hates Fags
    sign for irony.

  142. mdh says:

    Who Would Jesus Disparage?

  143. Takuan says:

    aye, to ye too.

  144. The Unusual Suspect says:

    The Phelps family own both the Westboro Baptist Church and the Phelps-Chartered law firm.

    The Phelps-Chartered law firm makes a ton of money by suing organizations and government bodies which allegedly prevent the Westboro Baptist Church from lawful demonstration.

    Do you get the implications?

    The WBC acts the way it does in order to earn profits for P-C.

    Brilliant, really.

  145. mrsomuch says:

    What a truly fascinating disscussion.

    To Bardfinn and Takuan – Thankyou for an eloquent and thoughtful dialogue, it’s people like you, and a forum such as this, that keeps my spirits high and the future a good place for my daughter.

  146. arkizzle says:

    *notice the capital ‘P’, it’s all about respect*

  147. Takuan says:

    hmmph, here’s an interesting free speech story. Election topical too.
    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/10/29/163053/79/814/646016

  148. jonathan_v says:

    The good thing about the WBC, is that it shows us how valuable free speech is… and that a shining point of america – even today when we have ‘free speech zones’ – is that we protect this trash.

    In undergrad i did a lot of research on the radical right in politics. A friend did his jr thesis on the WBC right when they were picketing , protesting, and applauding the Matthew Shepard funeral. It was very… insightful.

    WBC protests american soldiers because… they believe soldiers dying are god’s divine punishment for america being tolerant of homosexuality. i recall that phelps like to use the phrase ‘harboring gays’. this is the same group tried to get a monument built in honor of matthew shepard going to hell.

    it’s so absurd. you can’t make this shit up if you tried.

  149. Takuan says:

    and the local bar association permits this?

  150. sammich says:

    He wasn’t too keen on money-lenders either, as I recall.

  151. Ryan Waddell says:

    @Grimshaw #134: that is absolutely freaking astounding. The WBC was going to protest that poor kid’s funeral BECAUSE HE IS CANADIAN? That is really quite bizarre.

    As for the rest of the argument going on in here, which I totally missed yesterday by not reading my blogs after work – I agree that hate speech sucks. But hate speech laws are, at best, hard to enforce and properly draft, and at worst become tools for censorship of all critical speech. Much of the time, hate speech laws aren’t necessary any way – in the case of these WBC wackjobs protesting with “God Hates Fags” signs at soldiers’ funerals, methinks there are already existing laws that could be applied to get them off the street, such as public disturbance (since they are inciting other members of the public to come out and protest against them).

  152. FoetusNail says:

    As I remember there was plenty of evidence they spread flammables throughout the building and are suspected of starting the conflagration. Fire broke out almost simultaneously in different areas of the building. Obviously, this could have been handled differently, but these idiots were intent on being martyrs, those that idolize these creeps as martyrs are pathetic and ignoring the simple fact Koresh had plenty of opportunities to release the children, with their mother’s.

    The sickness that is religion is mind numbing.

  153. Takuan says:

    does it matter? Only to the extent we are constrained by laws. I’d still shoot them,personally, but you know how that works out in the long run. That is not to say I would refrain from using the necessary amount of force to stop any violence they might start or instigate, to prevent any harm to the innocent. If nothing else. the westboro loon family gives us all a measure of how low we must never fall. I don’t expect those who have had family and friends outraged to share my bloodless view.

    • Antinous says:

      That is not to say I would refrain from using the necessary amount of force

      I’ve never run into this group, but I’ve run into plenty of other hatemongers and have cheerfully ripped up their signs and trashed their propaganda while they gaped at me. Actions have consequences and I seem to be one of them.

  154. Anonymous says:

    God likes turtles.

  155. Anonymous says:

    Another Anonymous, way back at #34:

    they actually seem to do a good job of bringing communities together wherever they go (left-wingers and right-wingers agree that what they do is completely uncalled for).

    Shades of the Fortunate Fall?

  156. Anonymous says:

    These guys threatened to come to my community once (but they didn’t show up for some reason). There’s an interesting documentary of them on Youtube somewhere that was posted on Eyeteeth a year or so ago.

    Sure, they are pretty extreme, but they are not the ones who scare me… they actually seem to do a good job of bringing communities together wherever they go (left-wingers and right-wingers agree that what they do is completely uncalled for).

    State-sanctioned homophobia and culture-sanctioned heteronormativity along with violent manifestations of homophobia and racism are a lot more frightening and disturbing that the Fred Phelps church, which is just a symptom of a wider problem.

    Which is why the “God Hates Signs” sign just seems to get it right for me. Their arguments are so ridiculous they don’t merit a protest that takes them seriously.

  157. Anonymous says:

    has anyone seen the photo essay about them on http://www.foreveroutsiders.com ? it’s fucking twisted.

  158. FoetusNail says:

    compassion, yes

    And when that compassionless asshole phelps dies not one person should show up at his funeral, not one god damn sign; that will be the moment to completely ignore him.

  159. Nora says:

    I was involved with a counter-demonstration against the Westboro “Baptist Church” in Albuquerque, NM a few years back: http://www.inkstain.net/fleck/archives/001708.html

    We were doing the same thing as Romaine Patterson, who made giant angel wings to block the view of the protesters when they came to Matthew Shepherd’s funeral. Today there are people with a similar idea on motorcycles that gather around them and rev their engines so they can’t hear what’s shouted.

  160. EncarnacionFlor says:

    Right with you, IAMINNOCENT, but unfortunately this gets up the human “Oooooh look what THEY did instinct, ergo, it is what the “News” reports on. But it gets me thinking. There is another website that often quotes BoingBoing, and it often has little get-togethers called “Fark parties”. BoingBoing counter-protest party anyone?

  161. remmelt says:

    @ 22, 54, and all the other bible quoters.

    From the good book:

    “I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind…. At these times… I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure.”
    - Goblet of Fire, book 1, ±2000 A.D.

    I rest my supernatural case.

  162. Takuan says:

    “COMPASSION

    The definition is: wanting others to be free from suffering.
    This compassion happens when one feels sorry with someone, and one feels an urge to help.
    The near enemy is pity, which keeps other at a distance, and does not urge one to help.
    The opposite is wanting others to suffer, or cruelty.
    A result which one needs to avoid is sentimentality.
    Compassion thus refers to an unselfish, de-tached emotion which gives one a sense of urgency in wanting to help others. From a Buddhist perspective, helping others to reduce their physical or mental suffering is very good, but the ultimate goal is to extinguish all suffering by stopping the process of rebirth and the suffering that automatically comes with living (enlightenment).

    The attitude of a so-called Bodhisattva is Bodhicitta: this is the ultimate compassionate motivation: the wish to liberate all sentient beings from the sufferings of cyclic existence and to become a fully enlightened Buddha oneself in order to act as the perfect guide for them.”

  163. Takuan says:

    I don’t think it is necessarily cavalier. Like cancer, it is something there that we would rather it wasn’t, but accept as part of the human condition. You fight it, but you also know you’ll probably die before you see victory.

  164. FoetusNail says:

    The sickness that is religion is mind numbing, that’s why it works. They inject this godtox over and over into the brains of children and they are rarely ever the same.

    We are made to believe when we can’t understand, and to obey so we may never understand.

  165. Phikus says:

    I don’t recommend a whine. It is the very antithesis of moderator sauce. ;D

  166. Takuan says:

    Antinous: The “necessary amount of force” is court-speak for “I killed that fucker for cause”. The law requires you to frame it that way in the name of the doctrine of self-defense.

  167. anthony says:

    And let’s steer clear of just any old saws as well.

  168. AGF says:

    I really really like you people.

  169. sammich says:

    Foetusnail @ 227 –
    I think “3: the allowable deviation from a standard” is something we could all do with more of – fear of difference i.e. xenophobia, homophobia, racism etc., etc., etc., is at the root of most of the shit we’re mired in.

  170. Anonymous says:

    @134 In fact, they make so much money from suing people who violate their civil rights at protests that they can afford to send all of their children to law schools. Because all of their children have been brainwashed from birth into the same beliefs as their parents, all of these lawyers then go to protests and find more people to sue, rinse and repeat. This group makes more money than you could possibly imagine, ALL of it from suing people who act out against them.

    They came to my college to protest the death of students who died in a housefire, as a pretty calm and rarely infuriated person, I have never been more angered, people were going out to stores to buy baseball bats, golf clubs, and other makeshift weapons. All of this came to an abrupt end when we were informed that the more violence and publicity we give them, the more money and supporters they get. There wasnt a single violent act against them, only witty counter protest signs and a few same sex couples making out in front of them.

  171. sammich says:

    anonymous @ 34 – isn’t ‘heteronormativity’ a bit of an oxymoron?

  172. Takuan says:

    and so the Owist contagion spreads…

  173. smgrady says:

    “If nothing else. the westboro loon family gives us all a measure of how low we must never fall.”

    I would be ashamed to fall several miles above where they have fallen.

    as for violence against them:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9IbtD7Kzrg&feature=related

  174. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Madfist @8, from the accounts I’ve read, there’s a very good chance that if that kid didn’t hold up his sign at the protest, there’d be hell to pay when he got home.

    IAmInnocent @11, I’d say the GOD HATES SIGNS guy is the voice of the vast majority of fairly sensible people, making his voice heard over that of Fred Phelps.

    Lizardman @14, the Westboro Baptist Church’s appearances aren’t intended as communication. They’re intended as harassment, and they’re meant to hurt. They’re also meant to make Fred Phelps look like a big deal. The man’s a malign psychopath.

    More to the point, Fred Phelps has no more right to his message than anyone else has to theirs. A mournful, loving, and respectful funeral is a complex set of messages exchanged by family and friends at an emotionally charged moment in their lives. It’s an important occasion for them. Fred Phelps does his best to disrupt that occasion and those messages — not because it’s necessary in order to convey his own message, but because he wants to make it hurt as much as possible.

    If other people intrude on Fred Phelps’ “protest” with their own signs, I don’t see the injustice. In fact, I’d say the counter-protest has more justice than the protest — they’re trying to communicate.

    Antinous @17: One of the readers has written in to object to your insulting use of “breeder” to describe a citizen in good standing of the unmarked state. I’ll bet you can write the rest of this paragraph.

    Jonathan V. @31:

    WBC protests american soldiers because… they believe soldiers dying are god’s divine punishment for america being tolerant of homosexuality.

    Nah. I don’t think he believes that for a minute. Fred Phelps gets off on hurting people, and he knows that the two most protected areas in our society are speech and religion. He uses a combination of speech and religion as cover for tormenting families when they’re most hurt and vulnerable.

  175. mhlaxp says:

    You can’t go around saying that hate speech is a part of freedom. Protests like this are designed to motivate action. Hateful speech at protests motivates hatred and violence. That’s not a part of freedom anymore than attacking someone is a part of freedom. It’s easy to say that people should have the right to do as they please but when they do something to violate those same rights in others, there’s a problem.

    I don’t care what they believe. They can go out and protest whatever they want but to harass people at funerals and instigate hatred and violence is another thing all together.

  176. HarshLanguage says:

    I’m taking this chance to point out that this thread illustrates a severe problem with BoingBoing’s current moderation. The rules don’t apply to the moderators if they agree with each other, and allow each other to break the rules. There has been some unnecessarily uncivil stuff being flung here by mods, but nothing can be done.

  177. Sis B says:

    I am actually quite surprised at the restraint shown by the people of this community when the WBC assholes are here. But some of the soldiers I’ve spoken with about it have effectively said, “They can do what they’re doing because of what I do.”

    I wholeheartedly believe in their right to free speech and that the government should do nothing to shut them up. The community has responded to these folks to guard the families that they are trying to hurt. That’s fantastic, and the way it should be. I love the suggestions here of having counterprotests and flash mobs.

    In my imagination, a group of people forms a wall in front of them, facing away from them, and stands in silence. No reaction to them, no over-shouting them, just blocking them out and ignoring them. Or maybe not in silence, but talking and joking and passing around candy and having a whole little party that refuses to acknowledge the f#$ckers behind them.

  178. The Lizardman says:

    @33

    Absolutely wrong.

    I am not cavalier about hate speech because it doesn’t affect me. I care deeply about free speech because I have been censored and I have been (and still often am) hated as are many of my friends and family. The worst thing you can do when it happens to you is to let it debase you by falling for that line of thought and being willing to do it (censor) to others. People like the WBC are abhorrent to me but they only further my belief in free speech and the need to defend it because it is very real aspect of my life.

  179. Phikus says:

    MRSOMUCH: So what am I, chopped kalamari? ;D

    SKULLHUNTER@203: What about one group advocating violence toward another group advocating violence? I don’t see any false equivalency there.

  180. Super Nate says:

    Sometimes I’ll see people with similar signs (not about soldiers, just homophobia) around campus or next to the entry for rock festivals. Our response has always been big “I’m with stupid” signs.

  181. bardfinn says:

    antinous:

    “Free speech, in the sense that it is defended here, is an adolescent meme. It is a fantasy of white, affluent, heterosexual males that they can say whatever they want whenever they want.”

    I have lost respect for you.

  182. The Lizardman says:

    @42

    I’ll agree to that but how would differentiate the two effectively for legislation. From a legal point of view I think it presents too great a challenge / potential for censorship abuse.

    As to your point further, I am not saying, in any way, that they should be prosecuted for disruptions under various other seemingly applicable statutes.

    • Antinous says:

      Free speech, in the sense that it is defended here, is an adolescent meme. It is a fantasy of white, affluent, heterosexual males that they can say whatever they want whenever they want. And yet, in reality, you can’t threaten someone, you can’t yell sexual suggestions at passing children, you can’t say a lot of things. Defending Fred Phelps is a prime example of door-slamming. You’ve drawn the line on free speech to protect your wife and your children, but you don’t want to move the line to protect people of color, Jews, Muslims or queers. You’re safe, so everybody else can just wait outside and deal with the KKK and the Nazis. Hate speech is an assault. You have chosen to defend the assailants. Shame on you.

  183. Takuan says:

    no you haven’t.

  184. Skullhunter says:

    PHIKUS,

    I can only speak for myself here, but I cannot logically equate a strong group threatening or attacking a weaker one with a weak group attacking a stronger group that has all ready made its intentions towards the weaker group plain.

    It’s all well and good to speak of tolerance and enlightenment values but it’s also a good idea to recognize when you’re essentially offering to slit your own throat out of courtesy. Do I think massive coordinated violence should be visited upon people like Phelps? No, they would surely use that as “proof” of the evil they’re ranting about. However I’m not going to get all bent out of shape if the WBC tries to show up at someone’s funeral and they find that somebody’s pulled all the valve stems on their vehicles’ tires. I’m not going to be upset if someone tears up their signs. While we engage in this relatively comfortable debate regarding free speech, folks like Phelps are busily promoting a social climate that has resulted in harassment, assault and murder. In that sense, Antinous is absolutely correct; many of us here are likely coming at this from a place of privilege. We DO have the ability to not be touched by this. Whether we exercise that ability or not we cannot pretend we don’t have it or that we have the same stake in this as those who can’t just step away from it. Again, I can only speak for myself with 100% certainty there, but I’m also pretty certain I’m not alone in that here.

    Also, solidarity doesn’t automatically command respect or deference. If you’re going to stand together with someone, either stand with them for THEM or go home. It’s not about you. It’s not about making you feel better about yourself, giving you street cred or any other self-serving ego masturbation. If you have to lash out regarding all the times you’ve stood up for people like they owe you something when someone hurts your precious little feelings, you’re doing it wrong.

  185. FoetusNail says:

    Be the one step.

  186. vintagecaveman says:

    I’m going to take the hipster route and bring a sign that says “God Hates ‘God Hates Signs’”

  187. The Unusual Suspect says:

    Takuan @ #147:

    Yes and no. Fred Sr. himself has been disbarred for this practice, but 11 of his 13 children are now lawyers, 9 of which are currently carrying on “the family business.” See:

    http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=247

  188. bwcbwc says:

    They weren’t getting enough action at the abortion clinics it looks like.

    WBC is going to have hell to pay when Johnny comes marching home. There are a lot of soldiers in the middle east right now who know what happened at their friends funerals over here and will not tolerate that kind of sh*t even in the name of free speech. They’ll find ways to get their point across. Using WBC as a latrine seems appropriate.

  189. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Got it. Everybody should have freedom of speech except Antinous.

  190. sfazzios says:

    @Antinous I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be angry. And I would certainly be angry if you were picketing with a ‘breeder’ sign (although not nearly as angry as the WBC makes me). And I definitely agree that anti-gay sentiment should be actively addressed. I simply believe that certain things should be outside the scope of politicians and cops. If you decide that you want to use the laws to regulate public protest, you may not end up liking the precedents that you setting.

    Furthermore, I entered this discussion a staunch supporter of gay rights. I remain a staunch supporter of gay rights. If I had been on the fence, your divisive language and the tone of your comments could have very well made me a more bigoted person. You may want to try being less counterproductive.

    (To avoid turning this discussion into a screaming match, this will be my last comment on this topic, although I’d still love to read some responses.)

  191. Sister Y says:

    #145 plenty of those dead-fetus-photo anti-abortion groups make their money this way as well.

    But, aside from making money for itself, there is a purpose for the WBC. The loud, hateful assholes are useful because they show us what the polite, hateful assholes are thinking. Every time I see someone with a “Yes on Prop 8″ bumper sticker or sign or t-shirt, I think of the WBC. I hope they see it themselves when they look in the mirror. Because, ultimately, there’s no reason to end same-sex marriage and destroy equal legal recognition for gay families unless being gay is somehow wrong – i.e., “god hates fags.”

  192. Takuan says:

    good link thanks!

    How about a class action lawsuit by all the victims of the WBC against the Kansas Bar Association for failing to restrain the WBC as is their clear duty?

  193. Takuan says:

    Mrsomuch: Long and well may she live.

  194. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    Sammich @40:

    anonymous @ 34 – isn’t ‘heteronormativity’ a bit of an oxymoron?

    In my opinion, no. There’s nothing in the stems themselves to say whether hetero or homo are normative, so it’s neither self-contradictory nor redundant. (If redundancy is desired, I suggest “orthonormative.”)

    • Antinous says:

      Heteronormative is linguistically ironic because its etymological meaning (different from the rule) is the opposite of its construed meaning.

  195. Takuan says:

    now why is it, do you suppose, that in a land awash with guns and cheap ammo, Phelps is still walking around with a nationwide police force that loathes him – and there is genuine mortal fear that Barrack Obama might yet be assassinated?

  196. The Lizardman says:

    Obviously (I hope) what I meant to say in #46 was that they should be prosecuted but I messed up my double negative

  197. WA says:

    @7, 43, and others: The WDC is very bizarre, and from my interpretations of things, it really does seem as though they want negative attention like legal challenges, counter-protests, flashmobs and violence against them. Because of this, I think that counterprotests are probably counterproductive: Phelps wants attention, and a clear sign of attention is a counterprotest, especially a large one.

    I don’t really think that there’s anyone outside the WBC that agrees with anything they say – even someone who hates homosexuality isn’t going to claim that it caused the deaths of completely unrelated soldiers – and as far as hate speech goes, I certainly don’t think that they’re effective at instigating hatred against anyone except themselves; it’s quite possible that this is actually their one of their goals.

    @44: The idea of a large group that just ignored the protesters and acted as though they weren’t there might be a good idea, but there is still the issue that it would make more of a newsworthy story than the WBC protest along.

    • Antinous says:

      even someone who hates homosexuality isn’t going to claim that it caused the deaths of completely unrelated soldiers

      I might buy that if I had never seen the picture of Jesus riding a dinosaur. Who would have believed twenty years ago that we would be having a civil war about teaching creationism in schools? These people recruit. There are millions of enraged, barely literate Americans just looking for trouble. It worries me that we don’t pay enough attention to what happened to Germany in the 30s. It could happen here.

  198. sammich says:

    Teresa – sorry ’bout that – I always understood ‘hetero’ to mean different, and I suppose I was applying woolly thinking to equate ‘norm’ with ‘same’.
    I apologize for spouting off without due intellectual rigour. I do do that more often than I ought to.

  199. sammich says:

    God Hates –
    2 Kings 2.23 – 24 – ‘And he went up from thence unto Beth-el: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them’

  200. The Unusual Suspect says:

    Sue a Bar Association?

    Bold plan, Takuan!

  201. The Lizardman says:

    @50

    Shame on you for sinking to the level of becoming an assailant. Even as cyncial as I am, I pity your cycincism for feeling that way about free speech.

    As for not protecting others, I am having a hard time responding without profanity so I am going to switch over to just reading from here on out but I have to say once again how baseless your statements are at least for me personally. I have defended all of those you list (and more) to the point of being beaten on more than one occassion. So, sincerely – fck y (I disemvoweled myself) from the bottom of my heart.

  202. Anonymous says:

    Free speech, maybe. Disturbing and disgusting, absolutely.
    To have an 8 yr old holding up hate signs is crazy.
    I heard a comedienne (Rosey O’Donnell maybe?) talking a few years back about Pat Robertson’s comment that AIDS was God showing anger towards gays. She said that lesbians have the lowest incidence of AIDS, even lower than straight men or women, and so therefore by the same logic, God loves the lesbians the most.
    Maybe we can bring signs to this effect to the rallies. “God loves lesbians more than straights” or something. Military STDS are very high too, so maybe “God hates the military” would be another good one.

  203. sammich says:

    Antinous @ 241 Cool! – I aspire to be heteronormative too! – I really do like it when my vocabulary expands =)

  204. JoelyWoely says:

    Free speech is an ideal, not an adolescent meme. Just because a right is imperfectly upheld doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aspire to perfection, and doesn’t mean we should drop all pretense of it when we’re infuriated.

  205. heydemann3 says:

    “They have no more right to do this under the free speech doctrine than I have to stand outside your house yelling obscenities about your mother”
    Actually, Antinious, you do have that right. I can stand in the street and scream insults to/about you all day and all night, and all you can get me for is being a public nuisance.
    I live in an area where the Nazi party liked to come and march once a year or so, because it’s a town full of Holocaust survivors and their children and grandchildren. They defended the marchers because they saw that restricting speech they didn’t like was worse than showing the marchers to be idiots. (There were a dozen marchers, 100′s of protesters and loads of cops. They (nazis)looked like the wankers they are behind their protective cordon)
    What happened to Matthew Shepard was appalling. Any assault in the name of hate is appalling. But automatically worse than an assault for owning a nicer watch? Being female?
    There are things for which there can be no functional legal remedy. Sometimes society needs to change.

  206. FoetusNail says:

    Truth is I’m pretty screwed up, may never overcome my failings, and it is only with great difficulty that I practice the smallest bit that I preach. But sometimes I succeed enough to enjoy this life of awareness with which I am blessed. On these few occasions, I disappear and catch a glimpse. And like the golfer who experiences the perfect swing, it is enough to keep me trying to connect these overwhelming glimpses, from stepping stones to path. Through it all, I try to remember, that as when walking in a fog it is only necessary to know each step. If each step is chosen with mindfulness and compassion then we will always arrive safely.

    Absolutely Sammich. I would only add fear, the affliction is fear.

  207. KanedaJones says:

    As anyone with even a half pint of logic can realize, and as presented to the public by Obama during his ‘let’s end racism’ speech, trying to mandate tolerance by force of law generates more harm by the resentment and bitterness it creates.

    however, not standing against people with hateful views DOES show a defacto tolerance and support of their hatred. Ignoring Phelps is supporting Phelps.

    that leaves us one option:

    making the pro tolerance arguement publicly and making it accessable to as many people who can see it is the best way. If advertisments can make you want to buy the worst products out there then ads can at least reach 3 out of every 10 racists. With no public support people like this go underground and continue to exist, but we can force them into a position where they have to fight ten times as hard to convince everyone of their followers.

    Side note – The ‘anon’ protests against scientology are broken up (I think in california at least) ’cause they didn’t have a permit to protest.

    its a sad day when you need paperwork in order to be able to gather outdoors in groups larger than five people.

    One would hope the WBC doesn’t get the paperwork in order before their protests but I am sure Phelps has thought of it, and it would only stop him once anyways.

  208. sammich says:

    Also, I’d like to thank BoingBoing and the Boingboing community for contributing to my ongoing education. We Live and Learn. (and then we die and forget it all – as the late great Richard Whiteley used to say…)
    Heck but it’s hard to convey sincerity online…

  209. bardfinn says:

    Thank God I’m a white heteronormative atheist privileged male, enjoying the fantasy of free speech.

    Every intellectual skill I ever employed can be called into question.

    Every political stance I’ve ever voiced will be ascribed to political correctness.

    All my research and advocacy are the products of a movement or agenda, and not the concerns of an individual person arrived at through reason.

    Where I agree with others, it is solely because we have conspired to do so, and not because we have independently come to our conclusions.

    I honestly enjoy seeing my expressed values – that the rights of individuals are more important than the smarmy adolescent roleplaying of a handful of deluded nuts, and that the government’s sole decision on what speech is acceptable and what is not shall be the incitement to a crime – as being less important than someone’s mental comfort – no, really, no matter what wing of political leaning it comes from.

    Thank God I can say that political liberals do not need a moral high ground and inherently know when and where to call for censorship – I might someday feel the need for a sense of community, and the knowledge that the people I identify with – or who are identified with me – share my values.

    All the years of fighting Hammerskins, Skinheads, Neo-Nazis, Dominionists – by telling people that their very tactics of resorting to force where their arguments fail – that those undermine the American way of life and the American government and the rights of individuals, and make them no better than petty thugs – I certainly am glad that I am forced to choose between years of advocacy for what I believe in

    and the respect of someone who wields mod power over me in a conversation on free speech, and

    I do so cherish the lingering question of what that mod will do – that moderator who exercises power in one dimension and one dimension only over me – when my words, in this forum, offend particularly.

  210. sammich says:

    Foetusnail @243 – it all condenses down to fear in the end – the best way i’ve found to disentangle it all is to talk to people.
    Talk to people at bus stops, talk to people in shops, talk to people on trains. Little by little we begin to understand that we’re basically all the same.

  211. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator says:

    So perfection is a world in which everybody has to pretend they aren’t upset by “God Hates Fags” — not an effort for most straights; quite a bit harder for gays — but “breeder” is an outrage, and a comment questioning the contextless absolute perfection of “free speech” in all circumstances is so intolerable that it justifies stomping out in a huff?

    Please feel encouraged to explain that one. I promise I’ll be interested.

  212. Takuan says:

    they have to respond. And they have to consider their image. All judges used to be lawyers too.

  213. Takuan says:

    Lizardman, Antinous, please. What are you doing?
    Is the venom of Phelps so toxic?

  214. dbarak says:

    Fred Phelps and his followers are looking for attention, it’s that simple. The ONLY thing they get out of their antics is attention. Ignoring them, as much as is practical, is the best way to fight them. With no audience, they’ll get bored and pack up.

    We have a similar thing going on here in California. A yes vote on Proposition 8 will revoke the right of gays to marry, and in the town I live in, groups of Yes on 8 supporters occupy the corners of busy intersections, displaying their signs and waving at passing traffic. I’ve been flipping them off whenever I see them, but this thread has made me realize I’m just feeding them. If they get no reaction from anyone, they’ll probably go home.

  215. The Unusual Suspect says:

    Sister Y, I just wonder how many among the WBC’s congregation realize that the reason why the Phelps family pushes them to these extremes is to provoke actions that the Phelps family can win lawsuits over.

  216. demidan says:

    “Though I disagree with what you say, I will fight to the death your right to say it”

  217. Phikus says:

    MRSOMUCH@249: Thanks. I’m feelin’ the love now. =D

    SKULLHUNTER@248: History is full of folks painting a picture of all manner of atrocities and ascribing it to a “them” and then drumming up all kinds of rhetoric in a call to arms to break down our basic decency and inhibitions about doing harm to our brothers and sisters in the effort to wage war. Everyone has a right to defend themselves, but you cross that line when you say that “they” are beneath compassion and therefore worthy of all manner of vitriol, and those that do not heed our call deserve the same. That is exactly how the world got into such a mess.

    No definition of compassion I have ever heard ring true excludes empathy for other humans, nor is it above forgiveness. (Pity, in the sense I have invoked it is simply the melting point of hatred.) This compassion of which I speak is no mere platitude preached from a distance but real world philosophy hard earned in my personal experience that can be practiced at every level of your life and dealings with others. When you throw out the golden rule you step onto a slippery slope. When you trivialize my own feelings and actions you are making it a personal attack. I don’t ascribe murder for ANYONE unless there is no other way in the moment to defend the taking of lives. These circumstances are far less common than many would have you believe in jingoistic lockstep. In my book, defending your own life does not include taking aggression to “them.” Forced removal from your presence is never going to solve the problem, as others have pointed out above. There will always be more to take their place unless you rise above their pettiness and make it ridiculous for them to continue to hold such views in a society that is evolving beyond such fear-based mentalities. Take away their power by not feeding it with your own hate.

    I can see that you are deeply entrenched in your views and that we could go back and forth on this forever without swaying one another, so I will leave it at this: Hearts and minds will never be won over with a boot to the face. And no matter what your personal experience has been, nothing justifies painting your enemy with broad strokes and advocating their extinction. Can we not agree that their stance is indefensible by any standard of decency and leave it at that? We each may have our own tactics in fighting the same war, a battle against intolerance and ignorance. I hope that you do not become just as much of a monster in your zeal, but if you do, I will always have compassion for you and defend your right to voice your opinion until you start breaking down my door.

  218. Talia says:

    Antonius, these people are a tiny, annoying super minority. As someone else said, virtually everyone agrees they’re idiots.

    • Antinous says:

      virtually everyone agrees they’re idiots.

      Millions of Americans agree with them. Not about the military part, but certainly about the ‘God Hates Fags’ part. They used to do this at funerals for people who died of AIDS. Before they targeted the military, they had a lot of silent agreement. And not much publicity. These people influence other people. They provoke violence. They are not harmless.

      And since Takuan is bombarding me with e-mails to clarify my position on free speech: this is not a free speech issue. Free speech always exists on a continuum and we choose to draw a line somewhere. They can put whatever they want on their website or their newsletter. When they take it to the streets or disrupt a funeral, it is an assault. They have no more right to do this under the free speech doctrine than I have to stand outside your house yelling obscenities about your mother. There is a line, and right now that line leaves a lot of us outside in the shooting gallery.

  219. Takuan says:

    bard; what do you wreak here?

  220. Talia says:

    There’s only one way to solve this debate, people.

    Jello wrestling. Have at it

  221. Anonymous says:

    Freedom of speech is great and it belongs to all Americans, which means we have the right to let the Westboro Baptist Church know how we feel, as a group and at their church and in front of their homes all within the confines of the law of course. So let’s. There must be someone in Topeka Kansas that has the guts and energy to pull together a group of like minded people to picket the church and homes of these people, make their lives the living hell they have created for others. and don’t stop there, use legal means to try to have the children taken away, it shouldn’t be hard to prove these are unfit parents.
    Good luck and stay angry.

  222. elguapostrikes says:

    Download Ron and Fez interviews of the Westboro Baptist Church from ronfez.net. They play along with the WBC resulting in a totally unique look at these asshats. Priceless.

  223. Phikus says:

    Look, go back and re-read the sign. Clearly it says GOD HATES REDISTRIBUTORS! You people just see what you want to see, don’t you?
    ___

    Seriously though, gentlemen: Calm yourselves. Thanks.

  224. remmelt says:

    “The critical test of freedom of expression is the right of others to speak out on behalf of what we believe to be wrong.”

  225. Takuan says:

    good bye, Demidan

  226. bardfinn says:

    Takuan: Antinous (presumedly) believes that, (because he) has stated that:

    WBC members should be forcibly silenced because of the content of their message and their method of delivery, (which carefully toes the line of infinging upon the rights of others) despite the fact that they’ve repeatedly been shown to /not/ advocate crimes nor violence, simply because it emboldens those who would hypothetically commit crimes or violence in the name of religion;

    “Free speech, in the sense that it is defended here, is an adolescent meme. It is a fantasy of white, affluent, heterosexual males that they can say whatever they want whenever they want.” –

    ironically coming from someone in a forum on a topic on free speech in a community who is, in the only meaningful way, capable of exercising power over the speech (by fiat) of I and others. The specter of how he may arbitrarily choose, in the future, to exercise the power-imbalance he holds over myself and others (purely because he is particularly offended by the content of our speech) will forever colour our interactions. I don’t know what will and what won’t offend him, particularly.

    I disagree with his position vehemently – thus the sarcasm along the lines of “Thank God I’m Privileged (white, heteronormative, and male), otherwise someone might value and respect me as an individual and I don’t want that.” – despite the fact that I am not white, not black, nor Native American in any meaningful fashion in this community but merely sentient – the only gauge that may be taken in writing and intellectual endeavours.

    Despite the fact that I am not white, not heteronormative, not “male” in the Western traditional role sense but only in the genetic, I am unfairly stereotyped as such for holding as far more precious the right of an individual to speak their mind over and above the fact that it may, or may not, offend one particular person or identity.

    Phelps has a hateful and wrong message. He assiduously abuses and toes the line of the proper right of freedom of expression. I despise him and his ilk and know them for the drama junkies they are.

    The mere existence of someone who abuses a legitimate system is not grounds for the revocation of that legitimate system, whether it is people pirating television shows on BetaMax cartridges or kids ripping off studios on Napster or Phelps roleplaying human shite in public. It’s not theirs to take away. It is unfair and wrong when a teacher punishes an entire classroom with loss of recess because someone threw a paper airplane and no-one confesses, it’s unfair and wrong when a Chief Executive Officer of a government appropriates the ability to arbitrarily jail anyone without recourse to the Rule of Law by simply calling them a “Terrorist”.

    There is a set of values that is often espoused, values common to freedom and liberty and equality. They come from someplace.

    I know that the answer to a bad idea is never censorship, but rather a better argument.

  227. JoelyWoely says:

    “So perfection is a world in which everybody has to pretend they aren’t upset by ‘God Hates Fags’”
    There’s a distinction between “this pisses me off” and “lock this fucker up”. Likewise, there’s a distinction between “this guy’s a douche, but I defend his right to be one” and “I’m down with freddie phelps”.

    “but ‘breeder’ is an outrage”
    No it’s not. Who even implied that?

    “and a comment questioning the contextless absolute perfection of ‘free speech’ in all circumstances is so intolerable that it justifies stomping out in a huff?”
    Considering the current state of affairs, I think it makes sense to take threats against freedom of speech more seriously than the WBC.

  228. GoldMatenes says:

    Here’s how it works, okay?

    You have a RIGHT to free speech.
    Your right is revoked the moment it infringes upon the rights of another.

    I do not have to be tolerant of intolerance.

    …wait.

    ‘GOD HATES WHAT I HATE!’ signs!

  229. The Lizardman says:

    @58

    I wasn’t stomping out in a huff, I was making a personal judgement that it was not productive for me to continue on when most of what came to mind reading other posts was profane tirades. I am responding to your post because I can do so without wanting to go on such a tirade.

    A perfect world is not one where we pretend it doesn’t upset to hear those words – no one is saying that you shouldn’t be upset by those words, in fact I think you should be upset (I am) but I also think that those words should be allowed to be spoken. I think it is more dangerous to censor them partially because then the smarter bigots hide themselves (as some already do) making it harder for us to find them and discredit them. Also, anything censored gains a certain credibility among some groups – which is recruitment tool for hate groups preying on those already disenfranchised on other fronts.

  230. The Unusual Suspect says:

    Takuan, to sue a bar association, you’d have to do so without a lawyer, I’m guessing.

    After all, any lawyer entitled to bring suit in a given jurisdiction must necessarily be a member of the bar for that jurisdiction, no?

    So your lawyer would therefore be suing himself, which would be a conflict of interest.

    (Disclaimer: IANAL. For one thing, I love the law too much.)

  231. Phikus says:

    SKULLHUNTER@237: Who pissed in your wheaties today? You assume much in your haste to shoot down my expression of empathy and solidarity just because I have serious doubts that jumping on your bandwagon of reciprocal hate is going to solve anything. If I were one of these nut-jobs, I’d be laughing myself silly about how much effect I have had, sending these non-believers into a tizzy over my hate souffle. Please do yourself a favor and grow up and stop participating in the bush-like doctrine of “If you ain’t with us, yer against us!” This is not helping us get anywhere as a species.

    You become what you resist, so compassion is the only way out of this trap, even for the evil fucks of the world who may seem the least worthy of deserving it. I am also not alone in expressing here in this thread that giving these bastards no attention and focusing instead on trying to enlighten others around you is the best way to remove their power. Be the Bodhisattva / Mr T. and pity the fools. To be intolerant of their intolerance leaves us all in eternally escalating divisiveness. You give up all higher ground when you stoop to the level of your enemy.

  232. zuzu says:

    I disagree with what you say but I will defend to death your right to say it.

    That said, the problem with criminalizing “hate speech” is that it’s akin to thoughtcrime. Free Speech must be an absolute, but people are also responsible for their speech. And not everyone’s opinion is equally valuable; the opinion of the haters matters not at all.

    Though I throw around “breeder” all the time. :)

    Anyway, there is actually no God. This is typical transference; a ruse to divert the guilt of admitting that they have unexamined hate issues.

    We have a similar thing going on here in California. A yes vote on Proposition 8 will revoke the right of gays to marry, and in the town I live in, groups of Yes on 8 supporters occupy the corners of busy intersections,

    I wish there was a proposition against marriage licenses completely. Get the state out of people’s personal lives.

    At the same time, I can’t fathom how “marriage” vs. “civil unions” doesn’t clearly smack everyone else of “separate but equal” hogwash all over again.

  233. Takuan says:

    take it the moderation thread,Harsh, and bring your evidence.

  234. ethancoop says:

    Jello? No, no. Twice used anal lube.

  235. mouthyb says:

    Funny story. Totally true. From the Albuquerque appearance of the WBC idiot patrol.

    A friend of mine decided to show up to the counter-protest. He’s a utterly awesome, 5 foot nothing Satanist. He gets dressed up, charges up his mohawks, and decides to leave off the glasses because they conflict with what he’s trying to go for. So he’s dressed in his ‘Satan loves you’ best, but can’t see too far. He walks out to Central, sees a crowd of people with his unfocused vision, and goes to mingle and wait for the WBC people to show. He’s getting a weird feel from the crowd, but he figures it’s because satanists make everyone uncomfortable, so he ignores it until he happens to glance up at one of the signs.

    He then realizes he’s standing in the middle of the WBC protest group. Realizing that he has, in fact, hit the gold mine of all opportunities to offend, he decides to take advantage of the fact that he is roughly central in the crowd.

    He makes his way out of the crowd, caressing the fannies of the men in the group and making kissy-faces and obscene gestures at them when they turn. And reminding them that Satan loves them. Then he joins the group across the street, protesting the WBC and feeling pretty farking good about the whole thing.

    I almost peed my pants when he told me that story. I laughed so hard I fell down. I wish I had known they were coming, because I would have had to volunteer myself for a little girl on girl action and protest. Not that I’m not ordinarily a fan of girls, but I’m just immature enough to feel like that would have made it better.

    I know, I know. I’m like five on the inside.

  236. Takuan says:

    now that I can understand

  237. FoetusNail says:

    I’m intolerant of tolerance.

    Tolerance, a temporary cease-fire in the war of hate.
    Tolerance, the last bastion of bigots.
    Tolerance, a poor substitute for just about everything else.
    Tolerance does not require understanding, is not the product of empathy, and does not promote respect or equality.

  238. Phikus says:

    Teresa@238: Please point out where you believe anyone in this thread tried to curtail Antinous’ freedom of speech. I’m having trouble seeing the target of your sarcasm. Thanks.

  239. Talia says:

    #66 antinous: no, you’re not correct. This most certainly IS a free speech issue. I mean if you start censoring people just for being assholes.. well.. that’s opening a door you probably dont want to open.

    “Before they targeted the military, they had a lot of silent agreement”

    Do you have proof of this, or is it just a gut feeling?

    I’m not defending these guys, but I’m pretty confident they’re not as big a threat as you seem to think.

    Anyway, I’m relatively certain one of these days they’re going to piss off the wrong person and wind up the wrong end of a gun. There’s only so long you go around acting like an evil sonofabitch before someone snaps.

    and yeah there are a lot of bigots who use their religion as an excuse to be bigoted. However, their point of view tends to be “God loves everyone, even sinners.” so you cant go to heaven if you’re gay, in their mind, but god loves you anyway. Still bigotry, but not quite as virulent as these pieces of crap

    • Antinous says:

      I’m not defending these guys

      Yes, you are.

      I’m relatively certain one of these days they’re going to piss off the wrong person and wind up the wrong end of a gun

      No. What’s really going to happen is Matthew Shepard. In the real world, you trivialize Fred Phelps and he inspires people to go out and kill fags. That’s what really happens. It happens all the time. Look up the number of anti-gay hate crimes and compare it to the number of anti-evangelical hate crimes. That’s reality.

  240. Takuan says:

    you gay Ethan? cuz if you ain’t…

  241. zuzu says:

    They have no more right to do this under the free speech doctrine than I have to stand outside your house yelling obscenities about your mother. There is a line, and right now that line leaves a lot of us outside in the shooting gallery.

    “Your freedom ends where my nose begins.”

  242. Anonymous says:

    It really scares me thinking that the child above might be gay. Wouldn’t that be something? Could you imagine the amount of brain washing that kid would be put through. *Shudder*

    Much like with the civil rights movement, I believe more in the abilities of MLK then Malcolm X. There may always be hateful, stupid people using the bible to perpetuate hate and disrespect (I find this to be SO ironic–hating people who Jesus would have embraced…LOL. “Jesus loves everyone! Except you, you’re going to hell”?! It’s the stupidest thing…they are totally missing the point–and probably will be the ones going to hell–with all the other redneck narrow minded a-holes. It’s an irony I just can’t help but point out!). Just like there may always be racist Assholes like the KKK. But when a community of people, gays, lesbians, heterosexuals (who aren’t bigots–yes we do exist! So please don’t lump me in with those hate-mongers), can come together and force the issue to the legislature, and really make themselves heard you can force change when necessary. I think we’re in the beginning of the “Gay civil rights” movement.

    I embrace freedom of speech. But people are right to say that freedom of speech is not all encompassing. If you lived in D.C. it is against the law to say something like “someone should shoot Bush and get it over with” because they realize that having someone whose a threat to the president (real or not) in Washington isn’t a good idea! Just like no one tolerates swasticas or other taboo hate messages. The government is required to step in when necessary. If they didn’t there would be a lot more unacceptable hateful stupid shit going down. It’s not that it doesn’t happen because “American’s are such good people” we’ve all seen the coverage on CNN showing crazy right winger’s accusing Obama of being Muslim–why?!! Because of his last name??? So we know there’s a lot of ignorant stupid people who don’t want to be informed or understanding. It’s because it’s been made legally and eventually socially unacceptable to do certain forms of hateful crap.

    A funeral is not the correct forum for protests–hands down. No matter the cause. That should be prevented by law.

    Marriage is a legally binding state–as far as the government is concerned. I don’t care what your religion says, or what the bible actually doesn’t spell out–it doesn’t matter to me. Fact of the matter is America is NOT a church state! (and I thank God for that every day! LOL) Marriage is a contract between two people–and assuming they are both of age–they receive all the benefits of that contract. Health coverage, right of inheritance, bills–all the good, all the bad. It should have nothing to do with your religion in the eyes of the federal government. This should not have to be legislated–however, since people have such a narrow definition in their little automaton brains, sometimes the government has to make a rule that says it’s okay. Like abortion or equal rights or patients rights.

    If left to it’s own devices the capitalist, republican system would eat it’s self to death. States rights are only as good as the state in which one lives and if we get right down to it, there are a lot of stupid a-holes and appathetics in our country who would not do the right thing at crunch time (see wall st. collapse). So as great as freedom of speech is (it let me write this rambling rant) I say lead with the law and society will follow–just like with all other positive change in this country.

    Thanks for listening!

  243. zuzu says:

    Jello? No, no. Twice used anal lube.

    I believe you are referring to Santorum. :D

  244. Beedie says:

    You’re kidding. Ron and Fez interviewed WBC members? That’s awesome! On my way to listen now…

  245. Sis B says:

    #58 Just because those folks have a right to say it doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t be upset by it. Quite the contrary–”God hates fags” affects me only slightly less than “Thank God for dead soldiers”. I’m a “breeder” (find no offense to the term, in fact I use it to describe myself), I have one dead gay brother, one live gay brother and I’m an Army wife of a deployed infantryman. I attend the memorial services that are protested by these asswipes. They offend me, anger me, and bring me to tears when I drive by.

    HOWEVER, they still have a right to say what they say. I want absolutely no government regulation stopping them. What is extraordinary about the whole situation is the community outpouring of support. Society agrees on its own that their behavior is unacceptable and finds ways to correct it (whether by the Patriot Guard or angel wings or flash mobs). I would rather stand up on my own and defend my brothers and sisters than to increase the power of the government by allowing them to do it for me.

  246. zikzak says:

    “Hate speech” is a bad term, in my opinion, because it gives the impression that expressing hate is illegal or worthy of government regulation.

    I’d more accurately call it “terrifying speech” or, (if the term weren’t already taken by jingoists) “terror speech”. Because the problem with the speech isn’t that it’s hateful, it’s that it causes people (reasonable people) to feel in a very real and immediate way like their safety is in danger. Making a credible threat against someone’s life, it’s almost universally agreed, is considered a form of violence. The problem is that the speech causes people to be terrified for their lives, not that their feelings are hurt from being hated.

    Hateful speech should never be illegal or regulated, because people’s feelings or sensibilities are not worthy of that level of protection. Truly terrifying speech, however, should be, since it is essentially a form of violence.

    Now, where to draw the line between these two? What constitutes a “reasonable” fear for safety? These are not clear questions, and the best we can do is to ask that people try to be reasonable and considerate of all parties when deciding.

  247. FoetusNail says:

    That people submitting comments on this site, who are obviously intelligent, continue to state they don’t know which comments will be disemvoweled or unpublished, especially after being disemvoweled on many occasions, is baffling and unbelievable.

    Richard Petty when asked why he had had so many crashes responded, you don’t know where the line is until you have crossed it, or something to that effect.

    Well, how many times does anyone need to be disemvoweled to know where the mods dry the line?

  248. The Lizardman says:

    As a matter of clarification then.

    I have only said they should have the right to ‘say’ these things and not to the manner (disruptions) in which they are choosing to say them. Actually, I pointed out (after correcting a failed double negative) that I think they should be prosecuted under other statutes – eg get them for public disturbances, etc but not for hate speech. The problem is that if they behave (and I doubt they do) according to the legal guidelines for any other gathering (parade, protest, etc) then going after them would appear to be based solely on the nature of the message which is abhorrent but should not be, IMO, illegal. For Antinous (or anyone else) to imply that my willingness to allow them this speech comes from a removed place of privilege with no knowledge of how my blood has been spilled in defense of gay (and others) rights is incredibly offensive and infuriating to me.

  249. Talia says:

    #70

    hahaha. Your friend is awesome. I wish I knew him.

  250. Skullhunter says:

    PHIKUS,

    The level of the enemy is bombings, shootings, rapes, blindside attacks, gang-beatings, lynchings, cross-burnings, slander, libel, blackmail and the like. Discussing a shift from what I feel to be a naively idealistic “We can change them if we just show them unflinching compassion” idea is not a call to mirror their tactics. A suggestion that people who involve themselves in the struggle of others should make sure that it’s about how they can help those other people and not about their own sense of self-importance certainly isn’t “bush-like doctrine”. And those nut-jobs don’t care about how their hate souffle makes you, me, or anyone else feel unless that feeling is fear. They don’t congratulate themselves when someone gets all bent on a BB posting. They congratulate themselves when someone moves out of their town, or when someone doesn’t feel safe holding their partner’s hand in public, or when those partners are relegated to second-class citizen status by law, or when someone ends up dead because of their rhetoric. They aren’t doing this to upset people or make them feel bad. They’re doing this because they viscerally hate the people that are the targets of their bile and they want them to suffer.

    “You become what you resist” please spare me the sweetness-and-light fluffy bunny nonsense. You find me one bootboy who’ll turn into a weeping puddle of emotion at a show of compassion and I’ll find you ten more besides that’ll meet that show of compassion with a crowbar. I am not saying that compassion has no value whatsoever. I am saying that it is not the One True Way. I am saying that it is but one tactic that can be used to counter this ignorance but on its own it cannot stand. Many of the people we’re talking about here have been indoctrinated to see compassion as another weakness and weakness as something to be purged, violently purged, from their world. It’s not that they don’t possess the capacity for it. They’ve been taught NOT to display it. They’ve been taught to attack those who do display it, even among their own ranks.

    As far as not paying attention to them, see the above regarding whether they care how anyone feels. It’s not about attention either. They’re not children drawing on the walls because they didn’t get a cookie. Sure, some of them like to see themselves on the news. Some of them like to stir people up. That is secondary to their Cause, whatever it may be, and drawing people to that Cause. They don’t recruit by getting press. They casually network with other people and see how many they can find of like mind and see how many others they can push over to their side of the fence. They infiltrate other movements and try to draw people away from them. You don’t counter that by ignoring them. Yes, you educate and enlighten others. You also expose them where you find them. You call them out and tear their rhetoric to shreds. You ridicule their ideas, as they are eminently ridiculous. If they attack those around you, you defend those around you. You don’t rely on just one tactic because they can and will work around it.

    You want to take this as an attack on you, that’s fine. It’s not. It’s a sincere desire to not see more people get themselves hurt or worse over doctrinal inflexibility and an admirable but ultimately untenable belief that the shining light of their compassion can heal the afflicted. They’re not diseased. They’re not possessed. They’re human. Magical thinking isn’t going to fix them. You think being a better person than them requires some special effort? If you don’t think they should all be violently murdered or expelled from the country, congratulations, you’re a better person. No Bodhisattva-ness required. Now is there any chance that we can maybe get past false dichotomy of “Anything that isn’t blind compassion is reciprocal hatred”?

  251. Roach says:

    I was going to make a lighthearted joke about Tesla, but apparently I stepped into the middle of a pretty huge discussion, and about things I find interesting to boot.

    As a Christian, I find the very idea that ‘God Hates’ is the most disturbing thing about their church. They’ve reversed the most important and divine virtue of Christianity, love, and even when confronted about this by a cretin like Sean Hannity were incapable of admitting their error. I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point, like most white supremacist groups, they reject Christianity entirely because it’s too nice and weak for their real goals. And it’s not just homosexuals that they hate, although that’s their favorite target. Just watch one of their vidoes (if you can stomach it) and you’ll find out they hate Catholics, Muslims, Jews, the gov’t, the army, and a whole slew of races. As I’m in multiple categories of the people they hate, I find myself pretty well personally attacked and offended by the WBC.

    Also, Theresa, I don’t think anyone said that they weren’t upset by the signs. I’m fairly sure everyone here is outraged by the content and said so. They’re just not upset that our government lets them protest (within reasonable limits, as they have been ruled against at least once). The use of breeder might also be a bit more of an outrage because most of us think it beneath Antinous’ level (and as a member of the moderator staff here). Also, it was specifically pointed as an insulting term at another poster here, one who had not leveled anything close to that amount of insult at Antinous. Certainly it was meant for effect, but even when that poster and others attempted to explain his point Antinous ignored it. Were anyone in here leveling the horrifying term “fag” at anyone I have no doubt that it would be considered an outrage (although I do not mean to make the two terms equivalent). It’s all well and good to be offended at what one believes are “the good who stand by and do nothing,” but a hateful term leveled at a poster here by a member of the moderator staff at Boing Boing might qualify as a minor outrage. Since it’s your site, as is often said, I can’t get too up in arms; but that might explain something of the difference.

    To Antinous: which would be more likely to lead to a (Godwin-invoking) repetition of Germany in the 30s – the millions of subliterate, hostile Americans or the increase of open government repression of small groups that other segments of the populace don’t like? At the very least, I hope we can agree that both are dangerous and that one is not the acceptable solution for the other. If the latter is not what you were suggesting, then I apologize.

    I also think it should be noted (as Takuan obliquely did) that these people are a ‘church’ only in name, or in the sense of one building. They’re by no means a movement nor do they have much success recruiting. I believe 95-100% of those in the Westboro Baptist Church are related either by blood or by marriage (and after seeing some of them in interviews, I’m pretty sure the blood has something wrong with it). Yet I would guess they’ve been featured on more news stations, articles and blog posts than any but the largest churches – and it’s what they want, as they intentionally court publicity, sinful pride be damned. Humanity loves a circus. Focusing on the WBC, however, ignores the very real (and often quite different in substantive ways) population that Antinous mentioned – and treating them all like the WBC will only alienate them further and make them more dangerous.

  252. mrsomuch says:

    Phikus@218 – :-P yeah yeah, I love you too!

    Theresa@238 – Got it. Irony.

  253. t.a. adjuster says:

    I want to post something, but being a that I’m a white, middle-class, heterosexual male, I keep worrying that I’m not allowed to have much of any opinion about this, here in boingboing’s house. I feel as though if I’m not carrying a “GOD HATES PEOPLE WHO SAY THAT GOD HATES FAGS” sign, Antinous is going to accuse me of ‘assault’ while tearing up whatever sign I *am* holding and telling me that this isn’t about free speech. That really makes it hard to have any kind of substantive discussion.

    I really dislike these religious nutjob idiots, their protests, and how they poison the minds of their ‘followers’. Frankly. they scare the hell out of me. I’d even go so far as to say that I think they’re scheming to grab enough power, ultimately, to round up the “undesirables” (including me, what w/ my not believing in their ‘god’ and all) and kill us off. (Believe me, I feel like a bit of a nut myself for saying that, but it seems more and more a real possibility each day.)

    For all that these idiots scare and infuriate me, I won’t stoop to their level by being physically violent to them (which is infantile), or by working to get them legislated out of existence.

    If we want these idiots to go away, I think we have work to change the hearts and minds of the people who choose to be part of these groups, and, as a society, do our best to ignore (and marginalize) the ones who won’t change. No amount of physical intimidation or legislation is going to make them disappear. The last thing I’d want to do, frankly, is to “drive them underground”.

    (Sure, sure– I suppose we could round *them* up and kill them off, but then what would we be?)

    The picture that Mark posted is, indeed, a “wonderful thing”. I got a bit of a laugh out of it, and I thought that it summed up a great attitude to have with these nutjobs. The rest of this is just depressing and sad.

  254. Talia says:

    The term breeder doesn’t offend me either. Although I’m curious enough about it I might start a discussion thread elsewhere on the subject, see what other people think.

  255. Takuan says:

    good, we all know who we are now. Can we get pointed in the same direction,please?

  256. FoetusNail says:

    Bardfinn, as usual you are almost right.
    ———————–
    I predict that using functional MRI we will eventually map the regions of the brain that explain our capacity to believe just about any silly ass crap our delusional hateful parents or intolerant churches tell us. While obviously an important evolutionary trait, the exploitation of this ability is abuse. So, I also believe these MRI’s will prove the damage done to children’s minds is little different than the abuse of neglect. In more egregious cases this information may even be used as evidence of abuse just as any other medical report documenting physical abuse.

    Meanwhile I am raising my children without exposing them to this crap, other to explain this capacity to believe and the various ways people’s lives are controled or ruined by baseless beliefs.

  257. Stumpadoodle says:

    Anyone against this on the grounds of “free speech” forgets the entire purpose of protecting that right: discourse and progression. Survival of the fittest ideas. If you’re going to be allowed to freely speak in a certain way, expect there to be someone attempting to freely speak against (and in these instances, over) you.

    This is not a government action against the rights of a group of individuals to speak. This is not a politically organized suppression of the ideas of a religious group. This is simply the beautiful Darwinism of memetics taking its course; humanity attempting mock and effectively diminish its own weakest links.

  258. Takuan says:

    read it again and think.

    “The definition is: wanting others to be free from suffering.
    This compassion happens when one feels sorry with someone, and one feels an urge to help.
    The near enemy is pity, which keeps other at a distance, and does not urge one to help.
    The opposite is wanting others to suffer, or cruelty.
    A result which one needs to avoid is sentimentality.
    Compassion thus refers to an unselfish, de-tached emotion which gives one a sense of urgency in wanting to help others. From a Buddhist perspective, helping others to reduce their physical or mental suffering is very good, but the ultimate goal is to extinguish all suffering by stopping the process of rebirth and the suffering that automatically comes with living (enlightenment).”

    suppose a tiger wants to eat you. Does this compassion described require you climb into its mouth?

  259. Jardine says:

    I love this clip from Michael Moore’s The Awful Truth where he brings a bunch of gay guys in the Sodommobile to meet Phelps and his bunch. Twice.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABH_RFeeGAs

  260. Skullhunter says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that kids downloading music with filesharing programs and suchlike are not really equivalent a group purposely encouraging violent action or at least callous disregard for other people simply because of who those other people love.

    Seriously. Let’s drop the false equivalency for a moment. Saying “Hey, maybe free speech isn’t a suicide pact” is not like the President bandying the word “terrorist” about to describe anyone who disagrees with his policies. It is not like coming up with a new scare term like “ecoterrorist” to create negative and frightening connotations.

    And to everybody that’s suddenly whining about the “breeder” thing, well, get over it. I’m a breeder. It doesn’t bother me to hear it because I realize that despite my support for the LGBT community and other minority communities in this country and whatever attendant abuse may come my way as a result, my experience doesn’t compare to theirs. I have the option to just walk away at any time and likely never be the target of such abuse in the future. Just because I won’t take it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Other folks don’t have that option, so I’m sure as hell not going to cry about someone using the word “breeder”.

  261. Talia says:

    Antinous, I think perhaps we’ll just have to agree to disagree. We’re both convinced each other is wrong, and there’s no real room for middle ground, I think. For the world’s sake, I hope you’re wrong and I’m right.

    And no, I was NOT defending them. :P I’m defending the principles behind the concept of freedom of speech, which still applies even to douchebag scumbags.

    Also antinous if it helps reassure you.. the WBC has pissed off the MILITARY, which is a HUGE force among the contingent who might otherwise be more accepting of them.

    One thing that will absolutely, 100% kill you in, for instance, politics, is insulting the military. Its a huge symbol of everything the country stands for, which gets those of us with nationalistic tendencies all worked up into an uber-patriotic frenzy.

  262. Takuan says:

    any person posting here is subject to the local standards, as published and continually evolved and explained. As the Moderation Guidelines explicitly say,community moderation is the ideal pursued. Any official Moderators are answerable to their conscience, each other and ultimately Teresa – who wears the uneasy crown of Mod in Chief. Teresa is answerable to the Boinger Council. They in turn answer to their own conscience and their readership.
    If you feel genuinely aggrieved by anything Antinous has done, you have your avenues of redress.
    If you are saying you fear what Antinous MIGHT do, you are not acting in good faith yourself and also insult the integrity of this community. Do you really feel a rogue Mod acting on personal caprice would be tolerated? I enjoin you again to make peace.

  263. stegodon says:

    “I’m against protesting but I don’t know how to show it” – Mitch Hedberg.

  264. The Lizardman says:

    @238

    I don’t want him silenced but I will punch him in the nose before we jointly beat the hell out of the of the WBC

  265. zuzu says:

    In the real world, you trivialize Fred Phelps and he inspires people to go out and kill fags. That’s what really happens. It happens all the time. Look up the number of anti-gay hate crimes and compare it to the number of anti-evangelical hate crimes. That’s reality.

    The problem is murder and assault. Intention should not be brought into the law.

    Just watch one of their vidoes (if you can stomach it) and you’ll find out they hate Catholics, Muslims, Jews, the gov’t, the army, and a whole slew of races. As I’m in multiple categories of the people they hate, I find myself pretty well personally attacked and offended by the WBC.

    Reading the forums on Stormfront can be fascinatingly creepy as well… as a “pilgrim in an unholy land” as Dr. Jones Sr. said. Then again, I used to watch Faces of Death as a kid.

  266. yareallythinkso says:

    I was in Topeka over Labor Day weekend. As I was
    taking my 5 year old daughter to breakfast, I saw
    some of “Reverend” phelp’s congregation doing their thing. They were standing outside of the park where the Topeka Zoo is located. There were one or two adults…and about 8-10 kids, ranging in age from 14 or so…down to a toddler. Adults…hate if you want to, that’s your choice, but don’t involve children in your stupidity.

    I was so glad that my daughter couldn’t read the signs. A man THAT filled with hate…and a group of people THAT blind to follow him…they don’t deserve to be called a church…it’s a CULT.

  267. zuzu says:

    I love this clip from Michael Moore’s The Awful Truth where he brings a bunch of gay guys in the Sodommobile to meet Phelps and his bunch. Twice.

    Michael Moore is so much better in his short format TV Nation / Awful Truth than his “documentaries”. They’re more like the comedy done on The Daily Show, rather than agitprop pablum.

    “I’m against protesting but I don’t know how to show it” – Mitch Hedberg.

    LOL. Now this is a movement I can get behind.

  268. Phikus says:

    SKULLHUNTER@289: So I somehow misread you when you said, @248: “If you don’t think they should all be violently murdered or expelled from the country, congratulations, you’re a better person.”?

  269. franko says:

    last i heard, god hated reno, so this twist is news to me: http://www.godhatesreno.com/?cat=15

  270. zuzu says:

    I’m lactose intolerant. I have no patience for lactose, and I won’t stand for it.

    :p

  271. bardfinn says:

    foetusnail:

    To my knowledge, I have only ever been disemvowelled once, when responding to someone apologising for Sarah Palin’s behaviour. So, I don’t have much of a personal base to work from.

    Secondly, I do not and can not read minds. I understand that the rough guideline is to keep discussion “topical”, but what I consider to be topical may or may not be what one mod considers to be topical, which may or may not be what another mod considers to be topical, which may or may not be ever explored to determine if it is or isn’t topical because of the fiat judgement of one person.

    In this thread, we have a case of one person who holds the upper hand in an imbalanced power equation entirely limited to freedom of expression who has stated that they willingly would exercise that power for their own comfort, rather than reference an objective, accessible, transparent standard. As others have pointed out – famously among them Terry Pratchett –

    “I think perhaps the most important problem is that we are trying to understand the fundamental workings of the universe via a language devised for telling one another when the best fruit is.”

    but more importantly than that, that if someone is willing to slide on the little issues, sooner or later they’ll be willing to slide on larger issues. It’s just one sip, Mister Vimes. Just. One. Drop.

  272. loganbouchard says:

    “god doesn’t hate, we do.”

  273. FoetusNail says:

    My favorite Ron & Ron phone call was to the Pat Robertson prayer line after Robertson said, Orlando would be destroyed if Disney did not cancel Gay Day. I don’t know who called, but they pretended to be hiding in their basement afraid to go outside and they were running out of food and water, they were begging for advice. The response from the woman who caught their call was hilarious.

  274. The Unusual Suspect says:

    FoetusNail: “I predict that using functional MRI we will eventually map the regions of the brain that explain our capacity to believe just about any silly ass crap our delusional hateful parents or intolerant churches tell us.”

    That was so yesterday:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081028205658.htm

    (Brain’s ‘Hate Circuit’ Identified
    Science Daily, Oct. 29 2008)

  275. arkizzle says:

    I’ve been lookng at this thread for days, biting my tongue. I still don’t know what to say, or whether to get involved at all. I probably won’t.

    I’m unhappy with some people I respect immensely, and I’m impressed at the level-headedness of other people I also respect immensely. I have deep personal interest in the myriad topics at hand, but fear being misheard or mistaken, or simply disregarded as unworthy of opinion.

    There are no ‘sides’ to my feelings, no overt lines drawn. Questions of intent are clouding the issues and trust is slipping away. We’re fighting amongst ourselves over how best to deal with these issues correctly while the real enemy continues unhindered by such considerations.

    We are a mess in this one, my friends, fraternity is damned.

    I am not brave enough to walk through these topics casually, or without definitive conviction, so I won’t, for fear of marking myself on one side or another of an argument without winners.

  276. bardfinn says:

    I am saying that Antinous, being a moderator, has a higher standard of expected behaviour than the average commentor – capriciously using his power, or expressing that his personal preferences over-ride a standard objective, colours the conversation from then on.

    Theresa – at least in my perception – did correct him –

    “Antinous @17: One of the readers has written in to object to your insulting use of “breeder” to describe a citizen in good standing of the unmarked state. I’ll bet you can write the rest of this paragraph.”

    The very next post from Antinous then explicitly proceeded to equivocate my (anyone’s) staunch stance on freedom of speech with defending hatemongers – which is, in and of itself, a strawman and prejudicial and bigoted.

    I think I have a reason to be

    a: insulted, and

    b: vocal about that.

  277. arkizzle says:

    Sorry if that sounds overly dramatic, but this thread is pretty affecting. There is some heavy shit being thrown around in here, and I respect an awful lot of you..

  278. Phikus says:

    Now that the smoke has cleared a bit, maybe I can weigh in?

    JARDINE@85: Thanks for the link. I had not seen that. That is the hardest I have laughed all day.

    STEGODON@87: Nice Hedberg quote!

    ZUZU: “I disagree with what you say but I will defend to death your right to say it.”

    I was looking for that quote, but I forgot who said it first. Oscar Wilde?

    TALIA “I’m defending the principles behind the concept of freedom of speech, which still applies even to douchebag scumbags.”

    In essence the same as the above, and very true, no matter who says it. We cannot selectively apply civil rights. Either they apply to everyone or they apply to no one at all. Certainly these fundies have no decency or decorum, and if “free speech” zones are imposed on political events, then they should also apply to these guys not being able to protest within a certain proximity of a funeral.

    ANTONOUS: They recruit? Let them. You can’t stop nut jobs from conglomerating or spreading their hate to the susceptible. All we can do is try to use sanity, reason, and compassion for even the hate-mongers of the world, and let Darwin do the rest. You can’t hate them out of their hate just as you can’t bomb anyone into peace. Don’t waste any more of your energy on worrying about them or you are giving them power over you and they win. Live and let live. Maybe they will eventually come around. If not, the shame is theirs, not yours.

    LIZARDMAN: I too have my scars for defending friends who were found guilty of being gay. You seem to have found ANTINOUS’ hot button issue (no pun intended) so try not to take it personally that he seems a little too close to this issue to be objective.

    Now, can we shake hands and try to be nice to each other again?

  279. ridl says:

    “god hates pork”

    also – I prefer “breeder” to “straight”, my own het self. Who wants to be “straight”? Breeding is fun!

  280. FoetusNail says:

    For my money this has nothing to do with free speech. Once you start shouting hate at any group you have gone over the line. If you’re racist or homophobic and can’t be civil, then you are violating someone else’s civil rights. Doing this repeatedly, as they do, should at least trigger some harassment ordinance. Also, teaching this crap to children falls under the heading child abuse.

    The WBC has been successfully sued, though appeals are pending, and various states have passed or are considering ordinances that set limits as to how close protesters can be to funerals.

    There are limits to free speech. Write your booklets and setup your website, but when you start standing on the street screaming this shit at a grieving family you have crossed the line.

  281. zuzu says:

    Now, can we shake hands and try to be nice to each other again?

    You know what Douglas Adams said,

    And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small cafè in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.

    :p

  282. Ugly Canuck says:

    Without tolerance, no civil society.
    Tolerance = bedrock of Enlightenment Rationalism.

  283. Takuan says:

    there is no argument here, just a little confusion. It will pass.

  284. zuzu says:

    There are limits to free speech. Write your booklets and setup your website, but when you start standing on the street screaming this shit … you have crossed the line.

    I’m sure that’s what the officials at the DNC and RNC think too.

    Now get in the “free speech zone”!

  285. Phikus says:

    ARKIZZLE: I appreciate your position and sentiment. It is good to see you again (well, you know, virtually see you.)

    SKULLHUNTER: Ok, I can see now that you were not making a comparison to yourself in the statement I quoted above @299. We might have had a much less charged dialogue if you had not said @237:

    “Also, solidarity doesn’t automatically command respect or deference. If you’re going to stand together with someone, either stand with them for THEM or go home. It’s not about you. It’s not about making you feel better about yourself, giving you street cred or any other self-serving ego masturbation. If you have to lash out regarding all the times you’ve stood up for people like they owe you something when someone hurts your precious little feelings, you’re doing it wrong.”

    That is where I feel you made too many assumptions about me and made it into a personal attack. I don’t believe I lashed out at anyone previous to that comment. This is also where you seemed to me to be saying, “If you are not with us, you are against us” because you have left no other option for standing up with those who are being oppressed. I don’t feel like anyone owes me something for what I have done in the past or what I continue to do. I was merely empathizing with what Lizardman expressed and trying to help two people I respect find middle ground. The rest of what you said, after making those assumptions, is downright insulting. If you expect to keep a dialogue from devolving into a fierce argument in the future, you might refrain from using such non-neutral language and making such baseless blanket assumptions.

  286. Talia says:

    #93 no. If you’re on the streets SAYING it you’re a dick, but you’re within you’re rights. If you’re SCREAMING it you’re argueabley a public nuisance, but that’s debatable.

    If you follow that person back home, you’re harrassing.

    Its imperative to defend the principles of freedom of speech. Even at the cost of putting up with these assholes.

    Because setting foot on that slippery slope would be a bad precident indeed.

  287. Takuan says:

    Evelyn Beatrice Hall
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Evelyn Beatrice Hall, (1868 – 1919), who wrote under the pseudonym S.G. Tallentyre, was a writer best known for her biography of Voltaire. She completed her biography of Voltaire The Friends of Voltaire in 1906. She wrote the phrase, which is often mis-attributed to Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” as an illustration of Voltaire’s beliefs.[1]

  288. Takuan says:

    opportunity: Canadian security is lax.
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=33191679236

  289. Talia says:

    Interesting Takuan, thanks for the clarification.

  290. Phikus says:

    Thanks for clearing that up TAK. It was Voltaire I was thinking of whom that was attributed to, incorrectly.

  291. AGF says:

    Antinous and Lizardman – you are both good people and this is a hard topic.
    I rather like Canada’s hate speech laws. Basically you are free up to the point at which you restrict someone else’s freedom. That seems just. You cannot incite hatred. I can see though, where any restriction on speech frightens people. It’s well and good to say hate speech is illegal when you have a decent government – but what if our government becomes a lot less decent? What if saying, ‘I don’t like Harper.’ becomes considered hate speech? I do see where people are worried.
    I’d have to say for now – to do more good than harm – it’s best to tell these guys they can’t protest funerals, or incite hate and violence.

  292. angryhippo says:

    I’m betting that someday we will hear that Mr. Phelps was afflicted with the funny syphilis (a shout out to Buffy fans).

  293. FoetusNail says:

    Xopher, read your comment hours ago and have yet to get it out of my thoughts, thanks for taking the time to comment so fearlessly.
    —————————–
    We must all seek knowledge, overcome fear, gain understanding, develop empathy, then act with compassion; failing this I begrudgingly accept tolerance while we wait out the storm of fear and ignorance.

  294. Phikus says:

    TAKUAN@302: Except that I really do believe God has a problem with English cigarettes. =P

  295. FoetusNail says:

    Xopher, thanks, but those are just words I try and fail to live by, what you wrote speaks from a vulnerability few will ever experience and is both thoughtfully and powerfully expressed.

    AGF, thanks, you know what they say, write about something you know, and lets just say, I’m learning from my mistakes.

    Takuan, thanks for taking the time to find and post everything, I can always count on you and others. People can say what they want about the Tibetan Lamas, and I have, but you can not deny they have a knowledge of our experience we can only aspire too. Quite by accident we met H.E. Garchen Rinpoche, he too spent twenty years in a labor camp. This video expresses the feeling a skeptic was left with after meeting this man; the wheel rarely stops for long.

    My friend was murdered within a year, I have since lost and regained my compassion, lost it again, and well everyone here has a similar story.

    At the time we met H.E., we did not know anything about him, later I found out he had actually finished his teachings while in the labor camp. I had the feeling of a fluid that was an immovable solid.

  296. Ugly Canuck says:

    Zikzak, people’s feelings and sensibilities would define your “terror” speech too; the Judicial determination of guilt under such a law is not made more facile by the suggested distinction between it and simple “hate speech” (ie hanging an effigy of a black man under a confederate flag – torn from today’s headlines!).
    http://mikeoncrime.com/article/12075/ontario-man-gets-45-days-in-jail-for-hate-crime
    Those (ie peoples feelings and sensibilities) are in fact worthy of protection and are protected by both Law and custom in many polities. Sometimes to extremes. As an example, satire was punishable by death in Ancient Rome.

  297. FoetusNail says:

    This is not political speech, this is just spewing hate at someones funeral, big difference to me. The Southern Poverty Law Center classes the WBC as a hate group. I completely disagree with crowding peaceful political protesters into isolated zones, but I don’t object to keeping hate filled sickos from disrupting a funeral, especially the funeral of a private citizen.

    There is ample precedent restricting speech, keeping protesters away from presidential motorcades or rival political parties or any number of events affecting public policy, etc. is bullshit.

  298. Takuan says:

    I had a bit part playing background in this one
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkgSIdOU_cc&feature=related

  299. Xopher says:

    FoetusNail 258: Thanks! And…this bit is really quotable:

    We must all seek knowledge, overcome fear, gain understanding, develop empathy, then act with compassion; failing this I begrudgingly accept tolerance while we wait out the storm of fear and ignorance.

  300. teapot7 says:

    Teresea at #42 writes:

    > Nah. I don’t think he believes that for a minute. Fred Phelps gets off on hurting people

    Worse yet, I believe the Westboro people get off on being hated. After seeing a documentary on them I came away with the impression that being part of a tight and embattled group was all that gave meaning to their lives.

    This is why I’m so impressed with “God Hates Signs” and “God Hates Shrimp” – the only way to hurt them is to say they’re unimportant. As the wisdom of the newsgroups has it, “Do not feed the energy creature”.

  301. Xopher says:

    Antinous, I too have been bashed, but the fact is that a) once censorship becomes allowable, WE’RE going to be among the censored—we can’t sink their boat without drowning ourselves (and yeah, that’s disgusting, but it’s what we’re stuck with), and b) I understand that the Phelps family makes its entire living by suing the people who do what you did to the other protesters. They sue, and they win, because their hate-spewing vileness is not held by law to justify assaulting them (and yeah, IANAL, but I’m pretty sure grabbing something from them and destroying it qualifies as assault, even if you don’t give in to the urge to beat them bloody—which urge is entirely understandable).

    Trust me that I look forward to the day Fred Phelps dies, so I can send his family “FRED IN HELL” cards, but THEY ARE NOT WORTH SACRIFICING FREE SPEECH FOR. They are not worth what would happen to Gay Pride events in some cities, where some CHINO asshole would claim that because gayness is against God, any pro-gay sentiment amounts to hate speech, and get the city council to ban it.

    VintageCaveman 47: My thoughts exactly, in fact word for word.

  302. Anonymous says:

    Someone should go to up them during one of their protests and start reading out of Thomas Paine’s “The Age of Reason”.

  303. Lauren O says:

    Antinous, I always liked you, but after this thread, I love you. I am a woman, but I am going to make it my new life goal to gay marry you.

  304. arkizzle says:

    Tak, I hope so, rifts are shitty.

    Phikus, I appreciate it.

    -

    Fuck the WBC <– TNH, DV as necessary

  305. Takuan says:

    yeah, can’t have a secret cult unless everybody knows about it.

    Back to what I asked earlier:when is it OK to rescue children by force from the clutches of nutjobs? including nutjob cult parents?

  306. FoetusNail says:

    Thanks TUS, so love truly is blind; I’m always a day late and a ten dollars short.

    But what I’m waiting for is a real understanding of our ability to believe, and the visceral effects beliefs produce, which impedes cognitive ability. I believe that the way in which the manipulation of beliefs damages children’s developing minds will eventually be understood as another form of physical abuse. As we grow, our brains develop, and just as reading to your child every day aids in their ability to read and comprehend, we will prove religious indoctrination can impair children’s ability to think rationally.

  307. Takuan says:

    then allow him his cigars. He has had his bones broken and friends slain. Pure objectivity is not human. Just as allowance should be made for you.
    And me.

  308. Anonymous says:

    Lauren O @ 103 – Yay! Marry him at the Westboro’ Baptist Chapel!!!

  309. Bek says:

    Wow. I never expected to be so personally, deeply offended in the comments of BoingBoing, of all places.

    A “breeder,” really?

    Then the lame excuse that because you’re gay and therefore less privileged, it’s okay?

    Then because I haven’t advocated someone beating the poo out of these people, I condone their actions?

    I’ve openly mocked similar signs to the protesters themselves, myself and my family have been harassed for me going to a “lesbian” college, been mistaken for and harassed as gay then defended the identity rather than clarify, been harassed at Pride events for being straight but I still go, and lastly, I vote for you.

    Because I want you to have all of the same rights I do. And wouldn’t that be the last laugh on this deranged family?

    So, in sum, I’d like to steal two words from Jon Stewart addressing the crowd at Northeastern.

  310. Takuan says:

    had a rummage through the aphorism box;

    “PRIDE

    Pride is defined as an exaggerated positive evaluation of oneself, often based on a devaluation of others. It results in a kind of attachment to oneself and aversion to others.

    TRANSFORM: inferiority feelings, fears for attack create a shield, leading to isolation
    WITH: observation, analysis, equanimity, courage and tong-len.
    ASK: Who caused my: education, intelligence, beautiful body, money? Does someone with self-confidence need to be proud?
    INTO: self-confidence, honesty with yourself & others, fearlessness, gratitude, friendship, equanimity.

    “…to have greater self-awareness or understanding means to have a better grasp of reality. Now, the opposite of reality is to project onto yourself qualities that are not there, ascribe to yourself characteristics in contrast to what is actually the case. For example, when you have a distorted view of yourself, such as through excessive pride or arrogance, because of these states of mind, you have an exaggerated sense of your qualities and personal abilities. Your view of your own abilities goes far beyond your actual abilities. On the other hand, when you have low self-esteem, then you underestimate your actual qualities and abilities. You belittle yourself, you put yourself down. This leads to a complete loss of faith in yourself. So excess–both in terms of exaggeration and devaluation–are equally destructive. lt is by addressing these obstacles and by constantly examining your personal character, qualities, and abilities, that you can learn to have greater self-understanding. This is the way to become more self-aware.”
    From “The Art of Happiness at Work” by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

    “One of the main obstacles is our pride. This pride is an inflated state of mind and relies on our false view of the transitory collection, which focuses on the existent self, attributed to our body and mind, and distorts it. When we are on top of a very high mountain, we look down on all the lower peaks. Similarly, when we are full of pride, everyone else appears lower. We are the best and everyone else is inferior. This pride is associated with our self-preocupation and makes us act inappropriately and disrespectfully towards others, thereby bringing us face to face with all kinds of unpleasant and unwanted experiences. As long as we feel and act as through we are the center of the universe, we will never develop real concern for others. To counteract this attitude we train ourselves always to think of them as supremely important by considering their good qualities and by reviewing our own faults and weaknesses.”
    from ‘Eight Verses for Training the Mind’ by Geshe Sonam Rinchen

    “Tibetans look at a person who holds himself above others, believing he is better than others and knows more, and they say that person is like someone sitting on a mountain top: it is cold there, it is hard, and nothing will grow. But if the person puts himself in a lower position, then that person is like a fertile field.”
    Allan Wallace

    “An authentically empowered person is humble. This does not mean the false humility of one who stoops to be with those who are below him or her. It is the inclusiveness of one who responds to the beauty of each soul. … It is the harmlessness of one who treasures, honours and reveres life in all its forms.”
    Gary Zukav in ‘The Seat of the Soul’

    “What is like a smelly fart,
    that, although invisible is obvious?
    One’s own faults, that are precisely
    As obvious as the effort made to hide them.”
    His Holiness the 7th Dalai Lama in ‘Songs of spiritual change’ (translated by Glenn Mullin)

    “If we see pride among people who have no idea about Dharma, it is understandable. However, if afflictive emotions and haughtiness are present among Dharma practitioners, it is great disgrace to practice”
    His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

    How can you be proud if you are not enlightened?
    How can you be proud if even the enlightened are not?
    Stonepeace”

    and my old favourite learned by sweat, fist, blood and the kindness of teachers:

    “Pride is extra”