I fully support First Amendment free speech - if we don't allow Westburo Baptist, the KKK, Neo-Nazis, Black Panthers, etc, to voice their opinions in public, how will we know who the fruitcakes are? But the constitutional right to free speech is different than making a nuisance of yourself at a family's grief.
But I will make this observation . . . you NEVER read about Atheists doing shit like this. Atheists don't fly planes into buildings, don't turn themselves into "Holy Explosions", don't shoot Doctors because they perform services they don't like, don't rape, pillage and burn the folks in the next village because they believe differently.
So . . . someone tell me again how 'people can't be moral WITHOUT religion????
I think you will find that these two conducted their attack on established religions, not out of any contempt for faith in a higher power, but as a way to limit the competition. They prohibited other religions for the same reason they prohibited other political parties - they competed with THEIR religion. Faith in the State.
Mao's Little Red Book was even referred to as the "Bible".
But these two examples alone do not prove or disprove anything. And I agree - the rejection of blind faith does NOT magically transform someone into being a model citizen or moral exemplar. I simply think it is telling that so many glaring examples of outrageous moral behavior can be found among those who claim the moral high ground. Just as it is telling that a person's propensity for religious faith is inversely proportional to education level.
And, I think that it IS telling that horrendous acts are NOT done in the name of Atheism.
Joseph and Hilde,
I think Hanna is making more of a logical argument than a strictly legal one, and I find it an interesting one. It does get to the heart of why we consider the Supreme Court ruling legally correct yet morally perverse.
Civilized people agree that while no one should fear government reprisal if they speak their opinion, public discourse, or at least behavior in public, should rightfully have certain curtailments to it. And those can, and perhaps should extend beyond simply not yelling fire in a crowded theater.
I dunno, man, that perspective is a little simplistic. The Freedom of Speech issue is always subject to 'the right time and place'. You see it at political rallies and on TV shows all the time. I'm reminded of this segment:
If you're holding a public event that isn't sponsored by the government, and someone says something you don't like, you can throw them out. Whoever pays the piper controls the tune and can legally and morally squelch dissent. If someone else wants to say something, they can damned well set up their own forum in which to say it.
If we want to get around assholes like the WBC, we need to have something like renting out the area around the grave for the day, when you're burying someone. Then, it's YOUR event, and you can kick out anyone you don't want there. That would do an end-run around the First Amendment.
I think the more direct route is to just include rental of a HUGE chunk of the cemetery into the costs of a funeral. You then get control of that area for the duration of the funeral, and you can kick out anyone not invited. Problem solved. Granted it would take a lot of legal wrangling, since you'd effectively be renting out land purchased by others for their burial. I haven't thought through the details of that, including how to get the approval of the huge numbers of deceased owners.
Yeah, Bill Maher has his issues with the woo. At least his seem to be restricted to new-age woo, like homeopathy. Anyway, his publicists have gotten a bit better control of him and have gotten him to tone it down a little, with that.
I ride with the Patriot Guard, and every time I've dealt with them, the WBC has had official permission from the city, and their 'authorized spot' was actually well away from the family/grave site.
If that was true in this instance, then the Court's rulling makes even more sense, as there was no actual 'harm' done. ANYTIME you sue someone, you must demonstrate actual harm and prove the defendent caused it.