Westboro Baptists will picket Elizabeth Edwards' funeral Saturday

In a press release dated Dec. 8, the Westboro Baptist Church, which achieved notoriety staging anti-gay protests at soldiers' funerals, announced it will be sending picketers to the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged wife of former Senator and presidential candidate, John Edwards.
A little taste of what WBC said about her:
God heard self-absorbed Elizabeth as she rode the talk show circuit spewing blasphemy. God heard her say "my God could not ...protect my boy" and "I'm not praying to God to save me from cancer" and that God is not "the God I wanted."
...Elizabeth is now a resident of hell where her rebellion and rage will take full flower. She rejoins the dead child who beat her there, and has seen the face of her grievous misconduct in neglecting her non-delegable duty to him.

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They were on public property. Not on any private property. (public street) It is vile, disrespectful - at the least. And, I obviously think there is no need for it. But, I would say, they are protected under the First Amednment. There are no laws saying you can't be an asshole.


If they were on private property, this would be a whole different case.

I think Arlington National Cemetery is public property.


The problem that even your suggestion will bring is that of loopholes.  They'll always figure out a way around it, unless you ban anyone from protesting within 10 or 15 miles of a funeral.  The distance necessary to be effective is far greater than the maximum distance necessary to not crush other people's rights.  Whatever sort of boundary you set up, they'll do their utmost to be as offensive as possible on the other side of that boundary, in the most visible spot.


Alternately, the concept of making it illegal to inflict extreme emotional distress is too horrible to contemplate.  We'd have Christians bringing atheist groups to court for the 'intentional' distress that we're inflicting upon them with our atheist and humanist billboards.

I think, it is kind of dangerous to make exceptions. It gets into slippery slope territory. First Amendment rights are First Amendment rights.


Clearly what they did was unnecessary and uncalled for. And incredily vile. However, they were on a public street. So, private property is not an issue. Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder's funeral was in his hometown - Westminister, MD. At a church.


These are the three questions the Sumpreme Court is specifically deciding;


  1. Does [the case] Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell (which held that public figures cannot claim damages for free speech targeting them) apply to a private person versus another private person concerning a private matter?
  2. Does the First Amendment's freedom of speech tenet trump the First Amendment's freedom of religion and peaceful assembly?
  3. Does an individual attending a family member's funeral constitute a "captive audience" who is entitled to state protection from unwanted communication?


It is interesting.

I'm not sure I understand your #2 (don't think about that statement too much, guys).  I don't see how freedom of religion is necessarily applicable.  A funeral isn't necessarily religious.  If people chose to make it so, that's their problem.


And technically, both groups are peacefully assembling.  Neither group is really preventing the other group from assembling.  Shouting over someone and making their activity difficult to carry out respectfully does not count as interfering with their First Amendment rights.

The current Supreme Court or the next Congress may be stupid enough to oblige you but you ought to be more careful about what you wish for. It would be, in essence, a right not to be offended. Guess how broadly that could be applied and which groups would be silenced by it?

(no offense intended by the "stupid" comment. I was referring only to Congress and SCOTUS)


Y'know you're right. I'm used to relative sanity in government. My bad.

Fred and his daughter are the shame of the midwest. I'm all for ignoring them as a rule but really we need to find something illegal in their operation that would hold ground in court of law. I hope a meteor hits their compound, that would be justice from on high.

Most likely child abuse.

From the testimony of Nate Phelps, definitely.

It is disgusting, but I secretly love it.  The more vitriolic they get, the crazier they look.  Remember when they said Mother Teresa was burning in hell?  Brilliant.  The hole they are digging gets deeper.  Let them speak.

They're definitely nice to hold up as an example.  "These guys are following your holy book correctly.  If anything, they're not going far enough."

I'm thinking the majority of the country is against them. Why people like the Phelps' need so much negative attention on them is really disturbing. They love it. What really bother's me are the children that grow up in that church. They are being mentally abused, that makes me so sad.


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