I try not to say that I hate anyone who disagrees with me politically. Sure, I make fun, possibly insult, and so on, but I don’t hate. But I’m inclined to throw that out the window for the Phelps group.
You’ve heard of these pussheads, right? Fred Phelps, and his cohorts form the Westboro Baptist Church. They make a point of standing around at solider’s funerals. Soldiers. Who. Have. Been Killed. In. War. And they wave their flags and banners and celebrate the death of our brave men and women. See, they’ve somehow gotten it into their tiny little asshole heads that God hates gays, and since America is (kind of-sort of) nice to gay people, every dead solider is just a wee little bit of God’s glorious retribution for our wrongs. So they take it upon themselves to go to the funerals of passed on soldiers, where there are mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and sometimes even spouses and children who have lost a loved one far, far too early, and they wave banners proclaiming “God Hates Fags.”
The only good thing about the Phelps group is that it has sparked one of my now-favorite organizations, The Patriot Guard Riders. This is a group of what would appear to be your stereotypical motorcyclists, with leather and chains, but they’re mission is to ride around to these funerals. With the grieving family’s blessing, they do what they can to stand between the family and the Phelps assholes, hoping to separate them so the family does not have to deal with dickheads in what should be a private time of mourning. They wave flags and even pray with the family if desired, anything to help them deal with their grief and these monsters.
But here’s the problem: There’s more to this than just a bunch of idiots exercising their sadism on a dead hero’s grief-stricken loved ones. A Kansas father, who’s had to experience these assholes firsthand at his son’s funeral, has sued these jerks for invading his privacy and emotional damages. Although the fallen hero’s father did win a significant jury verdict, the Fourth Circuit has overturned this verdict, stating that they had a protected right to speak. The Supreme Court will review it.
As much as I hate it, I hope the Supremes rule in favor of the Phelps monsters. If the First Amendment failed to protect unpopular and even emotionally destructive speech, it would not be worth one of the Phelps groups filth spewing signs. If emotional devastation is the standard by which we reject speech, we will have to allow others to decide what could be emotionally devastating. It may be something almost all of us can agree is horrible today, but it may be something that is vitally important tomorrow. Even assholes have First Amendment rights.