Wednesday, March 02, 2011

What's good for the Westboro Baptist Church is good for . . .

You, me, and every other political dissident.

Let's be clear about this: Fred Phelps and his whole family are scum. They should get cancer and die.

The Westboro people brought their circus to Montpelier a couple of years ago and I think the people of my town, particularly the high school students, handled it very well. In other words, treating them with the ridicule they deserve.

Still, they were right in the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court was right in ruling in their favor.

You know the facts, so I won't spend a lot of time on them. To gain publicity for their vile ideas, these people go to events, like military funerals, and hold up their vicious signs, and they hope they will either get on TV or provoke some kind of reaction from the sane people in attendance, who are justifiably offended by their odious display. When they did it at the funeral of Matthew Snyder his family sued them and got a judgment for five million dollars.

Now the Supreme Court has overturned the judgment, holding that their actions are protected by the First Amendment. The legal questions in this case were so easy that even Scalia and Clarence Thomas got them right.

You don't have to like it, but here's the thing about the First Amendment: we don't need it to protect our right to say things that don't bother anybody. We don't need it except when we're pissing people off.

And if you're reading this, odds are that you find that you need to say things that piss people off.

What the Supreme Court said today is that you can piss people off and the government isn't allowed to stop you.

We all need that.

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