The ego that is Fred Phelps is appearing before the Supreme Court today. His God Hates Fags campaign and Westboro Baptist Church have become synonymous with the term hyper-basket-case. Phelps and Co. travel the country with their crude signs and slogans picketing soliders’ funerals, churches, colleges and other sites. Last summer, they picketed the church across the street from my subdivision for the Titan’s Steve McNair’s funeral [not sure why], and then they were going to be back again a few weeks ago, but instead there was a big group of anti-protesters there in case they did show up.
The First Amendment is being stretched and tried today as the lawyers banter it out in D.C.
In the court of law, speech is far more protected than limited, particularly speech involving political or social issues. There’s nothing in the 45 words of the First Amendment that forbids speech that is deeply offensive, hateful or repugnant – even when most us might wish for an exception in cases like this.
A good summary of today’s proceedings is here on The Hill.
Perhaps Phelps will be sentenced to 100 hours of sensitivity training.