The linked story is about a segment on Chris Matthews that discussedf the Westboro Baptist Church and a court case against them brought by the father of an Iraq Way vet. These crazies were protesting outside of his son’s funeral, for no direct reason except that they claim that American soldiers are being killed (I guess God is killing them) to punish the US for our acceptance of homosexuality.

What kind of God would do that? Really. It is the most f*cked up theological thinking anyone could come up against.  The clip is worth watching.

http://www.akawilliam.com/chris-matthews-on-the-westboro-baptist-church/.

It gets me thinking about the difference between free speech and hate speech and the role of Religious Liberty. It shouldn’t be news to anyone with even a shallow understanding of world History, but most of the most heinous crimes against humanity where done either in the name of religious purity, ethnic or national purity or outright cultural dominance.

Free speech needs to be an important tenet of our American system, but when s it not speech? When is it, even if it uses language, violence against others? I don’t have much difficulty believing that hate speech should be regulated in some ways. I don’t believe it should be banned, but controlled or directed.  For example, these crazy christians claiming that God Hates Fags should have every right to express their opinion. But where? In the privacy of their own church? Yes, but in public and in a way to be a direct confrontation to a private funeral? I don’t think so.

The notion of free speech is central to our entire democracy, and so anything that alters our relationship to it, should be done extremely carefully. Yet, the notion of what is speech has already begun to be expanded. Even the ACLU supported the recent Supreme Court decision that allows even international businesses to pour as much money into American politics as they want, claiming that money is speech. I don’t hold that same opinion, but I do agree that deeming anything speech or not speech (and therefor, protected) should be done very cautiously.

Words are, and in the case of the Westboro crazies, signs are speech used to cause damage or pain, justified as a prophetic voice of God who is killing innocents to punish a culture as a whole. Is that where the line in the sand can be drawn? Words or images with the intent to instill pain or damage is no longer speech, but a weapon of terrorism?

what do you think designates Free Speech from Hate Speech. Are both to be allowed? Where? and When? Leave your comments here.

2 Comments

  1. THX for commenting!

  2. MeetAdamAndSteve says:

    Here's some food for thought about the Westboro Baptist protestors. I posted two blog entries back in September when the pathetic wretches visited the NYC area. I ended up calling some of the schools and synagogues that they intended to protest and, almost unanimously, the folks I talked to believed as I do: the best thing to do is ignore them.

    http://meetadamandsteve.blogspot.com/2009/09/ci

    http://meetadamandsteve.blogspot.com/2009/09/ig

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