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January 18, 2009

Protecting free speech

I agree with John Gaines (1/13, Letters) that Fred Phelps and his antics are disgusting. But Mr. Gaines seems to unfairly paint the American Civil Liberties Union with the same brush. The ACLU is only ensuring that everyone gets their Constitutional right of free speech.

Many Americans believe that controversial views should be subject to some sort of popularity contest. If this were true, African-Americans and women, for example, would never have gained their civil rights.

Mike Burlingame
Overland Park

Comments

NoMoreMrNiceGuy

Free speech will be restricted once Big O gets in office. You say anything against their gang or policy and you get a visit from the goon squad. See below.

http://www.newblackpanther.com/malik_kamwilliams.html

TinaMcG

"Doesn't seem like we have much choice other than hold them for 8 more years without an indictment? "

Not exactly the American way, is it? I have no idea how to legally justify holding someone indefinitely without charges.

Stifled Freedom

Well certainly a confession gained by torture isn't admissible. So going back to your original question, what do you think we should do with them? What are our alternatives now if all we ever had for evidence was a torture-coerced confession? Doesn't seem like we have much choice other than hold them for 8 more years without an indictment?

TinaMcG

"I cant make excuses for what Washington State Dept bureacrats claim."

Oh, one more thing. This isn't State Department jurisdiction. This is Department of Justice.

TinaMcG

"If what the Times claimed were the case, then anyone who was a crime victim would not be prosecutable for a crime they committed. The system does not work like that. If it did, half of the convicts in Leavenworth could get out by claiming child abuse drove them to crime. Wont fly. "

It wasn't just the NYT that reported this. It was all over the news. It happened. The rational for not prosecuting the defendant who was tortured was that information obtained under torture is notoriously unreliable. So unfortunately, it will fly.

Your premise that "child abuse drove so-and-so to commit a crime" is an irrelant comparison. We're talking about torture committed for the purpose of obtaining a confession.

Stifled Freedom

Likewise, there is a radical movement among feminists to give wives and daughters a pass on murdering thier husbands or fathers in abuse cases.

I'll bet the NY Times endorses that policy too. If women want to be equal, they are going to have to stand and be equal and prove thier strength. You cannot prove it by pushing for weakness and partiality in legal treatment.

Stifled Freedom

"Those who were tortured apparently aren't prosecutable, according to the Pentagon's officer in charge of determining who gets prosecuted. So...what do we do with them?"

I cant make excuses for what Washington State Dept bureacrats claim. They start thier day with a list of officially accepted lies and another set of officially unacknowledged facts....so does the NY Times when it makes victimizes and demonizes anyone, regardless of any common sense, when that assignment falls in line with its radical political agenda.

If what the Times claimed were the case, then anyone who was a crime victim would not be prosecutable for a crime they committed. The system does not work like that. If it did, half of the convicts in Leavenworth could get out by claiming child abuse drove them to crime. Wont fly.

TinaMcG

From Girl Power: "Terrorist or not, if they are guilty of a crime, try them, convict them, imprison them. Otherwise, you got to let them go. "

Those who were tortured apparently aren't prosecutable, according to the Pentagon's officer in charge of determining who gets prosecuted. So...what do we do with them?

http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/14/tortures-blowback/

Marctnts

Dolce,

Your missing the key point. Noise ordinances and the like don't descriminate based upon the content of the message (or noise, as the case may be). Whether your screaming "Kill" or "Peace", and whether your stereo is blaring classical or rap, the ordinance applies to all.

That's the issue with the Phelps protest ordinances. They seek to enforce requirements based upon the content of the message (and you can't argue that they apply to all, since they were OBVIOUSLY designed for Phelps and the like), which as I've said before, is a dangerous road to go down.

Sure, I think most would agree that Phelps is horrible, but are you really comfortable with the 51% being allowed to deem when your right to protest is "appropriate"?

dolcemusica1

Marctnts - If the Phelps family wants to picket along the funeral procession route - though I think it's extremely inconsiderate, they should have that right.

However, on some of the other points - we're going to disagree. In most cities, there are noise ordinance laws. Most limit noises from 10:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next morning. Also, other than a lawn mower or something similar, your "noise" whether it be the car stereo, etc - is limited to 100 feet from the source. Otherwise, it's considered a nuisance/disturbance of the peace.

Are these ordinances violating one's freedom of speech? Or are they trying to find a compromise between one's right to a peaceful environment and the other's right to have a certain level of freedom?

Stifled Freedom

"Hey Mike, how many ACLU lawyers are going to defend the terrorists when they are moved to Leavnworth? Just curious."

Probably the same number as now. Terrorist or not, if they are guilty of a crime, try them, convict them, imprison them. Otherwise, you got to let them go.

Rights are only as good as the people who swear to up hold them. I have little confidence in the courts today....and the ACLU is equally misguided in its priorities.

Marctnts

"The grieving family ALSO has rights to mourn in peace..."

Sorry, but I don't think this "morning in peace" right made it into the founding documents.

"We're not talking about the Westboro church not being allowed to picket in a street..."

Yes, that IS what we are talking about. Picketing INSIDE the cemetery is already banned as almost all cemeteries are PRIVATE property, and the owners can disallow protesters from inside the boundaries any time they like. The laws that Phelps' clan is challenging limit protest ON PUBLIC RIGHT OF WAY within a certain distance of a cemetery entrance and within a certain time around the funeral.

"We already have laws that say one cannot picket within 200 feet of an abortion clinic and 2 hours before/after a presidential event."

...And I would argue the abortion clinic limitations are just as erroneous as trying to ban Phelps. I'm not familiar with the presidential event ban, but unless there's an overwhelming safety / security concern, I'd say it fits in the same category as well.

Look, Phelps and his clan are despicable, but when we try to limit protected freedoms based upon the popularity of the views presented, we walk down a dangerous road from which we might not come back. Sure, it's extremely sad that a family might be subjected to mean spirited speech on their way into a cemetery, but the absolute protection of the right of expression and protest overrides this unfortunate situation for the families.

dolcemusica1

The issue is balancing the rights of ALL individuals - not just one side. Phelps can picket - however, there are restrictions on when and where. The grieving family ALSO has rights to mourn in peace and not be harrassed by the Westboro church. We're not talking about the Westboro church not being allowed to picket in a street that may or may not be part of the funeral procession. What most states/cities are trying to ban is the following true event:

One widow when burying her husband who died in Iraq said - they were less than 50 feet from her at the cemetery, chanting with signs. Doesn't she and her family have a RIGHT to mourn peacefully the loss of a loved one without being harrassed?

Cities/States are not trying to ban Phelps right to freedom of speech, but to have a balance between the rights of those picketing and those who they are picketing against. We already have laws that say one cannot picket within 200 feet of an abortion clinic and 2 hours before/after a presidential event. Most of the laws banning the Phelps and his group are similar to current laws. The Westboro church wants ABSOLUTE rights for them and NONE for those they are picketing. That's the real issue.

mianotkia

Hey Mike, how many ACLU lawyers are going to defend the terrorists when they are moved to Leavnworth? Just curious.

 
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