Source: AlterNet – By Sarah Seltzer
As much as we would all like to see the Westboro Baptist Church disappear from the face of the Earth, and never be heard from again, they do have a first-amendment right to spew their hate, the Supreme Court ruled today in an 8-1 decision with only Samuel Alito dissenting.
The first amendment isn’t always pretty, but it’s important, as AlterNet’s own Joshua Holland has written,:
“Fred Phelps‘ right to express views in a way that is decidedly outside the mainstream is inextricably connected to my own ability to express unpopular views without being subject to arrest by the police.”
The Queerty staff also made the same point when this case first went to the high court:
“These people are vile human beings. They are also well within their right to call us faggots and wish ill upon a dead soldier’s family. If they don’t incite violence, and do not violate obscenity provisions, it’s really as simple as that.”
There is one great and effective way to combat the rancid bigotry in the Westboro organization: combat speech with more speech. Mourners in Tuscon, and at Elizabeth Edwards’ funeral formed human shields to protect mourners from their vitriolic and nasty presence.
How dare those legal and social commentators, who never miss an opportunity to praise the Jehovah’s Witnesses for stretching the boundaries of the First Amendment, now condemn the Westboro Baptists, whose actions in our time are no more outrageous than were the actions of the Jehovah’s Witnesses during World War 2.
During WW2, Jehovah’s Witnesses specifically targeted the homes of parents and spouses of wounded and killed soldiers — knocked on those doors — and told wives, mothers, and fathers that their husbands and sons had died not only needlessly and pointlessly, but in support of a government which GOD considered His enemy and would soon destroy.
During WW2, Jehovah’s Witnesses would show up at War Bond Rallies and spew the same garbage.
1940s Jehovah’s Witnesses would park sound trucks across the street from public schools and during recess and blast the school campus with pre-recorded sermons decrying the Pledge of Allegiance. There were also instances of JWs going inside school buildings and passing out anti-Pledge literature to children in the hallways.
JWs also parked sound trucks outside of churches during ongoing services and blasted churches with pre-recorded sermons decrying church teachings.
JWs carried phonographs with pre-recorded sermons door-to-door decrying patriotism, Christianity, etc. During WW2, a WW1 veteran and then Deputy Sheriff ran two JWs out of his gasoline station after they started playing such a recording. One of the JW “pioneers” pulled a pistol and murdered the Deputy.
Post WW2, the WatchTower Society made a point of renting for conventions those facilities which had been named or renamed in honor of the WW2 veterans (Memorial Coliseum, Veterans Stadium, etc. etc.) so as to poke their fingers in the eyes of returning veterans and the cause for which they had fought, been wounded, or died.
1940s Jehovah’s Witnesses would specifically target urban Catholic neighborhoods with door-to-door sermons and literature which defamed the Pope and other Catholic hierarchy, Catholic theology, etc.
The JWs of WW2 were the Westboro Baptists of today.
Make up your minds, commentators.