Freedom of Speech is a Double Edged Sword

I’ve been thinking about the Fred Phelps caseAugust Pollack has gone and done it again and perfectly summed up my feeling about the ruling:

He’s a horrible, wretched person, and I understand how most people would probably crack a smile at the thought of something large falling on top of him from a very tall height, but saying that God hates you or that you’re happy someone’s child is dead isn’t exactly an allusion to commiting a criminal act. It’s horrible, disgusting, vile, but utterly and totally free speech.

Its true.  And its giving the bastard political ammo:

The church had made a new sign to carry after the jury’s decision, said his daughter, Margie Phelps.

“Our message is ‘Thank God for 10.9 [million dollars],’ ” she said.

“By that mechanism [the award], the entire world will look over and see that America is doomed and that in doomed America there is no such thing as religious liberty.”

The judgement against Phelps and his False Church is legally wrong.  It is trampling over his rights, period.

But what he is doing is also, just as clearly, wrong.  There is nothing defensible about making a family suffer because you believe their child is going to hell.  Nothing.  That is not compassion.  It is not spirituality.  It is nothing but the basest hate and ignorance on display for the world.

It is also an invitation.  While we should in no way restrict foul speech, we can absolutely challenge it.  Fred Phelps is wrong.  His Church is wrong.  His religion is wrong.  And we should not be shy, at all, about publicly taking him to task for it.  By bringing his religious beliefs into the public sphere so forcefully, he is inviting a response.  Let’s show him an energetic one!

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