Look, I can’t stand Westboro Baptist Church either. They’re disgusting people, and I’ve done my part to pick fun at them for being such hateful, opportunistic scumbags. But Arizona’s emergency legislation against funeral protests isn’t the answer. It’s probably just going to end up being thrown out after a time- and money-consuming court battle because it’s a blatant violation of the First Amendment’s right to freedom of expression, not to mention, given the fact that it’s so obviously tailored to Westboro Baptist in particular, it seems to be slipping into quasi-bill of attainder territory.
What’s more, the last thing that’s in the interests of American citizens during a period of shock and mourning such as this is for politicians to be ramming bills of questionable Constitutional value through the legislature with little to no oversight. You hear me guys? Don’t do this again. That’s how we ended up with the PATRIOT Act last time, for god’s sake, and the lawyers are still arguing over that one ten years later.
No one wants to have to hear Westboro Baptist spewing their verbal and ideological diarrhea at a nine-year-old’s funeral. The same goes for the funerals of dead soldiers, AIDS patients, victims of natural disasters and any other deadly occurrence that Fred Phelps feels can be blamed on his hateful god’s wrath. I feel for the families who have to put up with this bullshit. But, as the saying goes (and I’d be grateful if anyone could tell me who originally coined it because Google seems to be at a loss), the proper response to bad speech is more speech.
After all, if the Fred Phelpses of the world aren’t allowed to be total asses in public, how else will we know to ignore them the rest of the time?