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Vile, vile, vile

Posted by That Other Mike on 24/01/2008

(HT to PZ Myers)

As you all know, I am all for religious tolerance. The right to hold one’s own private views without state interference is the cornerstone of human rights, whether those views are religious, political or anything else.

That being said, there are times when I think, just for a moment, that maybe just a little repression would be in order:
Vileness
Heath Ledger was a talented young actor who may have suffered from depression and taken his own life because of it. Is a little sympathy from the so-called “moral majority” too much to ask? Is a little compassion from followers of the religion which claims to value love above everything else just one step too far?

He died, alone, from an overdose, maybe on purpose; we’ll never know. He died alone and these people want to kill him again.

Ledger was just 28, in the prime of his life, successful in his career, a rising star with everything apparently going for him. This is something of a hot button issue for me right now; I suppose mainly because I also suffer from depression, and have for a long time. It sickens me that the terrible consequence of such an awful illness is being used by Phelps as political capital.

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20 Responses to “Vile, vile, vile”

  1. Selena Parsley said

    They’ve been doing this for years. Most of the members in his little hate cult are family members. Four of his children have nothing to do with him. I am also on his going-to-hell-hate-list since he also hates Jews…

  2. Selena Parsley said

    Here is his daughter on the news, Shirley Phelps, beauty and brains…

    Ok, I am finished stalking your blog 😀

  3. J W Kraft said

    There was a motorcycle gang that would follow these people around and rev their engines so that the families could not hear the vile stuff being shouted. Its pretty bad to go to a funeral and be thankful for the sound of Harley Davidsons. Very little love or compassion from WBC, very little Christ-likeness.

  4. Louis Theroux did a pretty good docu on them.

    If they’re going to Heaven… we are going to be in such good company down there in Hell.

    Sick little people. Religious freedom doesn’t (or shouldn’t) allow for hate crime. Legal intervention is called for and justified, IMHO.

  5. Xander said

    Please help stop this maniac! Here is an online petition to strip this so called man of the cloth of his right to preach this hate to people. I am a christian and am proud of it but it’s people like this that help perpetuate such a bad image of what a real christian is. Please help stop this fool! Spread the word!!

    http://www.petitiononline.com/master/petition-sign.html

    Sign it and pass it on!

    Thanks!

  6. J W Kraft said

    uhhhh, You cannot strip a man of his right to preach, at least not in the US. There is no preacher’s License. But sign all the petitions you want.

    I saw that Ledger’s body is being sent to Australia, maybe that will prevent the WBC from protesting at his funeral.

  7. Preaching hate isn’t quite the same thing as “right to preach”, I’m sure you’ll agree, Joseph. He has no right to preach hate, as none of us has. It is a criminal act.

    From Wikipedia: “As defined in the 1999 National Crime Victim Survey, “A hate crime is a criminal offense committed against a person or property motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, ethnicity/national origin, gender, sexual preference, or disability. The offense is considered a hate crime whether or not the offender’s perception of the victim as a member or supporter of a protected group is correct.”

    Lock him/them up and throw away the key.

  8. Mike's Girl said

    A hate crime is a criminal offense committed against a person […]

    While I agree with your sentiment, Gary, picketing and name-calling are not criminal offenses.

    These are vile people whose behavior is abhorrent. No doubt about it. But that, alone, does not constitute a hate crime, or any crime, for that matter.

  9. Mike's Girl said

    Xander said:
    Please help stop this maniac! Here is an online petition to strip this so called man of the cloth of his right to preach this hate to people. I am a christian and am proud of it but it’s people like this that help perpetuate such a bad image of what a real christian is. Please help stop this fool! Spread the word!!

    And what happens when someone decides that your pastor, priest or whatever is a maniac who should be stopped? As Mike stated elsewhere, one person’s heresy is another’s revealed word of God; the same applies to hatred.

    Thomas Paine said it better than I ever could:

    He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

  10. J W Kraft said

    Mike’s girl is right again. Scumbag though he is, what he is doing is not only legal, it is protected by the Bill of Rights. The only way they could possibly get him is if he were to openly advocate violence.

  11. Religious freedom, I believe, is protected — but surely their behaviour is intimidatory? The point I’m making is this: their belief is a right that they are entitled to, but when that belief is taken out onto the street and used in such an antagonistic manner, it should not (and I’m not convinced it is) be constitutionally protected.

    Even regarding the First Amendment, there are limitations as to what can or can’t be said. I think the arguments against legal action are unconvincing.

    “While I agree with your sentiment, Gary, picketing and name-calling are not criminal offenses.”

    But intimidation is. (Incidentally, “a bill was introduced in the Indiana General Assembly that would make it a felony to protest within 500 feet (approximately 150 meters) of a funeral. The bill provides penalties of up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine for those found to be in violation of the law.” Wikipedia, again 🙂 Laws can and should be changed, although, saying that, surely defamation laws can be applied?

    Liberty is a right. Abuse the right(even by denying the likes of Phelps his right to an opinion) and, yes, risks are run. However, I also believe we cannot stand idly by on such occasions. Reasonable people (the vast majority) know it’s wrong. If I were an American citizen, I wouldn’t feel my civil rights eroded by his being jailed.

    “As Mike stated elsewhere, one person’s heresy is another’s revealed word of God; the same applies to hatred.”

    I’m not sure it does, at least from a legal standpoint. See my above post regarding the National Crime Victim Survey definition of hate crime. Factor in that intimidation is a crime and there is unquestionably a legal cause against Phelps et al.

  12. *legal CASE against Phelps et al.

  13. Mike's Girl said

    You know, Gary, you make some interesting points that I had not considered.

    Please understand that I am as disturbed as you are by what these Phelps people do. I’m almost ashamed to say that I had not considered the intimidation and defamation aspect of it, though. That’s definitely something to chew on.

    Thanks for taking the time to elaborate on your position; it’s excellent food for thought.

  14. J W Kraft said

    Let’s just hope that he is not paying his taxes, then they will get him.

    Friends and family of the dead could sue in civil court for causing undue pain or something of that nature but I think a DA would have a tough time convincing a jury that their was any crime. They are protected three ways by the First Amendment, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the right to peacably assemble.

    Personally, I hope he does do something stupid, like through beer bottles at mourners or advocate violence, then they could lock him up with my blessing. Shy of that though, as an American citizen, I would feel that the Constitution had been trampled on if they put him in prison.

    As for the 500 ft. law, I have heard of it and if it is passed, and they still protest, then they will have broken the law, and then they could be charged with a crime. It is not a crime until there is a law to break.

  15. Please understand that I am as disturbed as you are by what these Phelps people do.

    I never doubted it for one moment, MG.

    Thanks for taking the time to elaborate on your position; it’s excellent food for thought.

    Least I can do… is a complex issue, and it so easy to be misunderstood, isn’t it? I aren’t always as clear as I’d like, so can be prone to overcompensation 😉

    I think a DA would have a tough time convincing a jury that their was any crime. They are protected three ways by the First Amendment, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the right to peacably assemble.

    Yes, I take your point, Joseph. Getting it to stick can be difficult — but just found this: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7072404.stm

  16. cokewidow said

    Check out this article… it is more information about how this guy “gets around” — his life’s mission seems to be verbally abusing people and trying to provoke them into lawsuits. This is about how he has almost completely taken over the town where he lives, and the reluctance of some government officials to stop him. Please forward it on. Someone has to stop this guy and his “followers”.

    http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=231

  17. Mike's Girl said

    The article is definitely worth reading. While disturbing, it certainly helps put things in perspective.

    From the above linked article:

    And Suzanne James, who recently resigned after eight years in the Shawnee County District Attorney’s office as director of victim services, says Phelps’s opposition to homosexuality obscures a deeper purpose — promoting himself and hurting others.

    “I’m so tired of people calling him an ‘anti-gay activist’,” James told the Report. “He’s not an anti-gay activist. He’s a human abuse machine.”

    […]

    One little girl, going with her parents to see the “Nutcracker” ballet in a Topeka hall, had WBC pickets hiss at her: “Did your Daddy stick in his prick in your ass last night?”

    This definitely goes beyond free speech and religious freedom.

    And this:

    “There was a woman working at my restaurant who was gay,” says Jerry Berger, an attorney and owner of Topeka’s Vintage Restaurant. “Phelps told me, ‘If you don’t fire her, we’re going to put you out of business.'” The Westboro Baptists proceeded to picket the Restaurant “literally every day” for about three years. Berger eventually sold the restaurant and the woman quit.

    Phelps didn’t. He followed the unfortunate woman, picketing at her new job, and “he still pickets the restaurant all the time,” Berger said in a recent interview. “And now, he pickets my law offices every Tuesday.”

    If nothing else, surely there’s a legitimate harassment charge in there somewhere. Good grief!

    If this crap truly is protected by the US Constitution, it shouldn’t be.

  18. J W Kraft said

    Wow, this man is truly sick.

    They seem to be heavily involved in politics, I don’t know how they have held on to their tax-exempt status.

    Certainly harassment charges could be filed against him. I would think that restraining orders could be taken out against him aswell.

    It also sounds like they have been involved in some witness intimidation. That is a serious crime. I guess the reason most of these charges have been dropped is that he has Topeka and Kansas in his back pocket. He could be charged with a crime in another state. Or outside of the US. They went to Canada, but evidently Canada let them go.

    I think they should investigate his taxes. He doesn’t sound like the type to be prompt about paying his taxes. That could be a federal case. That’s how they got Al Capone.

  19. I haven’t had chance to read it, yet, but it sounds like it confirms much of what I’ve already heard. Phelps is in a league of his own, isn’t he?

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