Westboro Baptist Church- Target of New Arizona Law

by Scott77 10 Replies latest social current

  • Scott77

    Lawmakers to head off picketing at Tucson funerals
    By Associated Press | Tuesday, January 11, 2011 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Southwest
    Photo by AP

    P HOENIX — Arizona legislators planned to consider emergency legislation Tuesday to head off picketing by a Topeka, Kan., church at the funeral service for a 9-year-old girl who was among six people killed during Saturday’s shooting in Tucson.

    The proposed law would prohibit protests at or near funeral sites.

    It would take effect immediately if passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer.

    Legislative aides said the bill appeared to be on track for quick passage, and Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman said the Republican governor would sign the bill if it reaches her desk.

    The Westboro Baptist Church said Monday it plans to picket Thursday’s funeral for Christina Taylor Green because "God sent the shooter to deal with idolatrous America." The fundamentalist church has picketed many military funerals to draw attention to its view that the deaths are God’s punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.

    Lawmakers denounced the church’s plan to picket the funeral of a child.

    "This is just horrific that ... people have to deal with this. We shouldn’t have to do this in time of great pain for our state," said Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Phoenix Democrat.

    The girl was the youngest of the six people killed during the shooting at an event held by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was among 14 people injured. Giffords was shot in the head and critically wounded.

    Numerous states have passed laws restricting protests at funerals after members of the Westboro church began protesting at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Sinema, who said she is the lead sponsor of the Senate’s version of the bill, said the Arizona legislation is modeled on an Ohio law that was upheld by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court heard an appeal from the Westboro church in October and is expected to issue a decision by late spring.

    The four-paragraph Arizona bill would make it a misdemeanor to picket or conduct other protest activities within 300 feet of a funeral or burial service from one hour before the event to one hour after.

    Sinema said the prohibition would only apply to funeral and burial sites because courts have struck down picketing prohibitions for procession routes.

    Spokesmen said House Speaker Kirk Adams and Senate President Russell Pearce both support the bill and that it enjoys strong bipartisan backing in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

    Adams "feels its very important to pass this today because he feels that the Westboro Baptist Church is despicable for what they plan to do at the funeral of the 9-year-old," Adams spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said. "He used the word ’disgusting’ too."

    Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/national/southwest/view.bg?articleid=1308855

  • brotherdan

    Part of me is so happy about this. Part of me is hesitant. I detest what these people do. But at the same time signing a law that restricts protesting at a specific place...hmmmm...does it end there, or does this open up an opportunity for lawmakers to outlaw protests in any other location?

    I would love to ban these nut jobs from what they are doing. But the law, while motivated by concern and care, might not be the best solution...

    Am I way off here?

  • james_woods

    Has any state attempted to do this in the past?

    I support it, but the reality factor assures us that some activist judge will strike the law down as unconstitutional.

  • undercover

    It's a sad fucking state of affairs when you have to enact laws to force people to act with common decency.

    But since dumbasses insist on being dumbasses, their freedom of speech should end when it encroaches on the rights of those who wish to bury their dead in peace without confrontation or controversy.

  • brotherdan

    I agree with you, undercover. It's a sad thing. I just wish there was some other way to not allow it without having to make a law that states you can't picket at a particular location. But at the same time, I can't see ANY situation where it should be ok to picket a funeral. So maybe it's a good law. But I think J_Woods is right. I'm sure that even if it goes through right now, if Phelps fights it and it then eventually it will be struck down as unconstitutional.

  • james_woods
    But since dumbasses insist on being dumbasses, their freedom of speech should end when it encroaches on the rights of those who wish to bury their dead in peace without confrontation or controversy.

    I am a big supporter of free speech, but I am afraid that I have to agree. The Westboro nutjobs are deliberately committing verbal assaults on innocent people.

  • fulltimestudent

    " ... if the Phelps fight it ...eventually it will be struck down as unconstitutional."

    The flip side of the rule of law.

  • undercover

    Are cemetaries considered public land? You may own a small plot of that land inside the cemetary (but by the time you take possession of it, you can't do anything), but isn't the grounds, the buildings, maintenance sheds, etc. private property?

    Couldn't the cemetary owner/caretaker set their own rules as to what they will/won't allow on the grounds?

    Maybe nutcases have freedom of speech in public places, but if they step on my property, they're gonna STFU or be escorted off. Why can't the cemetary owners just enforce some house rules?

    Is there something about cemetaries that I don't understand?

  • brotherdan

    The problem is that if you see what they do, they will set up outside of the cemetary and use bull horns to disrupt the service. They will also yell and scream at the cars that are arriving at the funeral. They are a bunch of animals. Have you heard some of the songs they sing? Sad...

    Anyone see the Michael Moore bit with Phelps?


  • OnTheWayOut

    This 9-year old girl with a grieving family and the issue of God's wrath on Homosexuality in America.
    Apples and Oranges.

    Hmm..... Total nut jobs.

    I do understand that if you want free press coverage, you have to get radical, but if you choose to do so at the cost of disrupting what I would call the rights of a grieving family, then the law has to get involved.

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