Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Westboro "Church" ordered to pay grieving father $11 million

I can't praise this verdict enough. I understand the "church" has a right to free speech, but they broke the law, plain and simple. And, as a result, caused a great deal of mental anguish for a father who lost his son in Iraq. So, they have been ordered to pay 11 million.

The LA Times has already condemned the decision. Interesting, it seems the only "Christian" group the LA Times supports is the one who celebrates the deaths of US soldiers...go figure. And I'm sure this will be appealed and I'm sure at some point it will land in the lap of a liberal judge who will reverse the decision. But, for now, I take some pleasure knowing that justice has been done.

And just because these lunatics call themselves Christians doesn't make it true. They are a fringe group centered around pure hatred and evil. Their very existence disgusts me, as does their misrepresentation of my faith. Their judgement day is coming one way or another.


The Loop Garoo Kid. said...


Let me suggest that your concern of this verdict being overturned by a liberal judge is unrealistic.
This verdict was returned by a federal jury. An appeal will be heard by the appropriate federal Circuit of Appeals which the last time I checked was not packed w/ liberal judges. The three judge panel's decision may then be reviewed by the entire Circuit Court of Appeals. The next stop after that will the Supreme Court.

I am not familiar of the exact facts. I suspect the verdict will stand or fall on the location of the "church" members.

The issue is balancing the right to free speech w/ the family's expectation of privacy. If the protesters were in a decidedly public place, like on a public road leading to the cemetary, the verdict may be reversed. If the protesters were in a decidedly private place like inside the cemetary or even in a public place w/in plain view of the grave, I think the court will find in favor of the family.

I was glad to see the verdict also although from a collection standpoint, the verdict is probably Phyrrhic.


Anonymous said...

In other words free speech is only free speech when most of America agrees with it? Doesn't sound free to me...

The Loop Garoo Kid said...

Sorry, Pyrrhic.

John Washburn said...

Robert, it's not free. In this case it cost them $11 million. Your comment tells me that your grasp of the concept of freedom of speech is quite warped.

I am a man of the Constitution, and I have to say that I'm getting tired of people misusing the rights that are guaranteed by that document. Freedom of Speech does not grant you the right to say anything you want. There are consequences for your actions and, in many cases, your words.

I'm a bit tired of people violating the rights of others and then hiding behind their Freedom of Speech, playing it like a get out of jail free card. I think it's time people learned that the right of free speech comes with great responsibility. Misusing and abusing that right will lead to nothing good.

That family has a right to privacy while grieving their dead soldier son. The Constitution does NOT give another person the right to violate that privacy.


If the money judgement stands up on appeal, it's fortunate for the
looney-tunes with the hate-signs.

It's conscievable that at one of these military funerals...

a dead-trooper's anguished Dad
or brothers might get away with multiple murder, with a sympathetic jury.

I've been anticipating it; What would I do?
I don't know. reb

The Loop Garoo Kid said...


I did not follow you. How is it fortunate for the looney tunes if the judgment is upheld?


Anonymous said...

"Freedom of Speech does not grant you the right to say anything you want."

But, that's exactly what it does do. And what "right to privacy?" That's what isn't in the Constitution. Not that I don't respect it (which is why I'm against wiretapping), but protesters have their rights too. Even if they're complete scumbags. Unless we should go the way of Pakistan and shut down any protests we don't like.

Freedom means protecting the rights of everyone, morons like these "churchgoers" included.

John Washburn said...

Robert, freedom of speech is not unlimited. You aren't allowed to infringe on the rights of others. You aren't allowed to threaten another person. You aren't allowed to say things that would put others in danger. There are limits, and these people crossed those limits.

Anonymous said...

And how did they put anyone in danger? Or violate anyone's rights?


Loop Garoo,

That weird church group has violated a grieving family's right
to bury their son without the pinheads showing up with Mindless Hate Signs!

They are damn fortunate that they are still breathing. Money Damages is far too light. reb

The Loop Garoo Kid said...

robert m,

Our system of jurisprudence has long recognized he right to privacy. This Westboro case is a prime example of that right colliding w/ the right to free speech.

In this case, the right to privacy won. As I stated above, the appelate decision will probably be fact specific. An October 24, 2007 article in the Baltimore Sun advised that one of the defendants in her opening statement told the jury the demonstrators were 1000 feet from the grave site and out of sight and earshot. Opening and closing statements are not evidence and I cannot state what the actual facts were.

robert, the Doctor is completely correct in his analysis of freedom of speech. There are limits, one of the most well known examples being that there is no right to cry "fire" in a crowded theater absent an actual conflagration.

I will be patronizing, which I usually try and avoid, to advise you that you would benefit by inquiring into a subject b/f formulating an opinion.
Otherwise you run the risk, for you, a realized one, of appearing uninformed and naive. I no longer visit your site b/c I find your brand of Libertarianism to be silly.


In this instance, the award is almost certain to be uncollectible. Not b/c of the amount, but b/c absent a liability insurance policy or garnishable assets, there is no money to get. If the church owns real property, i.e. a building and land, it is possible to in essence foreclose on the property. The individual members and the church itself could seek protection under bankruptcy laws. Once a petition is filed, the bankruptcy court enters an automatic stay which prevents collecting a judgment or further litigation outside the bankruptcy court. If there is a liability insurance policy, that policy is not part of the bankruptcy estate and you can ask for and will be granted relief from the stay. Damages from certain acts are not subject to protection afforded by bankruptcy, however, the most recent research I did on this subject, which was about 3 years ago, indicated that the Bankruptcy Act would not protect against theft and fraud but unless the complained of act was in the nature of theft or fraud,the automatic stay will apply.

I have noted that there is a certain motorcycle club that frequently attends the funerals of soldiers where the Westboro Church is present and protects the family by providing a moving physical barrier.
To them I say, "Bravo."


Anonymous said...

I don't think I ever disputed that the legal system said it was okay. I'm disputing whether they should be allowed to do it, and the answer is yes. The law is nothing but a system wherein the majority force the minority to do what they want. That's why the Constitution allows for freedom of speech. It is also the highest law of the United States. The fact that we've passed laws that go against it doesn't mean those laws are right or valid.

Anonymous said...

"I no longer visit your site b/c I find your brand of Libertarianism to be silly."

Oh, did you ever visit? I must have forgotten...

The Loop Garoo Kid said...

"The law is nothing but a system wherein the majority forces the minority to do what they want."

Great sentence robert. Not only weren't you paying attention in Civics but also you weren't paying attention in English either.

"That's why the Constitution allows for freedom of speech. The fact that we passed laws that go against it doesn't mean those laws are right or valid."

The case at issue did not involve any codified law or statute, something you would have known had you bothered to inform yourself of the facts.

I cannot say I am surprised you have forgotten my visits given that you are a bear of very little brain. Again, robert, inform yourself of the facts before you express an opinion. In this instance, educating yourself about the law would have served you well also.


Anonymous said...

Regarding the Ad Hominem attacks, I should point out that I got consistent As in my AP Comp. and Language classes.

Also, regarding this amusing aside of yours:

"I cannot say I am surprised you have forgotten my visits given that you are a bear of very little brain."

Clever, to be sure. But the comment that started the exchange was not only pathetic, it was also irrelevant. If you don't want your ego stung, don't set yourself up for it. I'd also point out that if my reply hurt you enough to make you publicly insult my intelligence, you might want to examine how confident you are about yourself.

So, I'm hoping the bullshit's over, (mildly entertaining though it was) and we can get to the issue at hand. If you wish, however, we can trade clever asides all day. It's your choice.

Now then, when faced with law or right, I choose right, not law. This is a concept thought up by several influential American thinkers. The founding fathers, it should be noted, were breaking quite a few laws when they started the Revolution of '76. Clearly, law is not the final word in matters of moral right.

Your response?


Good grief, Robert!

The First Amendment does not give anyone the right to inflict pain or anguish, nor to slander or verbally abuse another, or to falsely ruin your neighbors good reputation; or to verbally threaten pain, injury or death. There are legal limits that you would find beneficial to understand, before you are the defendant in a civil court. Ever hear of Punitive Damages?

Look up "Verbum sap"...
"A word to the wise is sufficient"


(Loop Garoo):
A word to the 'Wise-guy' is often wasted. Maturity Lane is often a bumpy, uncomfortable roadway until it broadens and smooths out. reb
______________________________ www.lazyonebenn.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Again, I don't think I said anything about it being legal. But when the law is wrong, it doesn't matter what's legal. Not to mention that the 1st Amendment does allow you to do those things, as long as no physical harm is involved.

By the way, you offered that platitude at the bottom last time we debated. What do you do, keep a file cabinet full of them?

The Loop Garoo Kid said...

Thanks reb.

robert so you hope the BS is over? "When faced with law or right, I chose right, not law. That is a concept thought up by several influential American thinkers. The founding fathers, it should be noted, were breaking quite a few laws when the thaey started the Revolution of '76. Clearly the law is not the final word on matters of moral right."

Are you studying AP American History also? Regular American History? If so, you somehow failed to recall:

"By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world."

The place was the Old North Bridge in Concord, MA. The date was April 19, 1775.

Now that we have that cleared up let us examine the rest of your proposition. Certainly rebelling against one's lawful king is treason, punishible, inter alia, by hanging, drawing, and quartering. In this intstance, unlike H.D. Thoreau's failure to pay his poll tax, the teason really could not be considered civil disobedience given the fact that the American colonists had taken up arms against their King. It was, under the circumstances, morally right to do so. I refer you to the Declaration of Independence for the facts submitted to a candid world.

So let me ask you a few questions. Is it morally right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater when there is no fire?

Is it morally right to defame a person?

Is it morally right to protest the practice of abortion by holding up a sign that says: "Thank God for dead soldiers" at the funeral of a serviceman KIA in Iraq?

Oliver Cromwell wrote to the Church of Scotland "I bessech you in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken."


Anonymous said...

Actually yes, I did take AP US. Consistent As in that too, if you want to know.

Anyway, all your patriotic rhetoric aside, the only relevant point you brought up was that this court verdict was somehow akin to yelling "fire" in a theater. Now, how does that even close to compare to protesters holding up signs? The rationale for that comparison ought to be good.

You've used the Cromwell thing before by the way. Why am I having extreme déjà vu with my opponents today?


How's Your Spanish?

En boca cerada, no entre la moskas.

Tu say en boca al lupo! (Italiano)

Laminate those for your desk-top!

Anonymous said...

What in the hell does that have to do with the topic at hand?

Anonymous said...

O.K. Kid, we give up. You win!

Your Mother Knows that you're the
smartest kid in that school, and the best looking too. Not too bad
for your age!

And I'll just bet a wooden nickle,
you'll agree with her.

Now, go back to your Libertarian Sand-box and play w/ your friends.

You're not quite ready to joust
with the seniors. Trust me.

Pappy Greybeard

Anonymous said...

Am I to take the complete lack of logical responses/argumentation as a sign that no logical argument against my position exists then?

Anonymous said...

Pappy Greybeard Says, ROBERT M,

Curious that you mention B.S.

If your pile could somehow be converted into kilowatts...

You'd Be A Power-house!


(Who invited junior to this
serious weblog? With such Juvenile Arrogance, I rather foresee,
that someday soon, he'll mouth-off
to someone his own age but a little quicker, and brighter than he, will flatten him out, roll him on his back, and call a friend to haul him home, and give him an ice-pack for his fat lip).


Anonymous said...

Still no logic huh? How disappointing. I take it I'm right then?

John Washburn said...

Pappy, welcome. Feel free to continue commenting on this and other posts.

Robert, I think a valid argument has already been made, you just disagree with it. You think freedom of speech is not limited.

Others disagree, including the law.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure where you get off saying I've had logical arguments put forth to me. So far, I've put forth the question, "what makes law the be all and end all?" and "how are these protesters hurting anyone?" The responses have been along the lines of, 'do you know Spanish?' and 'someone will try to beat you up!'

So do your "friends" arguments constitute logical ones? Let's see.

Q: What makes the law supreme?
A: Do you know Spanish?!

Q: How did the protesters hurt anyone?
A: Someone will beat you up someday!

I think we both know how that would go over in an objective forum. Don't be led by your beliefs to the point of delusion. It isn't healthy.

So, still waiting for logic, and not seeing it. Hopefully someone can figure it out soon, because, amusing as these responses are, I'm starting to feel a bit like I'm in an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Kristina said...

robert m.
So, since you believe that no one has answered your questions. I'll try to do so in a rational and logical way.

"What makes the law the be all end all?"

Well, until that law is changed, our laws make it so. Unless you follow said laws, you get punished. If you want to change the laws, there are ways to go about that. However, while the law is in place, it is the be all end all.

"How did the protesters hurt anyone?"

There is such a thing as emotional pain. How do you think you would feel if your son died--for whatever reason--and people stood outside his funeral and held up a sign saying that it was a good thing that he had died? It would hurt. Sometimes, that emotional hurt leads to suicide. Then, that pain becomes physical and leads to emotional pain for other people.

Finally, I believe that the reason that other people stopped replying to your specific questions is because you came back with the same thing over and over again, instead of furthering your questions.

Oh, yeah, and in the post by Loop about the revolution, I'm pretty sure he was referring to the fact that your "facts" were wrong in your comment. So, perhaps, you should read the reply comments a bit closer. Many answers were supplied in ambiguous ways that are hard for young people (no offense to young people here--just a fact) have a hard time assimilating because of lack of experience.

Anonymous said...

The law is the be all and end all to those who choose to follow it. Was Gandhi evil? Or Thoreau? The government can punish you for breaking the law, that is true, but if they can't make you follow it, who is more powerful?

And let me ask you this. When Hitler killed six million Jews, he did it legally. Ok with you?

There's a higher law than the ones our government instates. It doesn't make sense to me to say, "it's the law, therefore, I am right."

Secondly, "emotional pain" is a weak argument, often seen in lawsuits. If you want to pass a law against it, you're essentially saying it should be illegal to hurt someone's feelings.

True, these protesters are wrong and damnable, but if we don't give them their rights, how will we argue if ever someone tries to take ours?