Is the First Amendment being abused?


#7529889 Posted on: 10/7/10 at 12:17pm
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First off, sorry if some parts of this don't make sense. I'm drunk off Nyquil.

Anyway, the past few months I've been wondering if the First Amendment is being abused. You have people like WBC that protest soldiers funerals and then they say, "Oh well, I have Freedom of Speech, so STFU." And with the whole Mosque thing in NYC. Some people are saying, "Let them have a Mosque because they have their right to Freedom of Religion. So, I'm wondering if the First Amendment is now being abused.

I hope all that makes sense. My ears are so clogged, I can't even hear myself think.



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#7529905 Posted on: 10/7/10 at 12:32pm
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No, it isn't. Just because people express an opinion that doesn't sit well with the general populace doesn't mean they are abusing their right. If the people do not like what they have to say, then they have every right to argue against them. It's a two way street. It's only abuse if only a select amount if people had that right, and milked it every chance they had.



#7529916 Posted on: 10/7/10 at 12:40pm
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First of all, I believe in the statement "I may not like what you have to say, but I will fight for your right to say it." But I think there are limits.

For example freedom of speech should not protect disrupting a private funeral, such as those of soldiers. WBC has protested in my hometown area, and they were not simply exercising their right to free speech. They were disrupting a private affair with their hate mongering. You cannot come into a private house and say whatever you want with impunity. If you come into a private residence, the owner has a right to dictate what can and cannot be said. For example, I don't allow hate speech in my home. A funeral is a similar circumstance. WBC comes in uninvited to disrupt the funeral. That shouldn't be protected.



#7529918 Posted on: 10/7/10 at 2:33pm
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I think people have a right to *peaceful* expression. There's a number of protests and the like that I personally disagree with, but as long as it's conducted in a reasonable way it falls under their right to free speech. I think that people yelling into others faces, using calculatedly offensive images/language, etc and claim it to be free speech are really just using it as an excuse to cover their harassment.


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#7529890 Posted on: 10/7/10 at 3:19pm
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Unfortunately, even if you know something is wrong, they aren't doing anything unlawful and it sucks for our country. I was reading in a few other countries, justice comes second. If you get in a fight here, say, to protect someone, you still hit that person and it's still against the law but in other countries if you protected someone they have the right to let you go unscathed or something or other.

As much as it sucks, it isn't being abused, it's being upheld. =( I heavily disagree with what the protesters did at that man's funeral, but were they doing anything lawfully wrong? No. Ugh.



#7529921 Posted on: 10/7/10 at 4:13pm
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an ambiguous rule can not be abused when there are no clear limitations to the rule.
attempting to objectify a term that has clear subjective implications is asinine.
what does ''peaceful expression'' mean?? unless there is a 24-pound book describing exactly what can/can't be done, the terms are left to interpretation -- and then judiciary debate.

that is our system.







#7529891 Posted on: 10/7/10 at 11:40pm
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As long as you're not harassing others or trampling on THEIR rights, it's not being abused.



#7529931 Posted on: 10/8/10 at 5:59am
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Quote:

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.


As much as I dislike the Westboro Baptist Church they are not legally violating any rights by protesting. There are actually limits to free speech but they've usually been decided after the case. For instance, you may or may not have the right to protest on private property as that's not considered a public forum and thus not necessarily subject to first amendment rights. The laws on whether or not that's allowed on property such as malls is different from state to state though and the last ruling by the US supreme court stated that since malls were private property they were not subject to 1st amendment rules as those mainly applied to public forums.

For the record, the soldier funeral case has actually worked its way up to the United States Supreme Court and as they're the ultimate authority on interpretation of the constitution whether or not protesting at a funeral is allowed will ultimately be up to them.



#7529923 Posted on: 10/8/10 at 6:08am
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Quote By @Chiaroscuro:

Quote:
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.


As much as I dislike the Westboro Baptist Church they are not legally violating any rights by protesting. There are actually limits to free speech but they've usually been decided after the case. For instance, you may or may not have the right to protest on private property as that's not considered a public forum and thus not necessarily subject to first amendment rights. The laws on whether or not that's allowed on property such as malls is different from state to state though and the last ruling by the US supreme court stated that since malls were private property they were not subject to 1st amendment rules as those mainly applied to public forums.

For the record, the soldier funeral case has actually worked its way up to the United States Supreme Court and as they're the ultimate authority on interpretation of the constitution whether or not protesting at a funeral is allowed will ultimately be up to them.



There have already been civil limits on how close they can be to funerals, as well as cases where they were asked to leave private cemeteries and (usually) complied.

I hate to death what they're doing (I've had funerals connected to my family affected); that means while I do respect their freedom of speech, I will always support putting every single time, place and manner restriction that is reasonable (like not being on private property or within ___ feet of a private gathering) on their actions. I also (personally, IANAL of course) that there is a reasonable case, despite the First Amendment issues, for disturbing the peace and violating privacy against them.

I'm glad they haven't been allowed to wave 'Free Speech!' and get away with whatever they want... that is not how it works, no matter your message.



#7529895 Posted on: 10/8/10 at 6:16am
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@Tribunal.

Yes, but were those state laws or federal laws. The mall court case that I cited did end up going to the United States Supreme court and they ended up siding with the mall property owners and even then, they stated that jurisdiction over whether protesting in a mall was allowed was subject to state laws and therefore up to the states to decide. That's why protesting in a mall in New York could get you hauled off to jail but may not get you hauled to jail in CA. The laws are not the same from state to state and it's up to the jurisdiction of the states to decide.

The Funeral case in general has been a long time in coming actually as it was first brought to court back in 2006 and the Synders actually did get compensation for it by the state court, only to later have it thrown out by the state appeals court on the grounds that the WBC wasn't violating first amendment rights by protesting.

There isn't a legal precedent currently citing that it's against the law federally or otherwise, so legally they have not done anything wrong and aren't violating 1st amendment rights.





#7529901 Posted on: 10/8/10 at 6:23am
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@Chiaroscuro

The "within ___ feet" is 98% of the time civil, trespassing is federal/state depending on the cemetery. And breaking civil laws is still 'doing something legally wrong', it's simply not doing something criminal.

I wasn't trying to say you were incorrect or anything, I was just elaborating on how WBC doesn't abuse the First Amendment yet, but that (to me) doesn't mean they should be allowed the opportunity to do so.



#7529902 Posted on: 10/10/10 at 11:05pm
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The mosque isn't even a debate except by fear-mongering media moguls who want to distract attention away from their massive Saudi contributors. (See Rupert Murdoch's contribution lists.) As far as WBC, the 1st Amendment exists specifically for those crackpots. The majority of the US thinks these guys are nuts, however the majority does NOT have the right to dominate the minority. In the case of WBC, what they do is distasteful, but no different from mainstream conservative groups like the Tea Party or even anti-abortion activists at clinics. These two groups have more following, however, so we tend to delineate between their methods and those of small extremist groups like WBC. The same goes for any political group, liberal, conservative, religious or areligious--any of them. The more followers, the easier it is for us to accept their "right" to whatever they choose to say or do so long as it isn't obviously hurting anyone. It's human nature.

The framers of the 1st Amendment knew this, so they created a means of protecting small, distasteful groups from the majority (whoever that may be). In the case of WBC, they're typically a decent distance from the funerary party, not screaming in their faces. In some cases, the families wouldn't even know the people were there except for advance warning or for seeing it later on the news. There is no violation of law (half of them are lawyers--they make their money suing people, so they're careful to know all local rules and regs), so they've the right to spew their nonsense as they please. If they were in someone's face, literally, or using racial epithets or some other hate speech, it'd be different. As it stands, they espouse a known opinion in an unpopular manner.



#7529927 Posted on: 10/14/10 at 12:33pm
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I think people have a right to express their opinion and interrupt a funeral, as long as I have a right to express my opinion and interrupt their protest. The road goes both ways, they want to show up and protests, then I'll do the same right back. In fact because it's a private funeral, I'll express my opinion so much as to have them kicked off the premises. When I heard that news story about people protesting at a funeral I got sick to my stomach. Of course freedom of speech should exist, but I also believe people should have respect for their fellow man because we are all sharing this planet together. Their freedom of speech should have just been postponed to a better time.


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#7529930 Posted on: 10/15/10 at 1:41am
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Important note about the First Amendment. It does not cover everything you may say. The Courts have decided that if you say something so horrendous that it would incite most people to violence it isn't covered by the First Amendment, anything slanderous, and of course anything that may cause someone to die, for instance if you yell Fire! in a crowded theater. Just something to keep in mind. Also since Freedom of Religion was mentioned in the first post another tidbit. Prison systems have to make all arrangements for someone to practice their religion but this does not extend to anything illegal and with in a short period of the first decision the court amended its decision in a later case stating that any religion that is clearly a sham does not have to be honored. Prisoners were creating religions and making up all sorts of crazy rules to get better food, more perks, etc. Just some food for thought



#7529903 Posted on: 10/15/10 at 4:38pm
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The Islamic Culture center in New York is a non-issue. They do have the right to build where ever they want, and the media has trumped up how close to "ground zero" all this is happening. And even if it was right next door to GZ, they still have that right. There were Muslim people who died in the twin towers, too.

And don't get me wrong, I'm an Atheist, so personally I would rather see them build a Humanist Culture center, or a homeless shelter, or a home for battered women... something TRULY useful. But, I'm not the one building it, and just because I don't believe in their mythology, I do believe in their right to worship it where ever they want.

As for WBC... they do make me question how much I'm willing to defend freedom of speech. I believe they do have a right to express their opinions (no matter how horrible and wrong they are) but when they are using hate speech is when I drawn a line. I do not fight for anyones right to use hate speech. So all the signs about "fag this" and "Jew that" is when I will not fight for their right to the First Amendment. Hate speech, calls to violence (death threats or wishes) I do not feel should be protected.