I am entirely sympathetic to this, from a reader:
There’s another angle you are missing. The entire situation that
Fred Phelps causes is purely a result of our legalistic society,
where rather than deal with issues in a cultural manner, we resort
to the ever more burdened courts.
To be blunt, in the days of my grandfather, a good sized group
of men would have peeled off from the funeral, and informed
Rev. Phelps he was not welcome within eyesight of the funeral,
and that it was time for him to leave. Like, right now. If he
didn’t, then he would have been bodily removed, likely with
a variety of lumps and bruises, from the scene and warned that
if he returned, he would get a serious beating.
And nobody would have batted an eye. Any cops that were called
would have exercised discretion, looked over the situation, and
told Phelps “You had it coming, bub, beat it”. Any judge that
Phelps petitioned would have looked at the case, told Phelps
he was a horses hind end, and tossed it out of court with
However, that was in the days when the US had pretty much one
culture. Sure, lots of variations, but in 1950 a jerk like
Phelps would have gotten pretty much that reaction whether
he was disrupting a Marine’s funeral in Georgia, or Brooklyn,
or California. Because in those days, most people believed
in the same standards of behavior.
The sixties changed that. I can trace a direct line from the
“Do Your Own Thing” of ‘68, to Phelps standing outside of a
cemetery with “God Hates Fags” signs in 2009. By smashing
cultural norms, the left moved simple disputes such as this
from the cultural, low-level form of conflict resolution into
the legal system. And so now we have the absurdity of a mentally
disturbed man petitioning the Supreme Court for the “right” to
disrupt military funerals.
Thanks a lot, hippies…
It’s true. If this country worked more properly, if you saw whole bunch of battered, bruised and bloodied people in an emergency room, you might ask “What happened to them?”
Then someone would say, “Oh they went to a Marine’s funeral and shouted something about ‘fags’ and ‘thank God for dead soldiers.’ Then they wouldn’t leave when asked. So they got their asses beat.”
And you’d respond, “Ah. Sounds about right.”
And then you’d go about your day.
For a fuller take on hidden law, see this ten year-old G-File.