On Snyder v. Phelps

Have I trained this week? No. Am I twitchy? Well, as of about an hour ago…yes. We’ve been back from Vegas long enough that I can’t use jet lag as my excuse any more, but I’m not sure what’s up, other than I’ve felt sluggish all week. Tomorrow night, for sure, hot date with the fluid trainer.
I’m postponing sleep for a few minutes to render my entirely unremarkable opinion on the Supreme Court’s Snyder v. Phelps decision. To wit: I think the Supremes got it right. My agreement is based largely on some of the particulars of the case. Nina Totenberg totally gave me permision* to gank this from her article on npr.org:

The picketers followed their usual practice at the Snyder funeral. They alerted police in advance and followed instructions to set up their protest on public property, at a site 1,000 feet away from the church, near the vehicle entrance.
Though the protest was peaceful and ended before the funeral began, the picketers carried signs with messages offensive to many […]
Albert Snyder, the father of the dead Marine, did not see the signs until later when he viewed TV coverage. He says the picketers turned his son’s funeral into a circus, taking away his “last moment” with his son.

When I think about these protests, I usually get a mental image of a bunch of yahoos standing right behind the priest as the casket is lowered into the ground. That apparently wasn’t true, at least not in this instance. They were on public ground – just outside the church parking lot, sounds like – and were gone before the actual funeral took place. There was no personal contact with the family. I think I’d have a problem if that were somehow judged to be outside the bounds of the law. Certainly a $5 million judgement for emotional distress is way out of line, and that’s what the lower court awarded Snyder. As repugnant as this sort of thing is, I don’t think I want the supreme court saying it’s not OK for people to gather in public and say unpopular things.
Now let me state what should be obvious: like most people with a half-ounce of sense, I think Phelps and crew are somewhere between crazy and terminally cynical. I found this analysis of his behavior to make quite a bit of sense. The world would be a better place if this didn’t happen, and part of me thinks that by writing about it, I’m simply giving the situation attention it doesn’t deserve. But I don’t think it should be illegal, even though it would most certainly break my already broken heart should it happen to me.
Now, as a palate cleanser, go look at the coverage of the counter-protest at San Diego Comic-Con 2010.
* not really

One thought on “On Snyder v. Phelps

  1. Hey, every time they pop up, they get more people to be supportive of LGBT rights. So if you ask me, they should just keep talking.
    Seriously, I agree with you, what they do is odious but legal. The linked article about Phelps is interesting, as is the following podcast where two gay boys interview Shirley Phelps-Roper:
    http://bit.ly/ibQWIq
    She never totally denies that it’s all a scam, but for a scammer she knows an awful lot of bible verses. (Of course, maybe that’s her game, etc.)

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