Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Senate Panel Passes Picketing Bill

An Oklahoma State Senate committee passed a bill today to restrict demonstrations at funerals, particularly at funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. The demonstrations come not from anti-war protesters, but from members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas led by pastor Fred Phelps (pictured above). Yes, you heard me right. If you've never heard of this group, they've been demonstrating at gay pride events and gay funerals all over the country for years. They operate two lovely websites, one called GodHatesFags.com and the other called GodHatesAmerica.com, the later of which now proudly proclaims that "Coretta Scott-King is in HELL!!!!".

Not content to just direct their hate-speech at gays, they've now moved on to soldier funerals, stating that the soldiers were killed in combat because God hates America for tolerating homosexuals. This new movement has so outraged veterans' groups, that recently motorcyclists have started showing up at the same funerals just so they can rev their engines over the voices of the demonstrators.

Now, I'm a big supporter of the First Amendment, but I personally think that hate speech demonstrations should be outlawed the same way that shouting "FIRE!" into a crowded building is illegal. Hopefully this bill will be passed into law, and the impact of these disrespectful demonstrations will at least be minimized.

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