Legally Speaking: Can the Westboro Baptist Church disrupt a soldier’s funeral? | We The Internet TV


You guys loved our First Amendment
or Asshole series so much, that we’re back in the courtroom
to bring you up to speed
on all things first amendment. A lot has happened since the last time
we sat down with Constitutional Law Professor Barry MacDonald, but I can’t wait to talk… (door opens) [BARRY] Oh no. (music) [LOU] Barry, thank you so much
for taking the time. [BARRY] You have 20 minutes
before security gets here, so… [LOU] Okay… So I hear that now,
you can picket soldiers’ funerals with the intention of
inflicting emotional distress. Can you tell us about that ruling? [BARRY] Yeah, so this was the
so-called Westboro Baptist Church, that goes around picketing
the funerals of fallen soldiers with signs like ‘god hates fags’
and other really offensive signs. Their idea is that God is killing soldiers in punishment for the US’s tolerance of homosexuality, and particularly in the military, so they choose
military funerals to picket. [LOU] Do members of the Westboro Baptist Church think that they’re immortal somehow? Because, it’s like, God ends up
getting everybody in the end. [BARRY] Yeah, not sure what they think. [LOU] Do Westboro Baptist Church
people picket their own funerals? [BARRY] I don’t know,
but sounds like it’d be fair game. [LOU] Just bury them with a sign. (music) [BARRY] So the father, you know, the grief-stricken father who’s burying his son who was just killed, afterwards sued the church for showing up and picketing his son’s funeral for intentional infliction of emotional distress as well as invasion of privacy. And the jury ended up awarding $5 million against the Westboro Baptist Church. And the Supreme Court reversed that and said, that’s punishing speech on matters of public concern. It may not be speech you like, but they are addressing, sort of, public issues. The first amendment is designed to protect the discussion of public issues, the democratic discourse, even though this was
sort of on the fringes. But it still qualified,
and who are we to draw lines? And so therefore, the father wasn’t
able to succeed in his lawsuit. [LOU] It is ironic because I guess the church would have an argument to say, well no, your dead son fought for our right to picket your dead son. [BARRY] Absolutely.
[LOU] What a country. [BARRY] Yeah, I think the Supreme Court’s decision was off the mark here, because I don’t think that the jury was punishing the Westboro Church for offensive content, as much as it was punishing them for making a family’s grief a media platform, a media zoo. They knew that the only way they could get media to cover whatever they did when they’re picketing is by doing something outrageous. And here it was invading this family’s privacy, and I think the court sort of missed the mark on that. [LOU] Was the cemetery a public cemetery? Was it a private cemetery? Does that change it at all? [BARRY] It was at the church services, and the court stressed that the picketers were 1,000 feet away, so that the father could only
see the top of the signs. But again, I think that misses the mark that they publicize this in advance, that they’re gonna show up
at this funeral. And I think it misses the mark that here you’re burying your child, this is one of the saddest moments, most devastating moments
of a parent’s life, and to know that some group
is just exploiting this… [LOU] Say they did rule against the Westboro Baptist Church, would that… I’m trying to imagine if there’s any kind of Pandora’s box that could open up as far as… [BARRY] I think it could open a Pandora’s box in allowing juries in these types of cases to punish people that they just don’t like what they’re saying, and there is a risk of that. We don’t allow government to punish speech on the basis of offensiveness, and I think that’s generally right. But I think that in a lot of cases, judges instruct juries as to what they can consider and what they can’t, and I think if judges
instructed juries saying, look, you can’t make your reward based on the offensiveness of the content, that’s just not allowed,
but if you think they’ve invaded privacy to gain this media exploitation,
that’s another thing. And so I think you can instruct juries
to sort of cabin that risk. [LOU] That’s definitely a
conversation we should have as far as when first amendment rights brush up against privacy rights. [BARRY] Absolutely. And this case wouldn’t even be
a dispute in countries like Germany. A lot of European countries
elevate personal dignity, and there’s no question in my mind
that if this had been brought in Germany or many other European countries,
they would have said, look, the personal dignity of the fallen soldier and his family is entitled to respect here. And we’re gonna weigh that over
the free speech concerns. In this country, we give very little weight to personal dignity or privacy concerns, and we mainly elevate
free speech in everything. And I’m not sure that that’s
the proper balance to strike. In some cases, yes,
but not in all cases. [LOU] Thank god, there’s no footage
of me on my bachelor party, when I was vomiting
on the beach. Because…no dignity there. (music) Hey guys, I hope you enjoyed our video! If you have any questions about the first amendment or free speech in general, let us know in the comments. And be sure to subscribe to our channel, and make sure to click the little bell icon so you get notified any time we release a new video.

67 thoughts on “Legally Speaking: Can the Westboro Baptist Church disrupt a soldier’s funeral? | We The Internet TV”

  1. Clearly a foot sweeping is in order.. you really can't pick it when you're horizontal and disoriented from a Kung Fu sweep of the leg

  2. There’s only like 40 of these people… the WBC is a tiny organization.

    That’s why they all carry like 5 signs. It’s literally to make it look like there’s more people than there are.

    I personally think we should just be allowed to punch these people, but we can’t. So the best option is to ignore them completely.

  3. I honestly don't get what was so terrible about "don't ask, don't tell". But what the West Buro Baptist Church did was beyond terrible!

  4. Honestly the wbc is a disgrace to Christians as a whole. This man died for their freedom and doing this is disrespectful as hell.

  5. I… uhm…
    what the fuck is america doing and why does it allow things like that? free speech my ass if i'm going to actually hurt people around.

  6. 1st Amd: If you are being arrested cause your 'protest armlock sit-in' is blocking a public sidewalk refusing to move it 6ft when asked by cops,
    and you are individually warned that you will be pepper sprayed if you refuse to unlock your arms resisting arrest
    …how can you pretend to be shocked and outraged when you get peppersprayed for refusing to unlock your arms resisting arrest?

  7. Restrict their protest to not be allowed within a mile of the funeral. That way the free speech of the scumbags is withheld without harassing and distressing grieving families

  8. Don't listen to judges when on the jury. You can nullify any law. It is up to you to judge the case and the law

  9. Scotus was correct. It's too onerous to face civil lawsuits merely for the level of how triggered another party is. Offensive speech is projected speech.

  10. That's an interesting take on first amendment rights vs privacy and personal dignity. Despite that, I'm still glad the 1st amendment was deemed to be violated by the jury. I don't want the US to move towards the EUs lax free speech rights. That said, I hope all those responsible for the picketing of dead soldiers get pink eye. In both eyes. I'm not going to bare assed fart on their pillows nor am I advocating such a thing but I wouldn be sad if it happened.

  11. I'm glad the supreme court came down on the side of free speech. Every time someone's feelings are involved I get worried.

  12. Back in the bad ol days law was made to keep people from killing those that wronged them in lieu for the state to punish the guilty and redress the injured. If the governance will no longer fulfill that obligation and becomes defunct its the peoples duty to procure justice themselves. Do we really want to go back to that.

  13. Westboro Baptist Church is just doing what the Bible says. They're actually tame compared to the psychos and pedophiles that loved Jesus in the days of yore. I still hate the bastard. Glad he's fictional. We have enough hippies and communists. We don't need a Jewish closet case and his 12 lovers running around, turning water into wine.

  14. The only free speech I oppose are people wanting to limit free speech. Those fuckers can lead by example.

    It's distasteful and offensive, but so is virtually everything else you strongly disagree with, so deal with it.

  15. A few years ago I was living near Valentine, Nebraska when a soldier from there was killed in action. Word got around that WBBC was coming to protest at the funeral. Valentine is a "cow town" with a history of do-it-yourself justice. The message got back to WB that if they appeared, it would end badly for them. They didn't show.

  16. I'm a Christian. But there is nothing Christ like about Westboro. NOTHING. They are HORRIBLE people and I don't know how to sleep at night.

  17. If you really want to stop the church without hurting the first amendment just stop watching news sites and channels that have stories on the west bitch church. Also make sure to boycott and tell news sites you won’t support them or watch them anymore if they cover anything the church does even if it’s to make them look bad because all the church wants is attention and to stay relevant. If we ignore them and cut off their money supply and their media coverage we cut those nasty losers away from our lives and hit them where it hurts… in the wallet!

  18. Alright so for real if you hate politics or the army. At least have respect for their lives and their families

  19. I think if God would punish someone, he would punish directly the supporters of homosexual rights; maybe we should end to bring God in our quarrels.

  20. Human dignity is Europe's excuse for their crackdown on free speech. The Westboro Baptist Church is disgusting, but I don't see any firm line that can be drawn here.

  21. The only detail that matters is what Lou asked. Was the cemetery private property? If it is, the owners can limit whomever they choose. “Dignity” has no bearing in any legal proceeding, especially one regarding the individual rights of others.

  22. Yes, true freedom of speech means that they can be hateful at funerals. It's not against the law to be an awful person, and it SHOULDN'T be.

  23. WBC are some real pieces of shit, but even pieces of shit are entitled to the 1stA. And here is my 1A, fuck you WBC.

  24. couldn't what the westbororo church did be considered a form of fighting words? It seems very provoking. though I guess thats not the angle that was considered

  25. Funerals should be left out of politics im all for freedom of speech but think about how you would feel at a funeral its just to personal.

  26. Westboro members were over 1000 feet away, and nobody at the funeral could even see them. Even the family said they never saw the Westboro protesters, so there was no disruption of a funeral. Westboro rightfully won this case, and soldiers families need to know better than to turn their funerals into public spectacles just because soldier worship has become a massive cult in the USA.

  27. People who will picket a funeral are disgusting! I don't care who it is…If it's Hitler, I wouldn't picket his funeral…I might have a party, but I wouldn't picket. Even the most hardened criminal has family (most of the time) that loved them at one time. Even if nobody is there, why would you do it?
    I just know if I had someone picketing the funeral of someone I loved, the cops wouldn't have to disband them.
    That being said, I also know it's free speech. Remember though, just because you can, doesn't mean you have to.

  28. Kill a few of them and they'll forget all about the 1st Amendment. Remember, what's legal isn't always right and what's right isn't always legal.

  29. Ohhhh, it's a tricky area. I hate the WBC with a vengeance, but I really like the 1st amendment. Good conversation.

  30. LOL Baptist Church, so Christian of them, so 10000000 people could also go to their church and laugh at them till they try to get physical then all hell breaks loose

  31. God bless the men and women of the United States armed forces. Never forget the police officer who moved here legally from Fiji to be murdered by a Criminal Alien

  32. I disagree with Barry McDonalds opinion here. If the court rules that hurtful banter, talk, rhetoric is punishable then it essentially renders the 1st amendment null and void. Nobody likes Westboro Baptist Church but it isn't illegal or unconstitutional to be totally unlikable. If that were the case then Hilary Clinton would almost certainly be in prison now…in my dreams!

  33. Perhaps it would be helpful if news media would simply defang Westboro Baptist Church by ignoring them. Don't show the people, the signs, don't talk about the fact that they were even in the area…really – this would steal their thunder. Shunning is quite effective.

  34. That guys wrong.
    Like what he is feeling but he is still mistaken.
    Free speech is absolute (except usual, calling violence, yelling fire, etc)
    It sucks at times, but there's a reason we needed to let the nazi's march in Skokie just as we need to let these a-holes do this.
    We have to counter bad speech with better speech, bad ideas with better ideas, etc, you all know the drill.
    Oh, and it doesn't mean they aren't total assholes.
    They are.

  35. I'm sorry that your professor friend doesn't know how freedom of speech actually works (hint, it doesn't end when your feefees start to get hurt), but he's hardly unique with respect to the general public (and increasingly, leftist professors) in that regard.

    I'm gay; the supreme court made the obviously right decision in this case. In fact, I will go so far as to say there has been no more powerful single force for gay rights over the past 2 decades in this country than the Phelps group. It was the public being able to see their insanity and hate on full display that pushed many a gay marriage ballot initiative in the direction of freedom that we now enjoy nationwide.

  36. Great vid, Don Johnson! Free speech is important. I just wish the WBC would be hit by a meteor or something.

  37. Westboro Baptist Church are not Christians. They used to be. But they threw their salvation back into His face. They allowed hatred into their hearts and have taken comfort in it instead of taking comfort in God's love and forgiveness. Unless they realize that God does in fact love gay people too, they'll rot in hell just like any other who rejects God's love.

    The whole point of salvation is to let go of the things that keep you down, let go of any hatred kept in the heart, and to forgive those who have and will do you harm. Love the sinner but not the sin as the saying goes.

  38. Yea, unfortunately it is protected by our first amendment to do that, but it is differently disrespectful to our military and families of fallen soldiers.

  39. in germany you cannot question even the details of certain historic events without going to jail, and in the u.k. you will get rousted by bobbies for saying women don't have penises. u.s. wins this time.

  40. I'm for the law as it stands with the free speech. I think the WBBC will receive punishment in being generally maligned by society but it is an awful grievance against the individual family.

  41. did lou come from a miami vice audition? on a serious note, i obviously agree with free speech, but funerals should be given some kind of haven status

  42. Free speech is just that. For now, we are good. I heard they wanted to do a "Hate speech" law in congress but I can't find anything more on it, maybe its a rumor, one can only hope.

  43. Pursuit of happiness…. Happiness is a feeling. America is all about protecting your feelings as well as your rights. Protesting funerals should be a capital offense. 😉

  44. I'd rather put up with WBC than a government that arbitrarily drags comedians into court for offensive language (Count Dankula).

  45. I wonder if had been a police offer what the ruling would have been. There has now been a president set. Protesting any funeral will be OK. How about a family member of a high court judge.

  46. The irony of them protesting the very people who fight for their right to protest. It's like biting the hand that feeds you, only…. dumber.

    But, the exercise of rights aren't always agreed on, freedom can be uncomfortable… but, it's better than the alternative.

  47. I wonder if these people would call it god's will and just punishment if some enraged veteran shoots their protest in a driveby and people decide to picket their funeral too.

  48. Really hard to picket with two broken fucking legs.

    Lmao why can't you circumcise Westboro Baptist Church members?
    Because there's just no end to those pricks

  49. Propaganda is legal to be used upon the U.S citizens for a reason… Don't believe everything you see in the so called news..

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