Sunday, March 6, 2011

If you say so

Last week, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the case Snyder v. Phelps. In an 8-1 decision, the justices ruled that the Westboro Baptist Church could protest at the funerals of military servicemembers, despite the offensive content of their speech (and it's really offensive!).

Today, on the show FOX News Sunday, the attorney for the church, Margie Phelps (who is also the daughter of the church's leader), said that President Obama and the entire Court are "going to hell." Furthermore, she said that Obama "is going to be king of the world before this is all said and done, and he is most likely the beast spoken of in the Revelation." Huh, ok. So: is this the kind of thing we need to discuss on national television?


  1. I actually think media coverage of the case is important. It deals with many of the issues of free speech and freedom of religion, both founding principles of our nation. Obviously her statememnts (and really most of the core tenets of the Westboro Baptist Church's beliefs) are extremely radical and offensive, and almost make a mockery of religion generally. While, watching the family on television is as entertaining as it is disturbing and reporting on it can seem as much soft news as hard news, the issues that restricting the family's outspokenness bring to light, I believe are worth disucssing.

    In case anyone is unaware of just how extreme the Westboro Baptist church is, there is a documentary about the Phelps family and their church:

  2. In the book I am reading for my paper, the authors make suggestions as to how political campaigns can be reported responsibly. Their ideas try and focus the media away from the sensationalist stories - for example they recommend not showing political ads when the media is commenting, rather just explain the content. Perhaps here too, like Noelle said, it is an important discussion to be had and to be heard, but the sensationalism of it can be mitigated by sticking to reporting rather than live shots and footage. Perhaps?

  3. The organization's tactics are: Make inflammatory remarks & file lawsuits. If Obama is going to hell (and he might be, i'm not really much of an expert in that field) than Miss Phelps, and many other members of the church certainly are.

    I've always objected to media coverage of their antics, because that's exactly what they want. But, i guess you can't stop people from looking at carnage, even when it slows down traffic.

  4. There are two things which I think need to be mentioned about this. First of all, I think it is important for there to be media coverage of this because it shows how far reaching our First Amendment rights go.

    Second, if she thinks the Justices, who judged in her favor are "going to hell" then I hate to hear what she would say to the dissenter and others who opposed their beliefs.