Homophobia is Protected Speech

Mar 2, 2011 at 2:40 pm
It's a marketplace of ideas. Some of them are terrible.
It's a marketplace of ideas. Some of them are terrible.
It's been a great week for folks who hate lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people -- and want the world to know about it.

The Supreme Court today ruled 8-1 that those hate-spewing assholes from Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas are protected by the First Amendment. And in Illinois, the 7th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that suburban Chicago teenagers are totally within their rights to wear T-shirts to school that say "Be Happy, Not Gay."

Westboro Baptist's brainless shtick, in case you've been hiding under a rock, is to protest military funerals because, um, God hates fags, as their lovely signs read. And God has apparently been picking off our military members in these current conflicts because America doesn't hate people who are not straight fags enough. (It's definitely not because they are fighting a war.)

The "church" was sued by the father of a dead soldier whose funeral they picketed. Initially, he was awarded $11 million for Westboro's intentional infliction of emotional distress. His award was later reduced on appeal, and has now been thrown out. The only dissenting opinion was written by Justice Samuel Alito.

As for the little charmers in Illinois, they had worn their anti-gay T-shirts to school the day after a "Day of Silence" at Neuqua Valley High School, which drew attention to LGBT kids being bullied. One student sued after school officials blacked out the "Not Gay" portion of her shirt. The court said the school can't advocate for gay kids while stifling the homophobic kids.

Two tidbits to chew on in light of these rulings: If people are going to have hateful opinions, might it not be a good thing for the rest of us if they self-identify? If someone's wearing their hate on their sleeve, we suppose, it's easy enough to steer clear.

But, of course, Voltaire also comes to mind: "I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it."