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Funeral Picketing:

Fred Phelps, a cruel parody of a Christian, has pioneered the practice of protesting people's funerals. Starting with the 1980s, he and his people picketed funerals of gays while carrying signs saying things like "God Hates Fags." Now, they picket funerals of soldiers with signs saying things like "Thank God for 9/11" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" (the theory being that God is punishing America for its toleration of homosexuality).

Delightful. But is it constitutionally protected? A bunch of readers asked me to blog about this, so I composed this piece for National Review Online to answer that question.

sbw (mail) (www):
Eugene, what blog do you know that discusses, not the legal ramifications of funeral picketing, but honing the dynamic process of students the better to decide how to act in society, short of law. Shirley Letwin wrote about it in "Gentlemen in Trollope". I've set up the basics at ExploringCharacter.com.

Something can be rude without being illegal. It least I care not for such intrusive laws. Part of our task is to encourage people to recognize bad behavior for what it is and why and to be quick enough to label it contemptable.

Surely there are other blogs on the subject. This ought to be part of ordinary schooling and it is not. Furthermore, what passes for character education neither shows character nor educates.
3.23.2006 10:25am
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
If I am a judge, and a well-worded, content neutral, time place and manner restriction comes before me that bans this stuff, I'd be more than happy to uphold it.
3.23.2006 10:28am
Gump:
Would a law relieving funeral goers from liability, criminal and civil, for removing funeral protestors from the scene enter into constitutional grounds?
3.23.2006 10:29am
Traveler:
Eugene,

Your piece suggests a direct application of the distance limitations from the residential picketing cases (e.g. 200 or 300 feet) to content-neutral funeral-picketing laws. Do you think it's possible that a larger zone may be permissible in the funeral context because a cemetery tends to be open ground, where a protest is "focused" on a single funeral even if it is 300 feet away. Could a ban limited to places "within 1000 feet and in the direct line of site of the grave" be permissible?
3.23.2006 10:31am
Guest2 (mail):
A little off-track, but I wonder if the deceased's loved ones in these situations would have a viable claim against the picketers for intentional infliction of emotional distress?
3.23.2006 10:36am
JohnAnnArbor:
My question is where does Phelps get all the money to take his traveling troupe of vultures from funeral to funeral around the nation?
3.23.2006 10:45am
JamesT:
Don't forget he likes to picket the KU School of Law graduations. Not sure why, and not interested in finding out. Maybe he is still pissed at getting disbarred. In anycase, I have a great picture of me in my law school graduation robes in front of their "KU Law Fags" signs around here someplace....

As to his funding, it is mainly donations from like minded individuals and his "church." And of course, creative accouting, like getting a swimming pool written off as a tax deduction by claiming it as a "baptisimal pool."
3.23.2006 11:01am
Alan P (mail):
Since these are military funerals and presumably involve some sort of gun salute, coudn't they just use real bullets and lower their aim point a bit?
3.23.2006 11:16am
Connie (mail):
The Patriot Guard Riders have developed a different strategy--attend the funerals in support of the families, and drown out the obnoxious picketers. It's a free market response to hate!
http://www.patriotguard.org/
3.23.2006 11:19am
Houston Lawyer:
After the Supreme Court ruled that flag burning was protected activity, I believe Louisiana either enacted or seriously entertained a bill that would not allow prosecution of anyone who physically abused a flag burner. I don't think such a law would fly. Prosecutorial discretion, however, is another thing.
3.23.2006 11:21am
VFB (mail):
Eugene:

Why do you call Fred Phelps a "cruel parody of a Christian"? By all accounts, he is a committed Christian, and he is serious. While fortunately he is not a mainstream Christian, what he is doing is a result of his Christian beliefs.
3.23.2006 11:29am
J-P:
You know, as much as Phelps and his litter bug the hell out of me, I would rather deal with this without the government getting involved. There are ways of dealing with them that do not involve running to daddy to stop the bad men or gutting our free speech protections. We would be cowards to erode those protections because we were to afraid to act on our own.
3.23.2006 11:29am
Richard Bellamy (mail):

Why do you call Fred Phelps a "cruel parody of a Christian"?


I think it would be the same take-to-the-logical-extreme-endpoint argument that makes Alan Keyes a cruel parody of a Republican.
3.23.2006 11:42am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Why do you call Fred Phelps a "cruel parody of a Christian"? By all accounts, he is a committed Christian, and he is serious. While fortunately he is not a mainstream Christian, what he is doing is a result of his Christian beliefs.
Fred Phelps pickets Focus on the Family conferences about homosexuality, because Focus on the Family brings homosexuals who have straightened out to speak. (About half of homosexuals who make a serious effort to do so manage to change not just their behavior, but their orientation--or so the psychiatrist who led the effort to remove homosexuality from DSM-III says.)

Phelps argues that homosexuals should not be allowed to get straight, but should die in their sin. Phelps is indeed a cruel parody. Of course, he was a lawyer--and a very successful civil rights attorney before he was disbarred. I guess a better description is that Phelps is pretty seriously messed up.
3.23.2006 11:44am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

After the Supreme Court ruled that flag burning was protected activity, I believe Louisiana either enacted or seriously entertained a bill that would not allow prosecution of anyone who physically abused a flag burner. I don't think such a law would fly. Prosecutorial discretion, however, is another thing.
This is a good analogy. While I think flag-burning laws are stupid, the notion that any and every form of expression is protected by the First Amendment is an ahistorical position. It doubtless makes certain absolutists very smug in their self-righteousness (and I understand the ACLU is intent on defending Phelps from any funeral picketing laws that get passed).

The idea that every form of expression is Constitutionally protected is rather like those who argue that the right to keep and bear arms includes the right of individuals to own helicopter gunships, tanks, battleships, and nuclear weapons, or the person who argues that guarantees about search and seizure would apply to a terrorist transporting a ton of nerve gas into the United States. Logically quite elegant; practically insane; and for which the historical evidence of Founders' intent is either lacking or clearly false.
3.23.2006 11:53am
Tennessean (mail):
Query: are cemeteries places of public access?
3.23.2006 12:03pm
BU2L (mail):
GUest 2, IED claims generally require that the emotional distress be a result of/accompanied by physical injury, negligently inflicted.
3.23.2006 12:05pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Query: are cemeteries places of public access?
To my surprise, many cemeteries are publicly owned. One of the large cemeteries in Santa Monica was publicly owned. Veteran's cemeteries are, I think, always publicly owned. Here's a list of state veterans' cemeteries that have received federal funding.

Public ownership is not the same as public access, of course--the Pentagon is publicly owned, but not public access--but cemeteries are usually open to the public to visit. I don't see any legal strategy that avoids confronting the freedom of expression question.
3.23.2006 12:15pm
AppSocRes (mail):
Tennesean and Clayton E. Cramer: Even if cemeteries were private, there have been Supreme Court First Amendment cases where the justices required access to private property, e.g., preventing shopping mall owners from prohibiting distribution of political flyers and the like. I suspect that the precedent might apply as well to cemeteries, even if they were privately owned.
3.23.2006 12:20pm
Kendall:

About half of homosexuals who make a serious effort to do so manage to change not just their behavior, but their orientation--or so the psychiatrist who led the effort to remove homosexuality from DSM-III says.


Really? and I thought Robert Spitzer only interviewed 200 handpicked ex-gays 78% of whom wrote favorably about changing sexual orientation prior to the study.


Further more, Dr. Spitzer is also on the record condemning the conclusion you just made.

"I did not conclude that all gays should try to change, or even that they would be better off if they did," Spitzer wrote. "However, to my horror, some of the media reported the study as an attempt to show that homosexuality is a choice, and that substantial change is possible for any homosexual who makes the effort." He also insisted that his study should not be used either to deny civil rights to LGB people or as support for coercing people into unwanted "reparative therapy."
3.23.2006 12:21pm
Nathan Hall (mail):
VFB,

I defy anyone to cite the scripture or recognized church doctrine that authorizes Phelps' evident joy at the prospect of people (he thinks) going to Hell, or his sneering cruelty toward family members of the deceased. This is not Christianity taken to its logical extreme, but a perversion of it.
3.23.2006 12:24pm
abb3w:
Actually, the wording of the quote from Frisby v. Schultz could poetically be presented as a reason to support such a ban, because the home is merely the penultimate "citadel of the tired, the weary, and the sick." The final citadel is the grave.

Not that I believe a judge would give that much more consideration than a short funny look in my direction....
3.23.2006 12:33pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Last August, Eve Tushnet quoted someone's argument that Phelps is not a Christian at all. Here's what she quotes:
...In fact, it appears that Westboro has created not just an incredibly vulgar and non-Christlike approach to homosexuality, but that it's working on a new religion altogether, complete with new scriptures.

Members of WBC generally avoid the name "Christian" when referring to themselves, preferring the mysterious term "Tachmonite." This apparently refers to a servant of King David's, but I'm not sure of the derivation or the intention.

The Tachmonites believe Phelps is "the last prophet," with the power to determine who will be damned and who will be saved. They themselves, as followers of Phelps, also have the power to condemn souls to hell. Most people are destined for hell, but "Good Samaritans" who help the Tachmonites (for example, police officers who prevent counter-protesters from assaulting them) may be offered an indeterminate "reward" for their good conduct. Apparently "sola fide" is not part of the Tachmonites' creed.

The new scriptures consist of the group's own writings, which are divided into two categories: "delectable epics" and "letters to heretics."

The "delectable epics" (the term is the group's) are based loosely on Acts in the New Testament. The epics detail the Tachmonites' various protests against gays, President Bush, Elton John concerts, and the military and portray the Tachmonites alternately as invincible "super heroes" and defenseless victims of brutal rage. Some of the epics are in prose, and some in poetry.

I haven't checked Tushnet's source, but have always found her trustworthy. I've also read in several places that Phelps is a registered Democrat, and has even run for office as such, contrary to the impression one would get from most people who mention him.
3.23.2006 12:36pm
Shangui (mail):
Leave to Clayton Cramer to sneak in the attack on homosexuality even when he's ostensibly criticizing a homophobe. Always a class act, CC.
3.23.2006 12:37pm
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
P.S. Sorry, I listed the wrong homepage by force of habit. Since someone hijacked my long-time site, I've had to relocate to http://www.drweevil.org.
3.23.2006 12:39pm
Nathan Hall (mail):
Clayton E. Cramer writes
The idea that every form of expression is Constitutionally protected is rather like those who argue that the right to keep and bear arms includes the right of individuals to own helicopter gunships, tanks, battleships, and nuclear weapons, or the person who argues that guarantees about search and seizure would apply to a terrorist transporting a ton of nerve gas into the United States.
I don't entirely disagree, but it is worth noting that the analogous situations you describe were beyond contemplation when the Bill of Rights was written, hence not implicitly endorsed by the framers decision not to exclude them. But idiots like Phelps were about as common then as now. If the framers wanted to exclude very offensive speech from First Amendment protection, they could have done so. I think this argues for a broader interpretation of the First Amendment than, say, the Second.
3.23.2006 12:42pm
R. Gould-Saltman (mail):
Why do you call Fred Phelps a "cruel parody of a Christian"? By all accounts, he is a committed Christian, and he is serious. While fortunately he is not a mainstream Christian, what he is doing is a result of his Christian beliefs.>

I keep waiting for Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed, Dr. Dobson, whatshisname from the Catholic League, etc. to come out and say, publically, loudly, and unequivocally, "Phelps is no Christian; his views are a perversion of everything that Christianity stands for; he's either a psychopath, or a demagogue, or both; and he'd better change his behavior and good Christians everywhere should pray for his immortal soul, 'cause otherwise judgment day will be very unpleasant for him"

. . . and yet they don't.

9/11 being a signal of God's anger; they'll say that; hurricanes being a signal from God; they'll say that, or support people who say it, and still get invited to White House prayer breakfasts.

On the other hand, who am I to interfere if my political enemies want to help me paint my picture of them?
3.23.2006 1:04pm
R. Gould-Saltman (mail):
Why do you call Fred Phelps a "cruel parody of a Christian"? By all accounts, he is a committed Christian, and he is serious. While fortunately he is not a mainstream Christian, what he is doing is a result of his Christian beliefs.>

I keep waiting for Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed, Dr. Dobson, whatshisname from the Catholic League, etc. to come out and say, publically, loudly, and unequivocally, "Phelps is no Christian; his views are a perversion of everything that Christianity stands for; he's either a psychopath, or a demagogue, or both; and he'd better change his behavior and good Christians everywhere should pray for his immortal soul, 'cause otherwise judgment day will be very unpleasant for him"

. . . and yet they don't.

9/11 being a signal of God's anger; they'll say that; hurricanes being a signal from God; they'll say that, or support people who say it, and still get invited to White House prayer breakfasts.

On the other hand, who am I to interfere if my political enemies want to help me paint my picture of them?
3.23.2006 1:04pm
uh clem (mail):
As usual, the antidote to undesirable expression is more expression, not less. Repugnent as it is, let Phelps demonstrate his point of view. The more he talks, the crazier he seems and the more he discredits his own cause.

Sort of like Clayton Cramer.
3.23.2006 1:08pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Tennesean and Clayton E. Cramer: Even if cemeteries were private, there have been Supreme Court First Amendment cases where the justices required access to private property, e.g., preventing shopping mall owners from prohibiting distribution of political flyers and the like. I suspect that the precedent might apply as well to cemeteries, even if they were privately owned.
The shopping mall cases were state Supreme Court cases. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that states could require malls to allow private speech (aka Pruneyard) but not that the federal Constitution does. The closest you get is Marsh v. Alabama, but that was an entire company town. Given Pruneyard, I don't think Marsh could possibly be extended to a private cemetery context.
3.23.2006 1:14pm
Russ (mail):
R. Gould,

Funny thing is that, depsite being morons, Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed are Republicans. Phelps proudly proclaims his allegiance to the Democratic Party. He even helped Al Gore when he ran for the nomination in 1988.

Maybe you should be calling on Jesse Jackson to denounce him, since he's a Christian Democratic leader.

PS - I think we all agree, however, that Robertson and Falwell saying 9/11 was the wrath of God was pretty stupid, and showed them for the fools they are.
3.23.2006 1:42pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
After the Supreme Court ruled that flag burning was protected activity, I believe Louisiana either enacted or seriously entertained a bill that would not allow prosecution of anyone who physically abused a flag burner. I don't think such a law would fly. Prosecutorial discretion, however, is another thing.


I heard (or rather read on the G-File a few years ago) that Missouri passed a statute that made beating up someone for desecrating the American flag a misdemeanor punishable by a fifty dollar fine. Apparently there was a movement to make the fine "pre-payable."
3.23.2006 1:43pm
AppSocRes (mail):
David M. Nieporent: Thanks for bringing me up to date. I hadn't realized or else had totally forgotten that the Supreme Court reversed its '68 decision in Amalgamated Foods Employees Union Local 590 v. Logan Valley Plaza with the 1980 Pruneyard case. Maybe the Supremes would hold that cemeteries can keep obnoxious people with obnoxious messages off their premises.
3.23.2006 2:00pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Maybe the Supremes would hold that cemeteries can keep obnoxious people with obnoxious messages off their premises.


Or perhaps they could hold that so long the rules are "content neutral" that cities or States can ban loud disturbances in a cemetery the same way that a public library can require you to keep the noise level to a minimum or leave.
3.23.2006 2:09pm
David Berke:
Clayton E. Cramer writes

The idea that every form of expression is Constitutionally protected is rather like those who argue that the right to keep and bear arms includes the right of individuals to own helicopter gunships, tanks, battleships, and nuclear weapons, or the person who argues that guarantees about search and seizure would apply to a terrorist transporting a ton of nerve gas into the United States.

As another has already noted, the idea that you can compare something which was clearly in the contemplation of the framers (obnoxious or unpleasant speech) with something beyond their contemplation (nuclear weapons, for example) is unreasonable. Personally, I believe that any person who can "bear" a battleship should be free to do so on the grounds that our efforts to the contrary are unlikely to dissuade Superman from his chosen course of action. (The right to keep is not the right to use, after all.)

Frankly, it is a lot easier to distinguish between what weapons people may bear on the grounds of the potential harm at issue than it is to distinguish between speech which people simply don't like, and speech which is actually likely to cause serious harm. Once you admit that the First Amendment is not truly absolute, it becomes a test of public policy as to which exceptions should be allowed. The mere fact that, historically, the promise of free speech was not held to guarantee very much is hardly adequate reasoning to deny such in the future.

How would one further guarantee free speech in this context? Pass a new amendment with the same words? Or perhaps add "this time we really mean it!" Otherwise the amendment would have to be more restrictive on its text, because it would have to list certain things, but not others - and inevitably lead to problems with certain ideas or forms of expression or circumstances being overlooked - wouldn't that compel textualists to argue that our freedoms were further restricted?

The remaining comment is just silly, because it assumes the conclusion it wishes to reach. If you know someone is a terrorist and has a ton of nerve gas, you're hardly breaking the 4th Amendment when you search that person. If you don't, you're back to searching everyone without any particular cause. Perhaps that is justified, perhaps not - but such would still clearly violate the 4th Amendment.
3.23.2006 2:12pm
dweeb:
Actually, the battleship ownership issue was not beyond their contemplation, and there is evidence that their lack of exclusion was endorsement. Privateer warships were common practice up until the dawn of Ironclads, which put warship construction out of the financial reach of civilians. The colonists formed this country by staging an armed insurrection against one of the premier armies of the world at the time, and had at their disposal weaponry comparable to that of the British forces. There is no reason the Founders would not have seen civil armament sufficient to resist the standing army of the day as a necessary deterrent to tyranny, which would mean attack helicopters, or at least the missiles to counter them.
3.23.2006 2:16pm
Randy R. (mail):
PHelps' has several children who are attorneys. Whenever he provokes someone into touching him or attacking him, he sues. His while family is a litigation machine, and they sue everyone they can think of when they breeze into town. The settlements they get from the lawsuits are what's really funding his protests. They sue people who publicly write about them, they sue people who write them nasty letters -- whatever it takes to do a shake down.

the best thing is to totally ignore him and stay as far away as possible. In that way, we will all be doing a lot to deprive him on his income.
3.23.2006 2:18pm
AppSocRes (mail):
Randy R:

His whole family is a litigation machine, and they sue everyone they can think of when they breeze into town.

Sounds like Phelps is really a scientologist.
3.23.2006 2:33pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
Would the rulings that you can exclude whom you wish from your private parade (eg the South Boston St. Patrick's Day parade) be applicable to funeral processions? (Or not, I don't recall how far from the parade you can keep people who aren't conveying your message.)
3.23.2006 2:35pm
Nathan Hall (mail):
I doubt you could prevent people from protesting your parade.
3.23.2006 2:53pm
Bob Loblaw (www):

Leave to Clayton Cramer to sneak in the attack on homosexuality even when he's ostensibly criticizing a homophobe. Always a class act, CC.

You beat me to it. He seemed to have been gone for a while; that was nice.
3.23.2006 3:14pm
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
R. Gould-Saltman, my understanding is that at least Jerry Falwell has denounced Phelps as a "nut."

Something of an Archimedian feat, that.
3.23.2006 3:16pm
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
And Archimedean, too.
3.23.2006 3:17pm
Justin (mail):
Well, the right to keep nuclear weapons seems to be the only logical stopping point of the 2nd Amendment being an individual right. The amendment clearly contemplates people having the right to fight military aggressors, not crime or sport. Allowing a handgun (something that also did not exist in 18th century America) seems to be both insufficient and incidental.

The only two originalist ways to read the 2nd Amendment is that it protects the right only as to those firearms that have been invented at the time (and currently belong in a museum), or that it protects my right to C4 and Big Boy.

On the other hand, the first amendment was rather weak from an originalist standpoint. It was not considered at odds with the Alien and Sedition Acts, and "abridging the freedom of speech" seems to have nothing to do with the government determining what can and be done on government property - though originalists would also have to consider the use of certain types of government property as free speech zones in the 18th century.
3.23.2006 3:18pm
Leland:
Layman here, but I always interpreted the 1st Amendment as protecting speech directed at the government. In other words, the Framers meant to protect citizens right to protest the government. Is my interpretation too narrow or just incorrect? If it is correct at all, why couldn't the protestors be banned from protesting individuals who have no desire to listen to them?

I'm sure their is a court case, or more, out there that can be cited. I'd enjoy reading precedent.
3.23.2006 3:23pm
JosephSlater (mail):
BU2L:

You write: "IED claims generally require that the emotional distress be a result of/accompanied by physical injury, negligently inflicted."

I don't think that's right. *Intentional* infliction of emotional distress cases don't typically require any kind of physical injury at all. It just requires intentional conduct that the defendant knows or should know is "outragreous" that actually does inflict severe emotional distress.

Courts traditionally required some sort of contact or injury for *negligent* infliction of emotional distress (although a number of courts don't even require that anymore). But if there was an emotion distress claim made in a case like this, I assume it would be intentional inflction, not negligent infliction.
3.23.2006 3:26pm
Dustin (mail):
leland,

No, the 1st amendments protects you from the government infringing your speech.

It's not really content specific, though if the speech includes some sort of crime, that crime is forbideen (not really the speech). Like if I ask someone to kill my spouse, that's forbideen, but only because of the crime included. Same thing with 'fire' in a theatre.

But beyond speech that includes a crime, the 1st amendment means that the government cannot infringe on any speech. Whether it has anything to do with the government or not. I can protest the cocacola if I want.

Conversely, of course, the 1st amendment does not protect your speech from private individuals. I can't say whatever I want on this blog because it's privately owned and I dont' own it.
3.23.2006 3:38pm
Ken Arromdee (mail):
Personally, I believe that any person who can "bear" a battleship should be free to do so on the grounds that our efforts to the contrary are unlikely to dissuade Superman from his chosen course of action.

While it may take Superman to carry a battleship, it doesn't take Superman to carry a vial of anthrax nor, if we develop one, a suitcase nuke.
3.23.2006 4:32pm
Leland:
Dustin,

Your first two paragraphs is why I asked my question. If the 1st Amendmenet protects "me from the government infringing my speech", then what protects Fred Phelps from me infringing on his speech? Conversly, why does the 1st amendment protect his rights to infringe on my rights to peaceably assemble to memorialize a soldier, yet not protect my rights to infringe on his speech.

My understanding from civics class is that what you say is true, and that Fred Phelps is within his rights. But I hope you understand the logic I'm using and can tell me where it is wrong. I suspect a yelling contest to drown each other out is acceptable, but somehow I think all of us would be up in arms if the federal government used the same tactic (e.g. Bush playing Country Music from loud speakers to drown out protests in Lafayette Park).
3.23.2006 4:37pm
jgshapiro (mail):
I'm still wondering about the point raised by Houston Lawyer, what about an exemption from the general assault and battery laws for people who disrupt funerals? Could a court strike down an exemption from a law? How? A court does not have the ability to make something criminal that the legislature did not make criminal, so if the law defined battery as the unwanted touching of another, other than within 300 feet of a funeral when the alleged victim had immediately prior thereto been engaged in disruptive behavior, how could the safe harbor be struck down?

On a more practical level, what prosecutor in their right mind would press charges against someone attending a funeral of a soldier that was protested by Fred Phelps, who got upset and beat the shit out of him? And even if you could find a prosecutor silly enough to press charges against the funderal attendee (perhaps, on the ground of deterring vigilantism), what jury would convict him?
3.23.2006 4:55pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
Dustin said:

But beyond speech that includes a crime, the 1st amendment means that the government cannot infringe on any speech.

That's incorrect. First of all, according to this definition, the 1st Amdt. protects no speech that a state or Congress makes a crime. The 1st Amdt. is much broader than that.

It's also more narrow. There are content-neutral time, place and manner regulations that the government may infringe on. For example, the government could probably tell you that you are not allowed to use a loud-speaker near a school, without making it a crime.

Dustin, I'm not sure if you read the Volokh piece, but I recommend you go back and read it, before speaking authoritatively on the Bill of Rights.
3.23.2006 5:00pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):

A court does not have the ability to make something criminal that the legislature did not make criminal, so if the law defined battery as the unwanted touching of another, other than within 300 feet of a funeral when the alleged victim had immediately prior thereto been engaged in disruptive behavior, how could the safe harbor be struck down?

Due Process, Equal Protection?
3.23.2006 5:01pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
Also, even assuming that you could de-criminalize battery (which I bet you can't), judges remain perfectly free to impose civil liability for it, assuming that legislative exemptions wouldn't be constitutional.
3.23.2006 5:04pm
uh clem (mail):
Congratulations Eugene, you've been farked: http://forums.fark.com/cgi/fark/comments.pl?IDLink=1975725

The comments are mostly irrelevant, but there's a long post by Stu_Padasso regarding Phelps-as-litigation-machine that's worth a reading. I can't link to that comment directly but you can use "find in page" to search for "Stu_Padasso"
3.23.2006 5:09pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Further more, Dr. Spitzer is also on the record condemning the conclusion you just made.
Except that there is no conclusion that I have made that matches Dr. Spitzer's condemnation. I don't consider homosexuality to be a choice in the same sense as, "I think I'll have a chocolate shake today." I am not sure that all homosexuals can change--some may be too damaged to do so. I know quite a number of victims of child sexual abuse, and a number of them will never recover from it.
3.23.2006 5:53pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
You know, as much as Phelps and his litter bug the hell out of me, I would rather deal with this without the government getting involved. There are ways of dealing with them that do not involve running to daddy to stop the bad men or gutting our free speech protections. We would be cowards to erode those protections because we were to afraid to act on our own.

It is a tribute to military self-discipline that no one hasn't, already. Sure, he can sue, but a jury is the conscience of the community, and the conscience of the community wants the crap beaten out of him.

While at Interior, I was told how this principle was used when KKK applied for a permit to protest near Martin Luther King's grave (apparently on government property) on his birthday. The agency responded yes, you have a perfect right to the permit. However, all of our park police will be tied up elsewhere that day. Good luck. I was told the KKK withdrew its application.
3.23.2006 5:56pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
David Berke writes:

As another has already noted, the idea that you can compare something which was clearly in the contemplation of the framers (obnoxious or unpleasant speech) with something beyond their contemplation (nuclear weapons, for example) is unreasonable.
So you would agree that freedom of the press and of speech does not apply to television and radio broadcasting? Those are certainly beyond the Framers' contemplation in the same way that nuclear weapons were.


Frankly, it is a lot easier to distinguish between what weapons people may bear on the grounds of the potential harm at issue than it is to distinguish between speech which people simply don't like, and speech which is actually likely to cause serious harm. Once you admit that the First Amendment is not truly absolute, it becomes a test of public policy as to which exceptions should be allowed. The mere fact that, historically, the promise of free speech was not held to guarantee very much is hardly adequate reasoning to deny such in the future.
It demonstrates that the freedom of speech and of the press didn't mean to the bunch that passed it what you want it to mean today. There might be an argument for unlimited freedom of speech and the press (meaning that laws against child pornography go away, running snuff movies in storefront TVs becomes lawful, libel and slander of private parties is lawful, incitement to riot ceases to be a crime, treason that consists entirely of speech ceases to be a crime), but it isn't based on the First Amendment.
3.23.2006 5:58pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
dweeb writes:


Actually, the battleship ownership issue was not beyond their contemplation, and there is evidence that their lack of exclusion was endorsement. Privateer warships were common practice up until the dawn of Ironclads, which put warship construction out of the financial reach of civilians.
Look at the meaning of the term "arms" at the time. It is a stretch to argue that it included battleships. Privateer warships certainly existed, and there is a specific provision of the Constitution for granting letters of marque and reprisal. However, "bear arms" implies weapons that one can pick up and carry.

In practice, small arms are generally all that is necessary to make a thuggish government reconsider its ways. Enough small arms and you can capture the helicopter gunships.
3.23.2006 6:01pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Well, the right to keep nuclear weapons seems to be the only logical stopping point of the 2nd Amendment being an individual right. The amendment clearly contemplates people having the right to fight military aggressors, not crime or sport. Allowing a handgun (something that also did not exist in 18th century America) seems to be both insufficient and incidental.
Wrong. I've actually held a number of 18th century handguns, including Paul Revere's, and one presented to John Paul Jones by Congress. While these are single-shot pistols (gentlemen often carried four or six of these very compact weapons), there were repeating handguns in that era. Look up "pepperbox."

And yes, the primary objective was to fight the government, but the right to defend oneself from criminals was assumed. See Blackstone's Commentaries on the rights of Englishmen.
3.23.2006 6:04pm
Kendall:
Clayton Cramer wrote -

Except that there is no conclusion that I have made that matches Dr. Spitzer's condemnation.


Dr. Spitzer said "However, to my horror, some of the media reported the study as an attempt to show that homosexuality is a choice, and that substantial change is possible for any homosexual who makes the effort."

You said previously "About half of homosexuals who make a serious effort to do so manage to change not just their behavior, but their orientation"

Which is certainly not the case. Incidentally, even the details of the study that I linked to (which btw is at an Exodus affiliate, or "ex-gay ministry) don't indicate a change in orientation even from a HAND PICKED sample. All it shows is that people SELF REPORT FEWER thoughts related to same sex attractions and in some cases self report a degree of heterosexual attraction. The flaw in that of course is that a straight person (by definition I think its reasonable to claim that an ex-gay person purports to be heterosexual and not homosexual) wouldn't have ANY thoughts of homosexual attraction particularly.

I don't consider homosexuality to be a choice in the same sense as, "I think I'll have a chocolate shake today." I am not sure that all homosexuals can change--some may be too damaged to do so. I know quite a number of victims of child sexual abuse, and a number of them will never recover from it.


Damaged from what? There's no direct evidence of a gay gene of course, although that's not to say there's no evidence of a strong biological component to sexuality (which incidentally implies more strongly the influence of the pre-natal womb). A good example of early evidence suggesting a link between genetics and sexuality is this story by CBS News (fortunately Dan Rather did not contribute in any way to this report).

It seems like you're throwing out a lot of misinformation and old stereotypes rejected by the majority of mental health organizations today (there's NARTH and... who else? that shares your view?) and it seems you're doing so with very little science to back up your positions.
3.23.2006 6:06pm
Bob Loblaw (www):

I am not sure that all homosexuals can change--some may be too damaged to do so. I know quite a number of victims of child sexual abuse, and a number of them will never recover from it.

Who let Clayton Cramer out of the dark ages? Please send him back.
3.23.2006 6:09pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Nathan Hall writes:


But idiots like Phelps were about as common then as now. If the framers wanted to exclude very offensive speech from First Amendment protection, they could have done so.
Sedition Act? There was no federal blasphemy law (to my knowledge), but such state laws were on the books at the time, and New York enforced such a law as late as 1815 (if I recall correctly).
3.23.2006 6:09pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
For the record Bob Loblaw is the best SN on here. Was "Barry Zuckerkorn" taken?
3.23.2006 6:15pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Kendall writes:


Which is certainly not the case. Incidentally, even the details of the study that I linked to (which btw is at an Exodus affiliate, or "ex-gay ministry) don't indicate a change in orientation even from a HAND PICKED sample. All it shows is that people SELF REPORT FEWER thoughts related to same sex attractions and in some cases self report a degree of heterosexual attraction. The flaw in that of course is that a straight person (by definition I think its reasonable to claim that an ex-gay person purports to be heterosexual and not homosexual) wouldn't have ANY thoughts of homosexual attraction particularly.
Are you saying that these ex-gays weren't REALLY homosexual before? Oh my, yet another redefinition of homosexuality as convenient.

Damaged from what?
As I have mentioned before, at least one survey done by the San Francisco Dept. of Public Health found that 28% of gay men reported having been sexually abused as children, as did 48% of lesbians. (That's about 3x what you would expect for the men, and about 1.5x for the women.) Some also reported in that survey that they had only recently recovered memories of that abuse.

Hmmm. You have a population with a different sexual orientation; high rates of drug and alcohol abuse (as is also common among straight survivors of childhood sexual abuse), and a large subgroup for whom sexuality is heavily tied to pain, violence, humiliation, and what are normally considered childish obsessions with excretory products--and another subgroup that engages in insulting parodies of normal gender (the extremely effeminate fraction of gay men; the diesel dyke fraction of lesbians). I've also talked to way too many homosexuals (male and female) who report either sexual abuse as children, or insist that at 11 they were actively pursuing strange adult men for sex--but insist that this is just coincidence. And then there is the rather strange relationship that homosexual activists have with NAMBLA--formerly quite accepting of them, now claiming, "They aren't part of our community." Do you suppose that there might just be a connection there?

It may not be that every homosexual is that way because of childhood sexual abuse--but there's enough bits and pieces that make you wonder.
3.23.2006 6:21pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):

As I have mentioned before, at least one survey done by the San Francisco Dept. of Public Health found that 28% of gay men reported having been sexually abused as children, as did 48% of lesbians. (That's about 3x what you would expect for the men, and about 1.5x for the women.) Some also reported in that survey that they had only recently recovered memories of that abuse.

1/3rd of straight women were sexually abused as children? I'm sorry, but are you getting these numbers from the Institute of Clay Cramer's Ass? [I'm usually not so shrill, but this is ridiculous].
3.23.2006 6:25pm
Bob Loblaw (www):

and another subgroup that engages in insulting parodies of normal gender (the extremely effeminate fraction of gay men; the diesel dyke fraction of lesbians).

How do you feel about blog commenters who engage in insulting parodies of normal human beings?
3.23.2006 6:28pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

How do you feel about blog commenters who engage in insulting parodies of normal human beings?
I'm talking to you, aren't I? :-)

I notice that you don't have any substantative response to my question. Look: I used to believe that homosexuals were just like everyone else, except for who they loved. I grew up in the 1970s. I remember when California repealed the sodomy law in 1975, and I could not for the life of me understand why all these preachers were up there talking about what an abomination homosexuality was. Hey, whatever feels good, do it!

But then I moved to the Bay Area--and I found that all those vicious stereotypes of homosexuals were alive and kicking. Guys dressed up as the world's most unconvincing women, looking for customers in the Tenderloin. Women smoking big fat cigars, wearing chains for belts, and generally behaving like the most insulting parodies of blue collar men. Adult guys behaving like 12 year old girls (which in itself is an interesting item--like someone is emotionally stuck at the age that something bad happened). Women who clearly hate men (which, really, isn't too surprising, if they were the victims of sexual abuse--and I knew a few marriages that broke up because the wife's sexual abuse history eventually caused her to leave for a woman). Guys having completely anonymous sex with a dozen strangers in an afternoon, face down on a couch, without even ever seeing who is sodomizing them.

Not every homosexual I met fit into these stereotypes--but I met an awful lot who did--in fact, more than I met who were otherwise normal and mentally healthy. After I saw that San Francisco Dept. of Public Health survey, I dug into into the materials on child sexual abuse, and the paraphilias associated with survivors had an uncanny similarity to many of the more peculiar subgroups of the gay community.
3.23.2006 6:39pm
Kendall:
Are you saying that these ex-gays weren't REALLY homosexual before? Oh my, yet another redefinition of homosexuality as convenient.


Where did you pull THAT from exactly? I think there are 3 possible interpretations to the study. 1) the self reported people lied because they had too much of an industry based on their claim, with 78% choosing to actively write on the matter and no contact with the subjects when they claimed to have a homosexual orientation this cannot be ruled out. 2) It is possible that some level of perceived change occurred. Although the study does not conclude that a signifigant number of the participants (most of the focus of the study seems to be on 20 people, or 10% of the participants from the hand picked sample) had a 100% change from being predominantly homosexual to predominantly heterosexexual it is possible they self identify as ex-gay because they perceive that a change has occurred (and that goes for whether any such change occurred or not, this is a study of perceptions afterall). 3. It is entirely possible that the men and women in this study who experienced a degree of change or perceived change are in fact bisexual. Although the word bisexual is not, I believe, used in the study it is clear that the study finds a pattern of mixed sexual attractions as self reported between the two studied time frames. It is entirely reasonable to suggest that a bisexual with predominantly homosexual attractions but also attractions for a heterosexual partner may alter the balance to having predominately heterosexual attractions.

and what are normally considered childish obsessions with excretory products


I'm aware of most of the literature you're referring to about abuse rates and such, but this? I don't suppose you have a reference you can show me for Coprophilia rates among homosexuals compared to heterosexuals do you?

And then there is the rather strange relationship that homosexual activists have with NAMBLA--formerly quite accepting of them, now claiming, "They aren't part of our community." Do you suppose that there might just be a connection there?


Another thing I'm curious about. Can you provide a recent (within the last 10 to 15 years if possible) quote of support from a gay group to that group of child molesting sickos? I'm aware the left-wing ACLU supports their speech rights but I'm not aware of any literature with a direct link from homosexual groups and NAMBLA.
3.23.2006 6:39pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

1/3rd of straight women were sexually abused as children? I'm sorry, but are you getting these numbers from the Institute of Clay Cramer's Ass? [I'm usually not so shrill, but this is ridiculous].
I wish I was. Those numbers are pretty consistent in dozens of studies. I've lost count of the number of women that I know that were ssxually abused as children.
3.23.2006 6:40pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I'm aware of most of the literature you're referring to about abuse rates and such, but this? I don't suppose you have a reference you can show me for Coprophilia rates among homosexuals compared to heterosexuals do you?
I don't think that I've ever see a study on it, but you and I both know that in the homosexual community it is (or at least, when I was on the edge of the sexual liberation community, long ago), it was called "the dirt scene." I'm sure that you can find straights into that sort of thing, but I can't recall every seeing straights organized for that purpose.



Another thing I'm curious about. Can you provide a recent (within the last 10 to 15 years if possible) quote of support from a gay group to that group of child molesting sickos? I'm aware the left-wing ACLU supports their speech rights but I'm not aware of any literature with a direct link from homosexual groups and NAMBLA.
About 1994, I was still debating homosexuals in the Internet newsgroup soc.motss about this--with many defending NAMBLA's involvement in gay parades. Of course, the ILGA lost its observer status at the UN because of NAMBLA's involvement--and when ILGA kicked NAMBlA out--they lost their budget, and became a moribund organization. A number of the financial angels for ILGA were terribly offended by excluding NAMBLA and a Dutch equivalent pedophile group.

I'm sure that responsible gay groups no longer defend NAMBLA, because it is bad PR, and because some homosexuals REALLY hate child molesters. But I read a very depressing account of what happened when the No on 9 campaign was organizing itself in Oregon, a few years back. One gay activist who was there described in soc.motss watching the various parties spend a couple of hours trying to find a way to exclude NAMBLA, without offending other groups, like Radical Faeries, who consider NAMBLA an affiliate organization.
3.23.2006 6:47pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):

I'm sure that responsible gay groups no longer defend NAMBLA, because it is bad PR, and because some homosexuals REALLY hate child molesters.

I find it appalling that you include the qualifier "some." As someone who knows a lot of gay people, and doesn't seem them through a foggy hatred prism, I can honestly tell you that all gay people, just like all straight people, hate child molesters. To be sure, most child molesters are straight - just as most people are.
3.23.2006 6:50pm
Kendall:
I don't think that I've ever see a study on it, but you and I both know that in the homosexual community it is (or at least, when I was on the edge of the sexual liberation community, long ago), it was called "the dirt scene." I'm sure that you can find straights into that sort of thing, but I can't recall every seeing straights organized for that purpose.


"you and I both know" is not objective peer reviewed science. Its a specious and unsupportable claim that is meant to smear (in this case quite literally) homosexuals. I'm aware of no homosexual man or woman who is involved with has ever been involved with, or has any interest in BEING involved with coprophillia or coprophagia for that matter.

I HAVE of course heard the claim before, but always from very socially conservative sources with little or no reference material to back it up.

About 1994, I was still debating homosexuals in the Internet newsgroup soc.motss about this--with many defending NAMBLA's involvement in gay parades. Of course, the ILGA lost its observer status at the UN because of NAMBLA's involvement--and when ILGA kicked NAMBlA out--they lost their budget, and became a moribund organization. A number of the financial angels for ILGA were terribly offended by excluding NAMBLA and a Dutch equivalent pedophile group.

I'm sure that responsible gay groups no longer defend NAMBLA, because it is bad PR, and because some homosexuals REALLY hate child molesters. But I read a very depressing account of what happened when the No on 9 campaign was organizing itself in Oregon, a few years back. One gay activist who was there described in soc.motss watching the various parties spend a couple of hours trying to find a way to exclude NAMBLA, without offending other groups, like Radical Faeries, who consider NAMBLA an affiliate organization.


So, you're saying you have no direct evidence for your claim again, you're pointing out that ILGA did in fact exclude NAMBLA from their activities and yet you assume the only reason NAMBLA is not recognized by gay groups is "bad politics" even though you don't support this assertion.

As for your debates in a newsgroup, I could just as easily make broad judgements about Republicans on a message board (how about Free Republic?) or Democrats (Do people honestly think Democratic Underground is representative?) but that doesn't mean its what the average political party member thinks, its the opinion of a few radicals.
3.23.2006 6:58pm
R. Gould-Saltman (mail):
Russ:
I feel neither obliged, nor entitled, to call upon any Christian public figure, whether Marxist, radiclib, neocon, or paleocon, or even Whig, to say or do anything. Been and been called many things; a Christian isn't one of them. If a co-religionist of mine starts doing stuff as publically offensive as Phelps' crap in the name of MY religion, I'll squawk loud.

Q:

"Archemedian"? As in:

sets fire to ships with big polished shields?
claws up the fronts of ships with big sharp thingies?
runs through the street naked yelling "Eureka" after discovering the way to measure density by displacement?
proves that the area and volume of the sphere are in the same ratio to the area and volume of a circumscribed straight cylinder?

You'll need to be more specific, or less classically obscure...


rfgs
3.23.2006 7:05pm
BU2L (mail):

"Archemedian"?

Don't forget the getting speared from behind while doodling in the sand.
3.23.2006 7:29pm
Shangui (mail):
28% of gay men reported having been sexually abused as children, as did 48% of lesbians.

And 9 out of 10 vocally anti-gay conservatives turn out to be either gay themselves or to have gay children whose lives they make hell. So which one are you Clayton? Why is this such a huge issue to you? The hard line against child abuse itself is good and admirable. But the obsession with homosexuals is just a bit creepy. Is Idaho's massive gay population putting that much of a crimp in your style?
3.23.2006 8:50pm
ShamelessPseudoChurch:
I think it is horrible that these people are allowed to spread their hatred in a way that obscures the ceremony for our soldiers. I am not a hawk, but I think this issue goes well beyond personal politics of whether we should or should not be at war in the middle east.

Rep Rogers (R-MI) has dropped a bill in the House and Senator Bayh (D-IN) and Senator Chambliss (R-GA) have dropped a bill in the Senate that would severely restrict these types of demonstrations. Will one of the "chosen few" who provide such great insight on legal issues pull the bills and provide comments on the potential challenges of such legislation?

Thanks
3.23.2006 11:07pm
jgshapiro (mail):

Also, even assuming that you could de-criminalize battery (which I bet you can't), judges remain perfectly free to impose civil liability for it, assuming that legislative exemptions wouldn't be constitutional.

Huh? How can you not be able to decriminalize something? The constitution does not criminalize behavior on its own, nor does it require behavior to be criminalized (not even slavery), so a legislative statement to the effect that something is legal, or repealing a prohibition, could not be seen to be unconstitutional.

Civil liability is more tricky, but even then, except in the case of a civil rights violation by the government, or a violation of the 13th amendment, I don't see how a legislature could not eliminate civil liability for non-governmental parties. The constitution does not regulate private behavior, except for the 13th amendment. So, the elimination of civil liability for non-governmental parties could not be unconstitutional.

That leaves a court's inherent authority to assess civil penalties, such as in the context of contempt proceedings. But my understanding is that civil contempt is limited to situations where the court is enforcing its own orders (prospectively), not punishing someone for past behavior (that's criminal contempt). The lines defining criminal contempt are set by the legislature, are not part of any inherent authority of the courts, and must be enforced by juries. A court would have a very hard time shoehorning a civil penalty for battering Fred Phelps into a civil contempt fine.

So I repeat the question, why not just create an exemption to the battery laws for people who react violently to funeral disruptors? My guess is that this would serve as a powerful deterrant to Fred Phelps and his ilk.
3.24.2006 12:43am
Randy R. (mail):
Hey I'm a gay man! And I'm happy and healthy! And I've never been sexually abused by anyone! And I was a virgin until 23! And I have no desire whatsoever to have sex with anyone under the age of 21! And I have no diseases! And I hate all child molesters! And I'm not fixated on the sexuality of anyone else!

Kinda blows some people's conclusions about me....
3.24.2006 12:47am
Passerby (mail):
One wonders how Mr. Phelps would feel if a few veterans' organizations decided to repay his kindness with 24 hour "vigils" at his home and place of worship staffed by dozens of courteous and patriotic veterans who fought for his right to harass people at funerals.

Perhaps he should find out.
3.24.2006 9:16am
BU2L (mail):

And I was a virgin until 23!

At least you didn't wait till marriage! Sorry, Randy, that's a cheap shot :-(
3.24.2006 9:50am
Thomas More:
So there is an argument that the protester's actions are in some measure constitutionally protected. What ever happened to the "fighting words" limitation on free speech? Is there such a limitation? If the protesters have a right to wrongly offend people at funerals, surely the offended folks should have a constitutionally protected right to thrash them, another expression of freedom of speech, no doubt.

I do have some sympathy for the slippery slope argument put forth by Volokh in his NR piece. The same argument applies in the abortion and same-sex marriage arena.
3.24.2006 10:56am
Philistine (mail):
jgshapiro writes:


Huh? How can you not be able to decriminalize something? The constitution does not criminalize behavior on its own, nor does it require behavior to be criminalized (not even slavery), so a legislative statement to the effect that something is legal, or repealing a prohibition, could not be seen to be unconstitutional


How do you think a decriminilation of battery against blacks would fare, constitutionally? Or of battery against women? Against Democrats? Scientologists? People criticizing George Bush?

--Philistine
3.24.2006 11:04am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I find it appalling that you include the qualifier "some." As someone who knows a lot of gay people, and doesn't seem them through a foggy hatred prism, I can honestly tell you that all gay people, just like all straight people, hate child molesters. To be sure, most child molesters are straight - just as most people are.
Maybe all the gay people you know hate child molesters. I've had way too many conversations with gay activists who see NAMBLA as a legitimate organization, and as a legitimate part of the gay community.
3.24.2006 11:14am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Kendall writes:


"you and I both know" is not objective peer reviewed science. Its a specious and unsupportable claim that is meant to smear (in this case quite literally) homosexuals. I'm aware of no homosexual man or woman who is involved with has ever been involved with, or has any interest in BEING involved with coprophillia or coprophagia for that matter.

I HAVE of course heard the claim before, but always from very socially conservative sources with little or no reference material to back it up.
You might want to move to Los Angeles or San Francisco for a while. It will open your eyes.


So, you're saying you have no direct evidence for your claim again, you're pointing out that ILGA did in fact exclude NAMBLA from their activities and yet you assume the only reason NAMBLA is not recognized by gay groups is "bad politics" even though you don't support this assertion.
ILGA excluded NAMBLA only after substantial debate, and because they had to do so to maintain their UN observer status--and the internal debate within the gay activist population was so acrimonious that the major funders of the ILGA cut them off for doing so. This is a sign of a really seriously split movement.

As for your debates in a newsgroup, I could just as easily make broad judgements about Republicans on a message board (how about Free Republic?) or Democrats (Do people honestly think Democratic Underground is representative?) but that doesn't mean its what the average political party member thinks, its the opinion of a few radicals.
Based on my experiences living in the San Francisco Bay Area, Democratic Underground represents a sizeable fraction of Democrats.
3.24.2006 11:18am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

And 9 out of 10 vocally anti-gay conservatives turn out to be either gay themselves or to have gay children whose lives they make hell. So which one are you Clayton? Why is this such a huge issue to you? The hard line against child abuse itself is good and admirable. But the obsession with homosexuals is just a bit creepy. Is Idaho's massive gay population putting that much of a crimp in your style?
I can point to a specific study funded by the San Francisco Dept. of Public Health, performed by EMT Associates. And your source for this claim is?

I've been married for 26 years, and neither of my children is gay. Part of my concern about homosexuality is:

1. NAMBLA was an accepted participant in San Francisco gay pride parades (as well as New York City's) for many years. Only after it became a political inconvenience did they suddenly start getting booed.

2. When undercover reporters for San Francisco channel 4 showed up for a NAMBLA meeting in a meeting room at the San Francisco Public Library, it produces a short burst of questions. The appropriate gay leaders asserted that of course NAMBLA wasn't gay, and had nothing to do with the gay community. The reporter asked Roberta Achtenberg, a S.F. county supervisor if this was the case, why four out of five gay bookstores in San Francisco carried NAMBLA's publication, "BulliTEN." ("Ten," as in an age--get it?) Her only response was that the First Amendment protected freedom of speech. That's a crock--there's no obligation for a private bookstore to carry any publication.

3. ACLU is not only defending NAMBLA in a civil suit that alleges NAMBLA published materials on how to rape children and get away with it, but they argued in the Limon case that teenagers had a "due process liberty interest" in having sex with adults. True, this isn't necessarily a complete bar to any government regulation--but it wasn't the minor who was being prosecuted in Limon--it was the adult. The ACLU was arguing that laws that interfered with minors having sex with adults were suspect. How...interesting.

4. Idaho doesn't have a huge gay population (or at least they aren't having sex in public places). As near as I can tell, most gay Idahoans would prefer to be left alone, and vice versa. My experience in the Bay Area is that once critical mass is reached, like other identity politics groups, they insist on imposing their will on others.

5. There were a lot of very disturbing aspects to the gay community's power in the Bay Area. The Bodega Bay deputy fire chief, for example, was openly gay. He also kept getting arrested supplying alcohol to 14 and 15 year old boys. Most people would correctly recognize the gross impropriety of that; he insisted that it was just homophobia.

6. In much the same way that a small number of wealthy and powerful slave owners corrupted the legal and political system of the United States, homosexual activists (and let me emphasize that most homosexuals aren't activists, and many just want to be left alone) have corrupted the legal system of the U.S., striking down the authority of the voters to amend state constitutions, and imposing same-sex marriage on the states through judicial activism.

7. The gay community doesn't seem to be terribly concerned about rape. Doe v. Capital Cities et al., 50 Cal. App. 4th 1038 (1996):
An aspiring actor is first drugged and then gang-raped by a casting director and four other men one Sunday at the casting director's home. Can the actor successfully allege causes of action for sexual harassment and negligent hiring against the casting director's employers? The trial court ruled against the actor, sustaining a demurrer without leave to amend. On this appeal, we analyze the allegations in the actor's second amended complaint in light of pertinent statutory and decisional law and conclude that he has adequately pled a cause of action for sexual harassment but that the allegations for negligent hiring are insufficient as a matter of law.

...

During the morning of Sunday, August 15, 1993, plaintiff went to Marshall's home. He did so "expecting to attend a meeting where he would meet entertainment industry executives representing ABC shows and/or for the purposes [of promoting his acting career]." Marshall gave plaintiff a glass of tea. Plaintiff drank the tea which, unknown to him, contained a drug. When plaintiff awoke, he was bound and tied. He was given multiple injections of an unknown drug and was beaten and gang-raped by Marshall and four named codefendants, n2 none of whom is alleged to have any connection with ABC. At one point when plaintiff was untied, he attempted to escape but Marshall and a codefendant forcibly took him back into the house and again injected him with a drug. Marshall ultimately drove plaintiff in plaintiff's car to Beverly Hills where he abandoned him. Plaintiff was subsequently discovered by the police.


By the way, a footnote identifies who these rapists are:
Those four individuals are Barry Parker, Michael Sullivan, Ken Dickson, and Fred Goss.


Some of these are pretty common names, so Google doesn't help much. There is a Fred Goss in the entertainment business, and his web page talks about "Goss, along with his partner, Nick Holly..." as does this page. There is also a columnist named Fred Goss who writes opera reviews for The Advocate (a gay newspaper). I don't know if these are the same guy. It seems most unlikely that one or the other of these self-identified gay men named Fred Goss isn't the rapist named in this lawsuit. It seems extremely unlikely that there are three gay men all named Fred Goss in the entertainment and arts business. I guess drugging and raping someone isn't a big issue in some circles.

8. Puberty is a very difficult and sometimes sexually confusing time. Where I lived in California, teachers strongly encouraged homosexuality. One of my daughter's friends came out of one of those homes that fit the Freudian model perfectly: weak and emotionally absent father; strong and domineering mother. Noah was very effeminate--and even though he had not actually defined himself as gay yet (he was still in middle school), his teachers were encouraging him to think of himself as gay. (I guess it made them feel so liberal.) Eventually, he rose to the occasion, and by high school, he was hanging out in the men's rooms at the community college, providing servicing to random strangers. I'm sure that his middle school teachers were so proud of what they caused.

9. There is enough evidence to make me suspect a connection between childhood sexual abuse and homosexuality. It may not explain every homosexual; it might only explain the most outrageously and obviously self-destructive expressions, such as the gay man who spends his time cruising public restrooms and gay bathhouses for anonymous sex. (This isn't that rare; soc.motss used to be full of gay men defending this as a wonderful way of life.)

One of the reasons that the APA ended up removing homosexuality from DSM-III is that none of the models that they had for homosexuality fit every case. Hormones? It fit a very few cases, but not many. The weak father, domineering mother Freudian model? It fit some cases, but usually did not.

I don't believe that the psychiatric community ever examined a possible sexual abuse connection (although a number of experts in sexual abuse clearly have thought about it, and some have dropped hints in their books that there might be a connection), partly because in 1973, it was not yet known how widespread sexual abuse of children was.

Furthermore, it appears that the APA was looking for a single cause of homosexuality, and there may well be multiple causes. This may be why none of the different theories (including the genetic ones) seem to be consistent across multiple studies; there may be multiple causes.

My concern is that legitimate examination of this connection has been completely stifled in the scientific community--because that would imply that homosexuality, at least some forms of it, is traumatic in origin--and gay pride prevents any examination of it. Even prominent gay people who have publicly acknowledged being sexually molested as minors--like Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres--often insist that there was no connection to their adult sexuality. Call me skeptical.
3.24.2006 11:49am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

So there is an argument that the protester's actions are in some measure constitutionally protected. What ever happened to the "fighting words" limitation on free speech? Is there such a limitation? If the protesters have a right to wrongly offend people at funerals, surely the offended folks should have a constitutionally protected right to thrash them, another expression of freedom of speech, no doubt.

I do have some sympathy for the slippery slope argument put forth by Volokh in his NR piece. The same argument applies in the abortion and same-sex marriage arena.
Unfortunately, one of the choices seems to be the real danger of slippery slope, or absolutist positions that are ahistorical, and leave the government with no mechanism for restraining really abusive language.

One difficulty with the "fighting words" doctrine from Chaplinsky is that while those particular examples might have qualified as such back then, almost any list of "fighting words" that is correct for one year will be irrelevant twenty years later. This reduces us to writing vague laws that prohibit use of language that qualifies as "fighting words" but leaving them undefined.

I am profoundly offended by Phelps's actions at these funerals--something that he started when he picketed Randy Shilits's funeral in San Francisco many years ago. A funeral is a rather special situation, in that people that are present are grieving a loss, and such actions are likely to provoke an overreaction in a way that they would not at say, a wedding.

Even if it were not at a funeral, I would find Phelps's language profoundly disturbing and unnecessary--but I suppose a society that tolerates much of the crap that gets displayed on movie screens can certainly tolerate Phelps's temper tantrums.
3.24.2006 12:10pm
Shangui (mail):
In much the same way that a small number of wealthy and powerful slave owners corrupted the legal and political system of the United States, homosexual activists (and let me emphasize that most homosexuals aren't activists, and many just want to be left alone) have corrupted the legal system of the U.S., striking down the authority of the voters to amend state constitutions, and imposing same-sex marriage on the states through judicial activism.


So gay activists, representing a group that, until recently, has had the least political and social power of just about any demographic in the country, who were regularly beaten, abused, discriminated against, etc., are the equivalent of wealthy slave owners who were the dominant social, economic, and legal forces in their society?

I'm sorry you had such a bad experience with a tiny minority of gays in your days in Califorian. It was clearly so scarring that you have lost the ability to reason or see things in perspective.

The gay community doesn't seem to be terribly concerned about rape.

And this is based on one court decision about a man being raped and your speculation that there may have been a known gay writer involved? On this basis any sane person would have to conclude that the heterosexual community (of which, by the way, I am a part) not only permits all manner of sexual abuse, but condones it fully. Did you know that heterosexual men actually rape people every day? Shocking isn't it. And some of these men don't even serve time in prison! The heterosexual menace must be stopped!

Oh, and a kid you know turned out gay and likes to blow men in bathrooms. This is an excellent and irrefutable basis for a larger argument about homosexuality.

I do take comfort in the fact that most of US society is not nearly as obsessed with finding any possible reason to condemn gays and lesbians as you are. I'm fully confident that most states in the US will eventually recognize that people should have the right to marry whomever they want and that people with opinions like yours will be justifiably viewed as the equivalent of people who objected to mixed race marriages and educating blacks. So enjoy your last moments of sputtering hatred. Reason will win out and you'll be left behind.
3.24.2006 12:38pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

So gay activists, representing a group that, until recently, has had the least political and social power of just about any demographic in the country, who were regularly beaten, abused, discriminated against, etc., are the equivalent of wealthy slave owners who were the dominant social, economic, and legal forces in their society?
One of the reasons why some Northern abolitionists joined the cause in the 1830s and 1840s was not directly because of slavery, but because they could see an increasing threat to freedom of speech caused by the power of the slaveocracy. Newspaper editors were murdered; petitions could not be received by Congress; distribution of abolitionist literature was made a capital offense in some states.

Today, the problem is that antidiscrimination laws are beginning to be used to suppress the right of conscience--for example, a print shop owner in Seattle who did not want to print gay wedding announcements--and was fined for refusing to do so.


I'm sorry you had such a bad experience with a tiny minority of gays in your days in Califorian. It was clearly so scarring that you have lost the ability to reason or see things in perspective.
I'm not sure that it was a tiny minority.


And this is based on one court decision about a man being raped and your speculation that there may have been a known gay writer involved? On this basis any sane person would have to conclude that the heterosexual community (of which, by the way, I am a part) not only permits all manner of sexual abuse, but condones it fully. Did you know that heterosexual men actually rape people every day? Shocking isn't it. And some of these men don't even serve time in prison! The heterosexual menace must be stopped!
Give me a list of heterosexual men who commit rape and yet continue to hold influential jobs in their communities.


Oh, and a kid you know turned out gay and likes to blow men in bathrooms. This is an excellent and irrefutable basis for a larger argument about homosexuality.
You are starting to argue like a homosexual: a failure to understand that giving one example does not mean that there are not other examples.


I do take comfort in the fact that most of US society is not nearly as obsessed with finding any possible reason to condemn gays and lesbians as you are. I'm fully confident that most states in the US will eventually recognize that people should have the right to marry whomever they want and that people with opinions like yours will be justifiably viewed as the equivalent of people who objected to mixed race marriages and educating blacks. So enjoy your last moments of sputtering hatred. Reason will win out and you'll be left behind.
More gay argumentation style.
3.24.2006 1:14pm
Steve in CA (mail):
Did anyone else laugh really hard at "now you're arguing like a homosexual"?

"Oh yeah? Your argument is totally gay!"

I think the kids would say you just got pwned
3.24.2006 1:21pm
Shangui (mail):
You are starting to argue like a homosexual: a failure to understand that giving one example does not mean that there are not other examples.

More gay argumentation style.


This is getting fun. The more I let CC talk the more idiotic he sounds. So is "a failure to understand that giving one example does not mean that there are not other examples" somehow inherently linked to a sexual attraction to people of the same gender? Of is this a result of child sex abuse? What exactly is a "gay argumentation style"? I hate to break it to you, CC, but the syllogism was invented by men who liked little boys (though I'm not sure if they also enjoyed eating shit). Does this mean that anytime you employ logic that you're using a "pedophilic argumentation style"? Or do I argue like a homosexual because you just assume that while making my argument I also happen to be contemplating how to redo my living room?

By the way, I strongly agree that the poor man in Seattle should not have been fined over refusing to print the wedding invitation. I'm also against hate-crime laws. But to state that gays somehow hold the same type of power in our society that wealthy slave owners did in their's is just absurd. How many gays have been elected president? How many are serving in the Senate? How many head major corporations?

But please, I'd prefer that you elaborate on the gay arguments and what it means to argue like a homosexual. I want to be sure to avoid such "phallacies" is the future. Get it?!? 'Cause it sounds like the word for penis!!!
3.24.2006 1:42pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
Clayton Cramer reminds me of that Simpsons episode, where Rainier Wolfcastle, as McBain, gets a late night talk show. He tells his sidekick, "that suit makes you look like a homosexual." He is booed, and says, "maybe you are all homosexuals."
3.24.2006 2:19pm
Milhouse (www):
Back to the issue of picketing. I've just posted on a related matter.
3.24.2006 2:47pm
Kendall:
You might want to move to Los Angeles or San Francisco for a while. It will open your eyes.


No thanks, not everyone wants to associate with someone interested in fecal matter as a sexual experience, why you chose to for any length of time is your business.
3.24.2006 3:52pm
Russ Meyer (mail):
R Gould,

You recently said: "I feel neither obliged, nor entitled, to call upon any Christian public figure, whether Marxist, radiclib, neocon, or paleocon, or even Whig, to say or do anything."

You confuse me, for your first post said: "I keep waiting for Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed, Dr. Dobson, whatshisname from the Catholic League, etc. to come out and say, publically, loudly, and unequivocally, "Phelps is no Christian; his views are a perversion of everything that Christianity stands for; he's either a psychopath, or a demagogue, or both; and he'd better change his behavior and good Christians everywhere should pray for his immortal soul, 'cause otherwise judgment day will be very unpleasant for him"

. . . and yet they don't."

Um, if this isn't calling on someone to say something, perhaps I don't understand the English language as well as I thought I did.

Or is it that you only feel that you should call out Republican Christian leaders, and give Democrats a free pass, especially since Phelps is a Democrat?
3.24.2006 5:42pm
Kendall:
Or is it that you only feel that you should call out Republican Christian leaders, and give Democrats a free pass, especially since Phelps is a Democrat?


Oh come on, first of all I've yet to see any evidence that Phelps is REALLY a registered Democrat, I believe someone posted that they "thought" they read somewhere that he was. Even if he IS a registered Democrat... Isn't that a bit like calling Timothy McVeigh or David Duke a republican? They may belong to a particular political party but they don't necessarily reflect the views of most people in the party and aren't necessarily defended on the basis of party membership.
3.24.2006 7:24pm
Kendall:
I stand corrected. A simple google search turned up plenty of information that Fred Phelps is indeed a registered member of the Democratic Party, or was as early as Bill Clinton's time in office. However, my point that he is probably not representative of the views of the Democrats just as certain members of the Republican Party are not now nor were they in the past representative of the Republican party.
3.24.2006 7:31pm
Russ Meyer (mail):
Kendall,

My point was never that he was representative of the Democratic party. My point was that R Gould seemed to jump to the (incorrect) assumption he was a Republican, probably due to stereotyping. Additionally, when it was pointed out that Phelps was a Democrat, he tried to backtrack and say it wasn't his place to call on anyone to denounce him. However, he had no trouble calling for denouncement when he thought the guy was a Republican.

Every Democrat I know finds Phelps offensive, and I would expect no less. My point was the stereotype played up by R Gould that he seems to think Republicans are all homophobes, bigots, etc, and had done exactly zero research on Phelps' background.
3.25.2006 1:38am
Bob Loblaw (www):
PLEASE EUGENE-

Read this string and NEVER TAKE CLAYTON CRAMER SERIOUSLY ON ANY MATTER AGAIN.
3.25.2006 4:48am
Josh_Jasper (mail):
Somehow anti-gay bigotry, no matter how virulent, dosen't seem to matter to Eugene Volokh or other regular VC posters.
3.25.2006 6:40am
DonBoy (mail) (www):
For what it's worth, the actor Fred Goss is the creator and star of the current sitcom Sons and Daughters. The two references that Cramer links to contain identical text (one link has it spread across two pages), and the text, which indeed includes a reference to Goss' "partner", also closes with "Goss and his wife, Arlene, are the parents of three children." So his partner is clearly his professional partner, and he most likely is not a "self-identified gay man".
3.25.2006 10:23pm
R. Gould-Saltman:
Hmm. Actually, I was aware of Phelps' Democratic/Gore connection. I'm also aware that Lyndon Larouche laid claim to being a Democrat. My point had, frankly, less to do with political affiliation, than purported religious affiliation.
Religious leaders on the right, with close connections to the present administration (Jesse Jackson? Has GWB been inviting him to a lot of prayer breakfasts lately?) also have close affiliation with folks who've said stuff like "Homosexuals are an offense to God and God's going to punish (or "is punishing") the U.S. for tolerating openly homosexual conduct". Phelps' pronouncements are, as Doc Volokh said originally, a
parody of that position, and one that I thought would be too close for comfort for some real Christians.

My original note ("I'm waiting..." ) was not a call for right-wing (or other) Christian leaders to do anything; they probably won't give two rats' legs for my opinions, or those of other self-described leftist Buddhists generally. I was simply thinking that it'd be a good tactical idea for them to distance themselvews from Phelps, so as not to provide folks like me opportunity to point our the similarity...
3.26.2006 7:05pm