The Arizona legislature is expected to pass legislation Tuesday targeting a Kansas church whose members have announced they plan to picket the funerals of the victims of Saturday's shootings in Tucson.Arizona's passed some bad laws in its time, but the current tragedy happening in that state has inspired an excellent law that I hope will remain on the books after these events have passed. There's no point in turning discussion of the Westboro Baptist Church into a discussion of 'free speech'. It taints the noble concept of free speech and tarnishes the memory of millions of brave men and women who have risked all to get controversial ideas and messages out there.
The proposed legislation would make it a misdemeanor to protest within 300 feet of a funeral from one hour before until one hour after a funeral, a spokesman for the state House said.
The action, according to House spokesman Daniel Scarpinato, is in direct response to the Westboro Baptist Church's announcement that it will picket the funeral of Christina Green, the 9-year-old who was among six people killed during Saturday's attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona.
The controversial church, based in Topeka, has made its name by staging protests at funerals of people who died of AIDS, gay people, soldiers and even Coretta Scott King.
'Controversial' - that's the word the quote above uses. Nothing could be further from the truth: the WBC is one of the least controversial topics out there. There is nothing anyone can or would say to defend these imbeciles. There's no controversy at all here: they are hateful and worthy of our hate, and everyone can agree on that. Picketing the funeral of a nine-year-old innocent shooting victim? I mean, come on - how can every state in the union not have a law like that one on the books? It's a perfectly appropriate law and, like any good law, holds water however it's applied. Say the Grand Wizard of the KKK died? That person (whoever he is) had family and thoese people deserve the opportunity to put his body to rest in dignity. Fred Phelps, when he dies, should have the right to a solemn, dignified burial, and his crazed family/followers should have the right to mourn him without protesters. I really do believe that.
It's crap to try to get political currency out of this tragedy. But if this tragedy has conspired to make Arizona, home of some pretty bad laws, pass a good one that might serve as an example to the rest of the nation, then something good will have come from something bad. We lose nothing of our freedom of speech and we gain plenty of our civility when we keep idiots like the Phelps family as far away from funerals as possible, or else lock them up.