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Should the Westboro Baptist Church be able to picket funerals using their first amendment rights?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/1/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 525 times Debate No: 44446
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
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To clarify, the debate is over whether

The WBC, also known as the Westboro Baptist church, should be able to boycott and picket the funerals of dead US soldiers, murder victims, and gay teens/people using their first amendment rights. (does the first amendment extend to harassment and terrorization of victimized families?), and whether they should be able to protest in places possibly visible to children.

For a little info and background on the WBC:

I would argue that funerals, graveyards, and memorials should be exempt from any sort of protest whatsoever.

When the founding fathers wrote that "all people are entitled to the right of free speech", it would be trivial to suggest that they intended for people to use this right to harass victimized families of soldiers, children, or etcetera rather than to be able to speak their non-abusive opinions.

In addition, children, no matter the situation, should not be exposed to heavy language or hateful propaganda/messages at not only the sites of funerals, but in public as well.

If children are prohibited from seeing movies that contain the word "faggot" in them, then why do we not take the same protections for public, real-life situations?

Please note that I am not opposing the public protest of homosexuality in general, but the protest of homosexuality using explicit language and featuring that should not be made available to children under any circumstance.

Harassment and hate speech should not count as free speech. Counter anyone?


I accept Con's challenge.

I will argue that all of Con's points are irrelevant, as it does not specify anywhere in the US constitution that the expressal of opinion at a funeral is disallowed.

Supreme Court Justice John Roberts said this:

"What Westboro said, in the whole context of how and where it chose to say it, is entitled to 'special protection' under the First Amendment and that protection cannot be overcome by a jury finding that the picketing was outrageous."

In the eyes of the law, we as Americans can not just decide what we think is 'nice to do' and what we think is 'not nice to do', and then restrict people's freedoms based upon that.

If we disallow the Westboro Baptists from expressing their opinions, then we have to accept that it could be justifiable to disallow their homosexual counterparts from doing things like this... well. Imagine if a Jury had disallowed homosexuals from kissing in public near a funeral due to them disagreeing with their conduct? Would it be all right then? Of course not. So, unfortunately, the WBC is protected under the law.

Besides, there are numerous other ways of handling the vulgarity of the WBC. Funerals could be held on private property, and in the past, the public has rallied behind victims to blockade the WBC.

1. American First Amendment
2. Majority opinion of Phelps v Snyder written by Supreme Court Justice John Roberts
Debate Round No. 1


Con seems to have ignored my arguments and what I was even arguing for in the first round.

My line of thinking was *not* that the public protest of homosexuality should be banned, but rather that it is hypocritical to ban children from seeing movies with repeated usages of explicit language and then allow people who consistently use the word "faggot" to protest in parks used by children.

The Supreme Court has previously denied first amendment rights to defendants who used vulgar language to incite violence or hatred. I would argue that "F*gs and Dead Troops burn in hell" has potential to incite so.

My opponent says that grievers and victims of the WBC's harassment should just "find a way to avoid the WBC" or that "The Public should be responsible for dealing with the WBC" - this is an unjustifiable opinion. What my opponent is practically arguing is that it is the responsibility of the victim to deal with their harasser, which is an unacceptable ethical way of thinking.


Lady_Una forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Progressivist forfeited this round.


Lady_Una forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by azphyllis 2 years ago
I think their picketing is out of line and it shouldn't be done. I don't agree with flag burning either (I know that's not at issue here), but our military men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice fought to protect our rights and that includes the right to picket/protest at funerals.
Posted by LifeMeansGodIsGood 2 years ago
Cindy Sheehan (if I got her name right) was hailed as a hero for making huge stinks at funerals Sorry she lost a son in battle, but was she better than the WBO crowd when she made big stinks and was hailed as a hero at the funerals of strangers?
Posted by nicraM 2 years ago
The way it works is this...

You don't just protect popular opinion but rather you protect the right to voice unpopular on the same level.

They have the right, unfortunately.
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