To the editor:
Margie Phelps’ letter (Public Forum, March 24) and Michael Smerconish’s column (March 20) illuminate the contradictory claims of free speech and religious obedience. If we don’t engage in slander, hate speech or endangering public safety we are constitutionally guaranteed our public views.
Smerconish argues that we should restrict odious expression and uses the Phelpses’ protest at military funerals as evidence. The House Un-American Activities Committee’s inquisitions and southern sheriffs abusing protesters are examples of attempts to restrict what was viewed as unacceptable at the time. The Phelpses’ disgustingly provocative views, just like those yelling the “N” word at Rep. Lewis, if restricted, could lead to further persecution of unpopular expression. Trumpeting restrictions, Smerconish disdains the common rabble. My own view is that we should be able to freely mock them.
The Phelpses’ cranky, tenth-rate religious melodrama isn’t politically harmless. Given the power, they would promote persecution in the name of the Lamb. This is apostasy. It encourages the death of soldiers and gays. This is the abandonment of Christianity. Margie Phelps’ train wreck of religious posturing creates a schism by pillaging and exploiting Christian teaching. She apparently fervently desires the fiery annihilation of America. She invents adversaries with the furious anger normally reserved for megalomaniacs and debauched Puritans. She is apparently unaware that the idea of the intrinsic evil of America is a Gnostic cult one.
Phelps sets herself up as America’s scourging healer. She would buttress us by breaking us. She is a heresiarch.