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Do you think the Legislature should consider a bill to restrict picketing at funerals?

Asked at Borders, 700 N.H. on September 22, 2006

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Photo of Jessica Wood

“No, I don’t think so. As upsetting as it is for the people there, it’s important to be able to do that. : The right to protest is a fundamental part of free speech.”

Photo of Sam Edelstein

“I think it’s wrong, but I don’t feel that the government can completely prohibit it. They should at least regulate it with a buffer zone.”

Photo of Chelsea Miller

“I think they should. There are other places you could picket than at someone’s funeral.”

Photo of Harold Lake

“Yes, I do. Picketing shows no respect of the person the funeral is for, particularly people in the military who have given their lives for our country.”

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Comments

sunflower_sue 8 years, 8 months ago

I wonder how many time 'ol fred was in the sniper's cross-hairs? (Just for fun.)

mom_of_three 8 years, 8 months ago

NO picketing at funerals. Everyone is talking about the right to free speech, but what about the rights of the families to a peaceful service and burial. Their kind of hate just makes me angry at the ignorance in the world.

If I was ever at a funeral and Phelps' clan showed up, someone better have the money to bail me out of jail.

Grundoon Luna 8 years, 8 months ago

Yes, they cared, but not so much that it was enough to satisfy that attention whore, Phreddy. So he started picketing pediatric aids patients' funerals. People really started caring then!! So it has escalated and escalated and it still wasn't enough so we are to the point of what he's doing now.

Why are people afraid to do what the mourners at the funeral in San Francisco for Randy Shiltz (Shilts?)? C'mon!! TURN IN TO AN ANGY MOB AND CHASE THE INSUFFERABLE FOOLS OUT OF TOWN!!!

Really, though, I can't believe that some vet hasn't gone ahead and done some "special ops" on that crowd.

As horrible as I think the Phelps' are, I can only support restricting their type of picketing, not ban it all together.

jafs 8 years, 8 months ago

The concept of free speech was originally to protect political debate. I find it somewhat ironic that the president can prevent protesters from exercising that right at his speeches (where it rightfully belongs) while hateful protests are allowed at funerals. We do recognize the need to limit free speech for a variety of reasons. Perhaps we should limit the funeral picketers and restore the ability of citizens to disagree publicly with the government.

jonas 8 years, 8 months ago

"Yes, I do. Picketing shows no respect of the person the funeral is for, particularly people in the military who have given their lives for our country."

  • Harold Lake, funeral director, Arkansas City

While I'm not calling Harold indecent or incomplete, his comment tends towards a thought line that, though expected, I find depressing. That is, when it was, forgive my french, just a bunch of fags, few people really cared at all. Now that they are soldiers funerals, its time to start trying to stop it somehow, unconstitutionally or otherwise.

trinity 8 years, 8 months ago

jessica worries me.

i'm all about free speech&all that, but i have a really hard time disassociating picketing funerals and phreddie. i know i know i know, he has "rights". but so do those who are grieving.

such a sad issue to have to address.

Linda Aikins 8 years, 8 months ago

They're showing up at 11:00 Tuesday at Sacred Heart in Topeka to protest Bernie Deghand's funeral. He was killed in Afghanistan last week.

The Patriot Guard will be there. Let's hope they can keep the Phelps and their awful signs away.

promitida 8 years, 8 months ago

those who do picket funerals need to get a life. It's just ridiculous

JayHawk3785 8 years, 8 months ago

I completly agree with jonas. Nobody would have ever considered doing anything about Phred when it was just gay people he was hating, but now that he's hating military families it's an issue. I do support our troops and think it's horrible that so many of them have been killed for Dubb-ya, but it's just interesteing to see when something becomes an issue and who's willing to fight now.

jonas 8 years, 8 months ago

I apoligize for my exaggerations. It is true that it was not only homosexuals, and it is true that there were people even then who cared. That is, though, why I referred to it as a trend.

Sunshine Noise: Woe betold if Phelps is the anti-christ. That means by generally accepted interpretation that he, at some point, would take over control of the world. I can't imagine what reality that would take. (Or perhaps I don't want to.)

I believe O-Bob is correct. His lieutenants (IE, his 1st degree offspring) have been largely running the shoe for some time now. They are truly Phelpites, as well.

Truthfully, I wouldn't be surprised when he finally does die that they try to mock it up to look like a murder in an attempt to martyr him.

jonas 8 years, 8 months ago

Oh, and if you see Das_Ubermime lurking about, tell him congratulations, as he is going to be a dad.

/As scary as that sounds. . . .

christie 8 years, 8 months ago

Stupid stupid stupid... can't you all figure it out? The way to stop this b.s. is to REQUIRE a PERMIT. Then require a BOND to be posted to get the PERMIT. Word the permit this way and that way so legitimate protestors can get around it... require so many days in advance... etc etc.

Then create the BOND REVOKE clause and as soon as a cop arrives the bond is revoked. Sooner or later these $10,000 bonds will break these idiots.

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY.

Charla Welch 8 years, 8 months ago

People don't realize that it was never just gays he was protesting against. It's gays and anyone who he perceives as supporting or even tolerating homosexuality.

I think picketing the military funerals was more the straw that broke the camel's back, if you will. He's still making it about homosexuality.

I disliked Phreddie from the first time I heard of him, and he made big news back home in Wyoming when his group came out there to protest at Matthew Sheperd's funeral.

I support a buffer zone. They can still protest so they still have their free speech, but the mourners can still mourn, and possibly ignore the idiots a little more easily.

Kat Christian 8 years, 8 months ago

You can't force people to respect the sensitivity of others and as sad as a funeral is and I don't agree with picketing at them - having the government make a law against picking funerals will only open the door to other restictive laws and before you know it our constitutional rights will be rewritten. However, I do agree with a buffer zone, decided by each state what that will be. I think there is something seriously wrong with Phelp's. He has distorted the meaning of Jesus. Perhaps he is the anti-Christ the bible speaks about - he has arrived folks now it is time to really bring up your Christian armor and as Jesus said, "Pray for your enemies."

cutny 8 years, 8 months ago

Well, the free speech argument is basicallly out the window. You can't yell "FIRE" in a movie theater or joke with an airline agent that you're carrying a gun and still be within you legal rights. If these instances have been taken away then get the hell rid of Phelps and his band of sunglass wearing religious terrorists. I love how they wear terminator-style sunglasses because they are too ashamed to look anybody in the eye. I have a feeling that once the old grump passes, the rest of the family will breathe a sigh of relief and go back to being the anonymous hillbillies that they are. Jonas, I agree with your point, but your language comes off as uneducated and offensive. As well, printing the name of the woman that was giving sex education lessons from her dorm room was equally vile. People will take your opinions far less seriously if you continue to present them in such a disrespectful manner. Grow up.

Grundoon Luna 8 years, 8 months ago

TOB, they are ALL lawyers. Phred and all 13 of his kids are lawyers, even the 2 that disowned him. Thank the City of Topeka for that. Phred got cranked off about a water bill so he got himslef a law degree . . . .

We should all carpool to Topeka on Tuesday! Inspector Kemp says, "A riot is an ugly thing, and I think it's just about time we had one!!"

Mom o'3, You rock on, girl!!! I'd contribute to your bail fund!

Ceallach 8 years, 8 months ago

I think people should look toward Tonganoxie to learn how ordinary people can come together and protect the funeral procession and burial of a loved one. Build your own buffer zone around the mourners. Protest protesters also have the right to assemble, peaceably.

sgtwolverine 8 years, 8 months ago

Yelling fire or joking about bombs and guns in an airport are a bit different from protesting at a funeral. I think it's in bad taste, but I don't think it's a menace or a threat to public safety. At most, only a buffer zone would really be justifiable.

RoscoeP 8 years, 8 months ago

Even the worst war criminals in the history of man gave their enemies time to bury their dead. But I guess the first amendment should supercede any atempt of doing what hundreds of years of history has told us is morally right.

Topside 8 years, 8 months ago

Jonas_ is a little mistaken. They have been picketing cops, high school kids, and whoever- gay and non-gay alike for many years. I have been surprised that it has just now resurfaced. Why? If people would have ignored this nut ball from the get-go he would have done two things. 1-disappeared in the sense of being just that weird nut-job disbarred topeka lawyer. 2-He might have done a big thing to get his message across like blow up a building or something...so maybe in that respect we should let him kee picketing.

Its all just an attention thing he loves the drama and antagonism. People having him on national talk shows just fuels his fire.

cutny-agreed one he dies it will more than likely fade out.

Ceallach 8 years, 8 months ago

In case you are only auditing the posts, congrats, Das!!!!

Question for any legal eagles/beagles in the crowd. . . aren't most cemeteries either privately owned or church properties? For those that are . . . can they restrict picketing on their sites?

Tony Kisner 8 years, 8 months ago

Topside,

Yeah, it's not like someone died or anything?

Had your kidneys burst you as a last request could ask for a very small procession at your funeral.

beatrice 8 years, 8 months ago

This issue reminds me of people who want to make a constitutional amendment against flag burning -- as everyone here has pointed out, it is sad and disrespectful, but you can't legislate respect. Fortunately, there are few people who actually burn flags in the U.S., and few people vile enough to picket funerals. I hate both, but would not want to forbid either.

Topside 8 years, 8 months ago

As an aside to picketing I must admit I was irritated with a funeral procession the other day in Wichita. It was for a firefighter of some type, captain maybe. I DO respect the dead and definitely a firefighter or soldier...

BUT, It was through a bad construction zone that was down to 1 lane and traffic was backed up for miles. I was at the light watching it all go by and I really had to go, i mean, my back teeth were floating. Anyway, it took over a half an hour for this funeral to go by. I haven't seen a funeral procession like that since JFK, seriously!!!

There were five cop cars marked "funeral procession" on the side and numerous mototcycles. I know I sound like George Costanza here but when is enough enough. 20 cars? 50 cars? or 400+ as I observed? I doubt there were that many close friends and relatives that needed to be closely escorted.

angelofmine 8 years, 8 months ago

I'm with Blue on the first post.

And people did care before about the protests prior to the military funerals, it just wasn't AS widespread. I used to grit my teeth and drive by Episcopical church on Gage every darned day on my way to work, two blocks away.

The messages have gotten even more ridiculous, and the family is growing, including more of their children in their message of hate.

The idea that they plant those seeds in their children infuriates me.

sunflower_sue 8 years, 8 months ago

Das, congrats!

I think that the only way to handle this bully is to stand up to him. Clearly, if we ignore WBC, they are not going to go away. That hasn't worked. Ceal made a good point w/ Tongie making a strong united front against the Phelps gang at Lt. Frantz's funeral. (Honestly, I'm surprised someone didn't open fire on them.)
I love the "motorcycle brigade" that is volunteering their time and gas money to drown out the idiot picketing. The hum from 100 motorcycles, while not ideal, is definitely better than the hate spewing forth from the "idiot brigade." I just think of how pathetic their lives are that they have nothing better to do. How sad for their children to not have friends that aren't family or church members.

Restrictions? Well, I guess if the cemetary is owned privately, they wouldn't be able to picket on the grounds themselves. The Lied Center was somehow successful in getting the Phelps' to move to another location away from the people entering the building. Things can be done without "losing our civil liberities" as so many fear.

Can we somehow just stop them from breeding?

sunflower_sue 8 years, 8 months ago

Ceal, I was looking up that very ? about private ownership while you were posting. I think many cemetaries are privately owned but some do sanction them back to the city. I know that my in-laws gave some ground to a cemetary that they owned adjacent because the cemetary was running out of room, but I know not who "owns" the cemetary or who takes care of it. (Not a legal-eagle here.)

Linda Endicott 8 years, 8 months ago

When one of Phred's clones gets out of hand at a funeral protest and harms someone, or one of the mourners has had enough and decides to take out one of the protestors, they will wish they already had a ban or a buffer zone.

I figure it's only a matter of time before this happens. People who have lost a loved one, no matter whether it was through military action or something else, are in the process of grieving, and not always thinking clearly. It probably wouldn't take much to send someone over the edge. They're already on the edge.

I think this kind of behavior by the Phelps family is atrocious, and it shouldn't be allowed at all. Trying to justify such behavior by cloaking it in "free speech" is an affront to the concept of free speech. This kind of thing was not the original intent of the founding fathers, and we all know it, no matter what the ACLU might claim.

And if he wants his free speech so damn bad, then let him have it...just not at the actual physical location of the funeral, or within sight or sound of the mourners. Let him get a permit, and set up on a streetcorner somewhere, in the same town, with a sign that says, "this is in protest of the funeral of _".

That way, he still gets to talk and spout his views (hateful as they are). If free speech is really the issue, then the message should be the most important thing, not where the message is given.

Stop them from speaking their vile viewpoint: no. Stop them from doing it within sight or sound of the funeral: yes.

Bone777 8 years, 8 months ago

No protesting at funerals, unless you are wearing black, riding in a procession, and don't use signs or yell anything!

i_have_only_valid_opinions 8 years, 8 months ago

There should absolutely be no picketing at funerals. No matter the circumstance, that is the time for mourning a tremendous loss of family. I can't think of a circumstance where it would hurt the cause to stop picketing for one day. Pick up the action once the funeral is over.

If you do allow picketing, you should also make it legal for the deceased person's family to beat the crap out of any picketer that gets too close.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 8 months ago

And would Phred also agree that it's within the free speech rights of those who have had funerals for their loved ones to stand in the street right outside his "church" and protest his existence?

Somehow, I don't think Phred would like it if the shoe was on the other foot.

Teapot9 8 years, 8 months ago

Sorry for being so late (did a little drinkin' last night). I LOATHE the idea of people protesting at funerals. These people are scum, HOWEVER, I do defend their right to do it and I hate admitting that. I dont understand how someone or someones could be so crass to do this when a family is mourning.

sunflower_sue 8 years, 8 months ago

Isn't there a funeral in Skidmore, MO that Freddie could go picket? I hear they LOVE bullies up in those parts.

Calliope877 8 years, 8 months ago

I think a buffer zone is a good idea: that way, the morons can still protest if they want to, but I think it should be out of the sight of mourners.

cowboy 8 years, 8 months ago

I think angry mobs are the answer here , just two or three angry mobs would take care of these clowns.

beatrice 8 years, 8 months ago

Bowhunter: earlier in the week it was fears of "your mother" being raped by drug-crazed maniacs roaming the street, and now it is the fear that the picketing fools will show up at the funeral of "your mother." We get it, already! Bad things can happen to "your mother," unless we do something about it. Fear sells, and anything bad happening to "your mother" must be stopped, no matter the cost of civil liberties.

Wire taps are approved -- don't you know the terrorists are trying to blow up "your mother"? The price of milk goes up -- don't you know that "your mother" will have to pay more now? etc., etc., etc., ...

By the way, those signs you mention -- would they read "FOG"? Is an "O" the missing letter? Seems to fit, because your mind seems to be foggy with fears about things happening to mothers.

sgtwolverine 8 years, 8 months ago

Okay, I'm voting for the paintballing idea. That's amazing. Imagine Phelps with a big purple splash on his forehead.

sgtwolverine 8 years, 8 months ago

bea, this may just reflect a fondness for "your mom" jokes.

But really, now I'm scared that my mom will be raped and killed by drug-addicted terrorists (carrying wiretapping equipment) while walking back from the store, where she paid too much for milk.

Curtis Martell 8 years, 8 months ago

Angry mobs! Angry mobs!

That is indeed the answer! Where do I sign up?

Grundoon Luna 8 years, 8 months ago

Bow, Phred does know my mother and he just may show up at her funeral since she gave birth to 2 gay children (but then he sired 2 gay children too, will he picket his own funeral). And that would be fine with us because all of her children and grandchildren (and we are many!) would open up a case of whoop ass on those lamoids.

Make no mistake, Phred would welcome picketers. I have said before, but I will now say again: He had been asked the "how-would-you-like-it-if . . ." question and replied, "I'd love it! Seeing people exercising their right to free speech would make my day. We'd bake them cookies." One day they were picketing a Christian restaurant in N. Topeka for having the audacity to take issue with them for picketing a pediatric aid victim's funeral across the street. When they broke for lunch they went right on in there to get it. Isn't that something?

After Teapot calling the kettle black for so long he/she/it becomes a liberal!! At least by TP's and nobody else's standards that is, sleeping until 'bout noon is what liberals do.

Cait McKnelly 8 years, 8 months ago

I think it's funny that Kline has taken up the cause of trying to remove Phelps from funerals. In fact I'm laughing my hiney off. Kline is as much a religious nutjob in his way as Phelps. Actually I think he's having a snit that Phelps is getting all of the media attention and he's using him to get some positive attention in an election year.

lianne 8 years, 8 months ago

I do not believe picketing should be permitted at anyones funeral. A funeral service is to project the positive aspects of the decedents life. They are for family, friends, and others to pay their respect to the one lost. Be it a soldier, they have obviously paid the ultimate price. For you, for me, for the stupid Phelp's family, for their own family, they died for us. If it weren't for a soldier the Phelp's wouldn't be able to stand around and yell insanities like they do. The family of these lost soldiers do not need to deal with the idiotic heartless Phelps' when they are trying to cope with their loss. They're suffering enough, leave them alone!

angelofmine 8 years, 8 months ago

I wanted to add ..... Phelps is provided additional police protection wherever he goes. There were snipers on the old ice cream plant in Tonganoxie when he protested a soldier's funeral there. Tonganoxie doesn't see too many snipers. They WANT someone to attack their protest. They antagonize people throughout their entire protest, and seem to enjoy doing so. They want someone in their hateful little group to become the martyr for their cause and skyrocket them to the front page.

Since Phelps daughter Shirley is an attorney, I'd bet whatever jurisdiction any sort of attack falls in will get their pants sued off for not protecting the 'victim' of such.

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