Monday, May 2, 2011

Pardon me, sir, you are stepping on my rights

All of my regular readers know that you get whatever is hovering around in my brain on any given day and today it is the subject of our First Amendment Rights.  You know the ones I mean...

Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press,  Ratified 12/15/1791
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Yep, there are our First Amendment Rights!!!

OK, here's my "back and forth" "which way" what way" dillema for the day. While I totally agree we all have the right to say WHATEVER we feel like saying, is there EVER a time that we should be held accountable?
Sometimes it isn't that I am conflicted as much as I am irritated that people are so nasty and rationalize their bad behavior by claiming their First Amendment Rights. Yeh, yeh, I know it is their right.

  I don't consider myself a moron (hey, be nice out there) but isn't there a line somewhere between the right to say whatever you want and the rights of the person/people that you are inflicting pain upon by opening your yap.  Is it always the case that we are relegated  to say "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me?"  

One of the more notable cases in the recent year has been about the hateful, repulsive, and feel free to fill in this [ blank  ]  with any other words of your choosing, members of the Westboro Baptist Church.  These vile reprobates have been in and out of the court system citing their right to free speech.  While the Supreme Court has ruled in their favor, I can't help but wonder, how this can be considered a "peaceful assembly".  The members of this so-called church are anything but peaceful.  They are extremist and they hurt people by their actions.  The most notable is their regular anti-gay demonstrations  at the funeral services of fallen soldiers.  Really, how low can people stoop in their total disrespect of others.

They also, demonstrate against any number of ethnic groups, Roman Catholics, main stream Protestant churches, Jews and Blacks. They are equal opportunity hate-mongers.  Basically they hate everyone that isn't a member of the WBC.

Oh, I am off on a tangent here aren't I?  I could (and would) berate the WBC all day and not get anywhere. They are still going to do what they do.  I hate that they are here in the state I live. (then again I wouldn't wish them to move anywhere else and inflict their putrid selves on another state)

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Well, the thing that got me started in this general direction is NOT JUST the WBC but overall, the people that invoke their right to the First Amendment without any regard for who's rights they are trampling on.

Here is a story that was in the local news here in Olathe, KS. not so long ago.  I guy taking his kids to school ran through a stop sign and was pulled over by an Olathe police officer.  The guy not only extended his finger but said to the cop twice " F*** You."   So he not only got a ticket for the stop violation but for disorderly conduct.  Seems fair enough to me but this is where the gray area comes in.  You have the right to voice your opinion even if its vile, disrespectful or whatever nature of trash talk spilling out of your mouth.

Turns out that this story isn't all that unusual.  When I pulled up the article there were pages of similar stories from other states that had  a common scenario .  According to the First Amendment you can be an ass to a cop (well...verbally...oh and the extended finger too, I guess).  Another case of "just because you have the right to do something" doesn't make it right to do it.




OLATHE, Kan. -- The City of Olathe has settled a lawsuit with the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri on behalf of a man filing a lawsuit for receiving a ticket for flipping an officer off and shouting "(expletive) you."
The suit came after Scott Schaper was pulled over by Olathe police officer Craig Lundgren for failing to yield at a stop sign. The ACLU said since Schaper's children started to cry during the stop, so as he pulled away from the stop, Schaper said "(expletive) you" and directed his middle finger at Lundgren "in an expressive way."

Lundgren pulled Schaper over again and issued him a ticket for disorderly conduct.

ACLU Legal Director Doug Bonney sent the Olathe city prosecutor a letter pointing out that the ticket was unconstitutional. In November, the city dismissed the disorderly conduct ticket, the ACLU said.

On Thursday, the City of Olathe said its insurance company agreed to settle Schaper's civil rights claims out of court in exchange for $4,000 to Schaper and $1,000 in attorney's fees to the ACLU. As part of settlement the City of Olathe's Police Department has agreed to provide department-wide refresher training on the proper use of the disorderly conduct ordinance, the ACLU said.

"Courts have interpreted Kansas disorderly conduct statutes and ordinances very narrowly to bar only speech and conduct that is truly obscene and thus outside of First Amendment protection," Doug Bonney, legal director for the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri, said. "Many courts -- including the federal district court for Kansas -- have held that saying '(expletive) you' and using one's middle finger to express discontent or frustration is expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment.

So now our local officers are getting additional training how to take the bad behavior foisted on them in a professional manner.  Isn't that crap???? I wonder if Scott Schaper would have acted like the jerk he was, if he was needing an Olathe officer to protect him?  Of course, he wouldn't. Also, I have a problem with him behaving like that in front of the kids.  Great job of being a role model to his young ones.  Looking at the bright side, (if you can call this a bright side) Olathe got off better than Pittsburgh.  There a citizen was paid a  $50,000 settlement over the same type of exchange.

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Here now is one last example of "right to say it" versus the "really you should have just kept your mouth shut".   Alexander Wallace made a video at UCLA talking smack about Asians.  Politically Incorrect, doesn't hardly begin to describe the inappropriateness of this as it coincided with the earthquake in Japan.  Alexander left UCLA after the video stirred up a lot of hostility.

The video under Alexander's rant is a song written and preformed by Jimmy Wong  as a kind of spoof based on the phrases that Alexander used in her rant. 





So before any of you feel the need to quit following me because you disagree, send me a comment or email me. It is your right to say anything you want. It is my right to have an opinion. Shouldn't adults have the ability to discuss things even things we don't see eye to eye on.

What are your thoughts on the Westboro bunch? Or what about the guy with the ticket?  Should both of those situations get a free pass to say anything they please?




The Good for the day...The Olathe police department says that this type of behavior is really rare.


The Bad for the Day....That there are so many instances where people justify hateful actions and try to rationalize it by saying it is their First Amendment Right.  Still makes them  jerks, though.



The Weird for the Day....That it is against the law to be vulgar to a judge in a courtroom but not illegal to be vulgar to a police officer enforcing a law. If Scott Schaper would have done this to a judge he would have most likely been found in contempt and hauled off to jail.

16 comments:

Leah Griffith said...

Good morning Cheryl,
With a population of over 6 million souls there will always be morons in this country who will abuse our freedoms. There will also be greedy lawyers waiting to represent said morons. Ridiculous? Yes. But, tampering with our rights because of these morons is simply out of the question. So…we must live along side the idiots much like we co-exist with dysfunctional family members…cringing at their ignorant blunders while the world looks on and shakes its head. Hot topic!

Cheryl said...

I totally agree that the right of freedom of speech doesn't need tampering with. I guess, my feeling is that I have the right to find these morons abhorrant. I appreciate the communities that have put distance barriers for demonstrations surrounding funerals. I would have felt better about the police stop if just the ticket was dismissed, not the monetary damages. It wasn't just that he shouted and gestured to the cop, he pulled away during a traffic stop and had to be re-stopped.

Brandon said...

First off, I think it's great that you welcome comments that agree or disagree with your opinion. Sort of rare to see that these days.

It really is an interesting topic, free speech. I think part of the problem is that people tend to pay more attention to extreme opinions and voices. Reasonable, rational, civil discussions simply aren't covered as much...which is a shame.

Protesting or picketing a funeral may technically fall under free speech, but it is a violation of basic human decency and respect...a code which most everyone else in society honors. It's one thing to have those radical views in the first place, but it's quite another to display them in a hateful, hurtful, and completely dishonorable manner. Coming from those that claim to be Christians, that behavior truly is hypocrisy at its finest.

As for the kid & the cops, it isn't really what he said...so much as the conduct itself. If he said "Eff you! Now give me the ticket...", that technically might be OK...as long as he cooperated. But odds are, the intent was to display an uncooperative attitude...in essence, keep the officers from doing their job.

But to be fair, "disorderly conduct" is an extremely vague term that could mean just about anything. And if disorderly conduct is a crime, then why is Charlie Sheen out there on the streets?

junebug said...

Freedom isn't really all that free. We all have to pay for what we say and/or what others say. I wouldn't change the laws except maybe torte reform. I'm not a fan of most lawyers. However, I really wish more manners and respect were taught today. WBC does have the right to spew their hate. We have the right to ignore them (as difficult as that is). Mostly they are lawyers wanting to make money. They want people to fight back so they can sue them. It isn't really about the 'church'. If we all, including the media, completely pretended they didn't exist I think they would soon fade away. Our media and TV shows promote and approve of people behaving badly. A**hats get rewarded with $$$$, fame, etc. because it is entertaining. People forget it is fiction and behave that way in real life to the detriment of police officers, teachers, neighbors, etc. It really comes down to treating others the way you would want to be treated even if that means stifling your own personal freedoms and biting your own tongue.
I bite my tongue all the effin' time. Especially in today's horrible political environment. No one can have a decent conversation with each other anymore. I almost never share my political or religious opinions because of getting attacked. Not for pushing my own agenda just for picking a side! For instance, if I say I'm democrat suddenly I'm a socialist. If I say I'm a republican suddenly I'm racist. It is insanely ridiculous. I've very respectful of everyone's opinions. I believe in each their own. I wish I felt like this respect was returned. Not an easy subject to discuss or live.

Cheryl said...

Hi Brandon, You put that so well... you are right on the money. You brought up an interesting point. Would we even hear about a group that picketed all the soldiers funerals if they said something like "We love God" or some type of positive type of message. Westboro gets the press because they are so radical. I don't quite understand how they aren't getting into trouble on the "peaceful assembly" part of that freedom. (I can't think that is friendly)

You also, make a great point about the vagueness of the disorderly conduct ticket. I think it might of served the officer to make it an obstruction of justice charge or something that inferred the chump wasn't letting him execute the ticket.

You always make such good points on your comments. Thanks for sending them in. Appreciate it. I don't have a problem with alternate opinions. My problems is sometimes I don't articulate my point of view well and am misunderstood. OR frankly sometimes I am back and forth looking at both sides and can't come to a firm place to land.

injaynesworld said...

Hi, Cheryl... When you find yourself getting all worked up over the hateful and ignorant of the world, try imagining how horrible it would be to actually be one of those people. You've got to rise above it as opposed to letting the negativity pull you down to that level.

Besides, in the end karma will always get them.

As an aside, to encourage more of these types of conversations you might consider switching to the Disqus commenting system like I have on my blog.

Cheryl said...

Hi Junebug, You are absolutely right about the bad behavior is fueled by the attention they get. This isn't just groups like the WBC but even celebrities. Being a bad boy/girl earns you more money than keeping a low profile.

You are one of the few people that have mentioned the fact you try to not get "to much in someone's face" with your political or religious views. I, find that very much part of my MO. It's not that I don't have some opinions but some people(not all) are so zealous in their opinion being the one and only opinion it comes across that I am either "misinformed", "nuts, or "uneducated". (I don't think those necessarily apply *heh heh*)
No matter if I am leaning to the right or the left, I try to respect the other point of view but this certainly isn't always done in the reverse.

Thanks for weighing in.

Cheryl said...

Hi Jayne, Ah, my type A personality so gets the better of me on some days. I live with the hope that what goes around comes around but putting up with asses like the WBC does bring up my blood pressure a bit. Their mission is to picket 5 times a day and 6 on Sunday. (that is what they actually say they do) Anyway, because they are 2 hours away from KC and have a bigger audience here, we get their venomous rants pretty regularly.

I haven't forgotten about Disqus and I do plan to switch. I need to have an afternoon that no one is around here pestering me so I can figure it out. There is a way to import your old comments, I found out but I need to research that. Also, still unsure of the Blogger settings to check to hide the Blogger Comment system.

I will get there though.

Jewell said...

Well I think it's safe to say that I agree with you.

I wholeheartedly believe in the right to free speech. Feel free to say what ever you want, however you want (short of terroristic threats). BUT! Keep in mind I have the inalienable human right to not listen to a damn thing you have to say.

If you want to beat a bible for your religion, if you want to pound your drums for your political practices, if you want to find a whole in the wall and beat something else off...go right ahead. However, don't EVER think you'll force me to listen to what you have to say if 1) I don't agree with it and 2) you can't have a civil discussion with another human being without being disrespectful or maybe, in some cases, just down right ignorant.

There is VERY little that I can say about WBC that wouldn't rival (or maybe out due) my vulgar rant on my blog early this morning.

This about the best I can do on that topic: Yes....technically, legally they can say whatever they want. As a CHURCH, as GOD FEARING people they are a disgrace to religion, their God, and humanity for being so unethical, so immoral, so self righteous, and so down right cruel to other humans let alone those suffering such large amounts of pain and loss.

Bring on the Patriot Guard Riders and hear them roar!

barbara said...

My philosophy is to get through each day without doing anything intentional to hurt another person whether it be mentally or physically. But groups like the WBC shouldn't even have rights. I haven't read up on them, but from my understanding they aren't even a real religion, it's just a group of totally disfuntional family calling themselves a church. If they truly believed in the Lord they would do none of the things that they do. And the father with the finger!!! Well I'm going to sound like the old lady I am and say that's what's wrong with the young people today. Look at what they have for a role model? They aren't taught to respect anything or anyone. Cheryl and hubby, would we have ever thought of treating a police officer that way? Of course not, we were taught respect for other people and their belongings. And look what nice people we are, lol. Don't even get me started on this subject. I consider people that act like this rednecks regardless of where they live and how much money they have. Actions speak louder than words!

Cheryl said...

Your the first person that mentioned the fact that this isn't a recognized church but a group of mostly family members. (although, let's note that this is the most disfunctional bunch of hate mongers in the world) These people are just evil. There are a lot of times I am so glad that we all grew up in our little area of IL.
Overall, most of us have done well and turned out to be pretty decent people, haven't we?

barbara said...

Most of us have turned out to be decent people leading normal lives. I suppose there are some strange ones, of course there usually are 1 or 2 no matter where you go.

I have no idea what I'm going to do when I get back down to Tucson. I doubt if I will be able to sell this condo in this economy. My best bet I guess is trying to rent it to some college students. Anyone out there interested in a vacation condo in the mountains? Close to the Grand Canyon only 3 hours from Vegas. Great skiing right here. Sell it for me will you Cheryl?

Cheryl said...

You would be one of the few people that I would try to sell their place. I am on total burnout of real estate. It does seem like Flagstaff would the perfect place for someone to have a 2nd home. Surely there is someone sweltering in Phoenix that would like a little get away to cool down. Getting your money out of it in this market is a whole nother story. Whatever you decide to do, I hope it works out to your advantage.

Jewell said...

Well I think it's safe to say that I agree with you.

I wholeheartedly believe in the right to free speech. Feel free to say what ever you want, however you want (short of terroristic threats). BUT! Keep in mind I have the inalienable human right to not listen to a damn thing you have to say.

If you want to beat a bible for your religion, if you want to pound your drums for your political practices, if you want to find a whole in the wall and beat something else off...go right ahead. However, don't EVER think you'll force me to listen to what you have to say if 1) I don't agree with it and 2) you can't have a civil discussion with another human being without being disrespectful or maybe, in some cases, just down right ignorant.

There is VERY little that I can say about WBC that wouldn't rival (or maybe out due) my vulgar rant on my blog early this morning.

This about the best I can do on that topic: Yes....technically, legally they can say whatever they want. As a CHURCH, as GOD FEARING people they are a disgrace to religion, their God, and humanity for being so unethical, so immoral, so self righteous, and so down right cruel to other humans let alone those suffering such large amounts of pain and loss.

Bring on the Patriot Guard Riders and hear them roar!

junebug said...

Freedom isn't really all that free. We all have to pay for what we say and/or what others say. I wouldn't change the laws except maybe torte reform. I'm not a fan of most lawyers. However, I really wish more manners and respect were taught today. WBC does have the right to spew their hate. We have the right to ignore them (as difficult as that is). Mostly they are lawyers wanting to make money. They want people to fight back so they can sue them. It isn't really about the 'church'. If we all, including the media, completely pretended they didn't exist I think they would soon fade away. Our media and TV shows promote and approve of people behaving badly. A**hats get rewarded with $$$$, fame, etc. because it is entertaining. People forget it is fiction and behave that way in real life to the detriment of police officers, teachers, neighbors, etc. It really comes down to treating others the way you would want to be treated even if that means stifling your own personal freedoms and biting your own tongue.
I bite my tongue all the effin' time. Especially in today's horrible political environment. No one can have a decent conversation with each other anymore. I almost never share my political or religious opinions because of getting attacked. Not for pushing my own agenda just for picking a side! For instance, if I say I'm democrat suddenly I'm a socialist. If I say I'm a republican suddenly I'm racist. It is insanely ridiculous. I've very respectful of everyone's opinions. I believe in each their own. I wish I felt like this respect was returned. Not an easy subject to discuss or live.

Brandon said...

First off, I think it's great that you welcome comments that agree or disagree with your opinion. Sort of rare to see that these days.

It really is an interesting topic, free speech. I think part of the problem is that people tend to pay more attention to extreme opinions and voices. Reasonable, rational, civil discussions simply aren't covered as much...which is a shame.

Protesting or picketing a funeral may technically fall under free speech, but it is a violation of basic human decency and respect...a code which most everyone else in society honors. It's one thing to have those radical views in the first place, but it's quite another to display them in a hateful, hurtful, and completely dishonorable manner. Coming from those that claim to be Christians, that behavior truly is hypocrisy at its finest.

As for the kid & the cops, it isn't really what he said...so much as the conduct itself. If he said "Eff you! Now give me the ticket...", that technically might be OK...as long as he cooperated. But odds are, the intent was to display an uncooperative attitude...in essence, keep the officers from doing their job.

But to be fair, "disorderly conduct" is an extremely vague term that could mean just about anything. And if disorderly conduct is a crime, then why is Charlie Sheen out there on the streets?