On the Westboro Baptist visit to Mississippi

Tactics like this are what people in Libya, Egypt and places like this are fighting against. Beatings, inaction of police etc……..it has been like that in Egypt for decades. And you applaud that happening in your country?

I’ve a question for the person who posted this post. Do you understand that condoning actions like this allow Pandora’s box to be opened?

If you don’t believe me then browse /r/Bad_Cop_No_Donut and see what happens when police bend a rule to help out a buddy, turn a blind eye to a crime being committed because they don’t like the victim or decide to hand out street justice. Fine, in this instance the police didn’t like the Westboro church and went along with the townsfolk. So the police turned a blind eye; made them undergo unnecessary questioning for a non-existent crime and basically hampered them. Ok fine. You do realise that exactly the same thing happened when gay people protested mere decades earlier? Exactly the same tactics. If the internet had existed back then would you have posted a video celebrating the townsfolk and the police actions and justified it by saying ”one of them ran their mouth off”?

Today it’s the Westboro baptist church. Tomorrow it will be the office worker at the tax office taking a beating because he calculated wrong and had an attitude. And after that? ”Well I beat that guy yesterday cos he looked at me funny. Yeah I know I was wrong but it’s cool. The police have my back”.

The above is currently the top-voted comment on the Reddit thread discussing Mississippi’s “welcome” to the Westboro baptist folks.

I think like most everyone else, I couldn’t avoid a small sense of smug satisfaction when I read the story of how that town systematically obstructed the Westboro demonstration. But I also know that that kind of behavior leads down a very bad road, a road that America is justly famous world-wide for NOT going down. Or, more accurately, for slowly but steadily reigning in over the last two centuries. We are a nation where “rule of law” means something, as does “bill of rights”. We are country where you get a fair hearing and a fair trial even if you are an asshole.

You can’t support vigilante justice and deliberate police negligence just in favor of the causes you like. If you support it against Westboro Baptist, then you also support it against gays, against blacks, against WHOEVER happens to be unpopular in a given small town.

I’m all for states or localities adding “a time and a place” laws that restrict repugnant speech scheduled to coincide with deeply emotional events such as weddings and funerals. But when people take the law into their own hands… well, like the comment above says, is that a Pandora’s box we are really eager to re-open?

I also find it ironic that back in the 60s Fred Phelps was dealing with the same kind of vigilante justice as he–wait for it–strove to abolish the Jim Crow laws in his community.

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