Does a fallen soldier deserve more respect than an abortionist?

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Mar 02, 2011

The Westboro Baptist Church is a nasty little bunch of fanatics, who gain publicity for their fundamentalist views in a particularly loathsome way: by picketing the funerals of fallen American soldiers. But 8 members of the US Supreme Court have agreed that even this repellent form of public speech is protected by the First Amendment.

Perhaps so. After all it is when people say unpopular things, and/or say them in unpopular ways, that they need constitutional protection. Those who express polite, conventional views are never in much danger of being silenced. But I have not read the briefs in this case, and I do not propose to examine the constitutional issues. Instead, I want to comment on the way one media outlet (CNN) described the central issue

The justices were being asked to address how far states and private entities such as cemeteries and churches can go to justify picket-free zones and the use of "floating buffers" to silence or restrict the speech or movements of demonstrators exercising their constitutional rights in a funeral setting.

The mention of picket-free zones, and buffer zones, immediately made me think of the laws preventing pro-lifers from coming near the doors of abortion clinics. In my own home state of Massachusetts, the “buffer zone” legislation makes it technically illegal for a pro-life activist even to walk down the sidewalk in front of an abortuary—although any other citizen is free to do so. Somehow this legislation has, to date, survived legal challenges. I don’t understand. 

But then again I do understand. Abortion is the one issue on which all normal legal logic is suspended.

The “buffer zone” has pushed pro-lifers away from the door of one abortion clinic in Massachusetts, so that they gather instead in front of an ordinary retail store. The proprietor might complain that the crowd is discouraging people from entering his store. But he would have no recourse. It is perfectly legal to gather on a public sidewalk in front of any other sort of establishment. Protesters can and do often set up pickets right outside Catholic churches. Abortion clinics alone receive the special “buffer zone” treatment.

In the Westboro Baptist case, CNN tells us that the question was whether or not local laws can establish a “buffer zone” to prevent pickets at funerals. (To be fair, in the course that the Supreme Court decided today, the town did require the demonstrators to remain at a distance from the church.) One might rephrase that question, and say that the justices were being asked whether a funeral deserves the same legal privileges that our society now accords to an abortion.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: bjones4524 - Jul. 17, 2017 4:46 PM ET USA

    Persons who have suffered an injury or have a disease or illness and are not capable of speaking and moving upon command, responding to satisfy another’s expectations within a given timeframe, are readily devalued as a person. Most in our age of modern medicine evaluate ones’ “personhood” in direct relation to ones’ bodily “functions” and “functioning.” Therefore, any “artificial” means applied to sustain life may be classified “extraordinary means” and this includes hydration and nutrition. The language of Living Wills and medical directives attest to this fact. Upon entering in a hospital, one must prove themselves to be capable of a full recovery and furthermore, must be determined to have the ability of a complete physical restoration that is expected within a given timeframe. This timeframe is not to incur needless, expensive medical therapy, “extraordinary means,” should it be determined one will “die anyway.” Thus, the human person is reduced to a container of “parts.” This is the perversity of the ethical mindset of “personhood,” the belief system developed and taught in establishing the deadly eugenic movement. It is a scientific and spiritual deviation developed by the autonomist who have long since overtaken medicine and undermined our Judeo-Christian faith. While although the euthanasia and eugenics enthusiasts were secretively and actively working behind closed doors, seeking a means to establish a stronghold within medicine in America, it wasn’t until the fallacy of the coined term, “brain death,” was introduced that their agenda was founded and later, lawfully imposed. “Brain death” was scientifically and theologically disputed upon its’ introduction in 1968 at Harvard University and to date, this raging dispute continues. What medical therapy could possibly be more “extraordinary” and expensive than that of organ transplantation? The answer is, none. The transplant industry is a 24-billion-dollar annual industry whose “chance” of benefiting another in falsely declaring a living person dead, when in fact alive, in the name of “brain death” is the crux of our country’s moral demise. This same ethic of the “functions” and “functioning” capability of the child in the womb brought about legalized abortion. The term, “brain death,” sufficed as a means to enhance the life of one through the killing of another. “Death with dignity,” the establishment of legalized euthanasia and the deceptive means of withdrawing medical therapy to sustain life in the name of palliative care (pall is a Latin word, meaning to cover), crossed the threshold of the door opened wide to the social acceptance and legal imposition of medical killing. If all human life is not held sacred and every person’s life protected and preserved, there shall not be any moral gauge in which a civil society can maintain and whose complete collapse shall occur. Are we not currently witnessing a time such as this? Fall on your knees, America, in prayer! Humble yourself, repent and return to our faith and devotion to traditional Catholic teaching—TRUTH! Rise-up and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves! For ones’ complete understand visit our website: www.lifeguardianfoundation.org Mrs. Bernice Jones

  • Posted by: bjones4524 - Jul. 17, 2017 4:42 PM ET USA

    Persons who have suffered an injury or have a disease or illness and are not capable of speaking and moving upon command, responding to satisfy another’s expectations within a given timeframe, are readily devalued as a person. Most in our age of modern medicine evaluate ones’ “personhood” in direct relation to ones’ bodily “functions” and “functioning.” Therefore, any “artificial” means applied to sustain life may be classified “extraordinary means” and this includes hydration and nutrition. The language of Living Wills and medical directives attest to this fact. Upon entering in a hospital, one must prove themselves to be capable of a full recovery and furthermore, must be determined to have the ability of a complete physical restoration that is expected within a given timeframe. This timeframe is not to incur needless, expensive medical therapy, “extraordinary means,” should it be determined one will “die anyway.” Thus, the human person is reduced to a container of “parts.” This is the perversity of the ethical mindset of “personhood,” the belief system developed and taught in establishing the deadly eugenic movement. It is a scientific and spiritual deviation developed by the autonomist who have long since overtaken medicine and undermined our Judeo-Christian faith. While although the euthanasia and eugenics enthusiasts were secretively and actively working behind closed doors, seeking a means to establish a stronghold within medicine in America, it wasn’t until the fallacy of the coined term, “brain death,” was introduced that their agenda was founded and later, lawfully imposed. “Brain death” was scientifically and theologically disputed upon its’ introduction in 1968 at Harvard University and to date, this raging dispute continues. What medical therapy could possibly be more “extraordinary” and expensive than that of organ transplantation? The answer is, none. The transplant industry is a 24-billion-dollar annual industry whose “chance” of benefiting another in falsely declaring a living person dead, when in fact alive, in the name of “brain death” is the crux of our country’s moral demise. This same ethic of the “functions” and “functioning” capability of the child in the womb brought about legalized abortion. The term, “brain death,” sufficed as a means to enhance the life of one through the killing of another. “Death with dignity,” the establishment of legalized euthanasia and the deceptive means of withdrawing medical therapy to sustain life in the name of palliative care (pall is a Latin word, meaning to cover), crossed the threshold of the door opened wide to the social acceptance and legal imposition of medical killing. If all human life is not held sacred and every person’s life protected and preserved, there shall not be any moral gauge in which a civil society can maintain and whose complete collapse shall occur. Are we not currently witnessing a time such as this? Fall on your knees, America, in prayer! Humble yourself, repent and return to our faith and devotion to traditional Catholic teaching—TRUTH! Rise-up and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves! For ones’ complete understand visit our website: www.lifeguardianfoundation.org

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Jul. 14, 2017 5:18 PM ET USA

    Great analysis Phil. I hope you realize that you have probable bared yourself from ever becoming a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Mar. 06, 2011 9:57 PM ET USA

    I watched Margie Phelps on Fox this evening; I was struck by both her confidence and her grounding in Scripture. I can't fault her condemnation of homosexuality: we should listen to the message. The problem is that she and her church have ignored I Corinthians 13. It was not the place of the Supreme Court to argue theology with the Phelps family. When was the last time the Court was right with an 8-1 margin? Now... how do we use our rights to dialog with Westboro Baptist?