“Why Do Newspapers Support Westboro Baptist, but Not Citizens United?”

Institute for Justice attorney Paul Sherman raises an interesting question in the wake of last week’s Supreme Court decision upholding the free speech rights of the Westboro Baptist military funeral protestors. As Sherman notes, both The New York Times and The Washington Post editorialized in favor of Westboro Baptist yet each came out against the free speech rights of the conservative non-profit group Citizens United when its case came before the Court last year. As Sherman writes:

While these papers pat themselves on the back for their fidelity to the First Amendment, let’s keep something in mind:  These same papers excoriated the Supreme Court when it held that Congress lacked the power to ban a political documentary produced with corporate money.  What gives?

The answer is that the Westboro Baptist Church’s speech, while vile, is also totally inconsequential.  Nobody is going to be persuaded by their inarticulate grunts of rage.  And it is relatively easy to tolerate speech that you do not believe will persuade anyone.  What is considerably harder is to stand up for speech that is persuasive, speech that might actually cause people to adopt beliefs or enact policies that you disagree with.

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  • Hugh Akston||

    Also, unlike teh korporations, Westboro is made up of people, whose rights must be protected.

  • x,y||

    Precisely. I like IJ, but this piece is garbage.

  • ||

    LOL, turn on your sarcasm meter dude. Teh korporations are made up of people too.

  • Applefire||

    According to Slate.com, Westboro is an incorporated 501(c)(3). Not only is it made up of people, but those people have decided to join together as a corporation. Just as the New York Times and Washington Post have.

  • ||

    The difference is, WaPo and the NYT spout a lot more BS than Westboro. Westboro has a very narrow message -- deeply stupid, but not broadly stupid like the two big legacy news outlets.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    The difference is WSJ and NYT are for teh evilz PROFIT!!

  • ||

    Obviously you haven't been paying attention to the NYT's financial condition.

    /snark

    WBC and the WSJ and the CU and even the NYT are all about profit. The WSJ measures profit in dollars earned, WBC measures profit in souls saved, CU measures profit in opinions changed and I'm sure the NYT measures profit in something or the other (although certainly not in dollars or sense).

  • KPres||

    "Precisely. I like IJ, but this piece is garbage."

    Wow.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Awesome. I thought that one was a bit too broad, but clearly it was too subtle.

  • x,y||

    I get that it was sarcasm (pretty sure "teh korporations" gave it away). It's also spot on. Companies are distinct entities created out of thin air by the state, sort of like fiat money. What is libertarian about that? They can't speak, just like a couch can't speak. The individuals that comprise it can, and they can pool their resources to do so. What's objectionable from a libertarian standpoint is the idea that a state-created corporation has rights.

  • ||

    What is a corporation other than the pooled resources of a number of people, organized and taxed under the law?

    All organizations carry legal implications and, if formalized, are defined by law. Corporations are merely one of several legal definitions of organizations.

  • x,y||

    My problem is with "formalization" via the state. I think it's funny that libertarians are among the first to point out liability caps re: the BP oil spill and are among the last to recognized that state-issued limited liability is what drives incorporation. I understand the capital markets/formation rationale, and it has merit, if you're a utilitarian. I'm not. I don't see what any of that has to do with whether the state should be in the business of creating fictional entities with limited liability.

  • ||

    But again, Citizens United is a non-profit corporation, just like Westboro Baptist and the ACLU. The New York Times and most other big media organizations is for-profit. But they're all corporations. Your view is that the New York Times, Westboro Baptist, and the ACLU should all have unrestricted political speech rights, but Citizens United should not?

    Limited liability IS one of the strong drivers of incorporation (which is why all of the above are incorporated), but why would that have any effect on rights of people who are organized that way to engage in political speech?

  • x,y||

    Your view is that the New York Times, Westboro Baptist, and the ACLU should all have unrestricted political speech rights, but Citizens United should not?

    No. You misunderstand my point. None of these fictitious entities should have "speech" rights. It doesn't even make sense to say they do. They can't speak -- only people can.

  • ||

    Again, there's that weird idea that people who own and work for "korporations" aren't people somehow.

    I still don't get that one.

    I've both owned and worked for a corporation, and I swear I still felt like a people the whole time.

  • ||

    Are they saying that it's okay to own or work for corporation--so long as you don't say what you think?

    Nah, I still don't get it.

  • ||

    But what about when you put on your monocle? Did you feel like a people then?

  • ||

    As I twirl my monocle and think about it, I'm not sure I understand the point of the "k" in "korporation" either.

    Is that supposed to make it like the "k" in Klan? Is that supposed to make it sound like a Russian would spell it or something--implying that it's communist?

    I'm lost on that one too.

  • methinks||

    It's a sign that they don't understand English.

  • seguin||

    Must be the top hat then. That must be what makes em not-people.

  • ||

    Since this is an important distinction it shouldn't be overlooked (ignoring your "clever" sarcasm).
    As an individual who works at any corporation you had been able to say whatever you like. But you could not spend unlimited amounts of money earned by the corporation to influence political campaigns beyond what has been allowed by campaign laws. Trying to conflate the idea that corporations have rights to speak beyond what they collectively have as employees. That said, it seems to be the same rule that could be applied to a union if the logic were followed to the end.

  • Paul||

    Nobody is going to be persuaded by their inarticulate grunts of rage.

    Did any of you catch that story on NPR about the Westboro Church and its members?

    It was actually quite fascinating. A reporter, Bill Sherman of a tulsa newspaper, is one of the only reporters to actually talk to and find out what motivates the church members (almost all of which are directly related to Phelps).

    Sherman found them to be "polite, normal people, a 'model' of success". He went on to describe them as intelligent, college educated and said one of the daughters actually argued before the supreme court. Sherman himself says they weren't what he expected at all. Most of the family members are practicing lawyers.

    There's something about their interpretation about the scripture that is supposed to make people "reject god" and is:

    "supposed to blind their eyes, stop up their ears, and harden their hearts so they cannot see, hear or understand[...]"

    After hearing the report, my image of them being a bunch of toothless mountainfolk playin' with rattlesnakes and drinkin' strychnine melted away, now they're more of a curiosity to me.

    It's almost as if a group of people sat around and asked themselves in a very disinterested, intellectual way, "What's the most horrible thing we could do and say to make people hate and reject God?"

  • ||

    After hearing the report, my image of them being a bunch of toothless mountainfolk playin' with rattlesnakes and drinkin' strychnine melted away, now they're more of a curiosity to me.

    I didn't hear the report, but I never thought of them in that way.

    That doesn't mean, however, that I don't think that they're fucking nuts.

  • Paul||

    I didn't hear the report, but I never thought of them in that way.

    I did, because everything I knew about them came from the mainstream media.

    On the crazy, I don't think they are nuts. I think something else is going on, and I'm more than willing to admit it's something I don't understand.

    Doesn't mean I agree with it.. ever, but I still find it more of a curiosity than anything else.

  • Zeb||

    There are a bunch of surprising things about Fred Phelps. He started his career as a civil rights lawyer fighting Jim Crow laws. Not to say that he hasn't proven to be an awful person in other ways.

  • ||

    After hearing the report, my image of them being a bunch of toothless mountainfolk playin' with rattlesnakes and drinkin' strychnine melted away, now they're more of a curiosity to me.

    So you're saying that, if I actually MET the live audience of Prairie Home Companion, I would think of them as real human beings, almost? I'd have to see that to believe it.

  • ||

    One word: competition. Bunch of religious wackos don't compete with the news media.

  • ||

    Of course, only Alito could twist his mind into the convolutions necessary to allow free speech to Citizen's United but not the the vile Baptists. WTF . I knew he was a terrible terrible choice. The only open question about the court is which terrible president's picks will turn out to be worse, Bush's or Obamas. It's a toss up

  • ||

    Homework: was Alito the only judge that 'switched sides' from Citizens to Westboro?

    I didn't think so!

  • Old Mexican||

    As Sherman notes, both The New York Times and The Washington Post editorialized in favor of Westboro Baptist yet each came out against the free speech rights of the conservative non-profit group Citizens United when its case came before the Court last year.


    Eeeeevvvvviiiiil Coooorpooooorashioooooonnnsssss!

  • ||

    Because they are completely unprincipled. "Free speech" means different things to them depending on who is speaking.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Episiarch,

    Because they are completely unprincipled.


    Marxoid ideology, in a nutshell.

  • DNS||

    depending on who is speaking.

    It also depends on the audience and how likely the audience will positively take in and possibly adopt the premises and ideas of the speaker.

  • Zeb||

    So you can speak, just as long as it's not too interesting or likely to convince anyone of anything. Or you are a newspaper, I guess.

  • Old Mexican||

    What is considerably harder is to stand up for speech that is persuasive, speech that might actually cause people to adopt beliefs or enact policies that you disagree with.


    You mean, newspapers are afraid of cogent arguments that undermine their sherished platitudes.

    No more soup for you!

  • DNS||

    I think it's time for the Mutant Registration Act. These consanguineals have gotten too uppity. Besides, the Lefties in the media love to air TWBC so they can paint all Christians with this broad brush (though I wouldn't mind if enough of this wafts in The Huck's general direction). Now, TEH CORPORASHUNS, they can actually mitigate and debunk the nonsense that Lefties and Righties spew forth about whatever Corp. they happen to dislike. So much for the Left wanting that "level playing field" they are so fond of bandying about.

  • Bee Tagger||

    Los Tiempos de Nueva York just wants someone to show up at their impending funeral.

  • ||

    Nice.

  • ||

    The answer is that the Westboro Baptist Church’s speech, while vile, is also totally inconsequential. Nobody is going to be persuaded by their inarticulate grunts of rage. And it is relatively easy to tolerate speech that you do not believe will persuade anyone. What is considerably harder is to stand up for speech that is persuasive, speech that might actually cause people to adopt beliefs or enact policies that you disagree with.

    I think it might be simpler then that.

    The Westboro free speech was speech that the left leaning news papers agreed with while the Citizens speech was speech they did not agree with.

    Other evidence that Paul Sherman is wrong is that it assumes newspaper editorial boards would have clue about what speech is effective and which sort of speech is ineffective.

    The idea that editorial boards would have any idea which is which is utterly absurd on its face.

  • lunchstealer||

    left leaning newspapers think that we're not persecuting homosexuals enough?

  • ||

    It's joshua corning and you expect something like intelligent commenting?

    You should know better than that.

  • ||

    Have i told you that i love you today J sub D?

  • ||

    Oh shit...i thought they were just war protesters...my bad.

    Did not know they were gay bashers.

    I haven't really been following the story that closly.

    =)

  • ||

    Error is inconsistent with my prime functions. Sterilization is correction. Everything that is in error must be sterilized. There are no exceptions.

  • ||

    If I am your creator, ProL, and I am imperfect, then you are imperfect! Sterilize yourself!

  • ||

    I think you skipped a step [fires a blast of energy equivalent to 90 photon torpedoes at Seattle].

  • ||

    Wait. Now I'm confused.

  • ||

    See, Episiarch's syllogism was flawed. On the show, Kirk said that bit with the knowledge that Nomad erroneously believed Kirk was Nomad's creator.

    Here, Episiarch neither established as background nor included in his premise the fact that he, in fact, created me. Therefore, he is in error and must be STER-I-LIZED. Too bad about Seattle, but I suppose it's responsible for allowing error to creep into its city limits in the first place.

  • ||

    I think you're confused as to whether you're NOMAD or V'GER.

  • ||

    Who isn't confused about that? Some movies are continuations/reboots of other movies or, at least, of television series. Star Trek: The Motion Picture was a remake of an episode. An inferior remake.

  • ||

    Yup. Back when ST:TMP came out, people referred to it as "Where Nomad has gone before."

  • ||

    If I am your creator, ProL, and I am imperfect, then you are imperfect! Sterilize yourself!

    I think you would have done better to ask "what would happen if Pinocheo said his nose will now grow?"

  • ||

    Different episode.

  • Whitney||

    No wonder libertarians don't have children

  • rather retarded||

    I'm just jealous that my sour cunt is spermicidal.

  • ||

    Four kids and a babe-a-licious wife, so your premise is invalid.

  • rather retarded||

    Don't mind my ramblings, Pro L. I'm just rather retarded.

  • Bradley||

    Use punctuation, asshole.

  • rather||

    new here?

  • rather retarded||

    retarded?

  • rather||

    helle, go to bed

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Persecuted homosexuals=Lots of emotion-filled rants disguised as journalism.

    Bodies of people united towards a certain cause=Actual investigative work, or libel, which, in either case, is much harder than pouring one's heartfelt feelings out on paper or copying the AP wire.

  • Joe M||

    Leftists agree with the homosexual-hating Westboro Baptists?????

  • Confusing?||

    Maybe the leftist press hates the dead soldiers and think their survivors deserve the abuse.

  • cynical||

    Maybe it's reverse psychology?

  • lunchstealer||

    They make the fundamental error thinking that the Westboro freakshow isn't tied up in filthy lucre.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Are they on the Koch payroll too?

  • Gregory Smith||

    That's because the liberal media loves bigots they can label as conservative. Ironically, the Phelps aren't conservative, they hate America as much as the left does. If instead of God Hates America they said God Hates America Because of Capitalism they'd be welcomed with open arms.

    Creeping Shariah 101: 1. Buy land next to pig farm. 2. Build mosque. 3. Tell pig farmer to stop selling pigs.
    http://libertarians4freedom.bl.....o-pig.html

  • ||

    Hey Greg, you do know that you're a neocon dipshit and not a libertarian, right? You're just yanking our chains, right?

  • ||

    We all know it, so what matter is said neocon dipshit's self-awareness anyway?

  •  ||

    Episiarch is the libertarian gatekeeper now? That's rich. Is he self appointed? Do his sycophants concur?

  • Joe M||

    1) Yes
    2) No, we took a vote
    3) Yes

  • ||

    GRR RANDROID SMASH! RANDROID BITTER AND PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE! GRRRRRR!

  • ||

    Protect the Queen! Swarm! Swarm!

  • Hugh Akston||

    Episiarch became the Gatekeeper in the only way libertarian hierarchy could work: by exploiting, stealing, and killing his way to the top. He still keeps the head of the previous guy on his desk. Even if we weren't all corrupted by his bribes, none would dare oppose him.

  • ||

    Just like Somalia!

  • ||

    Episiarch is the libertarian gatekeeper now? That's rich. Is he self appointed? Do his sycophants concur?


    Episiarch is the libertarian gatekeeper this month. 'Twas I last month and some other freedom loving stalwart will assume the duties next month. There are no regulations defining the selection to the post. It is an example of spontaneous order.

  • ||

    Actually, J sub, I've gone mad with power and intend to make myself gatekeeper for life. I still have yet to decide whether I will do it the way of Caesar, or of Bloomberg. Caesar was classier, so I'm leaning towards that way.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I can only assume you are referring to
    Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus
    .

  • ||

    How bad is it that I know that's Caligula without clicking on the link?

  • TheSporadical||

    Not that bad. You can always just roll-over the link and read the address at the bottom of your browser. Or have a perverse obsession with the historical figure... Either way...

  • ||

    I'm an amateur classicist, though I suppose I should've also disclaimed any mouse-overs, now that you mention it.

  • ||

    I'm talking about the guy who was thrice presented with a kingly crown upon the Lupercal and thrice refused it.

    Stop watching bad Penthouse movies, you classless buffoon.

  • ||

    Should I pass that message to Hugh? I don't think he could hear it, thanks to the inadequacies of these threaded, nested comments.

    I think his point was that Julius Caesar wasn't any more power-mad than your usual tyrant. He definitely wasn't crazy. Caligula, on the other hand. . . .

  • Hugh Akston||

    Hey, that was a sweeping historical epic. It's not my problem that DeMille and Kubrick were too uptight to make their movies more realistic with fisting and horse sex.

  • ||

    They should highlight some of the other crazy emperors. Not Caligula or Nero--they've been done. We got Commodus--sort of--in Gladiator, but there are a number of good choices.

  • seguin||

    I always thought the life of Maxentius would be a good story. Alright, technically he only ruled Italy, but still. Or maybe Domitian.

  • ||

    From the link

    Quadran celebrating the abolition of a tax in AD 38 by Caligula. The obverse of the coin contains a picture of the liberty cap which symbolizes the liberation of the people from the tax burden.

    Wait....what the fuck!??!

    I thought liberty caps were mushrooms named after the liberty bell.

    Something weird is going on here.

    Liberty was associated with no taxes 2000 years ago?!?!

  • ||

    oh...

    liberty cap, a brimless felt cap, such as the Phrygian cap or pileus, emblematic of a slave's manumission in the Ancient World.

    Never mind.

    Interesting that Caligula associated taxes with slavery though.

  • Almanian||

    You know who else had a lot of sycophants...

  • ||

    Jesus?

  • Almanian||

    THE JACKET!!!

  • ||

    some other freedom loving stalwart

    Ha ha ha!

  • ||

    I'm talking about the guy who was thrice presented with a kingly crown upon the Lupercal and thrice refused it.

    That's because he knew that a crown would have been self-limiting...

  • seguin||

    That and a PR disaster.

  • AU H20||

    We take it upon ourselves in turns to be leader for a fortnight, but all decisions of that leader must be ratified by a bi-weekly council, who approve of decisions with a simple majority for purely internal decisions, but with a 2/3 requirement for external decisions.

  • Gregory Smith||

    Well, I'm too liberal to be a conservative, too conservative to be a liberal, too extreme in my individualism to be a centrist, so what am I? Libertarian. Now, is there a law that libertarians have to be politically correct? No, it's not even in the party platform.

    So for you to call me a neocon is funny.

    The myth of peak oil.
    http://libertarians4freedom.bl.....k-oil.html

  • ||

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    You're too trollish to be serious, but too serious to be trollish, too.

  • ||

    What this hive needs is a litmus test, followed by a purge. Only the Pure may remain!

  • ||

    I wish I had a troll.

    J sub D was about to troll me....then he didn't respond after I told him I loved him.

  • ||

    I don't even have to feed it! It's sustained by its own manic cycle and its bitterness and envy. And to think, it just followed me home one day.

  • cynical||

    So, what positions do you take that are too liberal to be conservative, exactly?

  • ||

    Why do you care Grego? Are you a libertarian or a conservative?

  • Gregory Smith||

    Libertarian of course. Conservatives like liberals have principles, conservatives want a society without sin, without prostitution, without drugs, without porn. I don't subscribe that nonsense.

    I believe in the individual and hate collectivism. I also hate government waste, love capitalism, and would like to see everything privatized, including so-called "national" parks.

  • MWG||

    Yes Greg, you're a libertarian... in the same way Glenn Beck and Bill Maher are also libertarians.

  • Gregory Smith||

    What about Bob Barr? Your Libertarian Party had no trouble letting him be the candidate even though he's pro-life. I'm pro-choice.

    As for Bill Maher, you're right about him, yet I'm nothing like him.

  • ||

    Your Libertarian Party

    HERP DERP.

    As for Bill Maher, you're right about him, yet I'm nothing like him.

    No, you are very similar. You both have a baseless confidence that you're libertarians.

  • Gregory Smith||

    Bill Maher no longer calls himself a libertarian, I suspected he became a progressive the day he suggested nobody needs to buy more than one gun a month.

  • Gregory Smith||

    What about Bob Barr? Your Libertarian Party had no trouble letting him be the candidate even though he's pro-life. I'm pro-choice.

    As for Bill Maher, you're right about him, yet I'm nothing like him.

  • ||

    conservatives want a society without sin, without prostitution, without drugs, without porn.

    Not really. There are many conservatives that don't believe those things.

  • Gregory Smith||

    Yeah well, they're often accused of being liberals.

  • ||

    I'm not sure the definition of a conservative is someone who loves his country--that sounds like identity politics to me. I don't have to guess what you think the definition of a liberal is then...

    In this case though, the simplest explanation is the one that's most likely to be true--and I think it's just simple bias here.

    The media outlets we're talking about like freedom of speech for the anonymous protesters of tomorrow, but they don't like free speech for anonymous shareholders and corporate employees.

    It's as simple as that.

  • Scruffy Nerd Herder||

    I thought it was well understood that if you agree with Mr. Smith on his racial and political views then, by definition, you love America. All others are just haters, and you know, haters gonna' hate.

  • ||

    Yeah, Liberals are all apparently haters in his world, and I guess what they all hate is America.

    What's that disorder where people can't imagine anything being in shades of gray?

  • Almanian||

    disorder where people can't imagine anything being in shades of gray

    Teh Gai? Cause they're all about The Rainbows™.....no?

  • ||

    I guess I'm thinking of a bunch of related disorders...

    Sort of like Madonna-Whore Complex? I think the general term is "Splitting"?

    "Borderline Personality"! That's what I was trying to think of.

    "The defense that helps in this process is called splitting. Splitting is the tendency to view events or people as either all bad or all good.

    ...

    During the childhood development stage, individuals become capable of perceiving others as complex structures, containing both good and bad components. If the development stage is interrupted (by early childhood trauma, for example), these defense mechanisms may persist into adulthood."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I.....evaluation

    Anyway, you know, whenever I see somebody saying that liberals are all good and conservatives are all evil (or visa versa), that's the first thing I always think of.

    It's why a lot of people cling to religious belief, idealize their wife... and meanwhile hate on Paris Hilton... Long for a time when America was on the side of good--and everybody else was a Nazi or a Communist.

    It's sad really.

  • Gregory Smith||

    And what are my racial views? Have I ever written about the superiority of one race over another? I clearly have not. I defend the right of southerners to celebrate their heritage just like I defend the right of the bigots at the Black Panthers to hold their hateful events. My defense of freedom is clearly libertarian, it is YOU who picks and chooses the causes you like. YOU defend freedom when it suits you, I defend it all the time.

    Oh, and you do not have the right not to be offended, so if the confederate flag offends you, tough, move to another state.

  • ||

    See, I think part of the issue might be...

    Did you denounce the hateful white people like you denounced the hateful black people too?

    ...'cause otherwise, it's all just hot air.

    P.S. People have a right to feel creeped out when you define non-conservatives as people who "hate America" too--that's really creepy.

    Have you ever watched "American Dad"?

  • ||

    People have a right to feel creeped out when you define non-conservatives as people who "hate America" too--that's really creepy.

    Really?

    I am starting to agree with him. As a libertarian i am a non-conservative...and as a libertarian i am starting to hate America.

    But yeah i am sure there are tons of statists who are non-conservative who love the fuck out of this shithole we call the United States.

  • Gregory Smith||

    If America is a shithole why don't you leave? Why not join the Peacecorps and see how shitty the rest of the world is? It's funny how while the world is filled with american expats they all come home eventually.

  • Gregory Smith||

    I don't need to waste time denouncing hateful white people because everyone else is doing it, so it's boring.

    Besides, hateful white people have no credibility, no Oprah platform, no guest appearances on MSNBC or Fox, they only have the Internet to make their voices heard. Yet hateful liberals, black activists, racists Mexicans, and others can go on TV anytime, say the most awful things, and get away with it.

  • ||

    I agree that far too many self described libertarians are racial hypocrites.

    However, loving America is not an attribute synonymous with liberty. In fact, if one is a true libertarian, how can one jack off to a nation state?

    I like that you hate collectivism. Thus, how can you go rah-rah over a nation state, the apogee of collectivism?

  • seguin||

    America is the only country so far founded with the express purpose of safeguarding the liberty of its citizenry.

    I have a CNC machine, with which I make my living. I love it. I love how it operates, I love what I can create with it, I love it; but I'm not infatuated with it. That's the same way that I love America - as a tool, and not blindly.

    I hate how some people treat it - some treat it as evil and actively attempt to destroy it, some just neglect it, and others profess to love it but don't seem to care about it in practice. Now that it seems ragged out, I am saddened by its current state, but I still love it for what it has done and what it still can do once its brought back up to spec. Don't discard a tool because it hasn't been maintained properly. Repair it, use it for its intended purpose, and it will be as wondeful as it once was.

    Also, maybe you should put a password on the control. Just in case.

  • Gregory Smith||

    Yes, I do denounce hateful white people.

    As for people who hate America, I think being progressive and loving America is mutually exclusive. You can't love America if you want it to be like Europe!

  • ||

    Anonymous opinions are bad. Unless it's a newspaper's editorials. The Times does, what, three or four a day, 365 days a year. So well over a thousand times a year they publish unsigned 'guidance' for the knuckle draggers and spittle splatterers. Hmmm, I guess I can see why they'd like to keep things the same.

  • Paul||

    Print|Email
    “Why Do Newspapers Support Westboro Baptist, but Not Citizens United?”

    Wait, what is this, a trick question?

    The media support the Westboro Babtist church-- all 12 members-- because the Westboro Baptist church makes for good copy. If you silence the church, you empty thousands of column inches.

    Anything that challenges McCain-Feingold takes the media out of the center-stage when it comes to campaign communication.

  • ||

    What gives?

    Triangulate these worthless cocksuckers' support of the Westboro Baptist decision and their contempt for Citizens United with their abject fealty to McCain-Feingold. It is unvarnished hypocrisy.

  • ||

    This is actually a good thing. Their contempt for anything resembling freedom is now as out in the open as it's likely to get. With this and with writers like Friedman openly praising totalitarian societies, at least we know where they really stand.

  • Spencer||

    When you are debating against a side that is intelligent and thoughtful, it makes it much harder to prove your case.

  • Spencer||

    Oh, and if you're lazy you don't want anything made harder.

  • ||

    It's kinda easy to see what''s going on here. Westboro is an old-school free speech case, not too unlike Skokie marching Nazis and "Fuck the Draft" jackets. I suspect there are enough old hippies left at the Times that they could get behind this, no matter what was being said.

    Citizens OTOH, involves icky coroporashuns that aren't Very Important Newspapers™ and can run ads counter to their Very Important Endorsements™. You don't want to muck up their traditional role reserved for the sainted press, do you?

    And they're icky corporations filled with mean, rich people. Not to mention, they're corporations. Did I mention that they're corporations? Who are buying elections with their filthy money not made selling newspapers?

  • ||

    What's really odd about that is that the Times is, in fact, a corporation, yet they see themselves as more akin to the Westboro protesters (in activity if not in content).

  • Ray Pew||

    It's kinda easy to see what''s going on here. Westboro is an old-school free speech case, not too unlike Skokie marching Nazis and "Fuck the Draft" jackets. I suspect there are enough old hippies left at the Times that they could get behind this, no matter what was being said.

    Citizens OTOH, involves icky coroporashuns that aren't Very Important Newspapers™ and can run ads counter to their Very Important Endorsements™. You don't want to muck up their traditional role reserved for the sainted press, do you?

    And they're icky corporations filled with mean, rich people. Not to mention, they're corporations. Did I mention that they're corporations? Who are buying elections with their filthy money not made selling newspapers?

    ^^^This!!! It's almost axiomatic that those on the Left are animated by disdain of those who own "means of production".

  • rather||

    Because one is a group that makes their living sucking the lifeblood out of the public and the other is a church of little consequence

  • ||

    Yes, and of course other people's right should be a popularity contest?!

    Is that what we're supposed to think?

  • rather retarded||

    Corporations are sucking the life blood out of the public by selling them things! Coercion through voluntary transaction! Everything should be run by the government, they never take things away from the public.

  • ||

    "Corporations are sucking the life blood out of the public by selling them things!"

    Not to mention all the hell they put us through by giving us high paying jobs!

    Rather apparently thinks he should get to vote on other people's rights...

    And I can scarcely imagine a future more frightening than that.

  • rather||

    Kendall, we'd have so much fun :-(

  • Satan||

    Nobody is going to be persuaded by their inarticulate grunts of rage.

    Speak for yourself, Sherman.

  • ||

    “Why Do Newspapers Support Westboro Baptist, but Not Citizens United?”

    Maybe because Fred Phelps is a Democrat?

    (No, I don't actually think that's the correct answer, but I do like reminding people of that fact.)

  • ||

    The people who work at corporations have their rights protected. Nobody has ever suggested they don't or shouldn't (straw man argument).

    The difference is that the Westboro decision applied to the people at Westboro.
    Citizens United applied to a piece of paper (the corporate charter).

    This is not even vaguely difficult to figure out.

    I always find Reason (incl. comments) frustrating on articles about corporations. Everyone here is blindly pro-corporation, even though incorporation comes from a government program granting special rights, privileges, and immunities not available to the rest of us. It also curtails the rights of citizens with respect to that government-protected corporation.

  • Zeb||

    What you are missing is that the right to free speech and press is obviously one intended to extend to corporations (e.g. newspapers). WIthout corporations being allowed to publish anything they want to freely (including things that can be seen as electioneering), the right to a free press is pretty meaningless. The emphasis on speech specifically is a mistake that everyone seems to make here. The relevant right is freedom of the press, which can only be reasonably interpreted to mean freedom of all mass communication media. Speech is something that one person does. The press is almost necessarily the product of people joining resources together to produce something, which on a large scale usually takes the form of a corporation, such as those which publish all of the major newspapers.

  • ||

    Do you support censorship on the New York Times ? It is a corporation and it obviously does do politics.

    Do some reading on the history of early corporations, the Italian city states. A corporation is a natural human solution on how to raise capital and share business risk. The demonising of merchants and money makers on the other hand is much older, usual done by the governments and their intellectual supporters, the same medieval mindset that persists to this day.

    Also do some reading on the German ICE train crash and the subsequent legal consequences. The left wingers here had the opposite view on corporations than in America, because the company could be held legally responsible for shoddy standards, a few scapegoats were found and the company paid no fine.

  • ||

    because the company could NOT be held legally responsible

  • ||

    Corporations--like newspapers--have to have speech rights or the right of association and the right to free speech mean very little. If we couldn't freely associate to get messages across to others, speech would be limited to the very wealthy or to certain government-sanctioned gatekeepers.

    The left is totally wrong on this topic. Its willingness to cast aside civil liberties in the face of the corporate bogeyman is appalling.

  • ||

    I think most of them find our insistence on consistency ridiculous--at least that's the way they play it.

    And I still say this is further evidence, by the way, that the left doesn't hate libertarians because we're to their right on economic issues--they hate us because we're farther to the left than they are on civil rights.

    It's hard to pretend they're to the left of everyone when us libertarians keep mocking them from the left.

  • sevo||

    "It's hard to pretend they're to the left of everyone when us libertarians keep mocking them from the left."

    You'd think they *might* figure out that the libertarian positions on econ are actually 'left'. But, naah; the 'left' as currently constituted has nothing to do with positive results. It has to do with supposed intent and control.

  • sevo||

    jcalton|3.7.11 @ 7:00PM|#
    "The people who work at corporations have their rights protected. Nobody has ever suggested they don't or shouldn't (straw man argument).
    The difference is that the Westboro decision applied to the people at Westboro."
    This would be stockholders/members/employees of the Westboro corporation? Whose 'speech' was coordinated by that corporation or its directors/managers? Sorta like that?

    "Citizens United applied to a piece of paper (the corporate charter)."
    IOWs, *exactly* like Westoboro.

    "This is not even vaguely difficult to figure out."
    Seemingly, it is. You've managed to get confused.

    "I always find Reason (incl. comments) frustrating on articles about corporations. Everyone here is blindly pro-corporation, even though incorporation comes from a government program granting special rights, privileges, and immunities not available to the rest of us."
    Who is this "rest of us"? Got something stinky in your pocket?

    "It also curtails the rights of citizens with respect to that government-protected corporation."
    Lies don't help an argument.

  • cynical||

    Is a piece of paper producing and disseminating a documentary? The fact that speech exists to be a problem for a court means that the people at the corporation spoke. It's their speech that is being suppressed, even if it was made for the corporation's benefit.

  • sevo||

    And:
    jcalton|3.7.11 @ 7:00PM|#
    "The people who work at corporations have their rights protected. Nobody has ever suggested they don't or shouldn't (straw man argument)."

    Yours is the strawman.
    Please alert me when a "corporation" rather than an "employee of a corporation" speaks.

  • Tony||

    There must be a liberal conspiracy. Liberals cannot ever act in good faith. It is blindingly obvious that Citizens United was all about free speech, because we are the authorities on the constitution, and this ruling was foretold in the text and the private musings of the founders, plain as day. That about cover it?

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Liberals cannot ever act in good faith.

    Ah, so we agree!

  • Tony||

    There must be a liberal conspiracy. Liberals cannot ever act in good faith. It is blindingly obvious that Citizens United was all about free speech, because we are the authorities on the constitution, and this ruling was foretold in the text and the private musings of the founders, plain as day. That about cover it?

  • Tony's Boyfriend||

    C'mon, Tony! It's late. Come back to bed and I'll top you!

  • ||

    So Citizens United would not censor speech if ruled the other way? HERP DERP.

  • Tony||

    I don't fucking know, but it's hardly an obvious ruling, and it will have consequences. At least acknowledge the controversy.

  • ||

    Dude! you wont even acknowledge that Citizens United would censor speech if ruled the other way. If you wont acknowledge the controversy, why should the people you disagree with?

    If "I don't fucking know" is the best you can fucking come up with on a blindingly obvious point, well, I don't know about liberals never acting in good faith, but you certainly don't do you.

  • creech||

    I had to shake my head this morning at a "solution" posed, in the local paper, by someone who agreed Westboro
    Satanic Baptist Church had a right to speak but was looking for some legal way to prevent it. His solution was for the governments to sell all public land within 25 miles (yes, miles!) of a funeral site to the mourners for $1 for a five hour time period after which it would revert to the public!
    Then, again, maybe he's an incipient libertarian who can be shown the problems caused when "the public" owns so much property to begin with.

  • ||

    “Why Do Newspapers Support Westboro Baptist, but Not Citizens United?”

    fred phelps is a democrat that's why.

  • Recovering Lutheran||

    I think one of the reasons the secular media is willing to let Westboro Baptist slide is that Phelps & Co. confirms their worst prejudices about Christians being hateful, ignorant bigots. Remember in the 1990s when the secular media kept putting David Duke on TV as a "conservative" voice?

    And there is another reason. Westboro Baptist is not exactly large and influential. Can anyone honestly say that Phelps & Co. are winning converts to their cause with these protests? The secular media can afford to defend them since they pose no threat whatsoever.

    Thus, the secular media can pose as defenders of the Bill of Rights on behalf of a mostly powerless fringe group (Phelps & Co.) while at the same time taking cheap shots at the Christian community at large by lumping them together with Westboro Baptist. Citizens United, on the other had, is dangerous to the secular media since they might actually win debates and influence elections.

  • ||

    There is sad irony in the fact that the abhorrent Westboro Baptist Church has enticed those who despise America and its military - to support a supreme court decision that will help defend our freedom of speech well into the future.

    Thanks again, fallen ones, for defending our freedom with a supreme sacrifice - one more time.

  • Danny Haszard||

    Harassment by religious extremist

    Jehovah's Witnesses instigated court decisions in 1942 which involved cursing a police officer calling him a fascist and to get in your face at the door steps,....this same JW 1942 court decision upheld infamous Phelps hate church in 2011
    ----
    Danny Haszard

  • Holy Cow||

    Well, I guess I'm a neocon, too, since I agree with Ron Paul 100% domestically, but I agree with CHENEEEEEYYYYY! on foreign affairs. So fucking what?

    Do I have to take back my 2000 H. Browne vote? Or the idiot LP dude who ran for governor of CA a few years back?

    Or how about when I ran (and lost) in a local election on the platform of ENDING RENT CONTROL?

    I guess I'm just a war criminal who likes cheap apartments or some such.

    No wonder why actual libertarians (as opposed to True Libertarians) have no voting block.

    I bet Greg Smith scores higher on that 'Are You a Libertarian' test than most of the dipshit cosmotarians here would score.

    Idiots. Most of you on this board don't even have a clue about personal property rights, which is at the core of libertarian philosophy. Not whether or not Will Wilkinson thinks you're cool enough to take to John Stagliano's Milkass IV movie premiere.

    Yet, how many posters here understand that terrorism and illegal immigration are huge violations of personal property rights?

    Nah nah nah. Just whine about how the Patriot Act oppresses you and then mumble about how AZ is the nexus of worldwide evil.

    Fools. Anyway, it's a nice day. I think I'm gonna go graze and thank Tony for the global warming.

  • Iowan||

    For the record, the Des Moines Register editorialized in favor of the Court decision in Citizens United

  • B||

    Newspapers and other media have not supported Philip Greaves right to freedom of speech. He is still in jail in Florida and awaiting trial:

    http://www.abcactionnews.com/d.....ounty-jail

    Presumably the media do not support his freedom of speech because they believe he is correct and is likely to sway the public to a position that would decrease the power of the media to shape and control our lives?

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