Free Speech

Flag Ridiculed, Nutcase Arrested


In one of those periodic Skokie/David Irving moments, its hard not to side with the psychopathic "God Hates America/Fags/Sweden" preacher Fred Phelps, whose daughter Shirley was arrested for violating Nebraska's silly and inefficacious flag burning statute:

A member of the Kansas group that has drawn criticism for protesting at soldiers' funerals has been arrested for letting her 10-year-old son stomp on a U.S. flag during a demonstration. She promised Wednesday to challenge the state's flag desecration law in court.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, 49, will be charged with flag mutilation, disturbing the peace and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov said Wednesday.

Flag mutilation? According to the Nebraska law, "A person commits the offense of mutilating a flag if such person intentionally casts contempt or ridicule upon a flag by mutilating, defacing, defiling, burning, or trampling upon such flag." (emphasis added)

David Weigel blogged the Phelps Family Circus here. And be sure to watch Louis Theroux's brilliant, cringe-inducing documentary on the Phelps family, "The Most Hated Family in America," here.

NEXT: Lucifer Unemployed

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Go Shirley!
    …and then please promptly die as you are a horrible piece of shit.

  2. What if you ate a flag?

  3. How exactly does one cast contempt or ridicule upon a piece of cloth? I’m guessing the line is crossed when you point to the flag and shout out, Nelson Muntz-like, “Ha, ha!”

  4. It’s not a piece of cloth, Kevin. It’s the spirit of America, it’s freedom, it’s, uh…eh, whatever, I’m going home.

  5. Hey you! Mr. Flag! Yeah, I’m talking to you, you contemptible piece of crap!

  6. “Flaggot”

  7. just wow.



    [ambles off]

  8. One question:
    Was it her flag?

  9. The reverend phelps would stop being news if we (the royal we) quit making news out of him. The next person to mention phelps loses.

  10. If we continue to allow Flag Ridiculing how soon will it be before society has to endure Nun Tampering and Edward abuse?

  11. God hates Flags

  12. Go Shirley!
    …and then please promptly die as you are a horrible piece of shit.

    Did JasonC win the thread with the first comment?

    I vote YES.

    Now I may be wrong, but didn’t the Supremes already rule that laws such as Nebraska’s flag mutilation are unconstitutional and a violation of the 1st amendment? Isn’t that why the GOP had such a hardon for the flag burning amendment?

  13. Louis Theroux’s greatest revelation in his series: The “God hates fags” daughters are teh hawt. I can’t wait until they fall off the chastity wagon.

  14. Thank you, ChicagoTom. Though I’m not sure you are allowed to nominate me as I’m a fellow Chicagoan (conflict of interest and whatnot)

  15. This is the way the Phelps clan get money; they use outrageous behavior to goad government officials into violating their civil rights, sue, and pocket a nice chunk of change. Most of the adults in the clan are lawyers, so their costs are minimal.

  16. Wow, I hate them but I hope they win. BTW, shouldn’t Nebraska know better than to have these kind of laws on the books?

  17. JasonC:

    as someone living in a really cool city that begins with a C and ends with an O (don’t forget that HICAG in the middle), I rule that Chicago Tom is completely conflict free in this ruling.

  18. More Phelps news: while protesting a military funeral, the Westboro Fun Bunch camped on the lawn of a local Sonic. The sprinklers came on and soaked the lot of them. No word on whether it was deliberate or just excellent timing, nor on whether the Phelps clan (who have a number of lawyers among their number who are very familiar with filing assault charges) are considering filing suit.

  19. How many generations of inbreeding before the spawn are all stillborn?

  20. Did JasonC win the thread with the first comment?

    Sorry, I veto in favor of Freddie Phelps. Brevity being the soul of wit, and all.

    However, I will submit that there is no ‘same city’ conflict of interest, so long as “the lake looks ___ today” is NOT referenced. If it is, you are sentenced to a long walk off Navy pier or to look for Grant’s tomb in Grant Park, whichever is more annoying and pointless.

  21. Sorry, I veto in favor of Freddie Phelps.

    Me too.

    I just watched that documentary and, I’m sorry… this lady Shirley is a lawyer?! She’s so… unintelligent. And I don’t say that because I disagree with every single word that comes out of her mouth, but because she can’t seem to form a coherent argument for the life of her. And Fred… what an angry person. Angry angry angry.

  22. I could only stand 10 minutes of the documentary. I’m mad at Nebraska for making me agree with the Phelpses on anything.

    I bet watching that video makes people who disagreed with Dawkins’ statement on raising children reconsider. (He said it’s wrong to teach children any particular religious belief or disbelief, such as atheism.)

  23. Has anyone besides me noticed the irony of this situation?

    For years the nit-wits who have called for laws that punish “flag desecration” have also tended to be religious wack-jobs who think that suffering a homosexual to live is tantamount to treason.

    Now one of those same bible-beating, hate-mongering, right-wing scum suckers are going to demand their right to desecrate the flag?

    My head hurts. I need to lie down. Nothing makes sense anymore.

  24. Fun fact: Fred Phelps used to be a Civil Rights lawyer.

    I considered that strange that if he died in the 60s, he would be considered a hero. If he died now, even Pat Robertson would celebrate.

    Strange world.

  25. I’m mad at Nebraska for making me agree with the Phelpses on anything.

    That’s one of the best reasons why the government shouldn’t ban flag desecration or other offensive speech: When they ban offensive speech, it forces some of us to side with utter assholes.

    When speech is free, we can avoid ever having to side with the assholes.

  26. – What are you in for?
    – Armed robbery. You?
    – Ridiculing a flag.

  27. He said it’s wrong to teach children any particular religious belief or disbelief, such as atheism.

    I have long sympathized with that position; I expressed it here once and got shot down right quick. Which was probably right, because if you can’t teach your kids anything you’re leaving it up to the State. But… seeing those brainwashed kids makes my blood boil none the less. Downside of freedom, I guess 🙂

  28. Shirley didn’t strike me as stupid. Just utterly batshit.

    Fine line, I guess, but she’s a smart person who has been brainwashed for her entire life into a hyper-radical family cult of absolute correctness. For her, the obvious flaming total absolute correctness of everything she believes in makes talking to guys who don’t buy into that bullshit makes her feel like Stephen Hawking explaining string theory to Forrest Gump.

  29. Between that and the fact that she certainly doesn’t spend much time thinking critically about her beliefs makes arguments with her pretty much what you saw there; just assertions of facts and dismissals of counterpoints (not that the documentarian was much of a debater).

    Grasping that fundie nutjobs often are very intelligent in the IQ point scoring sense, yet also totally irrational (and so in a sense stupid), is very important in understanding their psychology. They aren’t stupid, they aren’t crazy, they just have a set of beliefs and psycholgical defenses that make rational debate with them an excercise in futility.

  30. Rhywun, under what Dawkins proposed, I expect one can (and should) still teach your children ethical (or moral, if you prefer) behavior. In the interview I read, he didn’t call for laws prohibiting teaching particular religious beliefs (e.g. Jesus Christ is the son of God and virgin who died for your sins, Mohammed is the true prophet of Allah, etc.), but advocated for society (or really, the members of society) to rethink how children are raised in this regard and whether it is a good idea to teach children “this is the absolute truth and anyone who disagrees is going to Hell” on a subject for which there is no possibility of objective, independent verification.

  31. Toxic: good observations. They are starting from a different set of given premises than most of us. If you can’t agree on first principles, you aren’t going to be able to agree on anything.

  32. miche – that’s impressive. To hold the principle of free speech and be able to ignore what utter shit the WBC ‘people’ are.

  33. Freddie Phelps and his inbred whelps are obviously phonies. In their early days, they were buddies of Al Gore, then suddenly they were out protesting at funerals. It gets them on the news, and it paints all Christian fundamentalists as nutcases.

    The soldiers whose children the WBC shouts those obscene, hurtful things at died to give the WBC the right to be jackasses.

    I have this dream of the WBC picketing, when an old, ratty pickup truck stops and half a dozen guys paintball the heck out of them, then bug out. The truck is found a few blocks away, abandoned with a dozen paintball guns inside, and it is discovered that it was bought for $150 in cash by someone who just gave a first name . . .

    I mentioned that to the father of a soldier who died in Iraq, and he asked how much paintball guns cost.

    You see, the WBC has their right to express themselves, and I have mine.

  34. When burning is out, Lord,
    Only outers will be urned.

    Or something.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.