Civil Liberties

What Do You Do With the "God Hates Jews" Kooks?


The nut sandwiches of the Westboro Baptist Church made their way to a Holocaust museum this week in Richmond, Virginia, where locals organized a counter-protest that drowned out the "God hates Jews" gang. Times-Dispatch columnist and beloved Coen Brothers character A. Barton Hinkle used the occasion to make the case against "hate speech" prohibitions:

[S]aying "God Hates Fags" does not change the legal status of gays and lesbians. Nor does it interfere with their ability to go about their day. It is not legally binding the way contracts are; it carries no real weight in the world. Nor does it, as some would-be censors suggest, lower the social or moral standing of the object of the hatred. Again, hateful messages today lower the standing of the speaker. How much social cachet attaches to membership in the Ku Klux Klan? How much community respect would you get parading around in a T-shirt with a photo of President Obama bearing the legend, "Uppity N*****"? Not bloody much.

Whole thing here. Steve Chapman made a similar point, using the same example, back in January 2006. Also, here's Penn Jillette!