Skip to comments.Free speech, hate speech clash
Posted on 10/29/2003 5:07:11 AM PST by CSM
CASPER, Wyo., Oct. 28 Five years after University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was killed, touching off a national dialogue on gay rights, an anti-gay hate group wants to put up a monument to Shepards murder in hiss hometown. The city doesnt want it, but it is caught in a legal tangle that involves, of all things, the Ten Commandments.
AT SHEPARDS FUNERAL in his hometown of Casper, Wyo., an anti-gay hate group demonstrated in a park across the street, led by the Rev. Fred Phelps, a Baptist minister from Kansas.
Now members of Phelps group are back in Casper pushing to be allowed to put up a granite monument in the same park where they picketed at Shepards funeral.
The proposed monument would say, Matthew Shepard entered Hell, October 12, 1998.
That was the day that Shepard, 21, died of injuries and hypothermia he suffered five days before when two men beat him with a gun butt and left him to die while tied to a fence post in zero-degree weather, after meeting him at a bar in Laramie. Both of the men were later convicted.
GODS HATE, NOT HUMAN HATE
Our message is a message of Gods hate, not human hate, said Marge Phelps, the reverends wife, also of the Westboro, Kan., Baptist Church. And the concept of Gods hate is found in the Bible. And all it means is that people are going to go to hell if they disobey God.
The city of Casper, home to about 50,000 residents, wants to say no but may not be able to.
The city park where the anti-gay group wants to put the Shepard monument already has a monument, this one honoring the Ten Commandments from the Bible. And under the law, if the city wants to keep this Shepard monument out, then the Ten Commandments will have to go, too.
Why? Because, legal experts say, the city unwittingly invited other monuments when it put up the Ten Commandments in a public park.
By putting the Ten Commandments in the park, they created a sort of public forum for speech and debate, said Tom Goldstein, a First Amendment attorney and appellate court lawyer. And once the city does that, it cant discriminate against other viewpoints, no matter how hateful.
MAYOR OFFENDED BY FILTH
The fact that Reverend Phelps ... would come into Casper and try and put that filth under the guise of the Ten Commandments is total idiocy. BARB PERYAM mayor of Casper, Wyo.
Casper Mayor Barb Peryam said she was offended by the Kansas groups tactic. The fact that Reverend Phelps, or Mr. Phelps, would come into Casper and try and put that filth under the guise of the Ten Commandments is total idiocy.
Bob Crosby, president of the local Eagles Club, which donated the Ten Commandments, said the Eagles reluctantly offered the city a way out: We would hope they would donate it back to us, and we can display it in an appropriate place.
Now the city council must decide what to do about this monument, concerned that the Ten Commandments could be used to force the city into accepting a message of hate.
From what I know about Phelps, I doubt if their "granite monument" even exists. And when they're denied the "right" to put their "monument" up, they'll sue--even though Fred Phelps is a disbarred lawyer, some of his whelps are lawyers in good standing--and they love to sue.
It's a religeous group who are vociferously against the gay lifestyle, among other things. Now, I do not agree with their methods, in fact the protest at Shepards funeral I find particularly obscene.However, the news refers to them as an anti-gay hate group ONLY to polarize a specific group of people (the gays & lesbians) & to elicit a response for them.
Being a religeous group, the news could just have easily called them an anti-adultery group,or an anti-murdering group. How about an anti theft group? IMHO.
From a friend of mine who lives in Topeka, no. Not that he couldn't do something worthwhile, it's that he won't.
I don't think so... I've never heard of them picketing adulterers or carrying signs saying "Thieves go to Hell" and "God Hates Murderers". My impression is that they are, indeed, and anti-gay hate group. Which is fine with me, btw, though there's no reason they should be allowed to place a monument on public property.
They advertise themselves as an anti-gay group. That's what they promote.
And, trust me--they don't just offend a specific group of people--"gays & lesbians" is your assertion. When they showed up in Wausau, Wisconsin to picket (I can't remember if it was earlier this year or last year), they offended EVERYBODY, including my husband's family, not a gay or lesbian among them. They were disgusted with the Phelps--and that's putting it mildly.
That's the only thing he does well. From what I've read and seen about Phelps, he's barely done a lick of work in his entire life. He's a carney, a con man.
And I really would know if Phelps' "monument" really exists. Phelps is known for telling a city/place he's showing up, stirs up the place--then not showing up. It'd be consistent with him to say he's got a "granite monument" ready to be placed in Casper, when this monument never existed at all. He's just stirring up Casper and they're falling into his trap. I just can't imagine Phelps actually spending any money on anything--except himself.