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Brandon Mississippi’s Vigilante Justice

Have you heard yet about what the town of Brandon, Mississippi did?  Westboro Baptist had them targeted for a protest of local hero Staff Sgt Jason Rogers’ funeral.  They showed up en masse.  But when the funeral was over, they left town, having never uttered a harsh word or brandished a single sign.

The thing is, the city of Brandon got their collective heads together and joined forces to thwart all of Westboro’s efforts.  Lots of city trucks mysteriously got left unattended behind every car with Kansas plates.  All the town’s tow trucks were busy until after the funeral.  The few Westboro faithful who managed to get to the cemetery were detained for questioning until it was determined that they had no part in some unnamed crime.

Oh… and did I mention that one of the Westboro faithful said a little too much at a convenience store a few days earlier?  He got beaten pretty badly, and nobody in the crowd managed to get a good look at his assailants.

There are a lot of people cheering for Brandon, but I’m not one of them.  I understand the frustration of soldiers’ families, and I feel badly for the ones who have to endure the abusive protests.  But the Supreme Court has ruled (appropriately, I believe) that they have a Constitutional right to speak their bigoted angry minds.  And what Brandon authorities did was no less than vigilante justice in the face of a ruling they don’t agree with.

And they could do the same thing to atheists.

Free speech is a fundamental part of American values, but we sometimes forget the most important thing:  Free speech isn’t for those with whom we agree.  It is for those who make us insanely angry.  It is for nut jobs and quacks and bigots.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying people shouldn’t utilize any legal measures at their disposal to make things difficult for Westboro.  I would be in favor of keeping them well away from the funeral itself.  Such measures were made famous at the last Republican Convention, when anti-Bush protesters were essentially put under a bridge half a mile from the site.

But I’m not in favor of vigilante justice.  I don’t condone police enforcing their views of who should and shouldn’t be allowed to speak, even though I happen to agree that Westboro is repugnant.  I don’t agree with city services colluding to prevent people from driving where they want when they haven’t committed a crime.  And I certainly don’t like the police being OK with an entire crowd obstructing justice and withholding evidence of an assault and battery.

There are better ways to do this.



8 thoughts on “Brandon Mississippi’s Vigilante Justice

  1. But why does the right thing always have to be the more difficult thing? Those of us under the age of 40 really are not that well trained for delayed gratification 😦

    Posted by Fey Wyndom | April 29, 2011, 12:47 am
  2. The problem though is that Phelps and his church is not exercising their right to free speech. It’s a scam. The whole point of the thing is to win money for themselves in lawsuits and counter-suits by provoking people to sue them or violate their “rights.”

    So I wouldn’t worry about this spilling over to atheists in any way. Atheists actually have something to say. But if atheists ever do start acting like Westboro Baptist Church, then we’ll deserve whatever we get, in the same way that those fuckwits do.

    Posted by Ian | April 29, 2011, 8:33 am
  3. Ian, I must respectfully disagree. To my knowledge, there is no legal proscription against baiting people into saying something litigious. So what Westboro is doing is exercising their free speech in a way that makes them douchebags.

    I do worry about this spilling over to atheists. What the entire town did was vigilante justice. Actually no… it’s worse than vigilante justice because there was no crime committed. Douchebaggery aplenty, but no crime.

    When police and city officials are allowed to gang up on a group — whether it’s the KKK, Westboro, or anyone else — and prevent them from exercising their constitutional rights, that’s a bad, bad thing.

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | April 29, 2011, 1:46 pm
  4. Ganging up on a group which is deliberately provoking outrage and acting hurtfully toward others is not a bad, bad thing.

    It’s an inevitable thing.

    It’s as inevitable as the law of gravity. And there’s nothing the legal system or anyone can do about it. Nor am I aware of any reason that anyone should do something about it. When you hate the world, the world is going to hate you back, and nobody can change that.

    Posted by Athenian | April 29, 2011, 1:57 pm
  5. Thanks, Athenian.

    I don’t have any objection to people directing outrage towards Westboro. They deserve it. What I object to is the pre-emptive denial of their right to be assholes. While their speeches are hateful, misogynistic, homophobic, and probably twenty other offensive things, they are — so far — just speech. They have not committed any crimes (that I know of). They do not deserve to have a crime committed against them.

    As an aside, I’m not sure what specific crime the people of Brandon could have been charged with. Some sort of conspiracy to commit… something… I dunno. But what they did was collude and act on the purpose of keeping a group from exercising their constitutional right to be douchebags. They prevented Westboro from availing themselves of their American-granted “inalienable” right. That, in my book, is a bigger evil than being a douchebag and saying hateful things.

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | April 29, 2011, 2:14 pm
  6. I may well be the middle ground here, so I’ll say it:
    Yes. Preventing free speech is always bad, & abusing civic power to do it is worse, even when it’s hilarious.
    But. Citizens doing their part to ensure peace and respect for their fellow citizens is not a bad thing, and the car tactic, unlike detaining individuals, does not stop free speech. It makes it a little more difficult, sure, but I feel that if it was done without civic resources it would be just, funny, and just as much an exercise in free speech as the protest itself. If I, as an atheist, did not offer basic respect to my fellow human beings, I would not expect the same in return. But then, I believe in cause and effect.

    Posted by Peter | April 29, 2011, 2:26 pm
  7. Thanks, Peter.

    Yes… if this had been done without the police and city officials, I would think it was funny, and wouldn’t say a thing about it. If a private citizen illegally parked them in, and a private tow truck owner decided he was busy… then yeah. Citizens standing up for their neighbors. Fine.

    But this was officials. That makes it a different matter, and I can’t approve of it. Yes… Westboro deserves all the outrage they’re getting. But they most certainly do not deserve to be detained and questioned by the police for a made up crime. I have a deep seated and barely contained rage over official violations of civil rights. In this case, two wrongs do not make a right.

    Posted by Living Life Without a Net | April 29, 2011, 2:35 pm
  8. You know, maybe it’s the Jose’ Q. talking. But, then again, maybe not. But I was there. Rode, walked and FELT every inch of sod. Every mile of asphalt. Every blade of grass.
    I know the parties involved. Intimately. Personally. Jason, his parents Jenny, Eddie and the Jarheads who ALL say “OOHRAH, BROTHER!” that guarded Jason’s body to his last “Post” are real people. Actual HUMANS that live, breathe, and shed tears over something MANY of you could NEVER understand. THIS man was very real to me and many others.

    About the video from Elmo’s dash-cam.
    Dumbasses. Be a bit more observant. Look at the clock on the vid. It was not altered. How do I know? I rode. On a Harley. I was there. This was recorded far more slowly than your SLOW-ASS brains are able to observe. Think it’s fake? That’s about right. Fake as the world you live in.

    Now. For those that are ignorant, the ‘arse whacking’ did not occur. (Maybe it should of.) Everything else did. BUT not quite in the sequential or even factual event trail that presents itself on the net. F*** the opinion of those who cannot know the pain or sacrifice. AND F*** those that truly believe any ‘RIGHTS’ were jeopardized. Those of us that KNOW, well, WE KNOW and also KNOW how to respond to those that are not prepared to survive the coming insurrection.

    Bottom line. Mississippi DOES NOT allow someone from Meridian, Kansas (God bless Kansas) or ANYWHERE ELSE to speak for “AMERICA”.


    For the 1st Amendment ‘defenders’, screw you. You were not there when it was written. You do NOT have a clue what was intended by Jefferson, DO NOT PRETEND YOU DO!!!! You embarrass those who know and who might know YOU.
    For the folks that want to support the preverts(that was NOT a mispelling!) screw you, too. You ain’t got a clue and will likely join this entire “family” in your special place in HELL. Enjoy the party with your signs. Fan ‘em fast. Maybe it’ll cool you and the children you corrupt off some.

    For those who stood for Jason, Eddie, Jenny and every single person who actually and genuinely shed a tear for the “CAUSE”, THANK YOU!

    i was there. (i formatted “i” correctly because “i” was but a small part of something FAR larger than myself. I Love you, Jenny & Eddie. Jason, SEMPER FI, my brother.]

    For all the rest:
    If you don’t know how to respond to the SCOTUS which are inhabited by idiot appointed, bottom-feeding carp, I pity you. Get over yourselves. YOU are DUMBASSES as WELL! You DO NOT know which way is ‘up’. Best GET A CLUE prior to 2-0-1-2 or else you’ll be lemmings that will perish along with those that think as you. Best of luck. I’ll enjoy the target practice.

    For the web posters:

    1. “Douchebaggery aplenty, but no crime”
    No shit, no crime. If there were, someone would have a viable complaint. Otherwise, fuck ’em. STFU.
    2. “When you hate the world, the world is going to hate you back” Life’s a bitch, ain’t it? Consider it lessons learned. Or maybe not.
    …”pre-emptive denial of their right to be assholes”
    FIRST: If I for a second detect your intention to be a threat (or to be an asshole) toward myself or those I love AND cherish, you’re toast. Me and a Spotter. .50 cal. First Amendment be damned.
    Second, let’s test it. Bet my bullet’s more accurate than yours.
    3. Peter, you’ve got it.
    4. ‘Living Life Without a Net’, you’re almost there. But not quite. You say, “What I object to is the pre-emptive denial of their right to be assholes.”, Too fuc*ing bad. And fuc* your objection. They (WBC)have not earned it. Neither as Americans, citizens of America, benefactors of the American Constitution or otherwise. Pay the price of the ticket! Raise your right hand and sign the check to earn admittance to the party. Otherwise, F*ck ’em (AND YOU). Period.
    5, “There are better ways to do this.” No shit. You think others don’t have a method? Think again.


    Posted by Cpt. Trog | April 30, 2011, 1:33 am

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