Friday, January 20, 2006

Indiana legislature targets funerals.

There are few organized cults as foolish and offensive as Westboro Baptist, the guys who get attention at public events with God hates fags signs. I've met them a couple of times, and will continue to pray for them.

The Indiana legislature makes Westboro look sane and reasonable by comparison.
A new bill would outlaw wakes, or other disorderly conduct at funerals.
While not specifically intended to oppress the Irish and Chinese, the bill is insensitive of cultural traditions.

It's almost certainly unconstitutional under Price v Indiana,622 N.E.2d 954, 964 (Ind. 1993), the leading case under the state free speech clause. Former Nuvo columnist Fran Quigley wrote the brief in that case. It's a study in Indiana history, how Robert Owen, son the founder of New Harmony, helped write the 1851 constitution and left us a heritage of liberty.

Sen. Anita Bowser, D-Michigan City, a retired professor of constitutional law, said the legislation raised freedom of speech concerns for her. "At the same time I know our freedom is not absolute," she said in explaining her "yes" vote.
This type of behavior at funerals could incite violence, she said, and is no more protected than yelling "fire" in a crowded theater.

I wonder when she retired, and where she taught. The crowded theater case, Schenck v United States, was overruled by 1969. In Schenck, three young men were jailed for passing out leaflets saying the draft violates the thirteenth amendment, which prohibits involuntary servitude. I happen to agree with them. The case is taught in schools as an example of the court getting it wrong.

Most of the time these laws make little difference. But sometimes, the theater really is on fire. Oh, and the war Shenck was protesting wasn't Vietnam - it was WWI.
Lpin.blogspot.com is a new blog where people can find out what other foolishness the legislature is up to.

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