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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Compare and Contrast Tim Pawlenty and Fred Phelps

Death Penalty for Homosexuals Sign carried at the 2004 Bachmann Amendment Rally

Demonstrators at the 2004 Bachmann Amendment Rally at the Minnesota Constitution Express themselves. Governor Tim Pawlenty and Speaker Steve Sviggum spoke at this Rally. They have yet to make a public statement condemning the anti-gay signs at the rally.

Welcome Pharyngula readers! PZ Myers agrees with me.

Eva makes a very good point: the Republican leadership in this state seems to share Fred Phelps' values. She has photos of a rally at the capitol in support of Michele Bachmann's anti-gay amendment, a rally that was approvingly attended by our Republican governor. Those signs aren't being carried by crazed Kansans, but by people of our state with good ol' "Minnesota values".

A Pharyngula commenter notes:

You know, he's just a few punctuation marks away from an accurate placard:

"Intolerance of,
Discrimination against,
Death penalty for,

As it stands he's using such a mangle of double-negatives and unknowingly ironic statements that the universe must surely be about to implode.

These people aren't the brightest bulbs....

Another commenter notes:

Of course these disgusting protests at military funerals enrage me, but I can only imagine how much righteous indignation Gov. Pawlenty would cough up if Phelps and his minions were protesting at the funerals of peace activists instead.

Another adds:

As PZ hinted, this is really about taking a popular political stand in defense of the troops. Notice that no one had proposed this kind of legislation when Phelps and his group were protesting at the funerals of gay people.

Kelly Doran, a Democratic Candidate for Governor has a letter about this:


Time for action

When six individuals who believe God is killing American soldiers because they fight for a country that tolerates homosexuals protest at the funeral of a Minnesota soldier killed in Iraq, it is time to do something drastic:

  • Our state and nation should move away from the kind of politics that help to create an environment of fear and intolerance.
  • We should quickly pass a law that would restrain or eliminate the ability to protest at funerals.
Other Strib letter writers come to similar conclusions:
Enabling hate So Gov. Tim Pawlenty attended a funeral and "was appalled by the behavior and message and insensitivity of the protesters" (Star Tribune, Feb. 24), yet he sees no connection between his support for the constitutional amendment to ban marriage or civil unions for gay couples and the division and hatred it promotes -- such as the antigay picketers at the soldier's funeral last week in Anoka. Maybe if we called it a fee rather than a marriage or a union, he'd support it. TROY TEPLEY, MINNEAPOLIS Sharing a message Outside a military funeral, they chant "God hates America." We easily recognize the hate in the actions of this antigay group from a Kansas church. Jesus weeps. Those wanting the gay-marriage-ban amendment are more subtle in their approach. Though our law already prohibits gay marriage, they tear apart churches over this amendment issue, all the while claiming not to hate gays. Jesus weeps. NANCY LEWIS, BLAINE This is nothing new I applaud the state governments that are taking steps to outlaw or limit distasteful funeral protests. However, I would like to point out that the Westboro Baptist Church has been protesting funerals for more than a decade and has visited Minnesota before. Families that have lost a gay son or daughter have had to deal with this group's demeaning tactics while they said goodbye to their loved ones. Unfortunately, it took the picketing of military funerals before any legislative action was considered. Everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, should be afforded the right to pay their final respects to the people they love in peace. RYAN BOLIN, MINNEAPOLIS
I happen to disagree with the idea of legislation for this. While I oppose what Fred Phelps and his band of lunatics says, I think a better way to respond to him is to ignore him. Phelps wants bills passed so he can challenge them on first amendment grounds. Average Gay Joe over at Gay Patriot says it well.
This may not be a popular position to take, but this bill seems to be an unconstitutional abridgement of free speech. I will admit to having probably the most unChristian view of Phelps and his coterie of nut-jobs and I also despise their protests of military funerals. These wackos offend me greatly given that I am Catholic, gay, and former military, all of which they seem to have problems with (as if I cared). I sympathize and agree with Delegate Mary-Dulany James, who sponsored the bill, that "We shouldn't have to subject any family to this. I'm stunned anybody would do that when people are grieving." These people are heartless, cruel bastards and hardly paragons of Christian morality. Yet, I do not have to like these clowns in order to stand for protecting free speech nor is it the job of government to regulate what is acceptable speech at a protest (save in very extreme cases such as incitement to violence). The First Amendment gives no guarantees that one will like what another has to say, only that they have the right to say it regardless. The provision to prohibit "obstruct[ing] mourners from funerals or burials" should pass constitutional muster and is one I could support, but not the portion to "ban protests at funerals within an hour before they start". That will be tossed out in court as it should be. It pains me to say this, but Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of the 'Rev.' Fred Phelps, is right when she says, "They're going to give away rights that they claim these soldiers have died for? They're going to spit in their graves - for what? Some words?'. Of course when she also adds that this proposal is "spitting in the face of God", I have to laugh. She and her group have done this so many times with their anti-Christian behavior it makes one sick.