On Thursday last, November 1, LawDog beat me to the punch of reporting on the Phelps lawsuit verdict with his “Meditations on the First Amendment.” Go read it, if you haven't already and I'll wait 'til you get back.
Now what I think his dissenting commenters are missing, in their rush to decry the Collapse o' the Bill o' Rights, is the fact that this is not the first time, nor is it the last, I'll wager, that a Judge will give this same instruction to a jury. As I said in my original post on this lawsuit, and in my comment on 'Dawg's blog...I think the verdict was rendered, not solely on the 1st amendment issues, but also because the actions of [I gotta steal from the estimable 'Dawg] this Catamite violated community standards of what a reasonable person finds “extreme and outrageous” and if those actions were “so offensive and shocking” that they did not entitle the defendant to the “protection of the 1st Amendment."
Some commenters see this verdict, a CIVIL verdict as the beginning of the end of all of us having the right to speak our minds in public, whether that public be the Town Square or blogspot.com. I disagree, like y'all didn't see that comin'.
Even someone with as wide a readership as LawDog or Ambulance Driver, or Tamara over at Books, Bikes and Boomsticks still does not draw on their highest hits day the kind of coverage that Phelps gets on the electronic and print media when he shows up at the funeral of a fallen veteran with his offensive signs, with those hideous slogans for which he and his strident ilk are infamous, including the children they are raising to be hate mongers, too. Let's face it, the man and his deluded followers are a media circus and make the Perfect 30 second sound bite filler. And those signs grab the eye for the print media guys, too. That kinda pic sells papers, and that's the name of the game, folks.
So, until we, the common man can generate the kind of media feedin' frenzy with our little Internet vanity scribblings, I don't think we have to worry about getting sued. Not even if we said we were gonna pickup Mrs. Brady and take her to a shooting range and MAKE her spend the day shooting a variety of semi-automatic handguns with high-capacity magazines until she either enjoyed it or collapsed from exhaustion, AND we were gonna videotape it, AND sell the DVDs at the next NRA National Convention. I don't think we'd have to worry if we blogged that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are a couple of agitating, hypocritical, exploitative bastages who don't really give a flyin' fritz about “their People” except when it's gonna get them on TV or in the headlines. Jesse has been riding on the coattails of MLK for so long the threads are gone, people! They've been gone for 20 years, now. Ever since that woman sued him for child support for the child she bore him out of wedlock. And him a friggin MINISTER, too. Just how does THAT help his people? How does that set a good example for young black men and women all around the country?
Nah, I don't think we, common men and women need to worry about getting sued for writing out thoughts in an ONLINE JOURNAL that we let other people read. Get a Frellin' grip!