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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 4, 2011 / 28 Adar I, 5771

Drawing a Line Between Garbage and Gold

By Jonah Goldberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Fred Phelps, the deranged pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church -- which is more like a family entourage of psychos -- has devised a scheme for getting attention: He desecrates military funerals. His group shows up chanting hateful slogans and carrying signs reading "G0d Hates Fags," "Thank G0d for IEDs" and "Thank G0d for Dead Soldiers." They claim that these tragic deaths are divine punishment for social acceptance of homosexuality.

Albert Snyder, the father of a fallen Marine, sued Phelps for protesting his son's funeral. He won millions. The Supreme Court overturned that verdict Wednesday.

I think the decision is a travesty. But, alas, after reading it, I also find it perfectly defensible, probably even correct. Anyone familiar with the concept of "garbage in, garbage out" can appreciate that this isn't necessarily a contradiction.

The court had to deal with the narrow facts of this case, the relevant trial history and precedents, and doing so, they came out in a terrible place: in effect defending a "right" Phelps should not have. As Chief Justice John Roberts put it, "The reach of our opinion here is limited by the particular facts before us. … (We rely) on limited principles that sweep no more broadly than the appropriate context of the instant case."

But you wouldn't get the sense that this was a narrow, even shallow, victory for free-speech absolutists based on much of the commentary about it. Nearly all of it boils down to a single insight: Just because speech is offensive doesn't mean we can ban it.

Making funeral protestors "shut up" is tempting, concedes the Detroit Free Press, but "anyone who values their freedom should understand why that's just not the American way to deal with hateful, hurtful speech."

The Supreme Court simply confirmed that "free speech has meaning only if objectionable speech is included," insists USA Today.

These are fine as expressions of general constitutional values shared by most of us. But they're absolutely useless for figuring out how to treat speech in the real world.

For example, in its decision the court upheld severe regulations on funeral protestors. Indeed, Snyder himself couldn't make out Westboro's signs or hear their chants at the funeral, because Maryland officials required the protests to be at least 1,000 feet away (though I'd be fine with making it 10,000 feet). It was only days later that Snyder saw on TV what the protesters were saying, or read on the Internet their vile personal attacks on his family.

Why don't these restrictions offend free-speech absolutists?

Perhaps because, even though we like to mouth platitudes, we actually recognize that some speech is so vile, so beyond the pale, that we as a society understand that it might impinge on other things we hold dear -- like the reasonable expectation that a parent might have to bury his child respectfully and in peace.

And that's why Phelps' tactics are the real issue, as Justice Samuel Alito's compelling dissent makes clear. Westboro deliberately taunts the grieving family, tipping off the press in the process, because it knows such heartless cruelty counts for "news." If the press grew bored with the protests, Westboro would likely invent a new tactic. Screaming obscenities at first-graders perhaps?

Nobody questions Phelps' right to say what he wants to say -- about anything. The question is whether funerals should be "no-free-speech zones," as some absolutists put it.

Forty-three states already say, in effect, that yes, military funerals should be zones of relative decorum. What remains a mystery is why the other seven states haven't followed suit.

Free expression and debate will continue to thrive in the United States even if we prohibit turning cemeteries into speakers' corners and coffins into soapboxes.

Oh, but what about the terrifying prospect of a slippery slope that in short order will take us from banning the desecration and exploitation of funerals to an Orwellian society?

Stephen Wermiel, a professor at American University, warns: "If you start defining and banning offensive speech because someone doesn't like it, it's hard to draw the line, and one day you wake up and find you don't have much protected speech."

Meh.

We draw lines all the time. It's what serious, self-confident societies do. I would rather get the placement of the line wrong from time to time than live in a society that says there can be no lines.

Unfortunately, America is ensorcelled by categorical thinking. Some offensive speech is worthwhile, constructive and necessary. Other offensive speech is reprehensible and indefensible. But, we are told, whether its garbage or gold, it has equal standing before the law. And that's why so much garbage goes in, and so much comes out.

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