So Chief Justice John Roberts Doesn’t Think ‘Fag’ Is A Naughty Word?

In Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion in the Westboro Baptist Church’s First Amendment case, he writes, in defense of the hatemongers, “The protest was not unruly. There was no shouting, profanity or violence.” Actually, the Westbororings use the word “fag” all the time, verbally and in their signs, and even their domain names Does that mean Justice Roberts doesn’t thing “fag” is a profane word, like “fuck” or “slut”? Is “nigger” or “spic”? Somebody please get me a copy of the Supreme Court’s style guide. The church’s members may not engage in obscene speech, which is not constitutionally protected, but it is most definitely profane. Of course, that profane language was used is almost besides the point: the Supreme Court ruled the church has First Amendment rights, and nothing it did was not constitutionally protected. (NB: I’ve been trying to find any evidence Westboro used “fag” at the funeral of Albert Snyder’s Marine son Matthew, and I couldn’t. I only see where their signs read “Thank god for dead soldiers” and “Thank god for IEDs,” but at a military funeral that had nothing to do with homosexuality, it’s possible their signs for this event didn’t use the word “fag.” I’m perfectly willing to be proven wrong, so if you have evidence, please share.)

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  • reason

    Unbelievable how this site uses mistreatment of this community as an opportunity to use or bring up offensive language of other minorities to draw up parallels, as if Roberts would be offended or bat an eye at hearing those words. It’s an act of cowardice, why not draw parallels with Roberts.

  • Jack

    I’ve never been more ashamed of our Courts. First giving corperations the right to flood funds to their favorite lackies in government and now this. So much crap coming out of Washington these days.

  • Schteve

    Try using a dictionary, Queerty. Unless you’re trying to imply that the word “fag” has a proper and revered use, it’s not profanity. Though how you can claim it’s not obscene is also beyond me.

    While you’re at it, why don’t you actually go and look at the opinion? Westboro used “fag” aplenty at this protest. The court’s ruling had “fag” in it no less than eighteen times.

  • justiceontherocks

    What’s the purpose of this post? It just rambles from one incoherent sentence to another without any coherence, let alone an effort to rely on facts.

    If the writer would trouble himself to read the Court’s decision, I’m sure he’d learn that if the WBC had chanted “nigger” or “spic” of “hymie” the result would have been the same. For the bazillionth time, the supremes said you can’t punish speech just because it’s offensive.

    If the editors of this blog want it to be taken seriously, they have to do a lot better than this.

  • B

    No. 3 · Schteve wrote, “Try using a dictionary, Queerty. Unless you’re trying to imply that the word “fag” has a proper and revered use, it’s not profanity. Though how you can claim it’s not obscene is also beyond me.”

    It’s not obscene given the dictionary definition of that word: “Offensive to chastity or modesty; expressing or presenting
    to the mind or view something which delicacy, purity, and
    decency forbid to be exposed; impure; as, obscene
    language; obscene pictures.”

    The taxonomy is roughly:

    profane – revolves around religion
    obscene – revolves around sex
    vulgar – revolves around offensive but nonsexual biological features or functions

    So, you can classify the word as a “slur”.

    Maureen Dowd (or was it some other NY Times columnist) once wrote a humorous column about George Bush’s first presidential campaign in which George was caught by a live microphone as he called a NY Times reporter an “asshole”. Dowd reported a memo from her editor reminding staff about when the words “profanity”, “obscenity”, and “vulgarity” should be used, making her article about George all the funnier, the fine points of the English language not being one of his strong points.

  • ewe

    If this ugly demented inbred clan can picket gay funerals for decades then they can picket soldiers funerals as well. It’s a disgrace, i find it abhorrent but i am glad to know that everyone can be their target, not just gay people. I do not like the way the father of the soldier is doing a Bill Oreilly “tiller the killer” broadcast stating someone is gonna shoot them. He is pumping hopeful wishes through evil fear and he obviously has that right too. Right folks?

  • ewe

    And as far as Queerty and their profession of censorship goes, i beg to differ. If you attempt to write the female anatomy that is synonymous with kitty starting with a P then your comment is censored. So please…. be consistent.

  • christopher di spirito

    If all the pissy bitches here want censorship, run on over to the Advocate or Huffington Post. They are where you belong.

    Personally, I’m delighted Queerty doesn’t censor comments.

  • Jim Hlavac

    The decision is not about free speech. Westboro BC does not want to “debate” the issues of gays in this nation — they want to eliminate us. As do many other groups. At one time or another all of them, Westboro, Family Research, AFTAH, NOM, NARTH, AFV, etc, etc, want to eliminate gay folks. They’re vocal and they’re clear on their goals. Eliminate gay folks — some are more strident than others. THey have used words like “cure” “export” “execute” — and they are now given license to up their verbiage.

    Given that gayness is inseparable from our being — they must want to get rid of us.

    And giving a free speech right to one group of Americans to call for the elimination by any means of another group of Americans based on an immutable natural God-given characteristic isn’t quite free speech.

  • Ryan

    Hey there. Actually, in Justice Alito’s dissenting opinion, he indicates that Fag was used during the Westboro protest. In fact, part of his reason for dissenting is that the protest was partially of a “personal” nature intended to inflict injury. He wrote, essentially, that because the signs had on them a slogan that indicated God held a particular judgement against the gays (“God Hates Fags”), anyone who saw the sign might draw the conclusion that the soldier was a homo. Alito thinks this A.) makes it a personal protest, and not just a matter of public discourse, and B.) that people thinking the soldier was being accused of being gay would be injurious to his memory and to his family. Sort of a funny argument to use against anti-gay bigots. :D

  • D Smith

    I hate to say it but the justices decided correctly on this one. WBC is a hateful despicable organization worth of all of our contempt and disdain… but they do have first amendment rights, and while i myself am a LGBT individual… i will defend their right to be ass-hats to their hearts desire.

    random LGBT veteran

  • Steff

    @D Smith: I have a lot of respect for you saying that. I wish I could be that ethical. I just always feel any slur aimed towards the LGBT population never quite gets subjected to the same type of scrutiny.

  • Jeffree

    The best way to deal with WBC is to outnumber them at protests and drown out their rants. Several groups have succeeded in doing that. The key is to avoid direct interaction with them (because they’ll sue), and to show that we’re greater in size / strength than they are.

    I’m still surprised that Alito was the dissenter in the SC decision.

  • niles

    I think the court will regret this decision some day. As for “fag”, it certainly does qualify as profanity defined as “Abusive, vulgar, or irreverent language” by most dictionaries. While people have the right of free speech, they should also be subject to civil penalties if said speech injures the emotional wellbeing of others, like this poor father of the slain soldier.

  • ewe

    @niles: I think you are wrong but i understand your analysis. I think what you are really saying is that those idiots are making a choice to be hateful and the father and family and friends really do not have a choice to walk away from the funeral of a loved one. Having said that, it doesn’t matter in the bigger picture which is to protect your right to protest. The word “fag” is as offensive as “nigger” and using the word “nigger” has been shamed more than using the word “fag”. It’s cultural public relations and has no business being illegal or up to the courts to decide.

  • FlameoftheWest

    Allow me a big throat clearing. I think Gay rights are human rights, in fact I think homosexuality is a beautiful expression of human love an I have had sex with a man and it was the most powerful experience of my life.

    with that said, this crazy bat shit church has a fundamental human right to express their view even it is digusting. I applaud the US Surpreme Court’s decision on this case.

  • mister larry

    black queers and lesbians (like straight black people) don’t support gay rights because they can claim racial discrimination if someone harasses them and they feel rejected by white queers and white lesbians and are bitter about it, so they do not support gay rights.

    hip hop, ghetto and gangsta culture put the brakes on gay rights since the 1990s not the wacko religious right.

    white people who love gangsta trash culture are some of the biggest queer-haters out there along with blacks and halfricans. do you really think these druggie trash, gay=bashing wiggers are part of some religious right?

  • Sage Cat

    @mister larry:
    Are you Black? NO? Stop saying that Black people want- please!
    Clearly you have not met many Black people.

    If you’re from the South (I am) you’d know that many many Blacks do not support gay rights due to RELIGION. They often support their gay relatives, but morally disagree with their choices regarding sexuality. Non-religious Blacks and moderates are usually apathetic or supportive of gay rights. Blacks are not anti-gay rights out of mere jealousy!

    Gangsta culture is blatantly homophobic, but not all Blacks are involved in this culture. “Wiggers” and what you call “druggie trash”; poor white people, are also predominantly religious and narrow-minded. Do not deny that religion has had a crippling effect on the gay Black community. Many churches teach that homosexuality is an abomination and parents are quick to express homophobic views, whilst sharing them with their children.

    Stop talking about black queers and lesbians, you don’t know us at all! Don’t claim to know what Black straight people want either; because you’re either a clueless Black male or an idiot.

  • Jeffree

    Anyone know if the SC decision has affects on rules on how far protesters need to be from funerals, etc.? I believe some jurisdictions have passed those limits.

  • Oprah

    Queerty— when does OLD NEWS– remain OLD NEWS?? The verdict has been passed,First amendment stands and prevails—move on. Or wait– you want ‘special treatment’ is it? Do you want the supreme court to massage your rectum and recite a sweet Sonnet? Ok– fine here it is:

    HE walks in beauty, like the night
    Of cloudless climes and starry skies
    And all that’s best of dark and bright
    Meets in his aspect and his eyes;
    Thus mellow’d to that tender light
    Which Heaven to gaudy day denies

    One shade the more, one ray the less,
    Had half impair’d the nameless grace
    Which waves in every raven tress
    Or softly lightens o’er his face,
    Where thoughts serenely sweet express
    How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

    And on that cheek and o’er that brow
    So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
    The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
    But tell of days in goodness spent,—
    A mind at peace with all below,
    A heart whose love is innocent.

    Ok then–are we happy now Queerty? Great. Now get to work–go dig us some dirt– find us –which gay top man is fcuking Glen Beck. Much appreciated. :)

  • Schteve

    @Jim Hlavac: How is calling for a genocide not free speech?

    @Jeffree: No, the best thing to do is to not give them media coverage. That’s exactly what their goal with these protests is. Counter-protesting them is just going to make the media want to cover the story even more.

    @Jeffree: No laws are affected by this.

  • Lee

    @Sage Cat, bravo.

  • Chris

    @Jim Hlavac: Thank you!

  • Chris

    @Sage Cat: After coming home from a your in Iraq I was shot on two separate occasions and nearly stabbed four times in my home city of Detroit, for wearing my pride bracelet. That was near the better parts of Detroit by Curtis and seven mile. Being a Detroit Native I can tell you right now, outside of the civil rights fighters for african americans back from the 40-60, most African Americans are not gay friendly in the least. The church and its leadership are mainly to blame for these attitudes. Let us just say that with the church, gay people done exist, just demonic temptation.

    There is still so much work that must be done, and it is very depressing that those who were once oppressed themselves have become the new oppressors.

  • EuroRant

    This was simple American Issues 101 – anyone that thinks for a second this was anything else was wanting a special ruling to help protect your very sensitive ears or eyes from that terrible word “FAG” and god-forbid ever being displayed in public again. Perhaps we can get Judge Roberts to come massage your prostate to show you that he really does love you.

    America and the gay community won big today and for some asinine reason there’s a significant number here taking a stand against this simple First Amendment (8 to 1) slam-dunk ruling. As a gay man I celebrate this ruling as further protecting and strengthen­ing my First Amendment rights. I may not agree with what you have to say about me but I will fight with every ounce of my being to protect your right to do so.

    I can only imagine all the bitching and renting of frocks if the high court had ruled in the opposite direction? … then later what would stop the courts from going further with the law and stopping anyone from displaying or wearing apparel with a political messages … anywhere. Once that fucking genie would be out of the bottle it would become impossible to stop it.

    The pendulum swings both ways with this ruling. It protected and strengthen­­ed my right to do the opposite and to say, display and wear what I want, where I want and when I want.

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