(Having been in the same room with both of these soulless wretches and witnessed them screeching at each other, I can only begin to imagine what the reaction of either Robertson or Phelps-Roper to that assertion would be like...)
But it's true: if Johnny Robertson and his followers want to continue harassing innocent people in what should be the comforting environments of their places of worship and even in their own homes, then Robertson's "Church of Christ" cult had better make nice with the Phelps clan and like right now.
But anyway, Micah Robertson now has to appear in court later this month, and could go to jail: a possibility that he claims to have gratitude for because this somehow marks him even more as a "real Christian". Strange: I never read in the Bible where the world knows us as followers of Christ because of how much we break the law and common decency. I thought the world knows we follow Him because we demonstrate love for one another. But maybe that's just my interpretation...
Would Micah Robertson's imprisonment deter Johnny Robertson, James Oldfield and the rest of their nutty enclave from bothering innocent people? I doubt it. However, THIS might put a stop to their antics once and for all: the case of Snyder v. Phelps, which the U.S. Supreme Court is to hear arguments about this coming fall.
This is the lawsuit that Albert Snyder filed against Rev. Fred Phelps, the founder and leader of Westboro Baptist Church: the bunch of inbred hooligans that go around with "GOD HATES FAGS" signs and in the past few years have been picketing at funerals of soldiers who have died in wars overseas. Mr. Snyder's son Matthew Snyder, a United States Marine Corp corporal, was laid to rest in 2006 after being killed in Iraq. The Westboro Baptist gang came to the ceremony and began acting in their typical asshole fashion. Albert Snyder sued Fred Phelps in federal court in Maryland for "defamation, invasion of privacy (intrusion on seclusion and publicity given to private life) and intentional infliction of emotional distress".
Last month the court went against all semblance of sanity by ruling for Phelps and the Westboro Baptist members! From the UPI article...
In pretrial orders, the judge found for Phelps on the defamation and publicity given to private life claims, saying the extreme comments were meant in terms of religious opinion. The jury heard the remaining privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims and awarded Snyder $10.9 million in compensatory and punitive damages. The judge cut the award in half.Albert Snyder isn't paying a nickel. He's now taking this before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the verdict and threw out the case on First Amendment grounds. Unlike the trial court, the appellate court looked solely to the nature of the speech and not to the status of the parties as public or private figures. (A private figure has an easier time proving speech-related harm.)
The 4th circuit characterized the Phelps picketers' speech as "hyperbolic rhetoric" for the purpose of igniting public debate. The appellate court said: "A distasteful protest sign regarding hotly debated matters of public concern, such as homosexuality or religion, is not the medium through which a reasonable reader would expect a speaker to communicate objectively verifiable facts. In addition, the words on these signs were rude, figurative, and incapable of being objectively proven or disproven. Given the context and tenor of these two signs, a reasonable reader would not interpret them as asserting actual facts about either Snyder or his son."
Phelps's picket signs, therefore, were protected by the First Amendment because they were found to have been a series of generalized -- albeit obnoxious -- rantings not specifically directed at Snyder or any other particular individual, they didn't disrupt the funeral and they pertained to matters of public concern, such as controversial issues like gay rights and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So here's how I think it should play out, if there's any sense left to this world: the Supreme Court will overturn the federal court's earlier decision and rule in favor of Albert Snyder. The "free speech" argument, per the strictest interpretation of the Constitution, will be addressed as being about protection against government suppressing the right to freedom of expression. Given that no one is free to yell "fire" in a crowded theater, there is precedent for this kind of decision. At the same time the Supremes will bolster the rights to freedom of religion and religious practice: that these also are not subject to intervention by any party (per the understanding that such freedom goes as far as the rights of others to enjoy them also). As such, although the Westboro Baptist Church members will in effect be told that they can do whatever the hell they want in their own "place of worship" (which is pretty much a fortified compound in Kansas City) and traditional public venues, they have no right to inflict their "religion" on others who are seeking out of good conscience their own appeal to a higher power as best they understand it.
Yes, I do believe that would be protecting the freedoms of speech, freedom, and assembly. Regardless of how much the Westboro Baptist idiots cry foul.
But if the Supreme Court does rule in this fashion, it will also mean that Johnny Robertson's "Church of Christ" - which has in many ways been acting worse than the Westboro Baptist Church - will be even more curtailed by the Supreme Court's ruling than Fred Phelps and his own church. Robertson and his followers will have no legal pretense for their antics at all... unless Robertson wants more of his followers to be sitting in gaol.
So he really has no choice in the matter: Johnny Robertson must support Shirley Phelps-Roper and her father Fred Phelps. Either by praying for them, or by doing everything possible to lend them legal support in what is very much their mutual crusade for the rights of insane cultists across the fruited plain.
Would Robertson overcome his hatred for Shirley Phelps-Roper by coming to the aid of her family, on principle and because he himself has much to lose if Fred Phelps gets turned down by the Supreme Court? I doubt it. But this is gonna be a downright interesting and fun thing to watch from my perspective, no doubt!
In the meantime: If a couple of cult members begin to harass you at your home, use 9-1-1. And if that fails, use 9mm.