It's graduation time and there are a lot of happy high school students ready to move out into the world. Many of them will go on to live reasonably good lives. Some of them will face real harshness and the ugly side of life. According to this article, that ugliness will visit some of them sooner than later.
The place is City High in Iowa City, Iowa. There is a student there who is receiving a Mathew Shepard Scholarship. This scholarship goes to homosexual students and was created to honor the memory of the fellow who was beaten to death a few years ago for being gay. That's not the issue.
Fred Phelps is a religious nut from Kansas. He and his followers have a history of traveling and protesting homosexual activities. This time they have set their sites on the graduation ceremonies at City High. He's protesting a high school graduation because one of the students is a homosexual. He's disrupting a high school graduation.
Could this individual and his followers get any more retarded?
To mix Pop Rocks with the soda, the Iowa International Socialist Organization is planning to counter protest at the same event. They claim they are trying to teach Phelps that he is wrong. All they are really teaching him is that others can be just as stupid.
Fortunately, the administration is handling things reasonably well. They are trying to prepare the students for the chaos. The message: ignore the protesters the best you can and don't get involved with them. Good advice. Sure, some of the young adults graduating may feel uneasy because of the protests but they'll pull through if they hold fast to their Iowan heritage.
I'm not a big fan of Iowa City. As cities go, it is one of the most socialist places in Iowa. The hippies got in there a long time ago due to the presence of the University of Iowa. My experience leads me to believe persons graduating from Iowa City schools are easy targets for attacks on their sense of security. Still, I don't like it when morons come to my state and disrupt things, especially something as sacred as education.
As for homosexuals, it's none of my damned business what they do. As long as they aren't bothering me directly, I won't bother them, not for being homosexual anyway. I don't think it's any of Phelps' business what they do either. I really don't think the awarding of a homosexuality-based scholarship is justification for disrupting a high school graduation.
If left unchecked, it's just a matter of time before people like Mr. Phelps are trying to fly airplanes into tall buildings to show us infidels who God favors. He's is a person with a mental illness. I'm not suggesting that all religious people are severely mentally ill, but I think it's obvious that this man is a nut-job. (By calling him a nut-job, he probably thinks I said something homosexual about him.)
We are guaranteed the rights to free speech and to peaceably assemble by the Bill of Rights. We have also seen where there are limits to these rights when enough harm justifies the limits. For example, you can't yell "fire" in a crowded building unless there really is a fire. You can't claim to have a bomb in the airport without being prosecuted. Likewise, you can't peaceably assemble in the middle of the interstate highway or on a military base.
Mr. Phelps' protest at the graduation is moving mighty close to such a situation. I'm not saying he has to be stopped completely (even though I wouldn't mind his being hit with a large, solid object). He could be given a suitably public place to hold his protest without being disruptive to the actual graduates. We have laws against harassment and disturbing the peace. Such laws should be adequate to move him along where he can have his say without destroying the sanctity of the educational institution.
So, Mr. Phelps, make sure you behave in a civil fashion or you'll be carted off like the primitive animal you are.