AZ Legislature Passes Emergency Bill Barring Funeral Protests

The Arizona Legislature passed an  emergency bill that would bar funeral protests.  Westboro baptist church (no caps intentional) intends to protest the funeral of 9 year old Christina Taylor Green, for whatever reason.  Governor Jan Brewer is expected to sign the bill this evening and it would go into effect immediately.  The new law would prohibit protesting at or near funerals in Arizona. 

According to Politics Daily:

On Monday, members of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church said they plan to protest outside the funeral of Christina Taylor Green, one of six people killed in the shootings that wounded another 14 people, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

Westboro Baptist, a small church in Topeka, pickets at funerals of military veterans and people who have died of AIDS because its members say their deaths are God’s punishment for America’s tolerance of homosexuality. Salon reported that a flier posted by the church on its website regarding the Tucson protest declared “God hates Catholics” — the little girl’s family is Catholic — and “God Hates Fags.” The church website also features a video with founder/pastor Fred Phelps thanking God for the deadly shootings.

Numerous states have passed laws restricting protests at funerals after members of the Westboro church began demonstrating at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Arizona legislation is modeled on an Ohio law that was upheld by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Phoenix Democrat.

“This is just horrific that … people have to deal with this. We shouldn’t have to do this in time of great pain for our state,” Sinema told the Post.

Under the bill, picketing or protesting within 300 feet of a funeral service is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail.

Shirley Phelps-Roper of the Westboro church said church members will get around the ban by protesting at intersections that are farther than 300 feet from the services.

But some in area are planning a counter-action to protect the grieving family.

Tonight I will dream of watching those people getting  hauled away and dragged across the pavement.  Sshhhhhhhhh don’t tell Ken Cuccinelli.  He wouldn’t like us inhibiting free speech, even if someone is  yelling fire in a crowded theater.

Westboro Baptist appears to be ever bit as mentally ill as the shooter.  They represent pure evil.  Perhaps finally we can all agree on what hate rhetoric really is. 

Lock and Load Rhetoric

From the Huffington Post:

Marty Kaplan

The Lock and Load Rhetoric of American Politics Isn’t Just a Metaphor

I’m not saying that putting a bullseye[sic] * on Arizona Democrat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ congressional race – as Sarah Palin did – was an explicit or intentional invitation to violence. Nor am I saying that the “Get on Target for Victory” events held by the guy Giffords beat – “Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly” – was the reason her assassin went after her. This tragedy is still unfolding, and the questions of motive and incitement will be argued about for a long time to come.

But I am saying that the “lock and load”/”take up your arms”rhetoric of American politics isn’t just an overheated metaphor. For years, the language of sports has dominated political journalism, and discourse about hardball and the horserace and the rest of the macho athletic lexicon has been a factor in the trivialization of our public sphere. This has helped dumb down democracy, making a serious national discussion about anything important too wonky for words.

The “second amendment solution,” though, does something worse than make politics a branch of entertainment. It makes it a blood sport. I know politics ain’t beanbag. But words have consequences, rhetoric shapes reality, and much as we like to believe that we are creatures of reason, there is something about our species’ limbic system and lizard brainstems that makes us susceptible to irrational fantasies.

If you’re worried that violent video games may make kids prone to bad behavior; if you think that misogynic and homophobic rap lyrics are dangerous to society; if you believe that a nipple in a Superbowl halftime show is a threat to our moral fabric – then surely you should also fear that the way public and media figures have framed political participation with shooting gallery imagery is just as potentially lethal.

I believe Marty Kaplan just said it all.   You don’t have to go to a national level to feel the sting of exactly what he was talking about.  And it doesn’t all have to do with fire arms metaphors.  The entire bullying tones of politics is felt.  Private citizens are made fun of  just for expressing their opinions.  We all know what I am talking about. 

 I don’t believe any one thing triggered Jarod to go on a rampage.  I will leave that to the experts.  He was obviously psychotic.  However, the vitriolic attacks I have heard for the past 48 hours on Sheriff Dupnik have been shocking.  I have heard major unnamed networks call for his removal and he has been castigated as though he spat on the pearly gates.  What happened to those ideas of Americana like free speech and democratically elected officers?  Dupnik lives in the region and knows a lot more about the pulse and tone of his area than any of us. 


*  the graphic on the map targetting Rep. Giffords was a rifle scope, not a bull’s eye.

Post Tucson–Where do we go from here?

Who is Jarod Loughner? That seems to be the question everyone is fighting over. What were his links to politics? Anytime a congresswoman and a judge are shot, the shooting is automatically political–whatever that means.

From all descriptions, Jarod Loughner is seriously mentally ill. Even if he is political, he seems in too much of a fugue state to even have an ideology.

 Where do we, as a nation, go from here?  This horrific situation seems so like the massacre at VA Tech in so many ways.  Specifically, a person demonstrating psychotic, erratic behavior is noticed by professors to the point they refuse to teach the students  (Dr. Gioninni at Tech and Ben McGahee at Pima Community).  The students are removed from the class.   At Pima, Jarod was suspended from college until he had a psychological evaluation declaring him not a danger to himself or others.  In both cases, we have bizarre behavior that makes students and faculty every uneasy and very afraid.

So nothing is done.  Both students meltdown and both go on a rampage, killing and wounding multiple people. 

Why must we allow those who are obviously seriously mentally ill to go untreated?  What must happen in order to put people away BEFORE they harm others?  We need to reassess how we deal with people who display extremely erratic behavior.  We cannot allow these rampages to continue. 

Saturday’s events will change how some things happen in America. We will use expressions like ‘post Tucson’ to indicate how things have changed since this tragic event.  Hopefully America will focus on providing a safety net for when people get dangerously mentally ill.  Now is not the time to make cuts in mental health care.  Our very lives depend on it.


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