Home > Features > Fred Phelps, Asshole-ism and Free Speech • Bookmark   • Newsletters   • Register Search Options


Fred Phelps, Asshole-ism and Free Speech

Fred Phelps, Asshole-ism and Free Speech

November 27, 2007
Text size: 
Get XBIZ News
XBIZ Research
Will virtual reality boost the paysite market?
Yes, it will soon
Yes, but in a few years
Out of 179 votes. Results based on votes submitted by members of XBIZ.net social network.
In late October, a jury in Baltimore awarded the family of a deceased U.S. soldier close to $11 million dollars in their lawsuit against Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps and two of his daughters.

For those not familiar with the name, Phelps and his unhinged parishioners are the people who show up at funerals of American soldiers with signs reading “God Hates Fags,” “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “America is Doomed” and other lovely, uplifting messages along those lines.

Put simply, Fred Phelps is — as Vice President Dick Cheney might put it — a “Major League Asshole.”

We often hear that adult entertainment is the vanguard of free speech – and that’s true enough, I suppose. Phelps and his ilk, though, push the free speech envelope further than does the adult industry, because unlike us, Phelps does not simply put his ideas out there for willing readers/listeners/viewers to encounter if they so desire. Phelps take his offensive, hateful, ignorant, maddening expression right to the people who are most likely to be offended by it — and to those who are likely to be most offended.

That said.… I believe the standard under which the claims of the lawsuit against Phelps went forward is unconstitutional.

I’m not qualified to perform the legal analysis myself, so I encourage you to check out the blog postings of UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh for a cogent and expertly-delivered argument as to why Phelps’ expression is protected by the 1st Amendment.

The legal question aside, I think there is a social imperative for us to put up with schmucks like Phelps, for reasons that have nothing to do with legal precedent. Phelps’ expression must be tolerated because above any other type of free market, what this world needs is a free marketplace of ideas – good, bad and/or ugly. We don’t need to be protected from stupid ideas, we need to confront them with smarter, better ideas.

When an idiot like Phelps spews his garbage, the best remedy is not to punish him under the law — it is to oppose him, verbally, blow for blow.

Instead of slapping him with lawsuits and dignifying his vitriolic nonsense with the attention of the Court, we should ignore Phelps to the extent possible, and otherwise offer him nothing but vicious mockery and unmitigated scorn.

As Phelps himself noted after the jury returned its verdict, this case will “elevate me to something important.” Clearly, the last thing we need is for jerks like Phelps to get the idea that they are important, or that anybody outside of their kooky clique values what they have to say.

I propose that going forward the media only refer to Phelps as “that Major League Asshole from Maryland,” and deny him talk-radio time, TV news spots, and newspaper column inches, other than the occasional symbolic poking of a stick into the collective eye of the WBC.

In the end, even this minimal amount of attention is more than he deserves, but at least it will keep him out of the Court’s hair – and out of the headlines he so clearly craves.


Paysite Meetup: Catching Lightning in a Bottle

We just completed the first XBIZ.net Paysite Meetup in Prague. We caught lightning in a bottle. I first heard that expression from a friend who works in TV. He started in TV in the 1960s selling advertising,... More »

Why a Traffic Network Killed a Popular Offering

Change begets change. Nothing propagates so fast. If a man habituated to a narrow circle of cares and pleasures, out of which he seldom travels, step beyond it, though for never so brief a space, his departure... More »

Luring Cam Users With the Right Ad Format

The live cam marketplace is highly competitive filled with big-, medium- and small-sized players. So how do you stand out from the crowd to attract new users or persuade users to come back and spend their... More »
Stay informed of the latest industry developments. Get XBIZ newsletters delivered to your inbox. Subscribe today!
Enter email address:

* To manage existing subscriptions click here.

Submit your press release to
multiple news outlets with 1 click.
Subscribe to RSS news feeds or
add free content to your website.
Access XBIZ news and articles
with your mobile device.
Subscribe to XBIZ Premiere magazine, the industry's leading adult retail trade publications, delivering the most timely and comprehensive business news and information to producers and retailers of adult products.


Latin America Adult Business Expo

Jul 10 - Jul 12
Cartagena, Colombia

ANME Founders Show

Jul 16 - Jul 18
Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport


Aug 03 - Aug 06
Montreal, Quebec

XBIZ Berlin 2017

Sep 11 - Sep 14
Berlin, Germany
Everyday thousands of business professionals browse XBIZ's industry directory for quality products and services. Not listed yet? Your company could be losing potential new business. Submit your company today!
Use XBIZ RSS feeds to stay informed of the latest industry developments or as a content syndication tool for your website!