Thursday, April 17, 2014


Start of WBC protest 12:15 p.m. just after I was thrown off the median strip

While I completely understand the heavy-handed approach UMPD took with "protecting" the Westboro Baptist Church trolls yesterday, it was still a clear  infringement on the "freedom of the press" to report a newsworthy item (slow news day or not).

Amherst College can do whatever it damn well pleases with visitors, including the press, because it's private property.   The University of Massachusetts is a publicly funded institution which should value above all else, academic freedom -- which goes hand in hand with the First Amendment and freedom of the press.


The crowd that had gathered on the other side of Massachusetts Avenue outnumbers the WBC protesters 30-1, but other than being vocal did not represent any sort of threat.  And there were at least a dozen uniformed officers present to keep things from getting physical.

So why prevent reporters and photographers from crossing the street to interview the "church" members?  

The WBC performers wrap themselves in the freedoms represented by the American flag, perhaps why they use Old Glory prominently as a prop.  I find it disconcerting my rights guaranteed by that flag were infringed upon in order to overly protect these outliers. 

Of course I couldn't help but notice as they packed up to leave a few minutes before 1:00 p.m. they allowed the stars and stripes to touch the ground.

Red, White and Blue on green grass

Considering the disrespect shown by their signage, not overly surprising. 


Dr. Ed said...

Larry, when I was a journalist -- for am actual newspaper -- I was treated a hell of a lot worse than this!!!!

I damn near wound up dead!

There are warning signs of a heart attack, real red flag warnings (e.g. loss of the ability to distinguish colors) which I ignored because it was the lesser of two threats -- I considered the police the more lethal one.

And as I understand it, during the 2004 Red Sox riots, Collegian reporters -- known to the police as such, were shot in the head with pepperballs -- which, you may remember, is what killed Victoria Snellgrove. The editor protested this to the university administration which nonchalantly ignored his concerns.

The UMPD merely enforces administrative fiats and my guess is that Whitmore had decided that the WBC would not be given grounds for a lawsuit. As Larry Kelly isn't likely to sue them, it really doesn't matter if they respect his Constitutional rights -- welcome to UMass...

Larry, be glad that you didn't wind up in the hospital like I did. And do you now understand why I am not always so supportive of the local constabulary?

Anonymous said...

Ever have a conversation with a person who quickly turns every topic into something that's about him?

Walter Graff said...

No, not un-American, simply un-interesting. It's a non-story. A few people held up signs and protested. Others protested the protesters. Everyone went home and had dinner. What was there to talk to them about? That that they hate? WE know that. Glad to see this was a no-story because that is what it deserves to be.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Ed, this is all about you.

Anonymous said...

Very discerning you were not allowed to talk to the WBC

Sasha said...

Uh... because the WBC are a bunch of clowns and by giving them media attention you are giving them power. Though these were probably not the considerations the police officers had in mind in this situation.

Anonymous said...

Florida court rules that bloggers are media

Anonymous said...

Dude, was there only 5 of them?

It looks like they would become irrelevant extremely quickly if no one protested them (or bothered to show up). They would looked like a bunch of crazies being attention whores. And they would have come all this way for naught...

Anonymous said...

Ed, in the name of free speech, and basic civility, please allow others to express their positions on the otherwise fascinating and controversial issues of the Pioneer Valley and the world. The length and frequency of your long winded posts is likely keeping others away. The posts resemble filibusters... Thank you.

Only free to hand them your $$$ said...





Fck Umass

and its Ponziville cosca.


Anonymous said...

Walter we all know YOU are a hater, we've seen ALL of your comments over the last few years, too late to retract them.

Anonymous said...

You missed the flag being used as a handkerchief?

(video from one of the stations in attendance)

Anonymous said...

ETA The flag as handkerchief scene is in the second video on this page:

Anonymous said...


Ah,but do you not hate the homeless and poor with a vengence,
Sir? Westboro is the same only they hate Gays.

Walter Graff said...

From Chapter 1 of Title 4 of the United States Code (4 U.S.C. § 1 et seq).

Of course none of this really matters since the Supreme court decided that freedom of speech and the flag trump anything so you could not be punished for anything below.

The flag should not be used as "wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery", or for covering a speaker's desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general (exception for coffins).

The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, firefighters, police officers, and members of patriotic organizations.

The flag should never touch anything beneath it. Contrary to an urban legend, the flag code does not state that a flag that touches the ground should be burned. Instead, it is considered disrespectful to the flag and the flag in question should be moved in such a manner so it is not touching the ground.

Dr. Ed said...

The posts resemble filibusters...

Exactly what am I precluding you from voting on?

Larry, isn't it amazing how people advocate censorship in the name of "free speech"? Are they really insecure enough to believe that "free speech" must be limited to that speech with which they agree?

Do they not understand what John Milton meant by what he wrote in Areopagitica:

“Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?”

Dr. Ed said...

Uh... because the WBC are a bunch of clowns and by giving them media attention you are giving them power

The kind of power Senator McCarthy acquired after one of his "witch-hunt" proceedings was televised and the entire nation got to see "Tail Gunner Joe" in action?

The media gave McCarthy an opportunity to show himself to the country -- and the country saw him as the clown he was. Truth is stronger than falsehood and when the people saw McCarthy as the drunken bully that he was, notwithstanding their fear of Communism, they empowered people like Senator Margaret Chase Smith to put an end to these "witch-hunts."

Sasha -- what if the national media hadn't given Senator McCarthy the attention it did? What if that stuff had continued for an other 5-10-15 years??? Truth is stronger than falsehood -- "Tail Gunner Joe" went down in flames...

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ed, Victoria Snelgrove was NOT killed by a pepper ball. She was struck by a pepper "grenade" fired by an FN 303 launcher, of which UMPD does NOT use.

You're wrong again.

Anonymous said...

Brevity is the soul of wit.

No one told Ed.

Dr. Ed said...

Dr. Ed, Victoria Snelgrove was NOT killed by a pepper ball. She was struck by a pepper "grenade" fired by an FN 303 launcher, of which UMPD does NOT use

Distinction without a difference as far as I am concerned. Can we explain why helmets and goggles are required in all other uses of this weapon (i.e. "paintball")? Could it have something to do with the fact that this is considered a potentially lethal weapon, and I believe advertised by the manufacturer as being "less lethal."

Furthermore, deliberately targeting reporters is frowned on even in wartime. Just saying...