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SisiL78

Petition to make Westboro Baptist Church a Hate group

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debrand

What does it mean to have something declared a hate group? Is it illegal for the group to hold meetings?

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SisiL78
What does it mean to have something declared a hate group? Is it illegal for the group to hold meetings?

sadly, no in the US it won't make them illegal to exist or congregate. But, they lose certain rights.

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Dysfundamental

There's no such thing as a US government classification of "hate group", and if there were (which there isn't) they wouldn't "lose certain rights".

The FBI tracks certain groups as part of its Domestic Terrorism Watch program, and they refer to some of these groups as "hate groups" in public communications, but there isn't an official "hate group" classification by any government organization.

The Southern Poverty Law Center lists and tracks hate groups---they were the ones who popularized the phrase.

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patsymae

This "church" is only one family (after all these years they don't seem to have attracted any adherents--go figure) and as far as I know they neither commit nor advocate violence against individuals or groups.

With the exception of bearing arms, which I'm not going to touch here, free speech is pretty much the only civil liberty that we have left, and a cornerstone of that is the right to say things that other people find disgusting. This is one area in which the "slippery slope" argument holds true--if the government decides that those douchebags can't have free speech, then it can also decide that you and I are douchebags who aren't entitled to free speech. It has to apply to everyone.

I for one don't want to see the government interfering with anyone's free speech rights--not that of museums who show Robert Maplethorpe photos, or theaters who show sexually or politically provocative performances, or ... yes, Hustler Magazine and Westboro slime. Free speech only for those who don't offend anyone is worthless.

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Dysfundamental

Fortunately, there is no mechanism by which the US government can preemptively limit the speech or activities of any group. The FBI is almost certainly tracking Westboro, but they don't choose which groups to track based on petitions, and there's no list formally designated as official "hate groups" or process to create such a list (the FBI's list of the groups they track is kept private, for obvious reasons).

This petition is as useless as a letter to Santa, though I suppose it has at least some benefit in being negative PR for Westboro. But if people want to do something to combat hate groups, may I suggest donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center?

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patsymae

"But if people want to do something to combat hate groups, may I suggest donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center?"

Thanks for a great reminder. I don't have much money but I'm making out a (very) small check now. SPLC does great work.

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