pawatercooler.com

Court Was Right To Allow Westboro Funeral Protests

Frivolous lawsuits, such as those that make healthcare costs skyrocket, put manufacturers out of business, and dissolve personal responsibility, not only threaten our liberty, but often erode America’s unique foundation — freedom of speech.

A case still garnering headlines is that of Albert Snyder, the father of a Marine killed in Iraq. Snyder brought suit against the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church in 2006 after some church members staged a demonstration at the funeral of his son, Matthew.

He sued because the demonstrators inflicted emotional distress on the family, invaded their privacy, attacked Matthew’s memory, and stripped him of his dignity. It was also claimed the protesters prevented family members from reaching closure.

The suit proceeded even though the protesters had followed the appropriate laws, checked in with police, and were 1,000 feet from the church.  And Mr. Snyder admitted he couldn’t see the signs, only learning of the protesters’ message upon watching the news.

Yet in 2007, a federal jury awarded Snyder $11 million in damages. A Court of Appeals later overturned that decision, ordering Snyder to pay $16,510 in legal fees to the Church’s leader, Fred Phelps.

That caused an outpouring of support for Snyder, including FOX commentator Bill O’Reilly, who last year offered to pay the legal fees. (The case was further appealed to the Supreme Court).

While a nice gesture, O’Reilly missed the point.

By supporting Snyder’s lawsuit, he and many conservatives who often talk about “freedom” and “liberty” are, ironically, contributing to the loss of both.

Should attacking someone’s memory really be a crime?

Make no mistake. Phelps’ preaching during these protests is twisted and vulgar.  Church members carry signs reading “Thank God for dead soldiers” and somehow think soldiers’ deaths are the result of God’s punishment for “America’s sins.”

But no matter how revolting these people are, and no matter how much salt is added to families’ wounds by hitting them at their lowest point — since parents should never have to bury a child — no court should entertain a lawsuit for hurt feelings.

Doing so is another step toward politically-correct “thought police.”

It also opens the door to free speech erosion, which, once ajar, never closes.

Obviously, there are exceptions.  You can’t falsely yell “fire” or impersonate a police officer. But those are common-sense restrictions based on public safety.

Insulting someone doesn’t come close to meeting that threshold.

Repugnant beliefs, whether exhibited by the Westboro protesters or the KKK, isn’t, and shouldn’t, be a crime.

O’Reilly was way off on that point, too, saying that the protesters committed a crime by disturbing the peace.

When a well-respected media member makes that kind of irresponsible statement, it has negative consequences.  Millions echoed O’Reilly’s belief, unaware that they too were incorrect.

First, if they had disturbed the peace, they should have been arrested. But they weren’t.

Second —and here’s where Bill should have known better — even if they had, that would have been a criminal case, not a civil one. 

Minister Phelps’ speech was clearly political.  Suing him is akin to suing a pro-lifer for showing a picture of a fetus to someone entering an abortion clinic. That person won’t be pleased, but suing the protester should never be an option.

The real issue is how such a frivolous case ever saw the light of day.  And the jury award? Eleven million dollars because a few ignorant people made you feel bad? Even for frivolous lawsuits, that takes the cake. Jackpot juries must be reined in, or the lunacy will only increase.

What’s next?

That guy who calls you an unprintable name?  Sue him!  Your boss who belittles you?  Hire an attorney! And if you’re an elected official or celebrity on the receiving end of a not-too-flattering commentary? File suit to shut down the critics!

Ironically, the freedoms that Matthew Snyder died protecting are the very ones we are nonchalantly giving away.

It’s time to wake up, America.

Europe has become a dying, cowardly continent, appeasing the very enemies that seek to destroy it by bowing to radical Muslims who want to shut down any viewpoints they deem offensive.

Is that where we are headed?  Ban this, censor that, and eliminate more freedoms?

Thankfully, the Supreme Court just ruled, 8-1, that the military protesters’ speech is not unlawful.

But many in the country still vehemently disagree, advocating more bans and increased restrictions.

Fine.  That’s their right. But they should at least be honest and stop pretending they care about “liberty.”

Censor everything, and replace the Stars and Stripes with the white flag of surrender.  Ironically, we’ll have become what these people claim to abhor: the United States of France.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com

Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”

 Freind, whose column appears regularly in Philadelphia Magazine and nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a frequent guest commentator on talk radio and state/national television, most notably on FOX Philadelphia.  He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

, , , , , , , , , ,
March 4, 2011 at 7:15 pm Comments (0)

David Dolby, local CMH recipient, Rest in Peace

David Dolby, a local man who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, has died at the age of 64.  The Mercury has the story:

David C. Dolby, a Medal of Honor recipient and a fixture at local veteran events in recent years, died Friday morning in Spirit Lake, Idaho. He was 64.

Dolby, who lived in Royersford, was in Idaho for a veterans’ gathering, according to friends.

The announcement of his death was made by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. The cause was not announced. Services are pending and burial is pla in Arlington National Cemetery is planned.

The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military award for valor. Dolby’s actions in Vietnam saving the lives of his fellow soldiers on May 21, 1966, led to the honor.

Two weeks ago, Dolby had joined those speaking about the disrepair of the Medal of Honor Grove at the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. The nonprofit foundation has suffered financial setbacks and regular maintenance of the 52-acre memorial was suspended. Various groups are coming together to repair the grove this fall.

“Dolby was concerned the grove was not being maintained in a way that would reflect the cause of freedom … the grove demonstrated,” said state Sen. Andrew E. Dinniman, D-19th of West Whiteland. “He was very proud. He took me to the Pennsylvania site to his tree.”

The grove reserves a plot for each state to commemorate its honorees with a tree and plaque. Many of the trees have died, and plaques were uprooted.

Dinniman said Dolby liked to come to the grove. “He said he could think, a place of peace for him,” the senator said

Area veterans groups made a point of seeking out and including Dolby in their meetings and events in recent years.

Veterans and friends contacted Saturday said Dolby had been devoted to his wife. They had no childrern. She died about 10 years ago. Since then, he had been living in virtual seclusion in Barto, a town north of Pottstown, until friends helped him move to an apartment in Royersford.

Dolby also had given up driving and was having difficulty getting around, his friends said. He turned up at a memorial event, and when others learned of his identity, an effort was made to include him in the community.

He became a fixture at the head table of various veterans’ dinners and memorial services. Last November, for example, he was grand marshal at West Chester Veterans Day parade, and he was grand marshal at the Memorial Day Parade this year in Doylestown.

A Norristown native, Dolby was in a platoon of the 1st Cavalry Division during an attack as six of its members were killed instantly and others were wounded. In four hours of combat, he retrieved wounded men, stopped the enemy attack, reorganized his platoon and kept them covered during a counterattack. He was credited with saving the lives of many of his fellow soldiers while leaving himself continually in an exposed position, contributing to the overall success of the Army assault.

In all, Dolby served five tours in Vietnam.

President Lyndon B. Johnson presented the medal to Dolby during a ceremony on Sept. 28, 1968.

The Medal of Honor Society said there are 87 surviving Medal of Honor recipients.

Dolby was an Oaks local and my husband, who grew up in Oaks, has vivid memories of the parade held to welcome him home. I had the distinct honor of meeting and sharing a dinner table with Mr. Dolby at a private party a few years ago. It was one of the more memorable meetings of my life.

A true hero and a fascinating individual. May he rest in peace.

UPDATE:
Don Seeley has an excellent tribute in the Mercury here.

August 9, 2010 at 7:46 am Comments (0)

66th Anniversary of D-Day

66 years ago today, Allied Forces began their assault on the Nazis on the beaches of Normandy, France. On D-Day alone, the allies suffered 10,000 casualties and over 2,000 fatalities. May their sacrifices be remembered for all time.

June 6, 2010 at 9:08 pm Comments (0)

Memorial Day

Pittsburgh radio talk show host Jim Quinn suggested the following for Memorial Day:

Look through one of your photo albums. Look at all the photos of birthdays, graduations, communions, bar mitzvahs, confirmations, weddings, anniversaries, family gatherings, going out with friends. Look at them all and remember. That is what the men and women who died fighting for us gave up. They traded their lives that we may live in freedom.

These men and women ask for only one thing in return for their service. They ask that we remember them. On Memorial Day, remember them. Honor their memories and their sacrifice. If you know someone who died fighting for us, take time tomorrow to honor him or her specifically. If you don’t know anyone personally or don’t have any family members to so honor, then adopt a veteran to honor. Go to your local memorial or choose someone from a natural memorial, such as this online memorial for the fallen of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

Remember them.

Rest in peace, Great Uncle Paul.

May 30, 2010 at 8:42 pm Comments (0)

Sestak and Veterans Groups Wrong To Criticize Specter Ad

Sestak and Veterans Groups Wrong To Criticize Specter Ad

 “We’re all here because we’re enraged at the fact that someone, anyone in the United States today, would question someone with 31 years of (military) service.”

So said a retired lieutenant general about Arlen Specter’s television ad which stated that Joe Sestak, his opponent in the U.S. Senate Democratic primary, was relieved of duty in the Navy for creating a “poor command climate.”

Other veterans have chimed in with similar criticism of Specter, labeling the Senator and his commercial as “disrespectful” and “unpatriotic,” and adding that it should be off the table to question, let alone criticize, a veteran.

And making the sin mortal, we are told, is that it’s one veteran attacking another.

That line of thinking is not only wrong, but dangerous.

Why should anyone’s record be off limits to scrutiny —veteran or not — especially when that someone is seeking to become a United States Senator?

*****

First of all, allowing anyone’s record to go unchecked is closer to having a dictatorship than a democracy. It goes without saying that our freedom to ask tough questions of our leaders — without fear of retribution — is the cornerstone of a free society.

No one should get a free pass.  No one.

If that ever changes, you might as well pack it in.

Secondly, beyond the tenuous code these veterans like to invoke, it becomes clear that they don’t understand, or don’t want to acknowledge, that two plus two always has to equal four.

Translation: they may not like their candidate being attacked, especially by a fellow vet, but the facts in Specter’s ad are just that—facts.

The issue isn’t whether the commercial is “disrespectful,” but whether it’s true.

And in this case, the facts speak for themselves.

Sestak was a three-star admiral who, in 2005, was fired from his post as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations by then-Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Mullen. (Mullen now serves as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff).

Of significant interest is that Admiral Mullen fired Sestak on the very first day Mullen started in his new post.

According to the Navy Times — a reputable source — the reason cited for Sestak’s dismissal was that he created a “poor command climate.”  The publication went on to state, “Sestak was then shuffled into lower-profile desk jobs before he retired in January 2006 as a two-star admiral.”

In fact, many press reports quote another admiral familiar with Sestak as calling his leadership style “tyrannical,” and one in which he commanded “…by intimidation and fear.”

So let’s recap:

1)    Sestak was a three star admiral.

2)    Sestak was fired from his position as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations.

3)    Sestak ended up working at lower profile jobs.

4)    Sestak retired as a two star admiral — a lesser rank than he held previously held.

It is a reasonable assumption that Mullen was so disturbed by what he saw of Sestak’s command climate that he had no problem demoting Sestak.

So when we read a veteran’s quote stating, “he wasn’t demoted,” it becomes obvious that the issue is more about politics than defending a fellow veteran’s record. 

By definition, when an admiral is relieved of command, that’s a demotion. 

And by the way, according to news reports, Sestak has never demanded….

Read the rest at Philly Post…comments are encouraged:

http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2010/05/04/sestak-and-veterans-groups-wrong-to-criticize-specter-ad/

, , , , , , , ,
May 6, 2010 at 4:08 pm Comments (0)

O’Reilly, Conservatives Wrong in Supporting Lawsuit Against Military Funeral Protestors

O’Reilly, Conservatives Wrong in Supporting Lawsuit Against Military Funeral Protestors

A frequent target of “Freindly Fire’s” wrath is frivolous lawsuits — the kinds that make healthcare costs skyrocket, put manufacturers out of business, dissolve personal responsibility, and yes, those that eat away at our most basic freedoms.

Worst of all, many of these lawsuits erode the very foundation that makes America unique — freedom of speech.

A case that has garnered national headlines recently is that of Albert Snyder of York, Pennsylvania, the father of a Marine killed in Iraq. Snyder brought suit against the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church in 2006 after some church members staged a demonstration at the funeral of his son, Matthew.

The reason for suing? The demonstrators inflicted emotional distress on the family and invaded their privacy. Additionally, the plaintiffs stated that the church members sought to attack the memory of their departed hero, to strip their loved one of dignity, and to use abuse and intimidation as a tool for preventing surviving family members from reaching closure over their loss.

In 2007, in an act of pure insanity, a federal jury awarded Snyder $11 million in damages.

(That award was overturned on appeal last year, and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.)
Recently, a Court of Appeals ordered Snyder to pay $16,510 in legal fees to the Church’s leader, Fred Phelps.

That caused an outpouring of national support for Snyder, including FOX commentator Bill O’Reilly, who offered to pay the legal fees owed to the Church.

While a nice gesture by Bill, he has, unfortunately, completely missed the point.

By supporting Snyder’s lawsuit, he and many conservatives who love to bandy around words like “freedom” and “liberty” are, ironically, contributing to the loss of both.

Are we in third grade? Should attacking someone’s memory be a crime?

What am I missing?

READ THE REST AT PHILLY POST— Philadelphia Magazine’s new online endeavour:

http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2010/04/13/bill-o%e2%80%99reilly-is-wrong-in-supporting-lawsuit-against-military-funeral-protestors/

Chris Freind is an independent columnist and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com
Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”
Freind also serves as a weekly guest commentator on the Philadelphia-area talk radio show, Political Talk (WCHE 1520), and makes numerous other television and radio appearances. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

, , , , , , , ,
April 13, 2010 at 3:13 pm Comments (5)

The “Jack Murtha” Philadelphia Navy Shipyard? Just Say NO!

The “Jack Murtha” Philadelphia Navy Shipyard? Just Say NO!

BY CHRIS FREIND
“FREINDLY FIRE”

Reports have surfaced that Pennsylvania Democrats are in favor of naming the iconic Philadelphia Navy Shipyard after the recently-deceased Congressman Jack Murtha.

I have just one question for those who favor of such a preposterous idea— such as Congressman Bob Brady—:

“Hi. I’m Earth. Have we met?”

On what planet are these people living?

Yes, naming the veritable shipyard —one that played a decisive role in the Allies’ victory in World War II — after a man who flagrantly disregarded that old document called The Constitution for his own political benefit seems like a swell idea.

*********
A Vietnam veteran, Murtha knew firsthand how difficult fighting could be on both the battlefield and homefront. One would think a war as controversial as Vietnam, in which soldiers became targets of venomous slurs and unfair accusations by the public and elected officials, would have taught Big Jack the lessons of patience, humility and honor.
One would be wrong.

Read more at The Artorius News Bureau’s FreindlyFireZone.com, and please feel free to post a comment:

http://www.freindlyfirezone.com/index.php/local-news/item/20-the-“jack-murtha”-philadelphia-navy-shipyard?-just-say-no

Chris Freind is an independent columnist and investigative reporter who operates his own new site, The Artorius News Bureau. Readers of his column “Freindly Fire” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”
Freind also serves as a weekly guest commentator on a Philadelphia-area talk radio show, WCHE, and makes numerous other television and radio appearances. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

, , , , , , , , ,
March 4, 2010 at 1:02 pm Comments (0)

Pittsburgh Disgrace

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports today that the crowd at the Veterans Day parade in downtown Pittsburgh was even smaller this year than it was last year.

It was a day to pay homage to all U.S. soldiers, and veterans like Denk, 60, of Baldwin Borough said they were honored by the ardent support at the Pittsburgh Veterans Day Parade.

But they also could not help noticing that long stretches of the parade route — from Mellon Arena, Uptown, to Boulevard of the Allies, Downtown — were barren of spectators. Organizers said about 5,000 people came out.

“I wish we could have a turnout like the Steelers,” Denk said, noting that more than 250,000 people showed up for a Super Bowl victory parade earlier this year, while an estimated 300,000 hockey fans saluted the Penguins after their Stanley Cup victory in the summer.

“But we’ll take this,” Denk said, passing a large group of students. “Look at them. Thanks for coming out!”

Children cut school (with their parents’ permission!) while adults left work early in order to attend the victory parades of our football and ice hockey teams, but these same people apparently couldn’t be bothered to do the same for our veterans.

Due to a hectic week at work I was unable to attend the parade yesterday as I usually do, but next year I’m going to request off on November 11th just so I can be in downtown Pittsburgh at the 11th hour of the day saluting our real heroes. It’s a terrible shame that all Pittsburgh could muster for these men and women who fought and bled for us was 5,000 people.

November 12, 2009 at 9:13 am Comments (0)

Every day is a bonus


Thank you to our all our veterans. Because of you, every day in freedom is a bonus for all of us.

H/T Veronique deRugy on the Corner

November 11, 2009 at 12:05 pm Comments (0)

Election Day!

I felt that today was a good day to start writing again. This is because today is the day I say I’m done helping the Republican Party. This isn’t because I’m not a Republican, but because more to the point that I have No Idea what the Republican Party stands for anymore. I’m a conservative on a ship of moderates, which if you translate that to English means that they don’t stand really for anything except the next sound bite that will move that “Party” forward toward power again. The new song today is the same song from yesterday. This is truly one of the clearest moments in all of American History to clearly delineate the differences between Socialist principles and the Conservative values the Republican Party once stood for, what Ronald Reagan once spoke about and lived and breathed everyday proving to the world, Freedom of the Individual versus the Social Justice of the Collective. The chance to succeed or fail based on our own merits and hard work Vs. being just “too big” to fail and it’s our duty to “spread the wealth around”.

Never has there been a time to make such a clear distinction between two differing mindsets….and they fail to do so. And now I know why they have failed to do so: because the “Party mentality” of the Republicans OR the Democrats is not different at all. All they care about is power, and collecting more of it in their hands and not in ours…where it belongs.

Therefore, I now believe that I have no choice but to come to the conclusion of this: There really is no difference between the “Party” mentalities any longer. The Leadership of the Republican Party is not here to espouse my principles, which they “SAY” they believe. They don’t, and now I know it, and now I’m done helping the Party. The party is dead in my heart now.

I now have decided that I will only help individuals in the future. As soon as a Leader steps up to the plate and says “Here I am, with the bumps and hard edges and flaws and foibles of a real human being, and I believe in the Conservative principles of our Founding Fathers” I will be in there corner. This is why I believe that it was a stroke of Pure Genius that Sarah Palin left the Governor’s position in Alaska and tout the Conservative values to everyone that will listen to her. This allows her to get away from what is toxic in the Republican Party, which is the Republican Party, and maybe come back as a leader to show the way back to the principles and values that this great nation, the greatest nation ever, was founded on.

I didn’t join the military, serve my country and potentially risk my life if asked, to serve a “party” or an individual…but the Constitution of the United States of America. That is the oath all service members make. We made an oath to the Constitution. And it’s about time that I uphold that oath once again.

So, I hereby resign my position as a member of the Republican Committee here in Cumberland County, PA, effective immediately. I also re-pledge my oath to the US Constitution, like I did as a member of the US military. The next real candidate that upholds and believes those conservative values and principles espoused in the Constitution steps forward, I will be standing right behind them and helping them move our country back to sanity again, but the moment they forget the principles and values is the moment I leave them in the dust. You are either for our Constitution as the Founders created and intended it, or you’re not and that will determine whether my allegiance is with you OR I’m done with you. You choose.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
November 3, 2009 at 12:50 pm Comment (1)

« Older Posts