Quantcast

«

»

Dec 30 2012

Seriously, Stop This Dumb Petition

That White House petition to have the Westboro Baptist Church declared a hate group, a designation that does not exist in the law, has now gathered about a quarter million signatures, making it the most popular petition ever done on the We the People website. And now there are two new ones:

But the quarter-million signature effort to recognize Westboro as a hate group is also getting a boost from two other petitions calling for the congregation’s tax-exempt status to be revoked. Both of those have also crossed the 25,000 signature threshold needed to prompt a response from the administration.

Just stop it. The Westboro Baptist Church is a vile, disgusting organization, but that doesn’t mean that every possible thing that could be done to them should be done. And in this case, neither of those things can be done. There is no legal “hate group” designation, nor should there be (the Southern Poverty Law Center has a list of hate groups, but that is their own categorization as a private group, and of course Westboro is on that list — and should be).

Nor can their tax exempt status be taken away because they advocate repulsive things. They have non-profit status on exactly the same grounds that every other church has that status, and they actually are less likely to violate IRS rules in this regard than a lot of other conservative churches. I know of no instance where they have engaged in anything like electioneering, as opposed to hundreds of other churches that have deliberately violated IRS rules to do so over the last few years.

The White House petition website has been mostly useless even when the petitions are for legitimate things that need to be done, but it’s even more useless when people demand things that the government couldn’t do even if it wanted to.

And while we’re at it, how about putting an end to that idiotic petition to deport Piers Morgan. I’d be more than happy to see that vapid twit gone from the planet, but it would be monumentally stupid to deport him because a few wingnuts don’t like what he said about gun control.

20 comments

1 ping

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Johnny Vector

    Well I for one strongly support revoking WBC’s tax-exempt status. Wait, what’s that you say?

    They have non-profit status on exactly the same grounds that every other church has that status

    Bingo! So the solution is….?

  2. 2
    Crudely Wrott

    There are two good ways to deal with Westboro.
    The first is to surround them by a cordon of people who stand with their backs to them and say nothing.
    The second is to surround them by a cordon of people who point and laugh.
    The third is to arm children with spoiled produce and tell them to hit the signs.
    Err . . . there are three good ways to deal with Westboro . . .

  3. 3
    Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    . . . [the White House petition website is] even more useless when people demand things that the government couldn’t do even if it wanted to.

    I disagree. Petitions asking for the government to exert its power beyond the powers authorized presents an opportunity for the White House to give a lesson in civics. Especially since we suffer from a populace mostly ignorant regarding even the basics of civics.

  4. 4
    Crudely Wrott

    Michael, again you hit a nail squarely on its head.
    There are limits to what the government can do and those limits were created specifically to prevent the chaos of popular opinion from creating deep divisions between partisans and to at least attempt to keep the union on an even keel. A thankless task, it appears, but so very necessary.
    Your comments are always informative. Thank you and a very happy new year to you.

  5. 5
    Daniel 78

    How can people still not understand that The Westboro Baptist Church want people to react like this?

  6. 6
    dingojack

    Let me see Ed you want to stop the people petitioning the government with their grievances? What’s next preventing peaceable assembly or the right to free speech? :)
    Dingo
    ——-
    Note the White House has to ‘respond’ – not actually do anything. They have that nice Mr Carney say some anodyne pablum at a press conference, and everyone is happy.

  7. 7
    davidworthington

    I agree on the lunacy of the petitions, although a petition to enforce the no electioneering clause might get my support. As for WBC, try these for a couple of smiles: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/the-3o-best-anti-westboro-baptist-church-protest-s

    Dave

  8. 8
    Gretchen

    Michael said:

    Petitions asking for the government to exert its power beyond the powers authorized presents an opportunity for the White House to give a lesson in civics.

    As was Terry Jones burning the Qu’ran.
    As was that Muhammad movie.

    Does the White House take the opportunity to present this very important lessons, on these occasions?

    Nope.

  9. 9
    Michael Heath

    Gretchen writes:

    As was Terry Jones burning the Qu’ran.
    As was that Muhammad movie.

    Does the White House take the opportunity to present this very important lessons, on these occasions?

    Nope.

    I’m not responding here to your conclusion, “Nope.”

    The fundamental difference in this opportunity vs. your examples is the White House’s own rules, which requires them to directly respond in writing to petitions with a minimum number of signatories.

    Now we have some seen some lame-ass responses by the White House on some petitions, such as the one about legalizing marijuana. But the existence of some defective outcomes doesn’t suggest this new process is fatally defective. Nor does the existence of prior defective responses eradicate the opportunity I assert exists here, it only reduces our confidence we’ll get an optimal response. Where I never weighed-in on my confidence, only noting the opportunity exists and therefore I continue to promote more speech vs. Ed’s, ‘no more speech’.

    In fact I also am happy to see such sentiments expressed in these petitions, not just that some demand a response. So I celebrate more speech on both sides. Not because I’m glad such ignorant sentiments exist; but instead because these petitions reveal the thoughts of a large number of people. So that increased understanding of the public’s misperceptions presents an increase in opportunities for a response that attempts to clarify our very polluted public waters with one additional venue for people to consider – here that would be the White House’s response to certain petitions.

  10. 10
    regexp

    There are two good ways to deal with Westboro.
    The first is to surround them by a cordon of people who stand with their backs to them and say nothing.
    The second is to surround them by a cordon of people who point and laugh.
    The third is to arm children with spoiled produce and tell them to hit the signs.
    Err . . . there are three good ways to deal with Westboro . .

    Why do you feel this need to bother with them at all? The right thing to do? Donate the time you would spend on this organization to a gay rights group. And simply ignore them. Don’t respond to newspaper articles, don’t blog about them, don’t tweet. Go about your day and pretend they simply don’t exist. They aren’t worth it and all you are doing is given them the publicity they crave.

    And lets all stop pretending these idiotic petitions are worth doing. The administration ignores them. As they should since they are set up to fail from the beginning.

  11. 11
    Artor

    Regxp has hit it on the head. The best thing that could happen to the WBC is for them to fade into hateful obscurity. I’d be happy to never hear of them again, except for a Fred or Shirley Phelps obituary as a footnote somewhere. They are trolls of the worse sort, feeding off negative attention. Give them nothing, and they can starve outside of the media spotlight.

  12. 12
    Sastra

    regexp #10 wrote:

    And simply ignore them. Don’t respond to newspaper articles, don’t blog about them, don’t tweet. Go about your day and pretend they simply don’t exist.

    There is one good reason to refer to them, I think: they make an excellent rebuttal to the common claim that the Christian religion today always improves people’s morals. Not necessarily. Ahem. Point.

  13. 13
    soul_biscuit

    The third is to arm children with spoiled produce and tell them to hit the signs.

    This, of course, would be battery, which is exactly what the Phelps clan wants. They love being in court, whichever side of the lawsuit they’re on.

  14. 14
    billgascoyne

    …things that the government couldn’t do even if it wanted to.

    You mean “things that the government couldn’t legally do even if it wanted to.” I’m afraid our government has, of late, resorted to doing what it wants and attempting to justify its actions after the fact. Didn’t Richard Nixon say something like, “If the president does it, it’s not illegal”?

  15. 15
    Leo T.

    I will confess to having signed this Piers Morgan petition, albeit largely because I found it amusing:

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/keep-piers-morgan-usa/cbpHr9R2

  16. 16
    suttkus

    Someone start a to have the WBC legally declared poopyheads.

  17. 17
    Who Knows?

    I’m with Michael Heath @ 9 on this. These petitions are an opportunity for learning how people think about some subjects and an opportunity for the White House to identify good ideas, bad ideas, and why some things can, and some things cannot be done.

  18. 18
    sezme

    Michael (#9)
    Where can the written responses be found?

  19. 19
    cry4turtles

    I’ve signed a few petitions and was quite surprised to hear that action was taken; however, most that I’ve signed were not to the White House. I think petitions are a good idea. Some of them are lame but oh well.

  20. 20
    Michael Heath

    sezme writes:

    Where can the written responses be found?

    I suggest googling that. I’ve received emails from the White House on all the petitions I signed. I assume there are multiple methods to find responses, perhaps even subscribing to a petition which someone wants to track without signing the petition.

  1. 21
    Wednesday Link List « Thinking Out Loud

    [...] detail on the Westboro petition(s) at the blog Dispatches from the Culture Wars; along with our get well wishes to blog proprietor Ed Brayton, recovering from open heart [...]

Leave a Reply

Switch to our mobile site