If you’re not familiar with the Westboro Baptist Church, allow me to fill you in on people who might well be on the bottom rung of the human ladder.
The church consists of Pastor Fred Phelps and his extended family. There can’t be more than 25 members in total. They are violently anti-homosexual. Phelps teaches that American deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are God’s punishment for America’s tolerance of homosexuality.
This upstanding Christian group pickets the funerals of American servicemen carrying signs that say things like “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “Kill all Fags.”
In 2006 they picketed the funeral of a Marine killed in Iraq. The father of the Marine sued them for emotional distress and won a $5 million judgment. Unfortunately the verdict was overturned on appeal when the district court decided that, no matter how despicable or contrary to good taste their protests might be, they were still protected speech under the 1st Amendment.
To add insult to injury, the court also ordered the Marine’s father to pay for the church’s $16,000 in legal fees. He’s refused to do so until the Supreme Court reviews the case which it has said it would do in the fall.
There are so many things wrong with this situation I’m not really sure where to begin.
Granted, one must be willing to defend the right of people to express opinions that you do not agree with. Phelps can cry and scream about homosexuality all he wants. As much as I believe what he’s saying is wrong I recognize his right to say it.
What I challenge is WHERE he is saying it. Free Speech is not unrestricted. I’ll even concede his “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” atrocity might be protected speech but not within the vicinity of a young soldier’s funeral where his grieving family has to deal with it.
Protest all you want but not within the line of sight or hearing of a soldier’s funeral. Therefore I believe the appellate court was wrong and the Supreme Court should reverse. I contend that this is a matter of restricting content and not restricting viewpoint.
No political protest, whether it be Anti-War, Tea Party or Phelps’s lunacy should be allowed with sight or hearing of a funeral, any funeral. Would that one satisfy you?
A press release from the church states “Military funerals have become pagan orgies of idolatrous blasphemy, where they pray to the dunghill gods of Sodom and play taps to a fallen fool.”
At the bottom of the press release it says “Thank God for IEDs.”
In my youth we could have solved the problem of the Westboro Baptist Church with fifteen minutes of reasoning with them behind the gym. Now we’ve become too effeminate to tolerate beating the living daylights out of someone who desperately needs it beaten out of them.
Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church are another good reason for rejecting Christianity. Any philosophy that can give rise to this sort of crap has to be a lie. What ever happened to "hate the sin but love the sinner?"