Friday, October 26, 2007

Does Free Speech Include Disrupting Funerals?

You can't make this stuff up.

While Iraqi sheiks join forces with Americans to drive terrorists from their country, a small but determined group in Kansas is celebrating the deaths of American GIs.

Here are two examples:
"Thank God for IEDs
(Improvised Explosive Devices)
God Himself Has Now Become America's Terrorist, Killing
Americans in Strange Lands for Brokeback Mountain Fag Sins.
WBC to picket funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder - at
10:15 a.m., Friday, Mar. 10, at St. John's Catholic dog
kennel, 43 Monroe St --- Westminster, Maryland. Killed by
IED - like the IED America bombed WBC with in a terroristic
effort to silence our anti-gay Gospel preaching by violence.

"Thank God for IEDs
God Himself Has Now Become America's Terrorist, Killing
and Maiming American Troops in Strange Lands for Fag Sins.
WBC to picket memorial for Staff Sgt. Donald Munn II -
at 9:15 a.m., Fri., Oct. 26 - at St. Margaret Catholic Dog
Kennel, 21201 Thirteen Mile Rd., Saint Clair Shores, MI.
'For there fell down many slain, because the war was of God.'
I Chron. 5:22. God has irreversibly cursed America.
A nominally Christian outfit, called "Westboro Baptist Church" (WBC) of Topeka Kansas," and run by someone named Fred Phelps, has been taking advantage of the American free speech, as interpreted by the courts, to preach what their leader says is so. (the Westboro Baptist Church of Westboro, Ontario, has nothing in common with the Kansas outfit, apart from the name.)

The WBC seems to think that the American military is run by and for homosexuals, and that God is punishing America for this and other violations of WBC's code of behavior. And, to deal with this perceived situation, they've been picketing the funerals of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Picketing" is something of a euphemism. Westboro Baptist Church followers have carried signs proclaiming "Semper Fi Fags" - with two stick figures that might either be engaged in sodomy, or ineffectively searching for a lost contact lens. There's a sample at one of WBC's websites, That site's content is so moonbat crazy that I suspected it might be set up to defame WBC. A quick check confirmed that the Westboro Baptist Church actually had registered the URL.

WBC has made an impact on America. After disgusting enough people by harassing mourning families, we've got several state laws and a federal law about funeral protests.

Now, a Maryland father is carrying the effort to control WBC to the grassroots level.

The father of Lance Corporal Matthew A. Snyder, Albert Snyder, may be the first individual to file a suit against WBC. And, more to the point, Fred Phelps, the pastor of the outfit. Albert Snyder's motives seem to be what he says they are: "that this suit will spark similar legal actions against Mr. Phelps wherever he seeks to inflict harm upon the memory of our heroes and their families."

Albert Snyder is hardly a hawk, trying to silence anti-war protesters. He told a newspaper: "...And I want answers. They said he was the gunnery on top of the Humvee and the Humvee rolled. When is this senseless war going to end?"

Mr. Snyder's had one setback already. The York Daily Record reports that "Judge: Church didn't defame dad / A federal judge ruled in favor of Westboro Baptist Church in one part of a lawsuit against them." He's keeping up his efforts to
  1. Discourage Mr. Phelps and he merry minnions from hounding mourners
  2. Encouraging other victims of WBC to sue the alternatively-fervent bunch to sue, too
A major problem is that, although the legal fees don't amount to much, less than $100,000 USD, that's more than pocket change for someone in Mr. Snyder's position.

Which brings me to a major reason for my posting this.

Lance Corporal Snyder's Father Needs Help

The Snyder family's lawsuit "simply alleges that one does not have the right to conspire to use lies in order to inflict intentional harm upon persons who are grieving the death of their children." Sounds reasonable to me.

Mr. Snyder has a website,, where he spells out how you can help.
One reason I like living in America is that we enjoy freedom of speech and expression. Even deplorable disgorging like WBC's funeral protests are granted a level of tolerance. I doubt that many governments would put up with Mr Phelps's remarkable views, as expressed on

I do wonder if Westboro Baptist Church would be given so much consideration, if they were not anti-war, but that's an entirely different topic.

Two more points, and I'm done.
  1. The Westboro Baptist Church does not accurately reflect Christian beliefs, any more than (I trust) outfits like Al Qaeda accurately reflect Islamic beliefs.
  2. Although I've provided links to WBC, I do not endorse their beliefs in any way. As a devout Catholic, I'm not likely to: I regularly attend one of those "Catholic dog kennels;" and the Church does not teach that sort of hatred.
Related posts, on Individuals and the War on Terror.
Related posts, on Islam, Christianity, Religion, Culture and the War on Terror.
Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.