Eye of the Tiger
"Free Speech" should not protect hate filled bigotsMonday, March 14, 2011 By Zach Anderson
I’m probably the last guy that would ever write an article that concerns religion. Without boring you too much with me, I’ll just say that overall I don’t care for it. People can, for the most part, believe what they want to believe, as long as they don’t get near me with it. But this is something that so goes beyond religion that I have no problem spewing my venom toward these hate filled bigots. The Westboro Baptist Church is an extremist Baptist organization located in Topeka, Kansas who gain notoriety for picketing military funerals, among other things, profess God’s hatred of minority groups, like “Jews,” “Fags” and Obama. They especially emphasize their hatred of homosexuals. The church was started by a nutcase, excuse me, a man named Fred Phelps and the 70 or so members of the church are almost all family members or family friends of the Phelps’ family, a fact which they acknowledge. More recently, one of his 13 children, Shirley Phelps-Roper, has become the iconic public figure who supports the churches activities publicly whenever she can, having appeared on Fox News, CNN and the Tyra Banks Show, along with many other programs. These people seek out military funerals of fallen soldiers, gay or straight and protest that their deaths are God’s way of punishing America for allowing homosexuality to be “socially acceptable.” They chant and hold up signs reading such things as “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” and “Fag Enablers,” and “Thank God for 9/11,” and “America is Doomed.” They claim they are legally professing their interpretation of the Bible and that God is sending messages that these tragedies are a direct result of our tolerance for the things they preach against. They claim their right to picket is protected by their First Amendment right of free speech. The church recently sprung up in the news with the ruling of Snyder v. Phelps, a major Supreme Court case in which they were the defendant was determined. The case essentially concerned whether the free speech rights of protesters were more important than the privacy rights for grieving families or mourners attending the funeral of a loved one. Matthew Snyder was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps when he was killed in Iraq in 2006. Following the picketing of his funeral by the WBC, his father, Albert Snyder, sued the church for defamation, intrusion upon seclusion, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy and publicity given to private life. Earlier this month the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of the WBC and the Phelps’ family. Chief Justice John Roberts released the following statement supporting the decision, “ What Westboro said, in the whole context of how and where it chose to say it, is entitled to ‘special protection’ under the First Amendment and that protection cannot be overcome by a jury finding that the picketing was outrageous.” Okay I’m done being the teacher; I’m going back to opinion writer now. This is wrong, and this is sick. I consider myself a pretty strong “Constitutionalist,” but I also believe in rationality and common sense. This ruling by the Supreme Court lacks the latter two. The WBC preaches nothing but hate. They are a delusional, hate filled group, monitored by the Anti-Defamation League, who legitimately has nothing else to do than bring every person they can down in order to feel important. They do what they do for publicity. The decision made by the Supreme Court gives the image that disturbing the peace is okay, and preaching hate and causing conflict and emotional distress is acceptable. It undermines every soldier’s life that has fought to defend the very Constitution that is technically disrespecting their sacrifice. It gives off the notion that the Federal Government views tragedies like 9/11 as trivial. Ruling for Snyder would have destroyed this Church, given off a positive message and been the flat out right thing to do. To say I am disgusted is an understatement. I’m willing to bet that almost everyone agrees with me as well. I send my condolences to the Snyder family and every single person who has been unnecessarily put through distress by these idiots. I’ve personally seen them picket as a former resident of Kansas and it is as bad as it sounds. There are sick people out there that do this kind of thing. Hopefully someone will have the courage to put this to an end.