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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A unifying force

Yahoo News ran the following Time Magazine article this morning:

Phelps v. Snyder: Supreme Court Case Tackles Hate Speech
Shirley Phelps-Roper, a member of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., protests in front of the Pennsylvania Statehouse Thursday, March 2, 200  
AP – Shirley Phelps-Roper, a member of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., protests in front of the … 
After Matthew Snyder, a U.S. Marine, was killed in Anbar province in Iraq in 2006, some uninvited guests showed up at his funeral at St. John's Catholic Church in Westminster, Md. The Rev. Fred W. Phelps Sr. of the Westboro Baptist Church and several family members came from Kansas holding signs reading "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," "God Hates Fags" and "You're Going to Hell."

There is no question it was hateful stuff. Phelps' self-styled church preaches that God is punishing America because of its tolerance for homosexuality, especially in the military. The Phelps family makes its point by holding protests at military funerals. The Phelpses also posted an "epic poem" online entitled "The Burden of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder," which, among other things, says to his parents, "you raised him for the devil."

Snyder's father, Albert Snyder, sued. He said that the protests, at the funeral of his only son, made him violently ill. He prevailed on his claims of invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress and won a large damage award, but that ruling was reversed on appeal.

Next week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case [which revolve around free speech].....

Perhaps some slack should be cut for the Reverend Phelps and his followers on the grounds that they are obviously insane: If you're anti-homosexual, why protest against the armed forces, which are themselves bastions of anti-gay sentiment? And if you want to win people over to your cause, is there any possible worse way to do it than to harass the grieving relatives at the funeral of a young man who just gave his life for his (and your) country?

(Or maybe Phelps is a secret operative for the gay cause; if so, he's quite effective.)

In the meantime, let us enjoy this one brief, shining moment of national unity, as Democrats and Republicans put aside their partisan squabbling and unite in the commonality of their feelings about Phelps. 


Anonymous said...

John, I hadn't heard of these people before, but was vaguely aware of their odd hate campaign. I found this profile quite intriguing:
It suggests a sort of cult mentality.
I was also not surprised to see the first Biblical reference on their web site is to the book of Jeremiah.

John Craig said...

Guy --
Wow, that is interesting, and certainly unexpected. I wonder if Louis Theroux is related to Paul Theroux the travel writer, he looks a little like him, I would have to assume he is.

He expressed the central conundrum, which is why would otherwise normal-seeming people (what a surprise) would do such an incredibly despicable thing?

John Craig said...

PS -- Sure enough, he's the son.