News The Case Against Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church
posted by October 26 at 9:05 AMon
For years, the calculatedly offensive Westboro Baptist Church has horrified humanity by picketing the funerals of dead homosexuals. (You may remember their breakout performance outside the funeral of Matthew Shepard, hoisting signs reading “FAG MATT BURNS IN HELL.”)
More recently, WBC has busied itself picketing funerals of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, claiming such casualties as God’s punishment of the United States’ acceptance of homosexuality.
But this week, the Westboro Baptist Church is in court, fighting a lawsuit brought by the father of a Marine slain in Iraq, who claims the WBC’s hateful protest at his son’s funeral—featuring placards reading “Thank God for Dead Soliders”—amounts to invasion of privacy with intent to inflict emotional distress.
From the Associated Press:
[Judge] Richard Bennett instructed jurors at the start of testimony Tuesday that the First Amendment protection of free speech has limits, including vulgar, offensive and shocking statements. Bennett said the jurors must decide “whether the defendant’s actions would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, whether they were extreme and outrageous, and whether these actions were so offensive and shocking as to not be entitled to First Amendment protection.”
Church members said they are motivated by the fear of God and their need to warn America about its moral decay, rather than a desire to hurt anyone.
Grieving father Albert Snyder is seeking unspecified monetary damages for the alleged invasion of privacy and emotional distress. Full story here. (Make sure to read to the end, where key Westboro psycho Fred Phelps claims his use of the word “fag” comes directly from Scripture.)