Archive for picketing servicemen’s funerals

When Hatred Mocks Piety and Democracy

Posted in agnoticism, Atheist, belief, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, Government, history, humanism, humanity, politics, random, religion, Social, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on March 4, 2011 by chouck017894

…with the U.S. Supreme Court’s blessing.

On the third of March 2006 a 20-year-old Marine Lance Corporal, recently deployed to Iraq, was killed when the Humvee he was traveling in overturned.  This dedicated young man had volunteered for service in the spirit that democracy best serves the needs of most people.  But the idealistic youth died tragically only to become another  victim of persons who, as the soldier’s funeral was being conducted, spewed out hatred and dared to blaspheme that their deplorable conduct was in honor of God!

The perpetrators of this shameful conduct are some  of the very people that Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder USMC had volunteered to protect so they could have the human rights of free speech, free assembly, and freedom of religious belief.  And how did seven intrusive religious fanatics from Westboro, Kansas show their appreciation for the servicemen who place themselves in harm’s way to protect them?  By picketing near as they could to the funeral services while shouting hatred and swinging signs that said such things as: — Thank God for dead soldiers; Pray for more dead soldiers; Destruction is imminent (implying it is for America); God’s view (with a freak-face looking through a gun-site); God blew up the soldier; God hates the US; and God hates fags; etc.

This insanity is what the notorious “reverend” Fred Waldron Phelps, who presides over a cult group of extremists who call themselves the Westboro Baptist Church, traveled 1100 miles so he could exploit his perverted theology of what is unholy.  The “reverend’s” blessed insight is that American soldiers will continue to die as long as the USA is a democracy that tolerates Jews, Catholics, and those abominable gays (Phelps prefers the term “fags”).

Albert Snyder, the bereaved father of Matthew, would later bring a lawsuit against this offensive and hateful cult on June 5th, 2006, rightfully charging the Westboro Church with defamation, invasion of privacy, and the intentional infliction of emotional damages.  No money value was actually demanded, only that Phelps should pay Snyder’s court costs and  pay some cost in punitive damages.  In 2007 a jury awarded Snyder compensatory damages, but a year later a federal judge reduced the punitive amount!  And then the fickle justice system handed out by an appeals court in bible-belt Richmond, Virginia actually ruled that Snyder was to pay Phelps’ legal costs!

Albert Snyder was determined to fight the hateful cult in memory of his son, and had his lawyers petition the U.S. Supreme Court.  Uh-oh—the very court system that happens to be overstocked with Republican backed Catholic justices, and the group that gave corporations the same equal rights of single citizens—which then ruled 8 to 1 on March 03, 2011 that it was all okay for the Baptist hate-mongers to indulge themselves in raucous demonstrations during the sorrowful time of a serviceman’s funeral! 

How did the Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Roberts, whitewash this ruling?  Roberts laid out the incontestable opinion of the court saying the court protects “…even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”  Say what?  Public debate is not a situation that decent persons indulge in where a family is laying to rest a loved one.  What justice or evenhandedness is administered in saying that “public issues” are an excuse to invade the personal sorrows of others?  What type of spirituality or ethics or morality is that?  So the 8 to 1 opinion as guided and delivered by Roberts said the “…protection (granted in the First Amendment) cannot be overcome by a jury finding that the picketing (at the funeral) of Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder of Finksburg, Md., who was killed in a non-combat vehicle accident in Iraq, March 3, 2006, Lance Cpl. Snyder’s funeral was picketed by members of the Westboro Baptist Church, which believes military deaths are the work of a wrathful god.”

And trying to sound so righteously philosophical, Roberts shoveled it on a little deeper, saying, “Speech is powerful.  It can stir people to action, move them to tears of  both joy and sorrow, and—as it did here–inflict great (unnecessary) pain.  On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.”

Thus did compassion, ethics, moral comportment and common decency get a good kick in the ass.

The Phelps clan, of  course, was overjoyed that god favored their brand of hatred.  But from their apparent volatile mental state, they probably will soon become resentful that the Catholic dominate Supreme Court was such a helpful partner in their hate ministry.