Just how much free speech can we take? That is a question one has to ask himself when confronted with the words and actions of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS. I hesitate to even dignify this particular organization with the word “church,” though, because as you may be aware Phelps and Westboro, a “church” that consists mainly of his family members, have made their name notorious in the United States for their protests and protest tactics.
Perhaps best known for their “God hates fags” campaign, in which they have posted signs and billboards with demeaning messages toward homosexuals and anyone they perceive does not hate homosexuals, they have become infamous in recent years for their systematic protest of funerals for military personnel who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For example, in 2006 they protested the Westminster, MD, funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who died serving our nation in Iraq. They held up signs that read, “God Hates the USA,” “Thank God For Dead Soldiers,” and “Semper Fi Fags,” to demonstrate their belief that military deaths are God’s judgment on the country for its acceptance of homosexuality. Continue reading “Fred Phelps, funerals, and free speech”