On the Westboro Baptist Church Demonstrations

I wrote a story about the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) the other day, after they won the Supreme Court case against them for demonstrating at the funeral of a fallen soldier, praising his death.

This group apparently does this pretty often, but they seem to be against just about everything including, Jews, Blacks, America, and a long list of others. They’re classified as an extremist organization by the Anti-Defamation League.

The Topeka, Kansas, group was founded by Fred Phelps. Most of its members are part of his own family.

Their phone lines were backed up, and all of their websites were apparently down due to cyberattacks (and still are), so it was hard getting any official information from the group. I was, however, able to access their site information through a Web cache (I’ll link it, but I’m doing so cautiously.)

There, I found a statement regarding why they demonstrate at funerals which I summarized in the article:

A Web archive of their website states that their church was bombed on Aug. 20, 1995, with what they describe as an improvised explosive device (IED).They believe that because of this, IEDs are used for “blowing America’s kids to smithereens in Iraq” and “Thus, their funerals are the forum of choice for delivering WBC’s message of choice.”

On a quick note regarding cyberattacks. The WBC challenged and taunted Anonymous Operations, who launched a few cyberattacks as retaliation. I was on the Anonymous IRC chat servers recently, however, and they said the WBC is at the bottom of the list of what they want to focus on.

WBC’s protests cause some harsh feelings, to say the least, although most people seem to either counter-protest them or simply try to ignore them.

One group, called the Patriot Guard Riders (PGR), will show up at military funerals on motorcycles and rev their engines to drown out the WBC.

I got in touch with someone from the PGR, but the response was too late to add to the story. Below is a statement from them regarding the court’s decision:

“As an organization, we have to respect the decision of the courts and though our membership has diverse views on the limitation of free speech. Such limitations have been established previously to object to ‘hate speech’ that only offers protection to designated individuals or groups.

The true travesty in this is that we would ever need to consider the ‘right’ of someone to protest at the funeral of an American military member that has given their oath and life to defend these rights.

PHOTO CREDIT: (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp)