first amendment

Westboro Church Once Again Free to Picket Outside Dead Missouri Soldiers’ Funerals

Fred Phelps and his sign-waving Westboro clan may return to picketing dead soldiers’ funerals and other obnoxious First Amendment activities, a federal judge ruled.

Prohibiting the Westboro Baptist Church or any group from holding up “AIDS Cures Fags” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” placards would violate their right to free speech, Judge Fernando Gaitan decided in a 19-page opinion, striking down Missouri’s state law that limits demonstrations at military funerals. (Last year, the Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction of the law while the case was heard.) If he upheld the law, Gaitan wrote it “could have the effect of criminalizing speech the mourners want to hear, including speech from counter-protesters to plaintiffs’ [the Westboro Church’s] message. As the law burdens substantially more speech than is necessary to further the government’s interest, [the law] violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment.”

The Supreme Court, meanwhile, is still set to hear in October the lawsuit filed by the father of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, whose funeral in Missouri in 2005 was picketed by Phelps & Co., which led to legislatures passing the law. And it’ll be interesting to see if the justices draw any distinction between military funerals and, say, the funerals of your average homo.

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  • Daez

    They need to go to WVA or southern Ohio and protest a funeral there. Its those good ole places where when you show up at a funeral waving signs of protest you ain’t going to be leaving in one piece if you get to leave at all.

    On the bright side, these crazy fuckers lost any and all credibility that anyone even began to contribute to them once they went on their funeral protesting kick.


    @Daez: Exactaly the places that band of inbred savage scumbags choose to infect are choosen very carefully. When faced with any degree of opposition they cry like little bitches. I was at a Gay Pride event a few years back when dozens of the Gays suddenly banded together and just chanted over and over again “FUCK YOU”. They screamed for the Police to “protect” them claiming they were being “threatened” when no one was threatening them in any way whatsoever. They gathered up the whole 8 of them ran like cowards and crawled back under the filthy vile rocks they slithered out from under……….

  • Steve

    Free speech is all nice and fine and the 1st Amendment is one of the better things about the US, but there is such a thing as taking it too far. This is just plain idiotic.

  • jeem

    Meh. This just means it’s constitutional to have a *massive* celebratory picket when Fred Phelps kicks it.

  • Steve

    Everyone has the right to free speech. What no person on this planet should have, though, is the right to utter disrespect. If he can picket funerals, I can spit on his corpse.

  • LALAcleveland

    I thank God for these people, they only help the gay rights cause. By showing how ignorant uneducated hate mongers can be, makes the more conservative think! And westboro church is the best way to do it! they not only target gays but effect straight people at solider’s funerals. The best way to bring people together is having a common enemy in a way, feel me? Let them protest on!

  • NAP79

    @ LALAcleveland – Excellent point.

    As disgusting as these idiots are, free speech is a right that no one should be denied. Just as LALAcleveland said, think of the help they are giving the gay community. Nobody looks worse than these assholes.

  • Joe

    @Steve: Actually they DO have the right to be disrespectfull. As horrid as they are, they are allowed to be as disgusting as they want. The good news is that, yes, you may do the same thing. I will be right beside you when its time to celebrate Phelps old corpse being put in a hole in the ground. I will even hock up a nice lugey to top it off ;-)

  • Molly

    The more attention we pay to them, the happier they are. I just laugh at them and the fact that they have nothing more productive to do with their lives than spew hatred.

  • x

    @jeem: We should picket his funeral.

  • Queer Supremacist

    They’re just taking the Bible literally, like any “good” Christian is supposed to.

  • axos

    This is a case where free speech has entered the zone of harassment. They should be given a restraining order and have to keep their distance. The judge is looking at it from the wrong angle.

  • David

    I tell heteros that it’s not that they don’t like Phelps’ picketing, it’s that they don’t like it when Phelps pickets them.

    Well, most of ’em, anyway.

    The first time I ran into his crew was at the Quilt display in Austin around 1990. They had their “God Hates Fags” signs in front of where some of my close friend’s quilt panels were shown. I suppose I would have been upset more than I was, but I’d already seen plenty of other BS from Fundamentalists, and this was just more of the SOS, just a different flavor.
    I took some photos, still have ’em somewhere.
    When I showed those photos with the “GOD HATES FAGS” signs to my straight coworkers, their reaction was, “Well, who cares about them; it’s small potatos; they’re only protesting against queers, so what’s the big deal?”
    Their reaction would have upset me, but I was inured to their insensitivity (bunch of GD goat-ropers 20 miles north of Dallas).

    So . . . when I hear all those Joe-Bobs and Tammy-Sues get upset at the gross insensitivity of Phelps and his clan, and when they wonder how anyone can possibly claim to be Christian yet be so vile, I think, “Sorry, but you don’t really care if they do what they do. What you care about is if they do it to you.”

    Hypocrites, all of them.

  • Enron

    Why can’t somebody just pick up an M-16 at a store and just wipe out the Westboro clan, save the little boy though, he doesn’t know any better.

    Seriously though, wiping them out will make the world a better place and people will stop being annoyed.

  • phoenix

    way to go wbc show these pagans and recliner christians whose the voice of the Lord. let the deae bury the dead

  • Brutus

    If you support GetEQUAL’s actual disruption of speeches and legislative proceedings, you must also support the right of the Westboro Baptist Church to hold these “protests” in designated protest zones out of the sight of funeral-goers (which is where they were).

  • damon459

    In Montana 45-8-116. Funeral picketing (1) A person commits the offense of funeral picketing if the person knowingly engages in picketing within 1,500 feet of any property boundary entrance to or exit from a funeral site during the period from 1 hour before the scheduled commencement of the funeral services until 1 hour after the actual completion of the funeral services. This seems very reasonable to me.

  • B

    No. 5 · Steve wrote, “Everyone has the right to free speech.”

    Correction: everyone in America and other countries with similar constitutional/legislative protections. Alas, as is typical in our American “Werbung ueber alles” culture, “the right to free speech” operationally means, “the right to make an ass of yourself,” which Fred Phelps and company do with abandon.

  • Queer Supremacist

    @David: You hit the nail on the head. As far as I’m concerned, the Phelps klan is representative of hate-terror-sexual and KKKristian beliefs. When the breeder goyim say “oh, that’s not me” that’s bullshit. It IS you. It IS all of you. They are you. And if you’re trying to distance yourself from them, it can’t be done.

    They are advocating what the Bible advocates: death to homosexuals as spelled out in Leviticus 20:13. They are following the precepts of Christianity and are therefore representative of that cult (The New Testament does not replace the Old Testament in KKKristianity). A BBC documentary about their cult showed one of their services. Gays are not the only target of their vile hatred. Their anti-war rhetoric was right out of a Code Pink rally. And don’t get me started on their anti-semitism and support of Saddam Hussein.

    We owe them thanks for revealing the ugly truth about KKKristian “love”. If it weren’t for the First Amendment, this band of neo-Nazi lion chow would be in front of a firing squad. Enron had the right idea. They should be killed, and as brutally as possible, preferably in public. It would be justifiable homicide.

  • B

    No. 20 · Queer Supremacist wrote, “They are advocating what the Bible advocates: death to homosexuals as spelled out in Leviticus 20:13.”

    …. if they are “advocating what the Bible advocates,” they should read the last sentence or two in Leviticus, which says that Leviticus contains the rules for the “children of Israel”, not their neighbors.

    If you check the history, it seems that Leviticus was written at the end of the Babylonian exile, as a set of rules imposed by returning priests (who needed to assert their authority and wanted to undo the assimilation with the surrounding culture that occurred during the exile). There is a claim that it was really written as a report to Cyrus, the emperor of Persia, who let many exiled groups return and rebuild their temples. He typically wanted a report outlining the religious customs and rules the returning priests would impose. Cyrus would not have been pleased if they intended to impose their rules on others living nearby – that would have created a conflict that would have required Cyrus to send troops to resolve and the returning priests knew better than to piss off Cyrus.

    It was a smart move on Cyrus’ part – those returning were very grateful and that translates into loyalty to Cyrus, helping him keep control relatively cheaply so his army could be used for more pressing matters.

  • Queer Supremacist

    @B: Thanks for that historical info. Where did you read about it?

    …. if they are “advocating what the Bible advocates,” they should read the last sentence or two in Leviticus, which says that Leviticus contains the rules for the “children of Israel”, not their neighbors.

    Which chapter/verse are you referring to?

  • B

    Regarding No 22, you can find a summary of the history at (he starts with some religious stuff but then goes on to summarize what scholars think about how Leviticus was written). I found it via a google search for “Leviticus history” (no quotes in the search).

    The Biblical quote is Leviticus 27:34, which says, “These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.” It’s pretty clear: the “commandments” are for the “children of Israel”. It is the very last sentence in that book of the Bible, and it puts a restriction on the scope of the whole book – it is quite obviously not meant to apply to people in general.

  • B

    Re No 22: you are on your own – I tried to post what you asked for and some QUEERTY glitch is interfering.

  • David

    Nevertheless, the Libertarian side of me supports picketing funerals, churches, politicians, federal buildings, etc, subject to private property rights and legitimate security requirements.

    Picketing funerals seems pretty low, IMHO. But then again, if Adoph Hitler or some other loathsome ogre led a happy personal life while tormenting other people, I see no reason why public outrage shouldn’t be expressed through picketing and protests.

    But what do you do when “Mr. Nice Guy” dies and a few nutcases decide to harrass the family by masquarading as picketers and protesters? Seems to me that it’s best to let everybody speak their minds in public, rather than decide who can/can’t have that right.

    So, the price to pay for this unregulated freedom to speak my mind in public is allowing Phelps and his sorry Klan to denounce my friend’s memory at The Quilt. I wish there was a discounted price, but there isn’t. So I’ll deal with it.

  • damon459

    Wow I got thumbs down for coping and pasting the Montana statute on funeral picketing? LOL

  • Gay Florida

    Fred Phelps can go PH**K himself. Bury him in a white robe and pointy hat.

  • Queer Supremacist

    @David: I’m using my First Amendment rights to call for the brutal killing of Fred Phelps, his family, and his supporters. Notice I said “killing” and not “murdering”. There’s a distinction between the two and it is related to intent.

    @B: That seems to happen a lot lately. Post any links to historical info, it gets caught in the spam/censorship filter. Post anti-semitic communist screeds, no problem. Maybe you should have tried sneaking in some Jew-bashing to get it through.

  • caffesilvia

    Good God, can we all do the entire world a favor and STOP COVERING Westboro’s random antics? They’re not newsworthy. It’s the same crap over and over again. Yawn…

  • Tessie Tura

    We should picket his funeral – in a way that outdoes anything he and his heard of drooling toothless inbreds have done.

    But I doubt we will have the opportunity. They’ll have some sort of private service – just wait. Dinner on the ground and a game of “pass the sheep”.

  • Tessie Tura

    @Tessie Tura: That should, of course, read “herd”.

  • samthor

    as much as i despise and pity these morons, I don’t like the idea of passing laws to restrict protests.
    you know any law passed against this one small family could be used against the rest of the nation when we need to protest for a legit cause. (such as the G20).
    Mock the Phelps, ignore them, whatever…. but passing laws…. that could come back to bite all of us.

  • shaneg

    Did any of you catch this guy’s rant on Jerry Falwell’s Death. I was surprised ‘thought they were peas in a pod. what happened? and this clan is vulgar in all their talk, i really think the Taliban is more socially enabled than this guys, they don’t use so much profanity .In fact their speeches are more civil, if its even possible. This church is highly profane. I think it is way past just being Bigots, I think they are all terminally insane. But i do feel for those poor kids. Bad Karma.
    I agree with LALAcleveland. Exactly.

  • The Swallower

    As Homer Simpson would say “MMMMMMMMMMMM Dead Homophobes”

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