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fullywired

Westboro Baptist Church

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Kansas church liable in Marine funeral protest

Wed Oct 31, 2007 7:24pm EDT

By Jon Hurdle

BALTIMORE (Reuters) - A jury on Wednesday ordered an anti-gay Kansas church to pay $10.9 million in damages to relatives of a U.S. Marine who died in Iraq after church members cheered his death at his funeral.

Church members said Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder's death was God's punishment of America for tolerating homosexuality, and they attended his 2006 funeral in Maryland with signs saying "You're going to hell" and "God hates you."

The federal jury determined the Westboro Baptist Church, based in Topeka, and three of its principals invaded the privacy of the dead man's family and inflicted emotional distress.

Albert Snyder, the Marine's father, testified that his son was not gay, but the church targeted the military as a symbol of America's tolerance of gays. Matthew Snyder died in combat in Iraq in March 2006.

The jury awarded Snyder's family $2.9 million in compensatory damages plus $8 million in punitive damages in the first civil suit against the church, which has demonstrated at some 300 military funerals the past two years.

The lawsuit said church Web sites vilified U.S. soldiers, accusing them of being indoctrinated by "fag propaganda."

"I hope it's enough to deter them from doing this to other families. It was not about the money. It was about getting them to stop," said Snyder, of York, Pennsylvania.

The church, which is unaffiliated with any major denomination, is headed by Rev. Fred Phelps, who has led a campaign against homosexuality for years. Most of the estimated 70 members of the church belong to his extended family. Continued...

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Where do these crazy delusional idiots come from? 10 to 1 odds this guy is gay. It seems lately (in the US) that the worst out spoken homophobes turn out to gay themselves. Give it some time and he will be exposed for what he is, then maybe his little evil minions will give him a taste of his own medicine and picket him. That is if they still have the ability to think for themselves.

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Real poetic justice would be if Christians tied him to a stake, stoned him, the burned him. But we'll take what we can get! :tu:

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You forgot the link FW, so here it is. Click here

I hope it stands up in the appeal.

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Where do these crazy delusional idiots come from? 10 to 1 odds this guy is gay. It seems lately (in the US) that the worst out spoken homophobes turn out to gay themselves. Give it some time and he will be exposed for what he is, then maybe his little evil minions will give him a taste of his own medicine and picket him. That is if they still have the ability to think for themselves.

Speaking for teh gays en masse: No. We don't want him. And it wouldn't be healthy for him with us, either...

On a more serious note: There are closeted people who are anti-gay, but I genuinely think he's not one of them. His hate is deep and real: how could anyway tell people Matthew Shepherd /deserved/ what he got?

On another note: As much as I want to see this "church" get what it has coming to it, isn't it a little disturbing that a jury would award millions of dollars to someone (at least partially) because these people said their son was gay? Being gay isn't an insult, or at least it oughtn't to be.

--Jaylemurph

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The real shame is that the WBC will not fork over one penny of the money, AND they will use the courts decision to bolster their image as "poor martyrs" for god.

Sometimes, I think that the best policy would be to ignore them completely, and give them NO media coverage whatsoever.

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I thought this might happen.

Award over funeral protest may not stand

Constitutional scholars say the 1st Amendment will probably protect anti-gay church members who picket military services.

By Matthew Dolan, Baltimore Sun

November 2, 2007

BALTIMORE -- Leading constitutional scholars say the multimillion-dollar award this week to the father of a Marine killed in Iraq is likely to be overturned because the church members who protested his son's funeral enjoy broad protection under the 1st Amendment.

Wednesday, a jury in U.S. District Court in Baltimore found in favor of Albert Snyder, the Marine's father, after deliberating for about nine hours over two days.

Jurors unanimously agreed that the Snyders' privacy had been breached by the Westboro Baptist Church, a family-based conservative religious group that assembled on public property near the funeral motorcade. As mourners for Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder drove by March 10, 2006, members of the fundamentalist Christian church based in Topeka, Kan., held up signs reading such things as "Thank God for dead soldiers."

The $10.9-million verdict marked the first successful civil claim against Westboro, whose congregants have picketed with anti-gay placards at military funerals across the United States.

Experts on the 1st Amendment expressed doubt that the verdict and sizable damage award against Westboro would survive appellate review before the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.

"I have spoken to a number of 1st Amendment attorneys today, and every one of them believe the case will be reversed and should be reversed," said Ronald K.L. Collins, a scholar at the First Amendment Center in Washington.

In contentious rallies, Westboro members regularly preach that tragic losses of life, from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, represent moral payback for the general acceptance of homosexuality in U.S. society.

Three adults and four children from the group picketed at Lance Cpl. Snyder's funeral at St. John Roman Catholic Church in Westminster, Md.

Westboro members insisted that their demonstration, about 1,000 feet from the Westminster church, took place legally. Albert Snyder, who lives in York, Pa., argued that news of the protest -- he did not see the demonstrators' message boards on the day of the funeral -- deeply disturbed him and exacerbated his depression over the loss of his only son.

Westboro members have 10 business days to ask the federal judge who oversaw the case to review the verdict and damage award. Afterward, according to attorneys, they have 30 days to decide whether to appeal. Unless they can post a bond worth 120% of the award, they must secure a judge's order to stave off payment to Snyder, according to his attorney.

Jonathan Katz, an attorney for the church and its founder, said he planned to ask U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett to suspend the judgment while his clients appeal.

Source

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these people are not an example of all believers...i, for one, would have burned them a new one had i been on the jury...but unfortunately, they too can hide behind the law and not pay a cent or be otherwise held accountable for their actions...i do beleive that one day they will pay for the pain and suffering they have caused many people who did not deserve it...as a believer, there are certain lifestyles i do not condone but they are allowed, as i was and am, to seek their own salvation or not...the parable of the sower in the KJV Bible is a good example of the type of work a believer in Christ should do...

randomhit10

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I heard about the WBC a few years back, when I saw one of the Phelps daughters on National TV, all bug-eyed and disheveled talking about why they believe America is going to (literally) hell in a handbasket.

I looked up the webpages, and was disgusted and really thrown. I know most of the Christian world feels just as disgusted as anyone else about it, too, and everyone knows these idiots do not represent much more than their own twisted family dictatorship, run by patriarchal Fred Phelps, and just by reading up a little bit on this man, you can see that he is a tyrant, a brainwasher, and he has corrupted most of his families brains and unfortunately, ruined his childrens and grandchildrens chances of having a normal happy life.

If anything, I feel sorry for them. I try not to hate them for what they do, but the human behavior in me would love to see them have to fork over somuch money that they go bankrupt and disappear. But I dont think that will happen.

Jaylemurph,

I see your point about being paid so much money because someone called their son gay when he wasn't. I really don't think that was the point of the court's decision. The father of the dead soldier wasn't so much offended by people thinking his son was gay (although he does point out how straight his son was) but I think he was just p***ed that they showed up and actually were holding signs that said such horrible things on them, in view of the memorial he was holding for his fallen soldier son.

There is sooooo much to be offended by when we are talking about the Westboro Baptist Church, I think the best way to go would be to feel sorry for them, knowing that once the crazy grandpa phelps kicks the bucket, the rest of the family will probably be nothing more than confused lost souls without their leader. We will probably not hear from them much after that.

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A lot of these scum are lawyers and highly educated. They know their way around the law and as much as I would LOVE to see them get financially raped... ehh, it's doubtful.

A local radio show, Shredd and Ragan, had Shirley Phelps from the WBC on their show yesterday evening. It was pretty entertaining. They addressed her as "Lunatic" the whole time and were trying to actually reason with her. Obviously not happening, but this woman would just keep talking her point making hateful comments and when she wouldn't stop when they tried to speak. They had to keep putting her on hold whenever they wanted to say something. A lot of veterans called in to talk to her and chew her out and she was yelling over them the whole time with her hateful psychobabble.

In the words of Ragan, "You can't reason with a lunatic."

Best to just ignore these people. They can waste their lives being p*ssed off for all I care.

Edited by crtbud

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10 to 1 odds this guy is gay.

I couldn't agree more. It seems those screaming the loudest--filled with such hate--are the one's trying to stay in the closet.

Sean

Edited by seanph

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I can't believe the law protects these twits. Social services should take thes kids away they took the Waco kids away.

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Stixx-

yeah I agree. I hate how they are protected simply because of their so-called religion. I think I am going to start a new religion myself, and in order to worship properly, we have to run around busy intersections slapping people and then laughing at them. If someone wants to legally punish me, OOPS sorry, you can't I was just doing what my religion states is necessary to worship and don't you dare stomp on my rights.

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Award over funeral protest may not stand

Constitutional scholars say the 1st Amendment will probably protect anti-gay church members who picket military services.

By Matthew Dolan, Baltimore Sun

November 2, 2007

BALTIMORE -- Leading constitutional scholars say the multimillion-dollar award this week to the father of a Marine killed in Iraq is likely to be overturned because the church members who protested his son's funeral enjoy broad protection under the 1st Amendment.

I don't understand this.

A few minutes ago I was walking my dogs. I had to wait at a corner for a long time because a funeral procession was going by (like 20 cars with their lights on and signs saying funeral). Normally these people would have to obey traffic rules and stop at the red light. But they didn't because IT WAS A FUNERAL. Everyone understands that at times like this the regular rules are suspended out of respect for the community member who's died and his grieving family. It seems like a no-brainer that people should also not be allowed to picket at funerals. They should have to stay a considerable distance away from the grave site.

The hate mongers who do this stuff are similar to the pathetic wacko's who hang nooses around to frighten black people. Sick, sick, sick. If our laws can't do something to control these people there's something badly wrong with our legal system.

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The trouble is it is a free speech issue, but I have a thought why not make it a law you can't protest within two miles of a funeral. That way they can have their free speech rights but they will be far away. I think I'll write my favorite Congressmen and see what he thinks.

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Some states inforce a law where you can't protest within a certain distance of a funeral. In the state this happened, the law was 1000ft I believe. The WBC claimed they were 1,200 feet from the funeral.

If my figures are incorrect please let me know.

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Its the height of irony really. They protest against the military. Okay but how they pass over the fact that the only reason they aren't speaking german or russian today is because of the military and what those who sacrificed did. These are the worst people and the best example on the extreme side of how people more and more take for granted or pervert the ideals of their grand parents. Freedom is not free it cost some people their lives for these twerps to hide behind. There should be a grass roots movement to ship these guys over to the middle east. That would be poetic in a sense but never happen. People like this sneer at those who provide their comfort of existence because deep down they know they couldn't muster enough pluck themselves. Its outrageous on several levels and also good for them that I'm only partially diabolical

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The trouble is it is a free speech issue, but I have a thought why not make it a law you can't protest within two miles of a funeral. That way they can have their free speech rights but they will be far away. I think I'll write my favorite Congressmen and see what he thinks.

Exactly. We have public decency laws concerning dress code, even though constitutionally we should be allowed to dress as we please. Why can't we have decency laws concerning conduct at funerals?

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Stixx, on the radio show I mentioned, one of the veterans came on the air after miss Lunatic Phelps had hung up and brought up a good point similar to the one you are making. He mentioned how if it wasn't for the US military, they wouldn't have the free speech that they are hiding behind.

Edited by crtbud

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I live right near Baltimore, where this case was adjudicated. I just heard that there's been a big explosion in downtown Baltimore. I wonder if there's a relationship between the explosion and the Westboro Baptists...? I'm moving from computer to television to check the news. I was planning to drive up to a place 2 blocks from the explosion this afternoon.

Edited by Siara

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The explosion and subsequent fire was at the Domino's Sugar facility in the Inner Harbor. Nothing to do with the decision against the WBC.

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