I need some assistance with these assignment. free speech and the westboro baptist church Thank you in advance for the help! Later, in his testimony during the court case about the WBC’s deplorable actions—actions that should be stopped by community action and by legislation—Snyder stated, “They turned this funeral into a media circus and they wanted to hurt my family. They wanted their message heard and they did not care who they stepped over. My son should have been buried with dignity, not with a bunch of clowns outside” (“Father” n.p.).
The Westboro Baptist Church, located in Topeka, Kansas, has been protesting at funerals since 1991. As of 2009, they claim to have participated in over 41,000 protests in over 650 cities, and spend an average of $250,000 a year on picketing. They travel all over the U.S. to picket the funerals of anyone associated with gay people. For example, they picketed at the 1998 funeral of murder victim Matthew Shepherd and the 2010 funeral of Elizabeth Edwards because she supported gay people (Borger n.p.). The WBC also protests at funerals of slain military personnel like Snyder’s.
Why would the WBC participate in such activities—activities that even Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly calls “evil and despicable” (Cohen n.p.)? The WBC, headed by pastor Fred Phelps and made up almost entirely of his large family, believes that deaths like Snyder’s are God’s punishment for our country’s growing acceptance of homosexuality. They picket at funerals to express their views, and to get the word out about their opposition to gay rights, the Catholic Church, Jews, and other topics. They believe that anyone who is opposed to their way of seeing things is going to hell, and they feel compelled to make sure that people know this. Several weeks after Matthew Snyder’s funeral, for example, the WBC denounced Snyder’s family for raising their son Catholic.
There have been many responses to their actions. One of these is through the courts, which is what the Snyder family did. Later in 2007, they sued Fred Phelps, the Westboro Baptist Church, and two of Phelps’ daughters on several legal grounds, including defamation and invasion of privacy. The suit claimed that Phelps’ religious views did not expose the Snyders to public hatred or scorn.