Thursday, April 20, 2006

Westboro Baptist Church

Fred Phelps is Pat Robertson run amok.

The legislation introduced this week at the Texas legislative special session by Republican State Senator Robert Duncan would make it a misdemeanor to protest at funerals. The sole reason for this piece of legislation is one Reverend Fred Phelps, minister of the incestuous Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. He's on a one-way mission to save us from our misguided tolerance.

Mr. Phelps' recent headlines revolve around his protest at the funeral services of American soldiers killed in Iraq. He believes that these soldiers are dying because of America's tolerance for gays (although he would use a different word to describe them).

Although the condemnation of Mr. Phelps is universal, there is some concern that the proposed law would violate First Amendment rights. But the legislation already has the support of a Casa County Judge who witnessed a protest. Said Judge Bill Sava,
"I can't understand how organizations that are so venom-filled are allowed to demonstrate and disrupt a time when families should be afforded dignity and privacy," Sava said. "I think that the free speech that should be honored in those circumstances is the freedom of the family to express their grief."
And if you're confused about why American soldiers especially are the target of Mr. Phelps' virulent tirades, chew on this: The Westboro Baptist Church also picketed the funeral of Mister Rogers. Yes, PBS' "beautiful day in the nieghborhood" Mister Rogers. Admittedly, Mr. Rogers never mentioned homosexuality specifically, but all that feel-good talk about self-esteem and learning to accept people -- not to mention that whole weird thing with the cardigan -- and well, you know where it all leads.

Of course, there could be a more mundane purpose behind this. These folks may be less fundamentally insane (no pun intended) and more like grifters. It seems that their protests are designed to provoke, and when it gets physical, they file a civil lawsuit for hefty sums. Then they argue their own case in court. They all have law degrees.

As for that legislation,
only issues included by the governor in a proclamation calling a 30-day special session can be considered by the Legislature. The proclamation guiding the session that began Monday limits senators and representatives to specific tax policies and education appropriations, so Duncan's bill cannot receive a floor vote unless the proclamation is changed.
Several legislators are hoping that after the school funding issues are resolved, Gov. Perry will allow just that.


Bradley Bowen said...

While it's true that this might infringe on constitutional rights, it's still necessary. It's incredibly sad that the government has to legislate this... it should be something that people have enough class not to do. Unfortunately, Phelps and his lot are tasteless. They would disturb the mourning of a fallen soldier's family in order to get their anti-gay agenda on the evening news. These people are demented.

texas toad said...

They're a cult led by a sociopathic father figure. If Hollywood created a character like this, we'd think it was parody. It's telling that the Texas branch of the American Civil Liberties Union offered to advise legislators on how to craft the bill to pass legal challenges. And given how many of these folks have law degrees, you can bet there will be court challenges.

Bradley Bowen said...

I read the Phelps was disbarred, though, so he probably has some relatives do the legal work. One of his fanatical daughters has said that the church has about 75 members and only ten of those members are not blood relatives of Phelps.

The interesting part of this story is that several of Phelps' children have come out against their father, accusing him of vicious abuse, etc. It just goes to PROVE that this man is crazy.

Bradley Bowen said...

Check out this video... Sean Hannity was actually right about something when he called Phelps' daughter a nut to her face:

texas toad said...

Well, I agree with him, too. She's a nut. But I'm not sure that giving her a national audience to spew that filth is the right "disinfectant".