Friday, April 13, 2007

Curbing The Westboro Baptist

When it comes to exercising the right to free speech, Rev. Fred Phelps and his followers with the Westboro Baptist Church are going to have to find another street to spew their anti-war hate messages on.

Legislation signed by Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday has put a damper on the crazed messages of hate spewed by the Westboro cult at military funerals. During a three hour window of time (beginning 1 hour before to 2 hours following a funeral) and within 150 feet of the service anyone wishing to protest at a military funeral in the future in Kansas will be faced with a $1000 fine and 6 months in jail if the law is violated.
“That anyone would try to disrupt the funeral of a fallen soldier, or any Kansan, is reprehensible and this law will put a stop to that sort of disgraceful act ,” Sebelius said.
It's about time. Sebelius sign the law while watched by school children, families of fallen soldiers, members of the Gay Coalition, and members of the Patriot Guard (a national volunteer organization of former servicemen and women and concerned motorcycle riders), who have given freely of their time and money to provide escort services to buffer the rants and signs of Phelps' flock all over the country over the last couple of years. The Patriot Guard was formed solely to combat peacefully the disgraceful acts of disrespect shown to the families of fallen soldiers by the Westboro followers.

Among the targets of the Westboro rants were not only the military, but also gay and lesbians. Somehow in the twisted minds of the Westboro group they have come up with the idea that the war is solely the fault of homosexuals and a government that encourages the freedom to be one. The signs and chants of hate spewed by Phelps and crew at military funerals were laced with biblical quotes skewed to reflect their warped ideas. Thirty-two states have enacted legislation to combat funeral protests, but none have deterred the Westboro's to the extent that the new Kansas legislation will.

Patriot Guard members have faithfully provided escort services to those families requesting their presence since their inception. The members themselves remain silent and do not engage the protesters, parking their bikes between the families and the protesters to block the families view of the hate signs while they rev their bikes to a thunderous roar to drown out the shouts of hate.

It makes it unlawful to obstruct any public street or sidewalk and allows family members to sue if they feel protesters defamed the deceased — an exception to the general rule of law that one cannot libel or slander the dead.

But Shirley Phelps-Roper, a daughter of the Rev. Phelps and spokeswoman for his Westboro Baptist Church, predicted the law would have no practical effect on its activities.

“They have made a buffer zone, but the buffer zone is smaller than where we stand,” Phelps-Roper said. “As long as we’re not standing in the buffer zone, they can’t lower the boom on us.”

She said the group has protested about 250 funerals in the past 21 months in 41 states, and they focus their protest in high-visibility areas, often more than 150 feet away from the funeral site.
Rev. Phelps has raised a family of lawyers whose earnings help to promote his families hate. His daughter's statement to the press shows the resolve to fight anyone that attempts to curb them.

Too bad this act alone won't put the Patriot Guard out of business... Because of the Guard's support of our military and their families they will probably continue to ride even without protesters being present. When our soldiers are finally home maybe then the Patriot Guard will rest.

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posted by Is It Just Me? at 6:39 AM