Pathetic, disgusting, deplorable, heinous -- all words I used in my head when I learned that the Westboro Baptist Church is at it again. I've written about them before, as they protested outside the funeral of a soldier, claiming that he had died because America had supported homosexuals. This time, WBC will be in Aurora, Colorado, protesting the funerals of the 12 innocent Americans killed last Thursday night by gunman James Holmes.
The members of the Westboro Baptist Church have made it their mission to convince those who will listen that America, unless willing to socially ostracize the LGBTQ community, will face imminent doom. They have gained media attention and illustrated this conviction by protesting at the funerals of soldiers.
Such a practice was the impetus for Snyder v. Phelps (2011), a Supreme Court case born out of a protest populated by WBC members outside the funeral of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder. Using derogatory slurs and offensive language, the church had deprecated the service of not only L/Cpl Snyder, but also that of all men and women who had lost their lives while on active duty. The Supreme Court had decided that, no matter the content of the speech, groups such as the WBC have the constitutional right to exercise their freedom of speech, so long as they are not disrupting the service. By protesting on the sidewalk across the street, or on otherwise public property, they had done just that.
Most Americans will agree with me -- no matter their moral, political, or religious persuasion -- that protests such as these are of an absolutely lowly standard. As an adherent of religion myself, I can't imagine using the tenets of one's faith to justify such seemingly thoughtless acts.
This is an instance in which the members of WBC are legally exercising their right to the freedoms of speech and protest. However, they are doing so in a dastardly fashion.
So, now, they have moved on to Colorado -- just days after one of our nation's worst mass killings.
Imagine attending the funeral of a loved one, and amidst your struggle to make sense of the situation, you learn that there is a group across the street claiming that he or she had died because of this country's societal values.
It seems that this is a position that Colorado mourners will find themselves in during the ensuing days.
It would be an unfortunate position that would be born not only out of an outrageous act, but also out of an act that is ignorant, disrespectful and inflammatory. But, as WBC has historically shown, there is a way to deprecate even that which is most sacred -- death, and the pillars of this great country.