If you aren’t familiar with the actions of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church, go look it up in wikipedia. I won’t link here. To summarize, they feel that America is too tolerant of homosexuality, and everything bad that has happened in the past twenty years is the punishment of god for that tolerance: 9-11; the Columbia; Katrina; dead US soldiers; they are all being punished for our sins.
One of their more recent practices is to bring their protests to the funerals of our Iraqi war dead. They picket outside with signs like “God Hates America” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.” This caused some counter-protests, such as the group of motorcycle riders who would go to the funerals that were being picketed and rev their bikes so no one could hear the WBC sing their hateful songs.
Now, a Maryland father has won a lawsuit and been awarded $11 million against Fred Phelps and his “church” for “intent to inflict emotional distress” amongst other things.
This couldn’t happen to a better church. Unfortunately, I don’t think this will do any good. Even if the award is upheld after appeals, I’m sure the church will declare bankruptcy, and other fundies will come out of the woodwork to support their trips around the country. It’s a good first step, though.
I support the first amendment, and I support Fred Phelps’ right to say stupid, hateful things. There are more appropriate places for protected speech than during private funerals, though. This is probably hypocritical on my part, but I cheer the lawsuit, and its result.