Mar 18, 2006

Bikers Rally to Keep Westboro Baptist Church at Bay

Left: Westboro Baptist protester

Fred Phelps is a minister whose Westboro Baptist Church often finds its way into the headlines with its outrageous anti-gay campaigns.

Phelps recently began a campaign to disrupt the funerals of military personnel killed in Iraq, claiming that the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays angers God, and that every dead soldier is "a message from God for this evil, sodomite nation."

The Westboro protesters have run into occasional hurdles in the form local and state ordinances, but have succeeded in protesting at several funerals.

Phelps and his supporters, however, have a new impediment in their quest to make nuisances of themselves at funerals - the Patriot Guard Riders, a group of bikers dedicated to making sure that the funerals of dead soldiers do not get pestered by the likes of Phelps and his supporters.

Left: Patriot Guard member Tom Angell

"This isn't a motorcycle gang," said Terry "Darkhorse" Houck . "You don't even need to have a motorcycle or know what one is to belong. It's the patriotic thing to do. A lot of the people come in cars with flags."

Patriot Guard chapters have been formed across the country and in the UK; as of March 16, there were 17,983 members.

I am glad to see that compassionate people are stepping up to confront the idiocy of Phelps. Whatever his beliefs, there are certainly more appropriate forms of protest than disrupting the funeral of some Iraq War soldier.


Stefan Schmidt said...

Extreme cases like Phelps are often used to pick away at long established freedoms.

Protecting Phelps’s right to freedom of speech will ultimately protect ours as well.

historymike said...

Seems to me like it's "freedom of speech" versus "freedom to be an asshole."

Phelps can protest the war all he wants, or protest the US military policy of not kicking out gays, but he should not have the right to disrupt a private funeral.

If I am cheesed off about, say, the clubbing of baby seals, should I be allowed to protest at a wedding because some guests are wearing seal fur stoles?

Seems to me that the funerals are private affairs, usually tied in with some spiritual ceremony, that public protest should not be a part of.

Let him stomp around the Pentagon, or march around his local recruiting office, if he wants to protest the military's policy on gays.

Just leave private citizens - especially grieving ones - alone.

Anonymous said...

Phelps is the spawn of Satan. Hope he likes it in Hell.

Stefan Schmidt said...

Seems to me like it's "freedom of speech" versus "freedom to be an asshole."---HistoryMike

To me it is more about the slippery slope than the actions of Phelps. If the funerals are held on Public property then Phelps is allowed to his exercise his right.

If we start to draw imaginary lines in the sand then where does that end?

The only speech worth protecting is of the controversial variety.

Stefan Schmidt said...

If I am cheesed off about, say, the clubbing of baby seals, should I be allowed to protest at a wedding because some guests are wearing seal fur stoles?---HistoryMike

I was not aware that you were an animal activist.

Here is a
video exposing the ‘kosher’ methods of going about the butchering of cows.

Stefan Schmidt said...

In fact, just copy this link directly:

Stephanie said...

This is very good news, Mike! Thank you for sharing it! This seems like a very good solution to this case of freely spoken idiocy!

Stephanie said...


There are also problems with not balancing freedom of speech with responsibility, especially in highly emotional situations. Without some kind of protections for the victims of Phelps speech, such as limiting the when and where to 500 ft away or a hour before and after the funeral, one of these times Phelps going to loose his freedom of speech to the bullet of a grieving citizen and that citizen would probably get away with it under the "temporary insanity" plea.

Anonymous said...

If there is justice in the cosmos, Jeffery Dahmer will be buggering this guy in Hell on a nightly basis.

Maybe some of those bikers should open up with some pool cues.

This isn't even close to a freedom of speech issue. A free society also recognizes decorum. This dipshit just hurts people because he can.


-Sepp said...

They must be pretty careful in who's funeral they protest since anyone I know wouldn't let this crap just slide at a loved one's funeral or anyone else's for that matter. Is kicking someone's ass considered freedom of expression?