Try this on for a moment. Your son, your daughter, or maybe your sister or brother, is stationed in Iraq. The reasons why they are there can be complex and individual in nature. It's not a political discussion, it's just a fact.
No one expected to die that day. Sure, everyone knew they were in the eye of the storm and death could visit at any moment. But, just fifteen seconds before the IED ripped though the armored carrier killing everyone on board, there was conversation, interaction, and probably a layer of fear, unseen but felt by all. And then, in an instant, all the dreams and the plans of futures never to be realized, ended just as abruptly as flipping off a light switch.
Family, friends and loved ones gather at the funeral parlor to morn the loss, when they see a group of people with signs in front of the building..........Signs that scream out........"THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS", or "AMERICA IS DOOMED."............even, "THANK GOD FOR 911."
How is this possible? Who could be responsible for such outrageous behavior? Islamic militants?, No.... Left wing anti-war fanatics?, No.... Escapees from a local mental institution?, No.
Let me introduce you the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. This is the church whose white cracker members cheered a soldier's death as "punishment" for the United States tolerance of homosexuality.
The church, which numbers 71, is comprised mostly of one single extended family, and headed by preacher,"Gramps", Fred Phelps. For 15 years they have been picketing all things gay. They began at places gays congregated, moved on to Gay Pride parades and marches and then funerals of people who died of Aids.
And more recently, the Phelps family, whom proudly lay claim to the title, "The Most Hated Family in America", have taken it upon themselves to protest at soldier's funerals. They make no claim that the individual soldiers are "gay", just that their deaths, like the 911 victims, are the result of an angry God.
Last year they attended the funeral of Matthew Snyder with signs that included one that said, "You are going to hell."
Matthew's father took the church to court and last Wednesday, the jury ordered the church and three of it's leaders to pay a total of $10.9m for invasion of privacy and for causing emotional distress.
I must admit that the label, "left-wing, anti-war" might be a fit for me. However, I do have a suggestion that I am sure would be acceptable to all, from both the left and the right and anyone in between. Instead of the $10.9m fine, (which they will never pay), why not let them take their "show" to a Shiite or Sunni funeral in Baghdad. I would be happy to toss in a buck or two toward their one-way plane tickets.
WORLD - AN EDGE IN MY VOICE
Copyright © 2010 Steven Lane
The Sickest Family in America Ordered to Pay $10.9 m
Copyright © 2010 Steven Lane
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