Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Funeral protestors dredge new depths

Westboro Baptist 'Church' members seem to have stooped to even greater depths (if possible) in their protests at military funerals in the USA - turning up at funerals amongst the mourners unannounced and anonymous, apart from their placards proclaiming "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," "You will eat your children," and "Soldiers Die, God Laughs." (Funeralwire 19/02/07).

Despite being a tiny 'church' of around 70 people, mostly made up of one extended family and not affiliated with any other Baptist church, they've consistently used military funerals across America as a high-profile target to spread an anti-gay 'message' - that God hates homosexuals, so every soldier killed in service is a punishment for America's tolerance. (BBC)

To enable funerals to pass relatively peacefully and with an element of dignity for the families involved, a group of veterans, soldiers and civilians -The Patriot Guard Riders - frequently accompany funeral processions on motor cycles, to shield the families from unwanted attention.

In addition to this, Bills have been endorsed and passed in many states to restrict protests at funerals. This legislation has been supported by the military community, but opposed by civil rights advocates, as once passed, the laws could restrict legitimate reasons for protests at funerals, although originally passed in response to a fanatical minority classified as a defamatory, hate group.

Worrying that allowing freedom of speech for a tiny number of extremists has such permanent and far reaching effects on so many others.

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