Why Fred Phelps should have avoided rousting a slumbering giant

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Snyder It would be unfair to suggest that the American populace was asleep to the vile and perfidious acts of the Westboro Baptist Church, but where once we rested, now we attack. So many updates to the previous post that it neccesitated a new posting just to keep track of it all. 1) The Albert Snyder Fund: As of this morning, not counting any checks that came in this weekend, we have raised $17,236 from 395 people who would not allow this ignominy to befall a Gold Star Dad. I hope to thank each and every one of you in a personal email or letter when I manage to get my head above water. That during a time of such economic uncertainty you could find it in your heart to donate to this cause at a rate of over $40 per donation is a testament to the power of the American People to address grieveances with grace and class. I can not thank you enough. 2) We just spoke with Sean Summers, the lead lawyer on the Snyder Case, and we are placing the money in an escrow account. The money will be used for various expenses, like hiring experts, writing the briefs etc. 3) We are already at work on preparing a legal brief to accompany Mr. Snyder's claim to the Supreme Court. The American Legion will be submitting this amicus curiea ("Friend of the Court") brief asserting that neither the Free Exercise of Religion, now First Amendment rights to Free Speech are proper defenses to the torts alledged by Mr. Snyder. This isn't solely about First Amendment rights, but rather what role the First Amendment limits recovery for other torts recognized by the States which enact such laws to protect their citizens. It will also deal with "Fighting Words" and other fun jurisprudential stuff. If you are a lawyer, and want to help, send me an email. I have been tasked with putting this document together, and I welcome any help someone might provide. 4) Here's a video, because we all love videos: 5) I want to thank Al Kulas, out of WKBK in New Hampshire for having me on this weekend. If you care to listen to that segment, you can do so by clicking this link. 6) WBC won't be trying this in South Dakota any time soon:

People carrying signs are protesting at military funerals across the country. The largest group is from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. They claim God is killing soldiers because Americans tolerate homosexuality. They can't show up with their signs in South Dakota. That's thanks to a push from members of the American Legion. When Westboro Church members came to South Dakota in 2005 to protest the funeral of a fallen soldier, Michael Schmidt and Myron Joneson recruited Legion members to take action. "The terrible signs that they carried and the noise that they made and it was just deplorable," said Joneson. So they went to Pierre hoping for help. And the legislature agreed upon blocking protestors at funerals. "We had just a little controversy, but not very much and before I left Pierre that night that bill was on the Governor's desk and it was already law," said Joneson. It was declared an emergency. That means the bill became law as soon as Governor Mike Rounds signed it.
7) FACEBOOK: I support Al Snyder in His fight against Westboro Baptist Church 226,000 members and climbing. Make It Illegal to Protest at Military Funerals 222,000 and climbing as well. 8) Other groups weighing in:
On Monday the American Legion led the charge to raise funds for Al Synder, the father of a fallen Marine who sued the church, after the Fourth Circuit Court ordered him to pay the group's legal fees -- totaling more than $16,000 -- after losing his argument on an appeal. Within 24 hours the group had collected nearly half that total. But they aren't the only ones offering support. Here's at quick look at what some other prominent veterans groups are saying: AMVETS: "I hope the Supreme Court rules that this hateful church cannot impede on the First Amendment rights of the Snyder family and other military families, who have the right to freely practice their religious beliefs, which should include dignified funeral proceedings." VoteVets: "I'm not an attorney, but hopefully one of our readers who is can explain this [situation] to me. Otherwise, this just seems like a complete load of shit." IAVA: "Phelps and his gang make me sick." VFW: “This is a travesty at best and borders on the obscene. The irony in this whole situation is that the blood and sacrifice of our nation’s heroes have enabled this group to spread their message of hate. Yet, they celebrate when one of America’s best pays the ultimate sacrifice preserving that right of free speech." Supporters have also started a Facebook page to support Snyder, and are linking directly to his website in an effort to keep funds flowing towards his defense.
Posted in the burner | 41 comments
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Thank you Joyce, well said. Each post should create an "Honor Guard" of it's own. Then maybe mention it on websites. Makes me wonder about Memorial day ceremonies and the laying of wreaths.

How about every available person who abhor the Westboro Cult's (it can not be considered a chuch) go to all veteran's funerals and put themselves between the cult and the family and sing christian songs. Even a few dozen sings can out do the hate they spew and perhaps give the family some moral support. How can anyone spew hate when listening to Amazing Grace or America the Beautiful? The Legion Riders (I am a member) and other veteran and non-veteran biker groups do a great job but are not always aware where the need is.
Let's work to get all 50 states to pass laws protecting the familys of the veterans who paid the ultimate price for us. God Bless our veterans and all those who believe in a God of Love.....not hate. Let's apply the laws against hate crimes to these horrid excuses of human beings.

Anthony, how about a self addressed envelope or post card? From wbc to wbc. LOL Don't really want to get on their mailing list. Know what I mean?

This is from a wikepedia page on wbc. Maybe this will help?
Laws limiting funeral protests
In response to the protests conducted by Westboro members at Indiana funerals, a bill was introduced in the Indiana General Assembly that would make it a felony to protest within 500 feet (approximately 150 meters) of a funeral. The bill provides penalties of up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine for those found to be in violation of the law. Shortly before this bill was signed members of the church had threatened to protest in Kokomo, Indiana, at a funeral service that was being held for a soldier who was killed in Iraq. On January 11, 2006 the bill unanimously (11-0) passed a committee vote, and while members of the church had traveled to Kokomo to protest, they were not seen during or after the funeral service.

South Dakota adopted similar legislation. WBC has expressed its intention to contest such laws, and if victorious collect damages while the Phelps Chartered law firm collects attorney's fees under the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Award Act of 1976.

On 23 May 2006 the state of Michigan banned any intentional disruption of funerals within 500 feet of the ceremony. Violating the statute would be a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine for the first offense and up to four years in prison and a $10,000 fine for a subsequent offense.

On 17 May 2006 the state of Illinois enacted Senate Bill 1144, the "Let Them Rest In Peace Act", to shield grieving military families from protests during funerals and memorial services of fallen soldiers. A first-time violation of the Act is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine and a Class 4 felony for a second or subsequent offense, which is punishable by one to three years in state prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

On 29 May 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law the Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act (Pub.L. 109-228), prohibiting protests within 300 feet (90 m) of the entrance of any cemetery under control of the National Cemetery Administration from 60 minutes before to 60 minutes after a funeral. Penalties for violating the act are up to $100,000 in fines and up to one year imprisonment.[70] The bill garnered overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress with a 408-3 vote in the House, with 21 not voting, and a unanimous vote in the Senate. Webmaster888

Dan, may
God Bless you friend. Please come home safely.

My name is PFC Daniel Baker with the 501st MP CO/1 AD(Currently deployed to Iraq). I was very angry and disappointed with some of our support back home when I read about Mr. Snyder's situation. I decided that night to start a page on Facebook(Fred Phelps-Disgrace to All!). To try to help out Mr. Snyder and to any other family that is going through the same troubles that Mr. Snyder is going through. I hope that my site and all of the donations can help this man wipe this CULT of the face of the earth. This a brother in arms and a man that put his life on the line for his country. No one should have to go through with some thing like this.
PFC Baker

I was passed the Facebook Link and after searching found your page...first, I think it is CRITICAL to get such a law passed and support these efforts...what I cound not find (perhaps because I am not as computer literate as some of ya'll) was the name of any contact person or any information as to which organization is developing such a law or lobbying for such??? Do you know any concrete information that you can share?
Thank you!

[...] posting this story on that site too, as well as commenting at the American Legion’s “Burn Pit“.  Yes that’s my work you see. Please, let’s give the Snyder family our full [...]

I would suggest our National Commander compose a letter to the "WBC" and ask each Legion Post to copy this letter for each member of thier Post and ask them to pick up the letter and sign and send it to the "WBC"'.
Can you imagine the enormity of receiving over two million letters in a short period of time. Thier organization would be swamped in mail. The enormous piles of mail would most likely prevent them from entering thier offices or entrance to thier so called church. It would be little cost to eash Post and the cost of postage would be very little to each member for the first class postage but a great contribution to help deter these people.

Just posted: Charleston, WV, Defeats Westboro Baptist Church with Love
YouTube Video. This is how West Virginians get it done! Webmaster 888

In an e-mail, Mr. Snyder wrote today:

"I just want to take time to say thank you for all your support and to tell all your members and readers that their support and what they have done for our country keep's me fighting. Matt would have been so happy to see all the out pouring of support and love. With Much Heart. Al"

Thank you so much Mr. Snyder. We support you. Webmaster 888

What does the Baptist Church say about this. I know several Baptists who fully support the military; many were veterans themselves. This makes the whole Baptist Church look bad and they should expel the congrgation.

christ said,"the poor will always be wiyh us" unfortunately it seems, so will the radical idiots. and of course those who follow the teachings and guidance of this 'religeous' 'church' come under the heading of rabid radical idiots. these are the same 'citizens' who would complain about taxes to pave roads and then complain about a chuck hole in the street in front of thier home. the tragic part is that normaly they are posibly nice people. just terribly nieve and lacking, totaly lacking in common courtesie . not to mention that in times of conflict , they are the ones willing to stay home and 'allow' others to fight to defend thier 'civil rights'....

...And the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that WBC is commiting an act that should be concidered a hate crime. It was my pleasure to help support a fallen hero and his family.

What happened to the governments promise to protect those who served? I come home from Viet Nam to my home community that did, and still does, embrace military service. People like the WBC would have been run out of town on a rail. Is tar and feathering still legal? God bless Mr. Synder and his family, and thank you for your sons service.

I have a fund-raising idea. A stamped, pre-addressed to Westboro Baptist Church, postcard the says, "Foxtrot Uniform". I'd pay money for that. I bet at five bucks a pop, you'd sell a lot and they'd get flooded with "fan" mail.

I am a Coast Guard Veteran & served in The Army National Guard. Also, I happen to have been born Gay & an American, so I feel as though I have several dogs in this fight. I should begin Mr. Snyder by extending my sympathy and empathy with one who has lost a loved one. It is an emptiness that we carry with us through our life.
As to Fred Phelps and his family of thugs called "Westboro Baptist Church", it's all about control, hatred, bigotry, and mental illness. I do hope this case will lead to great discomfort and the loss of control for the irreverent reverend. I do hope Phelps will have an opportunity to speak in court and be examined aggressively . . . he simply can not maintain decorum & I would love to see him act-out for the judge . . . he should be held in contempt, as that is how he holds his fellow man!

P.S. At least amend the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Award Act of 1976 webmaster

Repeal: The Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Award Act of 1976

Re-introduce and pass:

S. 3696 or H.R. 2679EH Veterans' Memorials, Boy Scouts, Public Seals, and Other Public Expressions of Religion...
A bill to amend the Revised Statutes of the United States to prevent the use of the legal system in
a manner that extorts money from State and local governments, and the Federal Government, and
inhibits such governments' constitutional actions under the first, tenth, and fourteenth amendments.

Good work Steve! No need to be humble. May I please re-post this?

Reading some good points here.

I have a couple questions/suggestions if I might Express them.

How many members of the Legion and other Vet Groups are or have experience as Financial Investigators or Private Investigators? If you’re out there and read this, how about donating some time start checking into the public records on this “Church” and it’s primary members. As had been said by many a wise man, FOLLOW THE MONEY.

Where is their funding coming from for all these trips and daily operations? Get some answers, make it public knowledge. A little media exposure there might help. Public records have anything interesting about the primary members of the church, property ownership, criminal convictions, etc . . . Do not do anything illegal, but spreading legally occurred public record information may spread a interesting light on their status. Turn on the lights in the kitchen and the vermin tend to scatter for cover.

Once you get this information, give it to the Media, but also spread it across the net, posting links to it where ever possible.

Just my ever not so humble opinion of a old Marine on this subject.

Semper Fi, Steve Graham

Well said! "Sue each individual" is brilliant. I just posted to the Snyders' facebook page again:
"Just one more comment from the post's webmaster. The term "anti-gay invective" is nothing more than sugar coating what it really is. Sexual Harassment, plain and simple. That may be another angle for a lawsuit against WBC. Freedom of speech does not allow anyone to sexually harass another." Your words, J Miller are comforting. Will you consider posting at the facebook page also? Webmaster888

As Phelps is a disbarred lawyer, is he also an ex-con, since his crimes were theft from clients as I understand it? If so I do believe this so-called church is simply his way to avoid paying taxes to the federal or state governments and he should be examined VERY CLOSELY by both the IRS and the state equivalent agency. I also agree with comments that this again, so-called church, Phelps is operating is NOT performing in a religious manner when they are out and about protesting at military funerals; since they are using signs and speech that is NOT religious in nature. They are no christians that I identify with, as Jesus said "love your neighbor as you love yourself" and apparently Phelps and his lot do not love themselves very much.
I do hope that Mr Synder wins his appeal at the next level of our court system and that the U.S. Supreme Court squashes this so-called church and others like it. Hate speech is hate crime regardless of who uses it, a so-called church or another organization or an individual. Perhaps Mr. Synder needs to think about sueing each individual in that so-called church as an individual using hate crime type speech, starting with Phelps and forget about sueing them as a church group. That could possibly be the key to this whole matter.
I do wish Mr. Synder well in his endevours, from a disabled VN Vet.

Every once in awhile, someone asks me why I belong to the American Legion. I point them to things like this. The Legion takes a sincere and *active* interest in the affairs of all veterans and their families - past, present and future. Keep doing it, friends.

The Westboro Baptist Church is an embarrassment to every Christian, and an insult to every military veteran. I certainly believe that they are abusing their 'privileged status' as a 'church', too. The quote from the VFW you have linked says it well - the bitter irony is that the WBC claims their 'right to freedom of speech' in order to denigrate and insult those that gave their lives to protect such freedoms.

Sorry for the link mistake. Reprint follows from webmaster

Hi again, thank you so much for the privilege of posting to your site. I sincerely hope this meets with your approval.

As you formulate your legal arguments I also wonder:

1 Did the WBCult have a permit to demonstrate?

2 Don’t we need permission and permits for large demonstrations?

3 If not issued permits to demonstrate, were they not in violation of local laws?

4 Why did local laws not prevail on demonstrations? If they were refused a permit they would have to spend their own money to sue the local municipality. I believe the KKK had to fight this also. There has to be a precedent.

5 Why were our tax dollars spent to provide SWAT teams to protect the WBCult? There is an “assumption of risk” on their part. They should pay for their own “security”, and reimburse the tax payers.

Please let me know what you think on these subjects. I’ll keep working on this. Thank you again.

Hi again, thank you so much for the privilege of posting to your site. I sincerely hope this meets with your approval.

As you formulate your legal arguments I also wonder:

1 Did the WBCult have a permit to demonstrate?

2 Don't we need permission and permits for large demonstrations?

3 If not issued permits to demonstrate, were they not in violation of local laws?

4 Why did local laws not prevail on demonstrations? If they were refused a permit they would have to spend their own money to sue the local municipality. I believe the KKK had to fight this also. There has to be a precedent.

5 Why were our tax dollars spent to provide SWAT teams to protect the WBCult? There is an "assumption of risk" on their part. They should pay for their own "security", and reimburse the tax payers.

Please let me know what you think on these subjects. I'll keep working on this. Thank you again.

So where is the "Donate" button? :D I'm sure I'll find it but perhaps a big link at the top of the page? I'm in afghanistan currently and the connection is a lil slow so maybe its there.

Oorah ladies and Gentlemen, Keep up the good fight. I'll be spreading the word to all the Marines out here with me. Semper Fi, Al Snyder

I agree that their tax exempt status should be investigated since they are out of the boundries of religious activities.
In Nevada a group of Vet's and some non Vet's formed a motorcycle group called the Guardians. They show at all military funerals and lead the procession and then form a gauntlet on the entrance to the cemetary.
Phelps's group threatened to attend in force and then pulled out at the last minute. A few showed up and were ushered across the fence.
Guess they didn't want to confront a large group of Vet bikers.

We will have to organize more Vets to show up at the funerals to interfere with this church's picketing and to push our representatives to pass laws to stop this picketing. Many of the Vets in our area ride motorcycles and show up at funerals in case this church shows up.


Hello. I'm the webmaster and host for American Legion Post 888 and am with the post's aux. May I please comment? These are my opinions alone. I don't have authority to write "for" Post 888.

As I was taught rights are not absolute. This is why the Statue of Liberty holds scales. All must be weighed and balanced.

The right to freedom of speech does not include the right to incite a riot.

My right to punch someone stops at his or her right not to be hit.

Protesting at any funeral, military or civilian, interferes with the right and freedom to practice religion. My grandparents left Ireland for that freedom, being Roman Catholic. What would happen if all our military protested at their place of meeting? I won't call it a church. The venom they spew is pure blasphemy.

But I'd like to see military protests at/of WBC. What would happen then?

I don't believe they deserve tax exempt status, voicing political opinions and protests. Hit them in the wallet!

Forget the distance allowable from a funeral to protest. No protest should be allowed or tolerated. Burial is a sacred religious right/rite not to be interfered with. This was not a public event, but a private ceremony. The words criminal trespass come to mind, as do RICO statutes, hate crimes and invasion of privacy issues.

Intentional infliction of emotional distress to the family should be punished. All families should file a class action lawsuit.

This whole scenario is a reminiscent of the KKK battles. There must be some precedent here. Burning a cross on a lawn is not the right to free speech. If any one painted a swastika on the door of someone of the Jewish faith, is that right of expression? No, it's vandalism and hate crime.

Intimidation is a felony. So is stalking. They were uninvited to a private ceremony.

My paternal GrandDad was a WW1 Wagoneer. My maternal grandfather was Coast Guard. Two uncles served in WW2. One Uncle served in Korea. My cousin was Army and his son served in Iraq. My family's military history in this country is traceable to 1883. Without men such as these, WBC wouldn't have a word to say or a "religion" to practice. If any had desecrated a sacred burial rite of my religion, well there'd be the devil to pay.

My late Father was a Teamster truck driver. Can you imagine what would have happened if scab labor picketed his funeral because Daddy was a Teamster? I've walked those strike lines. It's not pretty.

Catholicism teaches that we are to hate the sin, not the sinner. Christian Charity is another topic altogether. My church publishes a prayer for the military in harm's way, in our bulletin. Cpl Snyder's rights did not end in his death. He HAS the right to be buried according to his religion in peace, dignity and honor. The body dies, but not the soul. Does his "estate" have the right to sue?

Why does our "Commander in Chief" NOT step in on this?

In closing, I fully support the family and cause. If I can be of service please let me know. I own hosting services if there is anything you'd like me to publish. I will do all I can to spread the word. My prayers are with the family.

With all my respect and gratitude, Webmaster Post 888

Probably the browser. There seems to be a small security issue with your page online logo. Will keep working on fund raising ideas and post as they come along. Thanks again, Post 888 Webmaster

Thank you! I'll be sure to look into this. Also trying to find fund raising ideas.

Hi. I just noticed that your blog appears like it has a code issue at the very bottom of your site's page. I am not sure if everybody is seeing this same problem when browsing your web site? I am using a completely different browser than most individuals called Opera, so that is what might be causing it? I simply wanted to make sure you know. Thanks for posting some great info.

[...] Why Fred Phelps should have avoided rousting a slumbering giant. Tagged and categorized as: Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, News Comment (0) | TrackBack URI [...]

As a Christian, I am completely outraged and ashamed of this group who call themselves Christians and behaving in such a dogmatic and fanatical way. God is the Author of peace, not confusion. I understand people have their views and beliefs, but there is a time and place to express it, and at a funeral IS NOT ONE OF THEM.

Bravo Zulu to The American Legion. Well done ... and you keep on doing.

Go get 'em, brothers. I rarely support ANY limits upon the 1st Amendment, but this is one I can completely get behind.

I can't think of a better example of hate speech than what the Phelps family spews.

Heya Burnpit Blog master...

I was reading the original entry and replies again, then came to this update...no need for a personal thank you to me.

I look at the bit of help I gave as part of my continuing duty to this beautiful nation of ours and her people i swore to protect.

if we can't stand up for one of our own and his grieving family, erase our records and brand us unfit for duty.

Fido India, Delta Oscar!

Al Snyder is asking a favor. Please look at our site for info. Thank you.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.