When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

31 October 2007

Westboro Baptist Church successfully sued

This may very well not hold up on appeal... but it's settled law that the First Amendment protections on freedom of religion are not unlimited, and this strikes me as a pretty reasonable place to start establishing some new limits:
A grieving father won a nearly $11 million verdict Wednesday against a fundamentalist Kansas church that pickets military funerals in the belief that the war in Iraq is a punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.

Albert Snyder of York, Pennsylvania., sued the Westboro Baptist Church for unspecified damages after members demonstrated at the March 2006 funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq.

The jury first awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages. It returned later in the afternoon with its decision to award $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and $2 million for causing emotional distress.

U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett noted the size of the award for compensating damages "far exceeds the net worth of the defendants," according to financial statements filed with the court.

Church members routinely picket funerals of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, carrying signs such as "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "God hates fags."

CNN: Church ordered to pay $10.9 million for funeral protest

American citizens are free to hold noxious religious beliefs and toxic political opinions in this country... but I can't for the life of me understand why you should be free to torment grieving families who are trying to bury their dead with a modicum of dignity, and claim First Amendment protection for that.

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