The Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas has spent the last several years of the Iraq War picketing the funerals of slain soldiers. They are not protesting against the war, trying to bring our troops how, or even protesting against the soldiers for participating. Instead, they are picketing military funerals to tell people that God is killing American soldiers to punish American for tolerating homosexuals.
Recently, a Baltimore federal court, handed down a judgment of $9 million against the church for picketing the funeral of a fallen Pennsylvania marine. Many applaud the decision, but the church has emphatically stated it will not stop their activities. A classmate of mine, equally outraged at their behavior, recently reminded us that if they had been found guilty of a hate crime, they could have been jailed.
So the questions are these: Is it a hate crime if it is driven by hate but the subject of the crime (families of fallen soldiers) and the object of the hate (homosexuals) are not the same? Is it enough if a crime is carried out because they hate homosexuals? Or would they actually have to harm a homosexual person? And – If this can be considered a hate crime based on the motivation, why wasn’t it prosecuted as such? Is it possibly, as my classmate wondered, a case of Christian judges (and police) protecting a Christian church, however repulsive it’s actions? I sure hope not.
Here in Nebraska and around the Midwest various motorcycle clubs have taken it upon themselves to counter picket military funerals – acting as an unofficial honor guard by lining the route between the fallen’s church and cemetery and keeping the Westboro Baptists away. So far it has worked and not incidents have been reported between the two, so far as I know.
I feel bad for the Westboro Baptists – to be so filled with hate and blindness and so unhappy.