Join 3,438 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Brandon Mississippi shows how to deal with Westboro Baptist Church
April 26, 2011 5:43 AM   Subscribe

Simple and effective! While there was dismay and discussion about the Supreme Court ruling that allows Westboro to continue their protests, a small town in Rankin County, Mississippi shows we don't need laws to effectively keep them away.
posted by kthanksbai (116 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is there any problem that violence and police intimidation can't solve?
posted by peeedro at 5:50 AM on April 26, 2011 [49 favorites]


I'm ok with blocking their cars, but beating an asshole for being an asshole isn't how civilized folks handle the problems.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:50 AM on April 26, 2011 [16 favorites]


No lawyers. No judges. No counter protests. Just a good old fashioned ass kicking.

Maybe a a good old-fashioned ass kicking might remind this stooge of the reasons why we have laws, lawyers, and judges.
posted by three blind mice at 5:51 AM on April 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


They are going to be sued into extinction. WBC now has a legitimate case that their right to protest was infringed at least in part by the police. The WBC lives for exactly this situation!
posted by Danila at 5:52 AM on April 26, 2011 [36 favorites]


"I Hate The Media" is a website started in my neighborhood by a couple of web techs who have openly stated they want to be the next Breitbart. Great start.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:53 AM on April 26, 2011


And even the blocking of the cars is not a great way to address something. I like to see Westboro get what is coming to it as much as the next person (well, as long as that person is at least a little vindictive; I can't speak for the spiritually advanced), but these tactics have long been used against people struggling in many fights against racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty, etc, so I can't cheer at this.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:53 AM on April 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


While I find the Westboro Baptist Church repugnant, beating them or subjecting them to police harassment is just as bad. I smell another WBC lawsuit.

On preview: exactly.
posted by postel's law at 5:54 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry to doublepost but this is laughable. The WBC does not protest because they want to get any particular message out. They don't care that they missed the funeral. All they want to do is spring a trap to see who they can sue. So while they were getting beat up, arrested and detained for questioning, and denied their rights, that is when they were doing what they came to do.
posted by Danila at 5:54 AM on April 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I've heard that part of Westboro's larger plan is to push people into violence and then sue them for everything they're worth. Good show, people. Doing exactly what the enemy wants.
posted by xingcat at 5:55 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, seconding Danila. this would not be the first time the WBC has goaded someone into physical violence, and then took them to court for millions.

In other words, it was a trap!
posted by muddgirl at 5:55 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gill 'em all, let cod sort 'em out.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:56 AM on April 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


Vigilante justice, police ignoring the laws they're sworn to uphold, oh wait, it's Mississippi, I'm surprised they didn't just kill them and bury them in a levee.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 5:56 AM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Hard to tell who the bigger assholes are in this situation.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 5:56 AM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yeah...I suspect this little town is about to find itself hip-deep in legal trouble, courtesy of WBC, especially now that there appears to be public admission of conspiracy to deny constitutional rights.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:57 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Looks to me like Ihatethemedia dot com (the first link) is for people who like to masturbate while they watch Fox "News." Literally.

To get back on subject, I am of 2 minds about this. What kind of person could support Westboro Baptist church psychologically terrorizing the family and loved ones of a soldier at his/her funeral? On the other hand, thwarting their right of free speech reminds me of the free speech zones set up during the Republican convention.
posted by Daddy-O at 5:59 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hard to tell who the bigger assholes are in this situation.

One group wanted to disrupt the funeral of a stranger with their vitriol and ignorant, bigoted hate, the other group wants to stop them. It's pretty clear who the assholes are.

Who the bigger *idiots* are, now that's a contest.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:00 AM on April 26, 2011 [14 favorites]


So the tactics used against civil rights activists forty years ago are fine now when they're used against people we don't like? I'm not worried about WBC, but I'd hate to be a pro-choice or LBGTQ activist in that town these days.
posted by hydrophonic at 6:00 AM on April 26, 2011 [42 favorites]


I did not wake up full of plans to support Westboro Baptist Church and everything they do, but here I am. Where's the end of the line?
posted by FLAG (BASTARD WATER.) (Acorus Adulterinus.) at 6:00 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, seconding Danila. this would not be the first time the WBC has goaded someone into physical violence, and then took them to court for millions.

Cause, you know, if these WBC people weren't wearing those short skirts and acting provocatively none of this ever would have happened.
posted by three blind mice at 6:01 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I never thought I'd defend cops in Mississippi, but the only part of this that I can put on the police is "A few made it to the funeral but were ushered away to be questioned about a crime they might have possibly been involved in."

Private people blocking cars and a private towing company delaying tows aren't on the police. And even the reference to an apparently illegal detention and questioning doesn't have enough detail to be sure of exactly what happened. There too, we may have locals simply swearing out bogus complaints.
posted by tyllwin at 6:02 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am very uncomfortable with the way this was handled. The only thing that this town seems to have achieved was to teach Westboro not to drive vehicles with out of state license plates. Beating a member up and hauling other members off for "questioning" leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 6:02 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder what WBC is going to do with the Mississippi county it is about to own.
posted by valkyryn at 6:02 AM on April 26, 2011 [13 favorites]


Evil trolls out eviled. While I agree 100% WBC are lawsuit trolls, and the town's response is wrong in many absolute ways, I also gotta say if you are gonna lawsuit troll someone rural Mississippi is probably not the place to do it. It's hard to see who WBC sues or for what in this situation. It's a great example of a situation where "what everyone knows" will be very hard to bring to court. If it weren't for the gas station beatdown, where it may be hard for WBC to find the sueable perps, I'd say the town executed it perfectly -- perfectly illegally, but perfectly effectively too. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of assholes and yeah, they should be glad they're not buried in a levee.
posted by localroger at 6:03 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Great story, but at the risk of derailing, that looks like a cesspool of a website.
posted by londonmark at 6:06 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Violence sucks. Even more than the WBC sucks.

Because there's not a lot of difference between "the crowd ignored someone kicking a WBC member's ass" and "the crowd ignored someone gay bashing".
posted by rmd1023 at 6:07 AM on April 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Cause, you know, if these WBC people weren't wearing those short skirts and acting provocatively none of this ever would have happened.

Oh come on, I appreciate a good rape allusion as much as the next person, but not all apples are also oranges.

The WBC has their own law firm - Phelps Chartered. They collect both damages and fees on any attempts to limit their civil rights. I'm not saying they don't honestly hold the racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic beliefs they talk about... but it's pretty clear that they are itching for a fight, and we shouldn't give it to them. Because it's fucking illegal and unethical. In your metaphor, even if a woman is wearing a short shirt and acting provocatively, don't rape her. It's that simple.

Peaceful counterprotests are awesome. I personally admire Kiss-Ins. Funny signs are great, too. It's hard for the media to give them air time when no one takes them seriously.
posted by muddgirl at 6:10 AM on April 26, 2011


Nothing here that a little corruption in the courts and jury nullification can't remedy. It's a long-standing tradition.
posted by warbaby at 6:11 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


As far as WBC is concerned, this was a success. They make a living suing over civil rights violations, which this seems like a clear case of.
posted by empath at 6:13 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


...that looks like a cesspool of a website.

Perhaps Scott Adams will come and pee in it!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:14 AM on April 26, 2011 [13 favorites]


Yeah, this is bullshit.

I co-organized a silly counter-protest when the WBC came to my hometown a few months ago. I hope it goes without saying that I have no love for them.

But, seriously? They're IRL trolls. Their whole schtick is designed expressly to piss people off. Crudely designed—but hey, it works.

When they successfully goad people into doing shit like this, they sue, and they win. (And if they really do believe their own nonsense, it probably just confirms in their minds that they're bringing God's truth to a hellbound public that persecutes them.)

They're disgusting sacks of shit, no doubt. But for all their hateful rhetoric, they're peaceful sacks of shit. You don't get to initiate violence just because you really dislike someone, or their message.

A separate, but related point: everyone claims to love free speech, as long as it's their own speech that's being protected. The real test of whether you believe in free speech is whether you speak up when speech you dislike is being threatened.

Glad to see that most people here get this.
posted by ixohoxi at 6:15 AM on April 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, have to agree. Police misconduct is never justified.
posted by gjc at 6:17 AM on April 26, 2011


Sorry, but I think this previous post to the blue makes clear that Kansas City residents have already shown us "how to deal with WBC". They broke no laws, they didn't give WBC anything to sue them for, they were not violent, and....they were acting like pirates.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:25 AM on April 26, 2011


So the tactics used against civil rights activists forty years ago are fine now when they're used against people we don't like?

This. The police involvement (both the "questioning" and the delaying bringing the tow truck) is not how I want the security apparatus being used in this country, thanks.

The crowd not seeing anything, I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, it's the same thing that happened back in the sixties and before, when racist violence could take place in broad daylight without any witnesses. And at the same time, I do think that there are times and places for a community to step up and say "fuck no" to something. I don't agree with having the police have a complete monopoly on violence -- that's way too passive for my anarchist-sympathizing heart. Maybe that makes me a bad person, but I don't think so.

I am reminded of the story (I think it was made into an FPP), maybe from the Times, of a shooting in a small town of a violent bully. The police and courts failed to protect people from him, and he was shot in daylight in his pickup truck in front of a business, and yet somehow no one saw anything. I'm not going to tell those people that the "law," which isn't protecting them, should be followed in order to punish them.

And that's the rub with the WBC. They are out trying to inflict pain and unpleasantness. I'm all for their free speech, but I'm also sympathetic to how people who are being hurt are going to feel. A few more ass kickings for them wouldn't cause me to lose any sleep, that's for sure. Is that contradictory? You bet.
posted by Forktine at 6:26 AM on April 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


The only "source" for much of what we're discussing here is one comment in a sports forum. I need more credible reporting than that to believe this story. Don't let "the next Breitbart" troll you, MeFi.
posted by BeerFilter at 6:26 AM on April 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I'm sure this savage little town will be more than happy to use these fascist techniques on anyone else they don't agree with like [civil rights cause] and [that cause you favor]. I like the Westboro Babtist Church. I like how horrible they are, I like how they co-opt mainstream Christianity like a Williams Burrough's parody, I like that they are allowed to say the worst, most objectionable things in America, they are our insane vigilante protectors of free speech.
posted by fuq at 6:27 AM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


>: Oh come on, I appreciate a good rape allusion as much as the next person, but not all apples are also oranges.

No, the allusion is to blaming the victim. All victims of illegal police harassment are apples and there should not be any oranges.
posted by three blind mice at 6:27 AM on April 26, 2011


Yeah, Rankin County does appear to have engaged in lawlessness.

Shall I cheer that this time it was directed violating the free speech right of homophobes, when previously these same tactics were used to restrict the free speech rights of anti-war protesters and people protesting for civil rights for blacks?

Do we really value freedom so little that we'll ignore it being taken away from those we disagree with?
posted by orthogonality at 6:32 AM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


After monitoring this site for several weeks, I recently joined this forum because it offered civil discourse. From the onset, this post was biased and provocative. It has illicited the kind of crude exchanges that belong on the usual red and blue political sites that clog the Internet. I am sorry to see (possibly) otherwise reasoned commenters engage in such judgemental and unproductive statements--a direct reflection of the incident itself. If you have something to say about this subject, offer something constructive.
posted by Sparkticus at 6:32 AM on April 26, 2011


Sparkticus, can you clarify which comments were "judgemental" and "unproductive"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:36 AM on April 26, 2011


Sparkticus, show us. Constructive, let's hear it.

What do you have for us?
posted by adipocere at 6:36 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Exactly what are you referring to Sparkticus? Vague criticism won't move things forward. Specify and cite! We (most of us) can take it.
posted by Daddy-O at 6:36 AM on April 26, 2011


Looks like somebody doesn't get the point of WBC. They're basically fishing for lawsuits. It's how they make their money.

In short, stop feeding the damn trolls.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 6:37 AM on April 26, 2011


Of course, we prefer to take it in a less sanctimonous tone, but whatever...
posted by londonmark at 6:37 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, the allusion is to blaming the victim.

I wasn't blaming the victim. I'm referring to this.
posted by Danila at 6:39 AM on April 26, 2011


Either there is no God, or God's justice is unknowable. The fact that the WBC still exists proves this.
posted by whuppy at 6:43 AM on April 26, 2011


Wait. Rednecks beat up WBC jackwagons and get sued into oblivion? Uncivilized, yes. Win-win for rational people, also yes.

As horrible as it sounds, at this point, I'd much rather the conservatives fall on each other in an orgy of destruction, violence and litigation than be able to regroup and do more damage to the rest of us.
posted by Fuka at 6:44 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't let "the next Breitbart" troll you, MeFi.

I think this bears repeating. This unattributed anecdote is comes from blogs that insist on using the phrase "Democrat Fred Phelps".
posted by peeedro at 6:45 AM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


The comment in and of itself is constructive. That is what I have to offer on this particular subject. Referring to the comment as criticism misses the point.
posted by Sparkticus at 6:45 AM on April 26, 2011


The comment in and of itself is constructive. That is what I have to offer on this particular subject. Referring to the comment as criticism misses the point.

lol, welcome to mefi, you're gonna love it here :)
posted by londonmark at 6:48 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I expect a lawsuit from the Phelps in the near future, with a lot of exploratory questions to get the answers as to who knew what and when.

The car part of things is a perfectly legal way to deal with things, and the tow truck, well, so be it.

But the police issues will end up being a problem, a very large one, and I expect that the local government will settle rather than pay up.

The Phelps are ridiculous and a far-reaching point of issue with the First Amendment, where we hate what they say but recognize the right to say it. We can't make them not protest, but the only way to fight them is to show off how utterly ridiculous they are. Because while my first instinct is to set them on fire, we are civilized beings and setting people on fire just doesn't work as a societal norm.

Holding up a sign behind them, done in their particular method of sign-making, that says "I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT."? That's comedy.
posted by mephron at 6:48 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metatalk this, so we can talk about something besides Sparkticus? Somebody?
posted by SkylitDrawl at 6:49 AM on April 26, 2011


I was surprised to learn that Fred Phelps is a "Democratic activist", according to The Hayride piece that ihatethemedia referenced.

Fred Phelps, the disbarred lawyer and Democrat activist who leads the Westboro congregation, will undoubtedly pursue some form of legal action for the way his people were thwarted in Brandon. Let him try. There isn’t a jury in Mississippi which will see things his way.

UPDATE: Some of the feedback we’ve received from this piece came along the lines that it’s inappropriate to refer to Fred Phelps as a “Democrat activist.”

We stand by that characterization. If anything, it’s an understatement.

Fred Phelps ran for major office in Kansas as a Democrat no less than four times. He ran for governor on the Democrat ballot in 1990, 1994 and 1998 and for senator in 1992. Phelps received 11,000 votes, or seven percent, in 1990, he received 5,000 votes, or three percent, in 1994 and he picked up 15,000 votes, or 15 percent, in 1998. And in the senatorial contest in 1992 he garnered 49,000 votes, or 30 percent. Phelps furthermore ran as a Democrat candidate for mayor of Topeka in 1993 and 1997.

Phelps also has been closely associated with Al Gore on several occasions throughout Gore’s career – Phelps’ son Fred, Jr. was a Gore delegate at the 1988 Democrat convention and the Phelpses hosted a Gore fundraiser in Topeka that year. Phelps claims that Westboro members “ran” Gore’s 1988 campaign in Kansas.

Phelps may not fit within the typical definition of “Democrat activist” some of our readers expect – but a six-time Democrat candidate is an activist Democrat. That is quite clear, as unknown to the public as it might be.

posted by dubold at 6:50 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The comment in and of itself is constructive.

Sparkticus - That may be what you think, but the fact that everyone is asking for specific cites belies that.

We're pretty casual round here. If you have a problem with what someone is saying, just call them on it. But I think the point that is being made is that no one seems to be mudslinging in the manner you describe.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:50 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


WBC is coming to my town in two days to protest... Charlie Daniels?

Regardless, there is a growing counter protest on Facebook, and I have already warned people that this is exactly what the Westboro Lawyers want to happen.
posted by shinynewnick at 6:55 AM on April 26, 2011


I don't think any of the stuff on that website actually happened. I'm not sure WBC ever came here to Mississippi. If they did, why haven't they filed a lawsuit over what happened?
posted by longklaw at 6:56 AM on April 26, 2011


dubold: if you read the site, it's very, very Mississippi right-wing.

Fred Phelps ran under the Democrat ticket mostly based on his pro-civil-rights work in the 60s before his entire mind collapsed and he became a believer in God as a God of Hate. It's really terrifying how things work, and I no longer find myself able to find any anger for them. Pity, yes, but no anger. They've deliberately lost their grip - thrown it away - and it's just depressing to think of what they did to themselves.
posted by mephron at 7:01 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The evidence for this actually happening is pretty thin. There's only the Hayride piece and blog post pointing to it. Picklesmoke?

On the other hand, God Hates Figs. I read it in the Bible.
posted by warbaby at 7:02 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, there was a Jason Rogers from Brandon, Miss. that died in Afghanistan this month, so there's that. If this is a hoax, it's in the same poor taste that the WBC exhibits when they use dead soldiers for their own gain.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:04 AM on April 26, 2011


I'm not saying it did or didn't happen but if it did, I'm not surprised there was no local press coverage. If the powers-that-be in a little town decided not to allow the Westboro folks any way to protest, it would be pretty easy to get the editor of the local paper to somehow forget to print a story about it, I reckon.

Nthing that this is not the way I like seeing police power used, even against Westboro. If they can do it to them, they can do it to the rest of us.
posted by immlass at 7:09 AM on April 26, 2011


Regardless, there is a growing counter protest on Facebook, and I have already warned people that this is exactly what the Westboro Lawyers want to happen.

A counter-protest, in and of itself, is fine. Outnumber them, out-chant them, out-love them.

Just don't try to out-asshole them.

No, the allusion is to blaming the victim. All victims of illegal police harassment are apples and there should not be any oranges.

My point was that I don't think I was victim-blaming, but maybe I misunderstand the meaning of the term. If the KKK marches through a black Chicago neighborhood, is it victim-blaming to point out that such an action is intended to incite violence?
posted by muddgirl at 7:11 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure WBC ever came here to Mississippi.

From the Clarion Ledger: "According to the website for the Westboro Baptist Church, members plan to picket outside Pinelake Baptist Church before the funeral at 2:15 p.m. Saturday."

Also, straight from the horse's ass: http://www.godhatesfags.com/fliers/20110413_Dead-Soldier-Brandon-MS-Jason-A-Rogers.pdf
[not going to link to it, you can cut-n-paste if you want]
posted by peeedro at 7:11 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is one of those horrible, "I don't want the police force my tax dollars pay for to act in any way but the upholding of the spirit and letter of the law, but I personally would like to take you outside and kick your ass" things.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:14 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


OK, y'all. I'm a Mississippi resident, and my family and I call Rankin County home. I had over a dozen friends attend the procession and other contacts attended USMC Rogers' funeral. Having said that...

There is no support or proof this WBC counter protest, or whatever you want to call it, happened. If such a thing did, the county, let alone the state, would be knee-deep in a media and legal onslaught by WBC or any number of groups.

Patriot Guard Riders attended and confirmed the lack of WBC presence. Various members of law enforcement also denied any appearance of WBC.
posted by fijiwriter at 7:20 AM on April 26, 2011 [18 favorites]


IMO, here is how you handle WBC. You go around to every media outlet in town and get them all agree to not cover them.

Then you explain to the family how WBC operates -- that they aren't sincere, and that they are only doing this to make money from lawsuits.

Then you do the thing where you kind of surround the WBC people with people cheering with flags, etc, just to minimize the impact on the day of the funeral. The hard part is that you have to make sure that none of them interact with the WBC in any way, and that, again, they understand that the WBC makes money by suing people.

You have to bankrupt them, and the only way to do it is by ignoring them.
posted by empath at 7:23 AM on April 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


thank you, fijiwriter.
posted by mephron at 7:23 AM on April 26, 2011


Okay but if Fred Phelps was a high school bully we'd be down with this, right?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:23 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


How come at G8 conferences free speech is exercised in cordoned off protest areas, but at funerals you can sit on the casket?
posted by Trochanter at 7:24 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


From the Clarion Ledger: "According to the website for the Westboro Baptist Church, members plan to picket outside Pinelake Baptist Church before the funeral at 2:15 p.m. Saturday."

No idea what happened in Mississippi (I'm extremely skeptical about pretty much everything in the OP), but it's fairly common for the Westboro folks to announce they are coming, then never show up. Gives them a few days of free publicity in the local papers / radio stations. Our local nitwit talk radio DJ gave one of their nitwit spokespeople a half-hour interview the day before a military funeral here, in which she assured him they were arriving in full force.

Come the funeral, no sign of 'em.
posted by the bricabrac man at 7:27 AM on April 26, 2011


Trochanter- the WSB assholes were cordoned off into a sep. area in the supreme court case as well. Apparently most of the soldier's family didn't even know they were protesting until the media reports came out the next day.
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:28 AM on April 26, 2011


Okay but if Fred Phelps was a high school bully we'd be down with this, right?

I wouldn't be, but I also choose to remain silent when y'all are cheering on a kid or a teenager, vs. cheering on a bunch of full-grown adults who should know better.
posted by muddgirl at 7:29 AM on April 26, 2011


jenkinsEar: thank you
posted by Trochanter at 7:32 AM on April 26, 2011


Consider the source, and put this site in the same category as FoxNews, Breitbart and Newsmax: an unreliable source.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:34 AM on April 26, 2011


While this is epic in a sense, it's also pretty terrible. If the cops/county did this to your protest, you'd be pretty pissed.
posted by Windopaene at 7:38 AM on April 26, 2011


Shall I cheer that this time it was directed violating the free speech right of homophobes, when previously these same tactics were used to restrict the free speech rights of anti-war protesters and people protesting for civil rights for blacks?

No, sadly, because aside from these tactics being illegal and undemocratic, the fact that these people are homophobes has little to nothing to do with why these tactics were used against them. We have no idea if the community would have responded in the same way if this had been, say, the funeral of a gay teen.
posted by maryr at 7:47 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


peeedro: "Is there any problem that violence and police intimidation can't solve?"

How about a Glasgow kiss?
posted by Splunge at 7:54 AM on April 26, 2011


No better way to say "I love you" than a Glasgow kiss.
posted by peeedro at 7:56 AM on April 26, 2011


Because beating people up for disagreeing with you always ends so well.
posted by unSane at 7:57 AM on April 26, 2011


By the way, while Brandon is a separately incorporated town it is an outlying suburb of Jackson, the largest city in and capital of the state of Mississippi. It's not just a sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere; it's full of lawyers and doctors who moved out of Jackson for the usual reason cities empty out of affluent people. WBC will have their work cut out for them if they think they are going to sue anybody over this.
posted by localroger at 7:59 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I AM SHOCKED AT THIS LAWLESS BEHAVIOR
(giggles maniacally)
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 8:02 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


God, as much grief as people give Michael Moore, he was able to drive them away just by bringing gay people to the scene.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:02 AM on April 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Because beating people up for disagreeing with you always ends so well.
posted by unSane at 7:57 AM on 4/26
[+] [!]


I'm raising my kids this way. It's all good.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:07 AM on April 26, 2011


There is no support or proof this WBC counter protest, or whatever you want to call it, happened.

If this is the case, these guys are doing a great job being the next Breitbart.


Not to make this a MetaTalk, but I'm going to suggest keeping ihatethemedia.com on our watch list of questionable sources

posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:12 AM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Fred Phelps is a "democrat activist" in exactly the same way that Ted Bundy is a "republican serial killer".
posted by Aquaman at 8:14 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


What? Effective?

(I have a personal theory that, by acting as an example to what anti-gay bigotry looks like writ large, the vile hatred of the Phelps family has done more to advance the cause of gay equality than many gay rights organizations I've supported.)

But, yes, Aquaman, I get your point. Whether or not this story turns out to have any truth, I don't think ihatethemedia.com is going on my trusted news source list.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:18 AM on April 26, 2011


after monitoring this thread for several minutes, i decided to jump in and post something so vague and cryptic that you would reread the entire thing wondering (possibly) what the fuck i'm talking about. i must insist you do not respond to my comment unless you have something constructive to contribute to its clear aims, and i ask that you treat me with therapeutic courtesy.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 8:21 AM on April 26, 2011 [18 favorites]


The car-blocking was clever, effective and non-violent. It was done to protect the family members from harassment, and I think of it as being the same as the angels who protect other funerals.

But violence is unacceptable.
posted by jb at 8:45 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


But I am curious - has the Westboro family ever been investigated by the local children's services for child neglect/abuse? Because it seems to me that taking your kids out to protest funerals isn't really very good parenting.

Also, where do they get their money? I understand that many are lawyers, but who will hire them?
posted by jb at 8:58 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


jb, I don't know about all of them, but I know someone who has a professional relationship with a Westboro Baptist member. She holds down a regular job(for a state government) and does her protesting on weekends.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:01 AM on April 26, 2011


I hate WBC, but this was wrong and I hope they sue Branson silly.
posted by caddis at 9:01 AM on April 26, 2011


Brandon
posted by caddis at 9:03 AM on April 26, 2011


i'm not buying the story at all. it sounds like a paranoid revenge fantasy straight out of whatever movie would be considered the tea-party christian version of porky's.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:03 AM on April 26, 2011


Because it seems to me that taking your kids out to protest funerals isn't really very good parenting.

A larger proportion of more mainstream Christians take their children to protest at abortion clinics. As far as I know, religious indoctrination absent other factors is not child abuse - it's considered good parenting.
posted by muddgirl at 9:05 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait. Rednecks beat up WBC jackwagons

Rednecks? Seriously? Do you know people in that town personally that you can judge them with that word, or are you just saying that because, you know, they're from Mississippi?

So so tired of the "You're not from an acceptable liberal enclave, therefore you're a backwoods yokel" mentality that's displayed here so frequently.
posted by hippybear at 9:07 AM on April 26, 2011 [25 favorites]


Did this thing even actually happen?
posted by box at 9:15 AM on April 26, 2011


Also, where do they get their money?

They sue people who assault them and municipalities that interfere with their "peaceful protests." That and like any cult they have some members who, as Bulgaroktonos says, hold down normal jobs.
posted by localroger at 9:18 AM on April 26, 2011


hippybear, thanks for the defense.

Love, a Brandon resident.
posted by fijiwriter at 9:29 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Simple and effective! While there was dismay and discussion about the Supreme Court ruling that allows Westboro to continue their protests, a small town in Rankin County, Mississippi shows we don't need can violate several laws to effectively keep them away.

FTFY.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:37 AM on April 26, 2011


It struck me immediately that this story reeks. Why automatically believe it, especially with the "Democratic activist" stuff at the end? This is making metafilter, by the way, days after being passed around on Facebook, where thousands of people believe the Supreme Court banned the Pledge of Allegiance in schools or that it's banned by ungodly schools or whatever, everywhere in America and post, When I was in school we had to say ... blah blah blah. This is up there with e-mail forwards from your right-wing uncle.
posted by raysmj at 10:03 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Google News only shows this story on right-wing blogs (Fox News, Weekly Standard) and sites I've never heard of (Yall Politics, The Chattanoogan, Peoples World). It seems to be a big topic of discussion on gun forums, though.
posted by box at 10:25 AM on April 26, 2011


This tactic is neither clever nor necessary. The recent SCOTUS ruling on WBC concerned whether Phelps could be liable for intentionally inflicted emotional distress for picketing funerals, not whether the government could regulate the time, place, and manner of such picketing.
That said, “[e]ven protected speech is not equally permissible in all places and at all times.” Id., at 479 (quot ing Cornelius v. NAACP Legal Defense & Ed. Fund, Inc., 473 U. S. 788, 799 (1985)). Westboro’s choice of where and when to conduct its picketing is not beyond the Government’s regulatory reach—it is “subject to reasonable time, place, or manner restrictions” that are consistent with the standards announced in this Court’s precedents. Clark v. Community for Creative Non-Violence, 468 U. S. 288, 293 (1984). Maryland now has a law imposing restrictions on funeral picketing, Md. Crim. Law Code Ann. §10–205 (Lexis Supp. 2010), as do 43 other States and the Federal Government. See Brief for American Legion as Amicus Curiae 18–19, n. 2 (listing statutes). To the extent these laws are content neutral, they raise very different questions from the tort verdict at issue in this case. Maryland’s law, however, was not in effect at the time of the events at issue here, so we have no occasion to consider how it might apply to facts such as those before us, or whether it or other similar regulations are constitutional.5 We have identified a few limited situations where the location of targeted picketing can be regulated under provisions that the Court has determined to be content neutral. In Frisby, for example, we upheld a ban on such picketing “before or about” a particular residence, 487 U. S., at 477. In Madsen v. Women’s Health Center, Inc., we approved an injunction requiring a buffer zone between protesters and an abortion clinic entrance. 512 U. S. 753, 768 (1994). The facts here are obviously quite different, both with respect to the activity being regulated and the means of restricting those activities.
If your goal is to prevent people from expressing views that are upsetting anywhere or anytime, you're going to have First Amendment problems. If you just want to keep WBC from holding a protest at the immediate funeral site, there are established ways of doing so that are still open to you, and that the Court seems likely to keep open. There's a world of difference between a protest that interferes with a funeral because of its location and a protest that interferes with a funeral because of its content.
posted by Marty Marx at 11:06 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Beerfilter: I am reminded of the story (I think it was made into an FPP), maybe from the Times, of a shooting in a small town of a violent bully. The police and courts failed to protect people from him, and he was shot in daylight in his pickup truck in front of a business, and yet somehow no one saw anything.

It sounds like you're talking about Ken McElroy (Wiki-of-a-million-lies, and also previously).
posted by sourcequench at 11:06 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Google News only shows this story on right-wing blogs

I wonder why?
"While “I hate the media” publicizes itself as a conservative/libertarian news website, deYoung and Fleming say they do not recognize their site as a serious news source, rather satire. 'Our job is to comment on the absurd and take the non-absurd to its absurd conclusions.'" — from the link above.

Which is to say that ihatethemedia is not only not a reliable source for news, it's basically The Onion if The Onion were run by racist tea-party types.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:35 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought I was going to read a story about a town that had foiled the WBC by That would have been awesome.

Oh well.
posted by mmrtnt at 11:56 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


> Fred Phelps is a "democrat activist" in exactly the same way that Ted Bundy is a "republican republic serial killer".
posted by mmrtnt at 12:08 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, seems like the story isn't true. But if it were, there's a part of me that, well, between Lawful Evil and Chaotic Good, I'm going to side with Chaotic Good every time.

That said, my "siding" with Brandon in this likely apocryphal incident does nothing, and we can't make policy on the good/evil scale. We can only legislate, well, the law. And this is agents of the law breaking it to silence people. The people they are silencing are, of course, people who only respect the law inasmuch as they can exploit it to make a career off of intentionally pushing grieving people over the edge, though...

Let me put it this way. If Phelps were murdered, I would not think murder was suddenly an acceptable way of dealing with problems or those whom we disagree with. I would not wish for his assassin to go free from justice. But I wouldn't lose any sleep or shed a single tear. It's awful, horrendous policy but as a matter of my sanity there are a very few people in this world who I absolutely refuse to give a shit about personally, and anyone involved with WBC is on that list.

As for good policy for dealing with them? I don't know. I don't think "less media coverage" solves anything. Personally I want more. Much more. I want their MO to be spectacularly well-known to the point where nobody takes them seriously, nobody believes anything they say, and nobody engages with them. Because right now they are mostly ignored at a national level and very, very much engaged with at a local level, and that's what their business model depends on. Let's move it to the opposite end. National News coverage of wherever their going and how they goad people into lawsuits, and nothing but eye-rolls at the local level.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:53 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would lose sleep over "vigilante justice," even if I thought that the victims were assholes.

Frankly, I hold a lot of unpopular opinions, and I don't want to get shot for speaking my mind. If protecting Phelps means I protect myself and others like me, then yay. Even though I wish Phelps would just get Raptured already and leave the rest of us alone.
posted by muddgirl at 2:04 PM on April 26, 2011


Let me put it this way. If Phelps were murdered, I would not think murder was suddenly an acceptable way of dealing with problems or those whom we disagree with. I would not wish for his assassin to go free from justice. But I wouldn't lose any sleep or shed a single tear. It's awful, horrendous policy but as a matter of my sanity there are a very few people in this world who I absolutely refuse to give a shit about personally, and anyone involved with WBC is on that list.

No, that's probably true of most. But there's a difference between hearing that Fred Phelps was assassinated, and reacting by shrugging and thinking "no great loss," and hearing that Fred Phelps was assassinated, and reacting by telling everyone, "now, that's the way to handle dicksmacks like him! Who's next?" I think the dissent in here is more about the "yay this is the way to handle him" tap-dancing than the actual handling.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:07 PM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


or maybe recruiting the people with the most evil, prolific flatulence

After a recent infuriating encounter with WBC here in my town, I've been trying to think of good legal ways to stick it to these people.

This is the best. We should organize.
posted by General Tonic at 2:31 PM on April 26, 2011


I could join that team if I had a good amount of grilled onions, jalapeños and red chile to eat... There's some magic ingredient which pushes it all into truly eye-watering territory, but I haven't quite got THAT nailed down yet.
posted by hippybear at 2:38 PM on April 26, 2011


EmpressCallipygos, I understand and agree. I'm both amused by the (probably untrue) story and don't wish for shit like that to catch on.

I expressed a similar thought in the thread from a while back when the two Pennsylvania judges were nabbed for taking tons of bribes in order to sentence a shit-load of juvenile defendants to prison. I said that I couldn't imagine the leaps I'd have to make in my mind in order to defend those judges in court. This inevitably led to people asking why I didn't think they deserved a proper defense, but I'd gone to bed after making my comment.

The point is two-fold. First, I don't find it contradictory to hold personal thoughts on a matter which don't fit with my beliefs of how society should work as a whole. I can detest using violence as a solution and still smirk a bit and think, "heh. good." when hearing about someone from WBC getting his ass kicked. The reactions come from two different parts of my brain. I believe that WBC should be allowed to continue their activities under the First Amendment. I also detest them with a fire in my belly which outburns almost any other thing which I can hate.

Secondly, I have a perhaps odd view of the law, which is far more offended by those who exploit it than those who break it outright. WBC does precisely one thing, and that is to hurt people as much as they can within the bounds of the law in the hopes of provoking a response which fits a tort. They only care about the First Amendment in the respect that it protects their scam and tactics. In this regard, yes, I promote allowing them, being on the threshold of what is protected by the First Amendment, to continue, because it protects those of us who are sincere in perhaps unpopular opinions to continue as well. But I also think they are "bad" for the First Amendment, because they use it so openly and objectively for evil. I'd prefer my First Amendment battles to be fought on porn grounds, frankly, and much of that shit horrifies me, but not like WBC does.

What I said about the Pennsylvania judges was from the point of view of someone who has practiced as a Defense Attorney, and who knows the mindset well of "protecting my client from the law," as Clarence Darrow once said. The Law is a far-too often fickle bureaucracy which only promotes welfare erratically and in which justice can depend on which courtroom you draw. Defendants need shepherds through that process, need someone in their corner.

But when the defendant is someone who knows the justice system backwards and forwards, and who perverted it to condemn the most helpless of possible defendants for illicit gains, on a personal level it becomes hard to get into the mindset required to give someone the "vigorous defense" that any defendant deserves.

So that's why, in this (probably bullshit) story of a group which exploits the law for evil gains, meeting a town which decides en masse to use it's executive function to not go overboard in trying to protect them, I smile. My super-ego hates the idea of these kinds of tactics. My id loves it anyway.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:43 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like the idea of monkeywrenching the WBC...like Navelgazer said, I'll choose Chaotic Good over Lawful Evil everytime.

This may be a hoax, but the tactics are good to know.
posted by schyler523 at 7:33 PM on April 26, 2011


The WBC is truly a wretched bunch, but, nope, I do not support punch-outs and kangaroo questioning as a remedy. I'll stand up and say that.
posted by SheaCoin at 8:24 PM on April 26, 2011


The Supreme Court said that the WBC protests did not inflame emotional and incite voilence.

Maybe if the Supreme Court had recognized that they do, in fact, incite violence, then it could have been solved a different way.
posted by Flood at 5:09 AM on April 27, 2011


The Supreme Court said, to my understanding, that the father learned about the WBC protests after the fact, wasn't bothered by them at all during the funeral, so ... no, they didn't incite violence at that particular time, and there's no evidence that they did here either, because this didn't happen. The Court did note, as others have said here, that previous rulings re a proper distance for security purposes can apply to WBC. I think most of the hoopla about the case would die if people would bother to read it.
posted by raysmj at 6:21 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe if the Supreme Court had recognized that they do, in fact, incite violence, then it could have been solved a different way.

They probably don't incite violence in the relevant sense (though I believe Alito's dissent argues that their speech is unprotected as fighting words, which is different). Inciting violence requires a call for immediate violence against others.

You really, really don't want "saying things that make people mad enough to direct violence at the speaker" to be unprotected speech just because listeners want to retaliate violently, lest you be committed to the claim that the entirety of the Civil Rights movement ran afoul of the First Amendment. You need to restrict the cases, as the fighting words doctrine does, by requiring other elements that don't apply to protests of this sort.

But again, the whole thing could be avoided with boring old zoning laws. Going to the City Council isn't as exciting as monkeywrenching, but monkeywrenching can't be justified when there are easy, albeit boring, legal means of addressing the issue.
posted by Marty Marx at 8:57 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Huh. We got on the dailywh.at.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:03 PM on April 27, 2011


« Older The Blue Sky In Games campaign...  |  Strangers, Again, a short film... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments