Major Media Companies Side With Vicious Protests of Military Funerals from 'God Hates Fags' Church

While liberals like Randi Rhodes are nastily comparing Rush Limbaugh to Rev. Fred Phelps of “God Hates Fags” infamy, as if Rush would picket a military funeral, the liberal media are standing side by side with Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church in a demonstration of First Amendment fundamentalism. They've filed a “friend of the court” brief in favor of the right to infuriate families of the fallen with those vicious funeral protests.

The list includes the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the E.W. Scripps Company, the Hearst Corporation, NPR, The New York Times, and the Tribune Company (parent of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times). Jeff Schogol of the military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported these companies joined other free-press advocates in supporting these hateful incitements:

ARLINGTON, Va. — Twenty-two media organizations have sided with a radical church against the father of a fallen Marine who is trying to sue it for picketing his son’s funeral.

The media organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Wednesday with the Supreme Court in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church, which protests near servicemembers’ funerals because it believes that troops’ deaths and other national tragedies are divine revenge for America’s tolerance of gays and lesbians.

The father of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who died in Iraq in 2006, sued the church for picketing near his son’s funeral with signs that said “God hates you,” “You’re in hell” and “Semper Fi fags.” They also distributed a flier with Snyder’s picture on it that read “Burial of an Ass.”

Snyder’s father, Al, won at trial, but he lost an appeal and was ordered to pay more than $16,000 in court costs. The case will be heard by the Supreme Court in the fall.

While not defending the Westboro Baptist Church’s actions, the 22 media organizations argued that the church is protected by the First Amendment. They also contend that the case could have a chilling effect on news gathering if Al Snyder prevails.

In the brief, the media groups argue that speech cannot be deemed too offensive too be protected by the First Amendment.

“Listeners’ emotional reactions to speech, however, cannot serve as a justification for censorship,” the brief said. “This Court has made clear that citizens ‘must tolerate insulting, and even outrageous, speech in order to provide “adequate breathing space” to the freedoms protected by the First Amendment.’ ”

The media groups also argue that the Supreme Court ruled there can be no standard to determine which speech is too “outrageous” to be protected in the case of the Rev. Jerry Falwell against Hustler Magazine, which ran a parody advertisement about Falwell’s mother.

Skimming the free-speech amicus brief reveals that the lawyers who drafted it sound like secularists, implying that religious folks are the ones most likely to say outrageous things. Historical references including not only Falwell's Hustler suit, but Pat Robertson's and Falwell's statements after 9/11 and William Jennings Bryan and the Scopes Monkey Trial. It does conclude on the opposite point, that H. L. Mencken's nasty words upon Bryan's death are analogous to the Fred Phelps fanatics.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis