Controversial pastor Fred Phelps of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church has spoken out regarding the tragic shootings in Tucson, Ariz., reports The Stir. In a move that should surprise no one who has followed the activities of Phelps and his flock, the contentious pastor has called Jared Lee Loughner a “soldier hero” and announced plans to boycott the funerals of the six people who were gunned down in a Tucson Safeway on Saturday, among them a 9-year-old girl.
Fred Phelps and the free speech/hate speech divide
Few people burdened by even an ounce of human compassion could entertain the idea that when Jared Lee Loughner shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others, Loughner was somehow doing the work of a benevolent higher power. While the U.S. Constitution grants individuals the right to free speech, resolving where to place the line before hate speech – of which Fred Phelps and other members of the Westboro Baptist Church have been accused in the media – has proven to be a legal quagmire.
Currently on the docket for the Supreme Court of the United States is a case in which Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church are being accused of using hate speech during their protests at the funeral of an Iraq war veteran. The dead soldier’s father was initially granted millions of dollars in damages by a Baltimore federal court, but that ruling was later overturned by an appeals court.
‘Thank God for the violent shooter,’ said Phelps
Based upon Fred Phelps’ interpretation of an ancient text – the Bible – it is the work of a higher power that Jared Lee Loughner was sent to the Tucson, Ariz., Safeway with a loaded, concealed Glock-19. In Phelps’ mind, it was the will of God that Gabrielle Giffords and 13 others were wounded and six were killed. Phelps says the victims faced harsh justice for what he believes to be support for the homosexual community and divorce (points of fixation for the Westboro Baptist Church). Phelps even went so far as to say that it was unfortunate that more didn’t die, such is his hatred of those he feels have wronged society – including a 9-year-old girl.
As The Stir puts it, “neither common sense nor respect” are characteristics of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church.