Commentary | Americans are often confronted with a terrible dilemma. We pay huge price for our freedom and sometimes the cost seems almost impossible to bear. Take, for example, the foul mouthed haters of the Westboro Baptist Church, many of whom have high profile jobs with the state of Kansas, complete with extensive protection against termination. They are able to rant and rave on their own time and scream “God Hates Fags” and “Jews Killed Jesus,” and the state of Kansas simply can not fire them for their offensive conduct. They can even get away with picketing the funeral of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut and return to work with a self-satisfied smirk on their faces.
Fred Phelps is the founder of the nest of vipers known as the Westboro Baptist Church, and three of his brood work for the state of Kansas. Daughter Margie Phelps is director of re-entry for the Kansas Department of Corrections, and her job is protected by the Civil Service Act. Fred Phelps Jr., the oldest child, is a staff lawyer with the Kansas Department of Corrections. The youngest child, Abigail Phelps, works for the Topeka Juvenile Correctional Facility, part of the Juvenile Justice Authority.
People across the nation are stunned and outraged that these three specimens of humanity, all members of a group that is known as “America’s most hated family,” actually are in a position of authority over people who are in the criminal justice system, especially juveniles.
The concerns of Americans over these three charmers feeds right into their agenda. They live to provoke outrage and hopefully push enough buttons that someone will lose their cool and over-react. Then the Phelps team puts their ace in the hole to work and sues the crud out of everyone they can. Many of the Phelps family members are lawyers and lawsuits are their meat.
Recently, we came across an amazing article that was written by a journalist who has actually had dealings with the Westboro Baptist Church. Writing under the name, EL_CAMINO_SS, he presents his arguments in a through piece of reporting, titled “Why The Westboro Baptist Church Is A Scam.” We can only wonder if he chose to use an alias in fear of legal harassment by the Westoro Baptist Church’s army of lawyers.
“Here’s the proof. Who in the world makes a poster that says, “Thank God for IEDs” (Improvised Explosive Devices, aka Roadside Bombs). They are saying God is with the terrorists. Then they say God hates you. And homosexuals. Then when they see you looking patriotic with your American flag shirt, they point the sign at you and say, “Americans are going to hell for supporting this country!” and look you in the eye. NOTICE THOUGH, they never say, “You’re going to hell.” (That would give a judge an out to deny them their claim.)”
“Let’s look at the ways he’s trying to get you up in a tizzy to violate his civil rights for profit:”
“He says God Hates Fags, God hates the US Govt., that God hates the US Military, God Hates you, and God justifies the killing of others.”
“Phelps knows that saying ‘God’ and ‘Hate’ in the same sentence gets people worked up. He knows that. He knows that people have a knee jerk reaction to that.”
“He says that the US Govt. and the United States are evil.”
“This is another hot button with people who love their country. It is intentional. It is designed to make you take a swing at him. He wants $50,000 from you. He wants a Powerball winner to swing at him so he gets 100 million dollars. It’s that simple.’
“He goes after homosexuals, he goes after people who are making sacrifices. Phelps intentionally targets people that are being victimized, or good people doing their jobs to create more outrage. He kicks people when they’re down. He does that so someone will come up and defend them. Then he will sue you.”
“His boards are laminated on hardwood, because he pulls them out of trucks at least five times a week. He also puts them in bright colors for attention, and makes absolutely sure that you can read them at all time. He’s phishing you. Everyone must know that.”
By now you may be asking, “How the hell do this litigious hate mongers get away with this and even manage to remained employed by the state of Kansas?” The answer is simple and it will probably shock you. The Phelps family and the Westboro Baptist Church are protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Like everyone else in America, they have freedom of speech.
Of course, as lawyers, the Phelps family knows the rules better than most people, and they know exactly what they can get away with, especially in the workplace. The United States does not place limits on the speech of public employees when they are outside the workplace, and, as long as the Phelps do not promote their beliefs at work, they are 100 percent free to say whatever they wish on their own time.
Marge Phelps spelled out her position with the precision of a well-practiced lawyer:
“There is no inconsistency in my comfortably working with anyone, no matter his or her lifestyle, while at the same time taking a public stand against this nation’s moral decline.”
Before Kathleen Sebelius resigned to become Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Obama Administration, she was governor of Kansas. During her term of office, she was repeatedly questioned by angry citizens as to why she permitted the Phelps family to work for her government. Her spokeswoman, Nicole Corcoran, explained the situation:
“Almost certainly termination of an unclassified employee for speech engaged in outside of work would be very problematic.”
In plain English, unless a state employee violates the law, performs their duties below contractual standards, or engages in improper conduct on the job, they are virtually impossible to fire. The Phelps family knows the rules, they walk the tightrope like the Flying Wallendas ,and they have manged to retain their jobs despite mountains of mail demanding their scalps.
As the Bard once said, “There’s the rub.” For many years, the Westboro Baptist Church has engaged in what the European Union defines as hate speech, and, because of our Constitution, they get away with it. They rejoice and gloat in the knowledge that they are able to use our most sacred Freedoms against us to spread their message of ugliness and death. They want to upset you, and they hope you will be angry enough to take a swing at them. If you do, you will end up in prison, and the lovely Phelps family will own your home and control your bank account when they are done with the lawsuits.
There is only one solution and it is what the Phelps family fears the most. IGNORE THE BUMS. Let them rant and rave and go about your life with a smile on your face and a song in your heart. It may not matter much longer anyway. The good folks from Anonymous have declared war on the Westboro Baptist Church and I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of the Phelps family with an army of determined Hactivists on my case.
Let us close with the words of Anonymous and strike a blow for freedom and kindness in a loving world:
“We will not allow you to corrupt the minds of America with your seeds of hatred. We will not allow you to inspire aggression to the social factions which you deem inferior. We will render you obsolete. We will destroy you. We are coming.”