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Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for December, 2007

That Didn’t Take Long

Jim Burroway

December 27th, 2007

A tiger escaped its enclosure in the San Francisco zoo and killing one young man and seriously mauled two more on Christmas Day, just as the zoo was about to close. Our friends at Westboro Baptist had their press release ready to go the very next day:Westboro Press Release

Uh, happy Feast of St. Stevens (a.k.a Boxing Day)…

Flirting With A Westboro Man

Jim Burroway

November 18th, 2007

Charles Firth is an Australian comedian living in the US. He appears on the ABC’s (Australian Brocasting Company) The Chaser’s War On Everything in a recurring segment called “Firth In America.” In this segment, he discovers the allure of a “Westboro Boi.”

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Phelps Liable for $10.9 Million

Timothy Kincaid

October 31st, 2007

phelps.jpgRueters is reporting that a jury ordered Westboro Baptist Church to pay the family of a serviceman whose burial service was picketed by Phelp’s church.

The jury in federal court determined that the Westboro Baptist Church based in Topeka, and three of its principals had invaded the privacy of the dead man’s family and inflicted emotional distress when they protested at his funeral last year.

This bothers me in a few ways.

First, I am in favor of protected speech, even vile disgusting speech like that of Fred Phelps and his family. While there is no question that this celebration of the poor kid’s death was disturbing, I don’t like the precedent this sets. Perhaps as I hear more about the details – such as whether the protest was on public property or at a private funeral home – I may reconsider. But I recognize that my speech could be unwelcome and distressing to anti-gay activists or devoutly religious bigots.

Second, I can’t help but wonder if the outcome would have been different had Westboro been picketing a gay person’s death. I somehow suspect that the family of the serviceman was held by the jury to be more deserving. Perhaps I’m cynical, but I doubt they would have given $2.9 million to a grieving same-sex spouse.

UPDATE: The final award was much more:

The federal jury first awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages. It returned in the afternoon with its decision to award $6 million in punitive damages for privacy loss and $2 million for distress.

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