Father told to pay protesters’ court costs

An appeals court ruled a Pennsylvania man must pay court costs in his lawsuit against church protesters who picketed the funeral of his son who died in Iraq.

Attorneys for Al Snyder said the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered him to pay more than $16,000 in court costs for the Westboro Baptist Church, the Topeka, Kan., church that maintains combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are divine retribution for America’s tolerance of homosexuality, WGAL-TV, Lancaster, Pa., reported Tuesday.

Full story: Father told to pay protesters’ court costs

  • didacticrogue

    Bill O’Reilly announced on his show last night that he will personally pay this court-ordered award on behalf of Mr. Snyder:

    Good on him.

    • anniebanannie

      O’Reilly putting his money where his mouth is.

    • oeno

      I noted good for Papa Bear at another place. No one ever accuses him of faking it. I disagree with him most of the time (what little I see anymore, because I don’t like any of the White Noise Networks), mostly because he’s all too willing to talk over any guest, but I have always respected him for wearing his heart on his sleeve.

      As a man of the left (or so they tell me these days, which means I hope my Burke, Gibbons, etc. sell well at the Yard Sale) I salute him for this moment.

      I imagine that Papa Bear remembers his Tacitus from “The Histories”: Those that lay claim to unbiased accuracy must speak of no man with either hatred or affection.

  • baal

    These people make my skin crawl, but I’ll go ahead and say it: what they are doing is vile, but legally defensible. In a free society you have to live with scum like this this, it’s the downside to freedom. Yes, I hate these people and I hate Nambla and ANSWER and Farrakhan…but if we are going to be free, so are they. (that doesnt mean you shouldnt take the opportunity to throw rocks at them.)

    • anniebanannie

      Somehow I think their freedom of speech should end at somebody’s funeral.

  • badmotherfarker

    Perhaps the DC can start a fund up for us to donate to. And not for the “church” but for a team of lawyers to sue them non-stop, over anything, for the next 10 years.

    • des1

      I’d contribute whatever I could.

      • badmotherfarker

        For a fellow soldier, I’m all in. This is where free speech becomes ugly. It’s a necessary right, but we as humans and Americans are then obligated to respond accordingly. You have to vocally oppose that which is vocally offensive. These scumbags are free to spew hate, but I’m morally obligated to oppose them.

    • patrick

      O’Reilly said tonight that he is paying the fine and will await the SCOTUS decision. I can’t help but think that there must have been a local ordinance against disturbing the peace. If this is not disturbing the peace then what is?

      • oeno

        He shouldn’t write the check just yet. This is going to SCOTUS already and I don’t think he’ll ever have to pay a dime.

    • theneighborhoodguy

      BMF: on point.

  • elyriaohio

    This should be overturned. It’s Un-friggin-American.

  • windrdr

    The 4th got this one wrong. There are examples of the limits of free speech, such as shouting fire in a crowded theater, or inciting a crowd to violence. The intentional infliction of severe and extraordinary emotional distress seems to be the point here – as in what amounts to a verbal assault upon a grieving family paying last respects to a deceased loved one, for which there is no ‘do over’. Likewise, the rational that Phelps and his followers are exercising freedom of religion is problematic, in that we, as a society, do not honor the religious customs of killing the widow of a dead man to accompany him to the afterlife, nor the ‘honor killing’ of women to ‘reclaim’ the honor of a family, both of which are obvious for their infringement upon the rights of others.

    Phelps’ right of ‘speech’ does not extend to the point if may run untrammeled over innocent victims, which is what occurs in the incidents that he fabricates. And it is a further violation when such jackassery takes place at ceremonies held at private cemetaries.

    Here’s hoping that the SCOTUS follows such a line of reasoning and opens the floodgates to sue Phelps and his Westerboro lunatic followers for every thin dime they’ve got, or will ever get for the rest of their wretchedly twisted lives.

    • thebigodoopedu2

      this is simply harassment. This group shows up at the funerals and basically taunts the soldiers loved ones. it’s despicable and should not be protected under free speech. this is an attempt to incite and provoke the grieving family members of those that lost their lives serving in our armed forces. I’m guessing that the same people that support this type of freedom of speech will also support the harassment that recently caused a young woman to hang herself. blatant Bullying and verbal harassment is not freedom of speech.

      • anniebanannie

        I read somewhere, and can’t find it now, that they sued Phelps using an invasion of privacy basis and that is why this judge went the other way. He said there was no infringment on the families privacy because Phelps kept it outside the perimeter of the funeral. Like I said, can’t find it now, and I’m not saying I agree with that, just sharing what I read someplace. I’m open to any legal eagles in here stating if that is a possibility.

  • Palindari

    Curious where the right to free speech and “hate” speech draws it’s line. They are obviously promoting hate – referring to their belief that God hates live soldiers and homosexuals in alive or dead.

    Yes, the decision is constitutionally correct, and yes, equally deplorable – but this kind of “hate” speech is only inflamatory, derogatory and destructive.

    The father should have a case of some sorts in regards to protection against this. Perhaps not, if so… then maybe some organization should shadow them – erect 8 ft barriers and cancel them out in that fashion… just an idea.

    • des1

      They already do. There is a biker gang that finds out where they are going and gets between them and the families. They probably can’t do it every time, so it would be nice to coordinate with other groups to make sure these scumbags are kept as far from grieving families as possible.

      • oeno

        Well if the gang knows about it, I’m sure that other people know about it. This is what I saw the father say the other night, to paraphrase…

        At some point people won’t take it and it will get violent.

        My own addendum: Then they will know they aren’t in Kansas anymore.

  • didacticrogue

    These people are detestable. I’ll watch with interest what SCOTUS has to say on the matter.

    This is not easy for me, but while I find their actions contemptible, I have to defend their right to vocalize their opinions, however objectionable. I would certainly support local laws which would keep their protests out of earshot of those mourning for their loved ones.

    These sorry excuses for human beings go out of their way – traveling nationwide – to celebrate the deaths of fallen warriors, exercising their first amendment rights at the expense of the friends and families of the fallen. Shame on them.

    I’m not a violent man, but should they show up at the funeral of any of the brave young men and women of my community who have chosen to serve, they would be asked to leave, then escorted away from the area, let the chips fall where they may. I would be happy to defend my actions to a jury of my peers.

    I can only hope that there is a special place in hell reserved for such people.

    • theneighborhoodguy

      There is didact: Smushed up against the fiery rectum of Satan…forever.

      • didacticrogue


        Sounds pretty hellish to me.

        • theneighborhoodguy

          Should smell and taste pretty hellish, as well…and still a better fate than they deserve…or am I being way too judgmental?

  • eyesawred

    Unfortunately as much as it makes me sick, this was the right ruling. The courts should have never given the father that money in the first place. The first amendment is there to protect unpopular speech and nothing is more unpopular than these people. I feel for the father deeply, but he never should have been awarded any money in court.

    • des1

      I disagree. There are limits to freedom of speech. These families are holding a private event and the scumbags are disrupting it for their political ends. Yes, you have to be careful about limiting speech, but I firmly believe that carving out a special niche for people attending funerals wouldn’t be detrimental to our rights and would keep these idiots from harming more people.

  • jeffincos

    I’d tell them go screw themselves. I wouldn’t pay those idiots a damn dime. They are crazy as hell and probably lucky to be alive if not for the police protection. Some people don’t tolerate that kind nonsense.

    • jeffincos

      First Amendment rights or not.

  • suttree

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the Supremes take this up. The case is following the same trajectory as Texas v Johnson. I can’t wait to read a Roberts etal majority opinion scolding the minority for the inevitable patronizing civics lecture.