A jury on Wednesday ordered a Kansas church to pay $2.9 million in compensatory damages to relatives of a gay U.S. Marine after church members cheered his death at his funeral.
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.
The 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 invasion of privacy and $2 million for causing emotional distress.
This, of course, refers to the infamous Fred Phelps and his 150-or-so member wacko denomination that has, incidentally, severed all connections with the Southern Baptist Convention. Phelps has been on a crusade to get America to execute its gays, and he believes that all natural disasters, or even the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq is God’s punishment for failing to bring this about.
For the past couple of years, he has been stepping up his campaign by organizing protests at funerals for soldiers returning from Iraq. Apparently, 300 such funerals have already been desecrated by their presence. And now it looks like some families have pushed back, and may drive this wacko denomination (made up almost exclusively of Phelps’ own extended family, I hear) into some much deserved bankruptcy.
As POGGE says, it couldn’t happen to a nicer bigot. As for me, I say that it is a testament to the restraint and fortitude of the hundreds of grieving families that Phelps was dealt with through a court challenge, rather than having the snot beaten out of him like he so readily deserves.
I’ve been following with dread the developing state of emergency in Pakistan, and I’m feeling rather grim. Is it just me or does a happy ending to this whole rigamarole seem unlikely? Mousharrif has always been a military dictator, and the Bush Administration’s relations with him has seemed to me to be a deal with the devil — except when compared to the activities of the Islamist extremists in the northern territories. Bhutto or the other exiled political party leader might be the best solution, but both individuals have questions about their previous terms in office.
I don’t know what else to say. Is there room to hope here, or is the poop about to hit the fan? Anybody have an opinion? Stageleft? Candace? Raphael? Dawg? Consider this an open thread for your opinions.