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The Rotting Cryptkeeper slapped with $2.9 mil judgment for 'invasion of privacy' at funeral

Oh my, The Westboro Baptist hate machine has been slapped hard in court; this is for compensatory damages.

A grieving father won a $2.9 million verdict Wednesday against a fundamentalist Kansas church that pickets military funerals out of a belief that the war in Iraq is a punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.

Albert Snyder of York, Pa., sued the Westboro Baptist Church for unspecified damages after members demonstrated at the March 2006 funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq.

U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett noted the size of the award for compensating damages “far exceeds the net worth of the defendants,” according to financial statements filed with the court. The jury was to deliberate later on punitive damages.

Church members routinely picket funerals of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, carrying signs such as “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “God hates fags.”

A number of states have passed laws regarding funeral protests, and Congress has passed a law prohibiting such protests at federal cemeteries. But the Maryland lawsuit is believed to be the first filed by the family of a fallen serviceman.

The church and three of its leaders — the Rev. Fred Phelps and his two daughters, Shirley Phelps-Roper and Rebecca Phelps-Davis, 46 — were found liable for invasion of privacy and intent to inflict emotional distress.

I have doubts that this will hold up; the question is whether picketing outside a funeral is free speech, and I can't see how it isn't — the hatemongers have a right to picket if they are in a public space.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding