Members of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church arrived early Tuesday morning in Harrisonville Missouri to protest the funeral of a fallen local hero who was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan last week.
Westboro Baptist Church issued a press release on November 19 where they stated their intent to protest in the vicinity of Corporal Jacob Carver’s funeral on Tuesday. That release spread like wildfire through a community of fiercely loyal American Patriots, whose response was immediate. A massive campaign was launched rallying supporters to the protest, and preparations were made to protect the Carver family.
Twenty year old Jacob Carver, a Freeman Missouri resident and 2008 graduate of Cass-Midway High School, was killed, along with two of his fellow soldiers in a suicide bomb attack in Kandahar province late last week. He joined the Army in September of 2008 and was stationed in Fort Campbell and assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.
In the chilly 29 degree weather, hundreds of Cass County residents showed up, lining Mechanic Street, carrying signs and waving flags as they waited to bid farewell to Jacob Carver.
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church arrived shortly after 9 am and gathered on a small corner just blocks from the funeral home. They waved hate filled signs and sang perverted versions of Patriotic and Christmas songs. Dozens of Carver supporters gathered around the protestors, waving American flags and signs, singing “God Bless America” and reciting the pledge of allegiance.
Local and county officials provided protection for both the supporters and protestors, but after about fifteen minutes, the residents of Cass County decided they’d had enough and literally ran Westboro Baptist Church out of their city. A slight confrontation occurred, however police were able to break it up and no injuries were reported.
This is the latest in a long line of protests by Westboro Baptist Church, the Topeka Kansas independent church led by anti-homosexual propagandist Fred Phelps. These protests have gained national attention for their extreme stance on gays in the military. But that was not the only message being preached during the Tuesday protest in Harrisonville, where members of the Westboro Baptist Church held signs reading, “God Hates Jews”, “You Eat Your Kids”, and “Priests Rape Boys”.
At one point, one of the protestors actually said, “This is what he (Jacob Carver) died for. We have every right to be here.” An argument ensued at which point one of the supporters yelled back, “So Do We!”, and it became a test of wills as the protestors sang a perverted version of a Christmas carol and the crowd responded with a much louder rendition of “God Bless America”. Each attempt made by the protestors to talk was drowned out by the crowd either chanting “USA” or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
These protests call into question placing limits on the First Amendment. Though no one can argue Westboro’s right to say what they want to say, at what point is enough, enough? Jacob Carver can no more effect military policy, then his family, you or I. Military policy is established by congress, senate, the president, and the pentagon. The only purpose these protests seem to serve is the intentional affliction of emotional distress to the family, friends, and community of these fallen soldiers. It is hate speech at its worst.
Thankfully, in the case of the Harrisonville protest, supporters were able to force protestors out of the city well before the Carver family was exposed to them. But that is sadly not the case for so many other families who have been forced to witness first hand these hateful signs at a time when their attention should be directed to mourning the loss of their loved ones.
As a first hand witness to the Harrisonville protest, I can say, without a doubt, I have never seen anything as disgusting as this in my life. Their message was completely lost to me amidst the inflammatory allegations these protestors made and the shocking signs they held up. As someone who was born, raised, and married into the military, I cannot in my wildest imagination, fathom any scenario where this type of display would ever be acceptable. There is no cause on this planet worth tarnishing such a somber occasion. It shreds my heart to see the complete and utter ingratitude of this group for the sacrifices so many have made for them. For all of us.
Though this protest was, I dare say peaceful given the circumstances, it was pointless and caused needless pain to an entire community. The only good to come from it was the rallying of an entire community in support of not only a family but our Nation as a whole. It reminded us all that freedom is not free, but comes at the high price of the lives of our men and women in uniform.
To the family of Jacob Carver, know that the residents of Cass County grieve for your sacrifice, and rejoice with you for the amazing life that Jacob lived. He was a precious gift to us all and his memory will be forever cherished.
Click here for photos from the Westboro Baptist Church funeral protest in Harrisonville MO.