What do the KKK and Westboro Baptist Church have in common?
For one, they both are rabidly intolerant of certain groups of people. The KKK doesn't like minorities. Westboro doesn't like the LGBT community.
And, secondly, both groups turned up on Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery. Westboro was there to protest the proceedings, while the KKK showed up to protest... Westboro.
"Imperial Wizard" and founder of the KKK group the Knights of the Southern Cross Dennis LaBonte was upset that Westboro was choosing to protest military funerals. "It's the soldier that fought and died and gave them that right to free speech," LaBonte told CNN.
Westboro's response? A classic "pot calling the kettle black" statement that the KKK group had no "moral authority" whatsoever.
A group of 70 counter-protestors against Westboro was also present at Arlington. The counter-protestors were separate from the KKK group, according to CNN.
Westboro had earlier won a Supreme Court case that allowed them to carry out their protests during military funerals. They won this right based on the principles of free speech, and that their speech was a matter of public concern on public property that was conducted peacefully.
Unfortunately, as morally repulsive as it may seem for many who believe that families of soldiers killed in war should be able to bury their loved ones in peace, Westboro's actions are constitutionally protected.
Westboro's actions will probably continue. A small church of about 100, many of the church's members are related to one man, Fred Phelps. And, 11 out of Phelp's 13 children have law degrees. Most likely, all are very well-versed on the right to free speech.
So, who knows - maybe the KKK and Westboro will meet again to protest each other's protest.
- Battle of the Hate Groups: KKK Takes on Westboro (The Atlantic Wire)
- Free Speech: Court Protects Westboro Baptist Church Protests (FindLaw's Decided)
- Arizona Blocks Westboro Baptist Church Protest (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Does the First Amendment Protect Highly Offensive Speech at a Funeral and Directed at the Deceased? (FindLaw's Writ)