Victim Of Military Funeral Protests Speaks Out

BALTIMORE (WJZ)–It’s only been a day since the Supreme Court ruled a controversial church does have the right to picket military funerals. But this Thursday is especially hard on a local man who says he just wanted to lay his son to rest.

Derek Valcourt has the latest on Al Snyder.

It was painful because five years ago on this day his son was killed in Iraq, leading to the funeral protest that launched the case.

Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder died while fighting in Iraq in 2006. Now five years later, the Supreme Court ruled that the Westboro Baptist Church had the right to picket at his funeral. It’s disturbing to Matthew’s father Al Snyder who first filed the federal lawsuit in Maryland to stop the group from picketing others funerals.

“Well there’s not much we can do about it anymore,” Al Synder said. “When the government won’t do anything about it, and the courts give us no remedy, then people are going to start taking matters into own hands. And believe me someone is going to get hurt. And when the blood starts flowing, let it be on the Supreme Court justices’ hands.”

The issue has ignited a firestorm of comments on WJZ.com. Most people are sickened by the Supreme Court’s decision allowing the fundamentalist Kansas group to stage demeaning protests at military funerals because they believe God is punishing America for its tolerance of homosexuality.

But few online comments say while they are disgusted by the Westboro group’s beliefs, they agree the Westboro church has the same right to freedom of speech. Without it, some argue, we’d be opening the door to censorship.

Many legal experts like Byron Warnken agree.

“It’s the offensiveness of their words that almost adds to their First Amendment rights,” Warnken said. “Because it’s only by allowing you to speak against everyone who is repulsed by what you say do we have a forum. And in theory, if we’re all repulsed by what you say maybe we’ll all speak back and write editorials and do news shows about how repulsive it is to offend the families of our fallen heroes.”

Since Matthew Snyder’s funeral, Maryland has joined 41 other states in severely restricting picketing and protesting near funerals.

Conservative Justice Samuel Alito was the only dissenting opinion in the case.

Comments

One Comment

  1. pigeon says:

    “Justice Samuel Alito was the only dissenting opinion in the case”. Thank God that man had the where-with-all to stick to his guns no matter what the outcome. Thank you sir, at least for doing that.

  2. pigeon says:

    One other thing. I would love to see someone smack the smirk off that female’s face (can’t use the word lady ’cause she isn’t one).

  3. Bill Adams says:

    Im a christian and I would love to know where this crackpot church is getting its funding.

    1. theresebarnhill says:

      AMEN! I CANT BELIEVE THAT THE MEMBERS OF WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH, CALL THEMSELVES, CHRISTIAN!!! THEY’RE NOT! GOD DOESNT PREACH HATRED, HE TELLS US, “TO LOVE, THY NEIGHBOR”! IV BURIED A SON, AND ITS HARD ENOUGH, TO GET THROUGH THE SERVICE. MY HEART GOES OUT, TO MR. SNYDER, AND HIS FAMILY. IM SO SORRY THAT HE COULDNT BURY HIS SON, IN THE PEACE, THAT THE YOUNG SOLDIER, DESERED! WE HAVE TO RESPECT, LOVE, HONOR, AND APPRECIATE, ALL OF OUR SERVICEMEN, AND WOMAN! THESE SPECIAL PEOPLE PUT THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE, EVERYDAY, SO THAT IGNORANT, UN-EDUCATED PEOPLE, HAVE THE RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH! MY OTHER SON, IS IN THE U.S. ARMY, FIGHTING IN AFGHANISTAN. GOD FORBID-HE GETS KILLED, BUT, THERE WOULDNT BE ANYONE THERE, PROTESTING! MR. SNYDER, I SUPPORT YOU, ALL THE WAY. MAY GOD BE WITH YOU, AND HELP EASE THE PAIN, OF LOSING YOUR SON! THANKS, SINCERELY, THERESE

      1. theresebarnhill says:

        PLEASE POST MR. SNYDERS INFO, I WANT TO SEND HIM A DONATION! THANKS, THERESE BARNHILL

  4. everywhere says:

    I predict a retired sharp shooter will one day hone his skills.

    1. queenie says:

      I’ll take the prick out with a rubber band gun.

  5. everywhere says:

    They sue anyone that touches them and that is how they get there cash.

  6. CathyJoRN says:

    “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves” ~Abraham Lincoln

    ———————————
    Westboro & its’ warped followers have denied our nations military and the Snyder Family their right to grieve……. This is a travesty and should not be allowed.

    1. Dave says:

      But by your own logic, we should not deny them the freedom to say what they want, or we don’t deserve it ourselves….

      1. CathyJoRN says:

        I see this differently. The problem was created by Westboro when they infringed on the Snyder families right to grieve in private by making this a public fiasco. the rights or opinions of one person or group should not supercede the needs of many.
        THEY have violated rights, not Mr. Snyder.

  7. Myth says:

    I think God needs to wipe westboro baptist church off the face of the earth. They are a disgrace to the human race and set a bad example for America’s children.

  8. Leigh Ann Erdman says:

    No matter how repulsive the words and actions of Westboro Church are, we minimize the service of every single service man and woman who has fought and died for centuries in this great country for the freedoms that we have if we deny them the right to free speech and the right to assemble. If we declare that the rights of the one set of citizens supercede the rights of another then we start to lose our democracy. No matter how we feel about the protesters, they have protected rights under the Constitution of the United States. If we decide that the repugnant actions and words of Westboro “congregation/cult” are not protected than you set a dangerous precedent and it is only a matter of time before our other Constitutional rights are taken away. Do I approve of Westboro-absolutely not and I suspected their comeupance will be ugly but I also think we as Americans should be very careful about shouting to the hilltops about changing the Constitution if we want to maintain the freedoms we currently have. It only takes the erosion of one right to set a very dangerous precedent. Like those guns, freedom to practice your religion, abiltity to gather and to vote and all those other rights we so proudly boast. Keep that in mind when you want to remove those rights from another set of citizens

    1. Excellent Points says:

      Exactly. Thank you for a cool and intelligent head amongst all these jerking knees. People in this country don’t know how to think anymore. They just feel and lash out like little children, causing even more problems, rather than being a constructive force for solving them.

    2. RG says:

      You make a strong argument and I want to agree with you, especially on setting a dangerous precedent. However, the problem I have is that this was a private family funeral. This decision blurs the line between free speech and the right to assemble, and private harassment. They specifically target prviate family funerals, hop in their Greyhound Bus and travel to the location. It appears borderline stalking to me Why don’t they stand otuside the Pentagon and protest there?

  9. amy says:

    i think it’s horrible to be so blind to the face that these families have already been through enough and have felt so much pain due to the loss of a loved one its just wrong and i want to say that they are not children of god because god loves all his children even if they are gay or sick anything he made us all in his image and we should respect that and i am so sorry for the loss these families have to feel because they sons or daughters were strong enough to go put they lives on the line so we can be the lazy, selfish americans we have turned into over the past years what ever happened to unite we stand??

  10. Debbie says:

    This is an absolute outrage. For any Christian to feel justified in tormenting a family during their grief and benefit monitarily in addition is inconceivable to me. The supreme court, in my opinion has no right to give anyone the right to invade someone else’s privacy. How dare anyone make a mockery of a soldier who has given his life for them to have “freedom of speech.” God is our Judge, and I believe he will be doing some judging when those Christians and those judges get in front of him. Seems like a very unChristian way to raise money for the Church, don’t you think? I am almost ashamed to say I am a fellow Christian. I

    My sympathy goes out to Mr. Snyder and his family. Loosing a child is hard enough, but to think there is anyone in this country who believes that boy deserved to die because he is “gay,” or black or white or a woman or a Catholic, or any other bigotted reason makes me ashamed. Can you imagine what people in other countries are thinking about us right now. What a shame.

    1. Leigh Ann Erdman says:

      Westboro is a cult, they have their own doctrine. They use hate rhetoric not found in the Bible. Bottom Line…they are not a Christian organization.

    2. LaVerne Cash says:

      Well said Debbie.

  11. Mary says:

    There is no more unite we stand, unless your in the military or family of the a service person. In this country anymore its all about me I . While I understand what Leigh Ann was saying and she is right, its still doesn’t make it right that this country founded on the backs of service man and woman and we let trash like this walk our streets much less open their mouth. Its time people stand together and not let this keep going on.

    God Bless the Synder Family

    1. Leigh Ann Erdman says:

      Have been in the service 26 plus years and still serving

  12. Margaret Hudert says:

    UNITED STATE OF AMERCIA -CIAAAAAA WE ARE STAND FOR UNITED STATE OF AMERICA -AAAAAAAAA AMEN AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Margaret Hudert says:

      DON’T FORGET WE ARE AMERICA. THE PROTESTERS PLEASE LEAVE, LEAVE THESE FAIMLIES ALONE PERIOD.

  13. lostsailor says:

    I do believe they are A##holes, but in order for us to keep our freedon of speech we need to give them theirs. As much as a hate to say it. God will punish them for the pain they have caused

  14. Jason Robinson says:

    If this country is so damned then why don’t these people just leave the country rather than protesting during a funeral and bothering the families of servicemen/women who have paid the ultimate price. Jesus would have never protested at the funerals of Roman soldiers and the Jews were under Roman occupation way back. Don’t claim to follow Jesus and do things in his name that he would he not do and is displeased that you have done them. These “Chirstians” are making decisions based on their own understanding and Proverbs 3:5 says “lean not to thine own understanding.”

  15. Diane Sapp says:

    I am enraged. Free speech is not the issue,.But forcing anyone to listen to verbal abuse is another.How can they uphold domestic terrorists? These fanatics are attacking military families at home. The Supreme court has mandated that hate crimes in the form of verbal abuse must be endured by private citizens.

    I have not protested since the 60’s but grandma is now willing and able to put herself between those who fought for our freedoms and those that abuse them.

    Can we nicely ask the Supreme Justices via Facebook and social media to kindly step down now? After all we ask other countries to respect the majority of citizens and not the dissidents.

    1. Freedom is for ALL, Even Those You Don't Like says:

      You seem to have forgotten that this country was founded on dissent. And freedom of speech is for all, not just those you personally agree with. As despicable as these people are, they are not ‘terrorists’, and demanding to take away their rights to assemble and speak is to rob the rights of all. I see and hear things that could offend me nearly every day. You know what I do? I move on. It does not occur to me to try to trample the rights of others just because I don’t like what I am presented with. As loathsome as some are, I know that if they have no freedom, then nor do I.

      I personally feel there should be a specified buffer zone between these freaks and the funeral area – let them have their freedom of speech, but it does not need to be right in mourners’ faces. It would be nice if the media turned their backs on them as well. They’re warped throwbacks who need to be marginalized and ignored.

      1. LaVerne Cash says:

        Attention form the media is what they want because it gets their message out in the public eye. If the media turned their backs on them this would all stop.

    2. Leigh Ann Erdman says:

      Free speech is the issue. It went to court to challenge the validity of the First Amendment, so Constitutional law is the issue. Not whether or not it is morally repugnant, which it is….By the way, I am an Active Duty Air Force member having served 26 plus years and I also serve to protect the rights of these cult members. I also serve to protect the rights of alot of groups of American citizens including those who chose to burn flags. The point is I serve and defend the Constitution of the United States and the LAWs that govern this country. There are many groups who I disagree with but as long as they live in the LAND of the FREE, I will defend their rights protected under the Constitution. People need to look outside the emotional issue of this case and look at the facts. This court case’s merits are not based on whether morally this is right to do, this court case is based on whether Westboro’s verbal rhetoric is covered under the First Amendment and it is. The public has already determined it is morally an abomination but that is for a different law, not the Constitution.

  16. ascendance says:

    Bring forth the Boondock Saints!

  17. Sandy Teal MacKenzie says:

    I cannot believe that these so called christians protesting funeral. They surely do not read the bible. Jesus treated all people the same. Remember, The Leper and others. What would Jesus Do…Definitely not what you are doing…Jesus will remember these actions of the Protestors in His Name!!
    God Bless the Snyder Family..God Forgive the ignorant Protestors…They truly do not know what they are doing…

    1. ANGIE says:

      FREDOM OF SPEECH,FREEDOM TO GATHER , THEY ARE WHAT TIHIS AND MANY OF OUT YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN ARE FIGHTING FOR. NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO INTERFER AT ANY FUNERAL REGARDLESS OF WHY OR HOW THIS PERSON DIED A FUNERAL IS FOR THE FAMILY TO LAY THERE LOVED ONES TO REST EVEN THE NEWS SHOULD NOT BE THERE. PROTESTERS THINK THEY HAVE THE LEGAL RIGHT TO SAY WHAT THEY WANT AND THEY CAN IN THERE OWN HOME IN THERE CHURCH TO THERE FRIENDS NOT OUT IN PUBLIC WHERE THERE WORDS WILL CAUSE HARM TO ANOTHER PERSON. YOU CAN NOT WALK INTO A MOVIIE THEATER AND YELL FIRE IT IS AGAINST THE LAW WHY IS IT AGAINST THE LAW BECAUSE IT WILL CAUSE HARM TO ANOTHER PERSON. SO PICKING A FUNERAL OR A WEDDING OR ANY OTHER FAMILY GATHERING THAT IS BEING DONE PEACEFULLY, AND THE SUPERME COURT SHOULD HAVE RULED THAT THE SNYDER’S FAMILY’S RIGHTS WERE VIOLATED. AND THE LAW SUIT SHOULD HAVE BEEN UPHELD FOR VIOLATING THE SNYDERS FAMILY RIGHTS WHERE WERE HIS RIGHTS TO BURY HIS SON IN PEACE. THE CULT TOOK THOSE RIGHTS AND TRASHED THEM BECAUSE THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH NOT IN MY HOME THERE TRASH TALK IS JUST THAT TRASH AND HE IS CORRECT WHERE IS OUR COUNTY GOING WHEN A CHURCH HAS THE RIGHT TO TRASH A FAMILY AND THE COURTS AND THE LAW DO NOTHING ABOUT IT BUT SAY ITS OK. I HATE THIS WAR BUT OUR KIDS, FAMILY MEMBERS AND NEIGHBORS THAT ARE THERE FIGHTING THIS WAR ARE VERY SPECIAL AND SHOULD BE TREATED WITH THE UTMOST RESPECT

      1. donmallory says:

        Never trust anyone that types in all Caps!…Dumb, blind or both.

  18. PAUL E. MICELLI says:

    HAVING PROUDLY SERVED AS A COMBAT INFANTRYMAN IN THE UNITED STATES ARMY I FIND IT SICKENING THAT THIS IS ALLOWED TO GO ON DURING A SERVICE FOR A FALLEN COMRADE. OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS IN WASHINGTON ALLOW THIS!! LAWMAKERS ARE ELECTED BY THE PEOPLE!! LAWMAKERS MAKE AND AMEND LAWS AND OVERTURN THESE LAWS , HAVE CLEAR LANGUAGE OF THE LAW. HOW DOES ANY ELECTED REPRESENTATIVE GET ANY VOTE FROM SERVICEMEN, GUESS THAT DOESN’T COUNT.

  19. queenie says:

    There should have been extreme limits on this ruling. The current parameters in place are inadequate & will only lead to the other side picketing & shouting down this so called church. I could see real violence coming from this. Westside is about as much a church as I am. The elder is a scam artist & now with the exposure he has received via our free press, every whack job in American & disgruntled will be joining these people & for what? To further divide an already divided nation by class.
    This is a bad idea & like there are limits to free speech as “shouting fire in a theatre” & threatening our president, there should be limits & consquences to Westsides actions in court.

  20. Raymond Gerlach says:

    This is atrocious. It does not honor God, nor show true Christianity in His light. I do no know what scriprure the are using, but it is not in my translation of the bible.

  21. josye says:

    Mr. Synder, Sir, I salute you!! My condolences to you and your entire family.
    May your Son rest in peace.

  22. Deborah says:

    I understand rights and the importance of protecting them. If do have a question, how many of you have attended your childs funeral? I have… I also have two children serving in the military. What this group is doing is wrong! If this were the KKK protesting at an african americana funeral would it still be allowed? We have teens killing themselves due to bullying, but if I understand correctly they are creating laws against that. If that not freedom of speech? What is the difference? There meds to be a time and so place. Since this group doesn’t understand or care about the pain they inflict maybe we should have laws to protect the people dying for their freedom.

  23. Doug says:

    What scares me the most,is those church loonies will breed and
    spreed their hate.

    You have to be taught to hate and fear,
    you have to be taught from year to year.
    It has to be drilled in your dear little ear,
    you have to be carefully taught.

    You have to be taught before it’s too late,
    before you are six or seven or eight,
    to hate all the people your relatives hate,
    you have to be carefully taught.

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