Fred Phelps

Like most members of the media (technically, we do count), we at Red Shtick Magazine hold the First Amendment in the highest regard since it protects free speech, including that which is considered offensive. Without it, we probably wouldn’t have made it to our third issue. That’s why it really pisses us off that state lawmakers all around the country are being forced to introduce and enact legislation that some may see as restricting free speech.In at least 13 states, including Louisiana, legislators have proposed laws that ban picketing and protests near funerals. Who do we have to thank for this previously unneeded prohibition? The answer is none other than the “Reverend” Fred Phelps, leader of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, where the core message is “God hates fags.” You can check out the church’s inspiring message at www.godhatesfags.com.Phelps and the WBC first came to national prominence in 1998, when he and wacko members of his nutty church picketed the funeral of gay murder victim Matthew Shepard. There, he shouted at mourners, delivering a graphic, obscenity-laden “sermon,” describing in graphic detail how not only homosexuals like Shepard are going to hell, but everyone in attendance at his funeral would join him there.More recently, Phelps and the WBC congregants have made headlines again by protesting the funerals of those that have died in Iraq. It’s not because the soldiers are gay, but because Phelps claims that God is allowing our young men and women to die over there since we in America tolerate homosexuality. If you think we’re making this sh–t up, go to www.godhatesamerica.com. Trust us, there’s no way we could come up with anything like this without the aid of a lobotomy or two.

According to the website, our fighting men and women deserve to be hated because “they voluntarily joined a fag-infested army to fight for a fag-run country now utterly and finally forsaken by God who Himself is fighting against that country.” Too bad those idiots that burned down the churches in Alabama couldn’t make a road trip to Topeka before they got caught.

At the soldiers’ funerals, Phelps and his insane followers shout insults at people, calling them sodomites and adulterers, while holding signs that read “Fags Die God Laughs,” “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “God is America’s Terrorist,” and “Thank God for IEDs.”

ThereÂ’s no way the founding fathers could have fathomed that a group of people could be so obnoxiously repugnant. ItÂ’s a shame that the distasteful actions of a few nuts require the legislation of common decency. We shouldnÂ’t have to pass laws to protect grieving widows and family members from such intrusions during what should be solemn and respectful ceremonies for fallen heroes.

The only foreseeable drawback to such legislation is that the rest of us would be prohibited by law from heckling at the funerals of WBC members. Turnabout is fair play.

It’s reported that 90 of the estimated 100 WBC members are related to Phelps. Also, it seems highly improbable that anyone from outside the church would hook up with a WBC member, or vice versa. After all, who would want to have sex with someone who thinks that the coalminers who died in West Virginia are in hell, too? (Yes, they believe God hates them, also.) This may explain why WBC members sing hymns to the tune of “Dueling Banjos.”