A group I shall not name

A group I shall not name December 17, 2012

…plans to protest and gloat in Newtown. Since they have announced their intention publicly, they should now be jailed for incitement to riot. Be leisurely about obtaining a hearing date (a year sounds good). Set bail at 1 Billion dollars. Grant them no interviews, arrest anybody associated with them who attempts a public statement of support as accessories to incitement. Also broadcast engineers should “accidently” lose every video and audio feed that mentions them. Lather, rinse repeat every time they do this, with jail time doubled from the previous arrest each time. Let their name and memory perish in oblivion.

Update: Somebody on FB responded to this by publishing a thorough rundown on the group’s contact information. When I responded “What part of ‘Let their name perish in oblivion’ was unclear to you?” my reader responded:

Perish into oblivion or exposure of all their personal details for anyone to do with whatever they wish? After all no one can be held accountable for other peoples actions with said information.

I will be blunt: This person is hoping to help foster a vigilante bloodbath and pretending that he can morally distance himself from trying to incite it with bullshit about “no one can be accountable for other people’s actions with said information.” Stop it, dammit. What is the matter with some people?

"You, and Tom, and the very host of this blog are all avoiding my question. ..."

Some Reflections on the Crucifixion for ..."
"as I'm fond of saying, the Church and the truths she teaches belong to Christ, ..."

Rod Bennett on his new book ..."
"Thank you, Mark. The attitude of some Catholics about the good old days makes me ..."

Rod Bennett on his new book ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Thinkling

    Note to They Who Shalt Not Be Named: it’s theodicy, not thidiocy.

  • Jonathan Carpenter
  • Patrick

    I don’t get this post.

    Why do we need the pretense of ignoring, not-naming, etc. the Westboro Baptist family? Why this nonsense about bail and calls for silly charges to be brought against them? They have the right to do and say whatever they want, and so we should be on about our business doing what we have rights to do. Whatever happened to “I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”?

    Yes, I understand it feels really great for the world to gang up and get sanctimonious whenever Westboro tries to make the news, but can we not stuff it for just once, if only to be true to our Democratic principles?

    I think you agree with this.

    WBC is just words. One thing they’re great at is making it obvious to everyone who among us relishes in the sheer pleasure of condemnation. Catholics, at least, should relinquish the pleasure of cursing our enemies, rather than pave a way for our ‘friends’ to do something evil.

    And no prevaricating about “the Bible is full of curses against bad people”, either.

    • Mark Shea

      Incitement to riot is not a right. Lock ’em up. And give them no publicity. Period.

      • Bob

        You’re being facetious, I hope. There hasn’t been a riot. Have they tried, literally, to get people to riot? Or have they just announced their usual nonsense of protests and other hatefulness?
        You can not, one day, decry the rise of the police state, and then, the next day, ask the police state to come and remove people who are just, you know, TOO offensive. And lock them away in secret for a year, etc. I mean, really.
        Again, I hope you’re just being facetious or blowing off some steam. If not, I beg you to not to let cretins like this goad you into abandoning your own principles.
        Now, on the other hand, I we can get hem declared “enemy combatants” …

    • Mercury

      The whole “I’ll defend to the death your right to say it” is the Enlightenment, not Christianity. The right to free speech has never been, nor should it be, absolute.

      I think these people are sadists who get a thrill out of attacking grieving people. Perhaps it would be tricky to forbid them from expressing their “beliefs,” but I think every opportunity should be taken to oppose them.

    • Nate

      “Whatever happened to “I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”?”

      It’s a nice thought, but it might not be a particularly Catholic thought.

      The Catholic Church teaches that error has no rights. At any rate, I’ve never gone in for the American idea encapsulated in that phrase.

      • S. Murphy

        …but persons in error do have rights. No, the patriot guard motorcycle clubs have one of the best solutions to Westboro’s bs – drown ’em out with Harleys.

  • I just don’t understand these people. I can usually a point to most poeple’s words and actions, even though I may disagree with them, but in this case… no, I just don’t get them.

    • Rachel K

      They’re real-life trolls. That’s pretty much all there is to it.

  • Rosemarie


    Maybe we can rename them the Phelps Family Protest Cult? ‘Cause that’s what they are. They’re not associated with any Baptist denomination so forget the “Baptist” part. And they’re barely, if at all, a “church.” Do they ever hold actual worship services or just protests all around the country?

    Some towns, like Brandon MS, have dealt with their protests, um, creatively:

    “Rankin County handled this thing perfectly. There were many things that were put into place that most will never know about and at great expense to the county.

    “Most of the morons never made it out of their hotel parking lot. It seems that certain Rankin county pickup trucks were parked directly behind any car that had Kansas plates in the hotel parking lot and the drivers mysteriously disappeared until after the funeral was over. Police were called but their wrecker service was running behind and it was going to be a few hours before they could tow the trucks so the Kansas plated cars could get out.

    “A few made it to the funeral but were ushered away to be questioned about a crime they might have possibly been involved in. Turns out, after a few hours of questioning, that they were not involved and they were allowed to go on about their business.”

    Then there was Weston, MO:

    “Westboro Baptist Church supporters had planned to picket the funeral of Sergeant Charles Sadell at his hometown in Weston, Missouri. But the callous protesters -led by controversial pastor Fred Phelps – fled the 2,000-population town when hundreds of flag-waving residents blocked routes leading its funeral home.

    “Using a human chain and huge flags, they prevented relatives of the father-of-two from seeing protesters who bizarrely claim they use funerals to protest against ‘the consequences of sin’. Turning up early to fill all available parking spaces, they forced the churches members to abandon their protest and leave.

    “‘We got everybody here early so we could take up all the parking spots,’ Resistance organiser Rebecca Rooney said. ‘We did that so Mr. Phelps wouldn’t have a contingency that was really close.

    “‘I’m glad they left, but I’m sad they came,’ she said. ‘I’m glad the family didn’t have to see them.’”

  • Misty

    They tried to protest at the funeral of a local family that died in a plane crash. A radio station offered them airtime in exchange, probably for their own protection. The body shield of bikers was growing. I like to think no one tuned it.

  • Kevin Moran

    Reminds me when I volunteered at Yankee Stadium for the Papal Mass in the Spring of 2008. Crossing the street to avoid the large crowds going into the Stadium’s gates I encountered six rather virulently anti-Catholic fundamentalist protesters. Of course, to them Pope Benedict XVI was he anti-Christ.
    I did the numbers-“yup, those 80 thousands plus folks going in for the Mass are wrong and you six people are right. Go figure?”

  • Jonathan Carpenter

    Of course there is the Patriot Guard which provides escorts to Family Members being protested by the Phelps fools! Seeing a few hundred of those Veterans on bikes is a nice shield.

  • As long as they don’t disrupt the funerals or interfere with those who are grieving, I don’t care what happens to them. Let them stand on rooftops and own the spotlight. I just don’t want them anywhere near those who are going through the pain of unbearable loss right now, and would gladly support any means to keep them hell and gone from Newtown right now.

  • Mike

    Yet again, Mark, way to curse, Christian.

    • Bill

      chill out, he’s absolutely right here

    • Chris M

      way to major in minors there.

  • The Deuce

    If they actually show up at the funerals for these children, I think some men should agree to protect their community by engaging in a bit of civil disobedience to beat them up (not kill them, just beat them up). Were I there, I would be willing to spend the night in jail to keep them far away from those families, and perhaps make them think twice about trying this stunt again. Murder is never called for, but sometimes a good sock to the jaw is just what a certain type of punk needs.

    • Bill

      they live for this stuff… they actually want people to beat them up so they can sue to get more money

  • Two wrongs may not make a right, but they can sure make things interesting:


    Lesson: those who live by the sword of vile despicable trickery…etc.

    Maybe the next time these people gather to picket a funeral after a tragedy, the counter protest should involve people carrying mirrors. Lots and lots of mirrors. Because nothing makes it harder to take yourself and your glorious crusade seriously than seeing your own hate-filled spittle-flecked image reflected back so that it is the only thing you can see as far as you look.

  • Jeremy Fraser

    Sadly that would be treating them like most of the media and society already treats pro-lifers 😛

  • Jeremy Fraser

    That emoticon didn’t come out right for the record, I was going for the facebook look 🙁

  • bob

    If it’s true that the cult is financed by the family legal firm I wish for a boycott by the people of Kansas. Only choking off funds will really stop them. That language they understand.

  • Andy, Bad Person

    Mark, I’m all with you with despising the actions of this group, but I’m with Patrick on this one. You can’t complain about a creeping police state and then seek to use said state to squash people that you disagree with.

    Regarding “incitement to riot,” it actually has a definition. It doesn’t just mean “hateful people spewing hateful garbage.” I’m no lawyer, but according to this, WBC doesn’t meet it:


    All that said, I think not mentioning their name isn’t enough. We, as a society, need to stop mentioning their act all together. These people are real life trolls, and just like internet trolls, all they want is attention, no matter how they get it. How do you defeat online trolls? Ignore them. Don’t “feed” them. Don’t just not mention their name. Don’t mention their very existence.

  • tz

    Incitement to riot ought not be thrown around too lightly particularly since I assume they will call for no immediate much less delayed violence against any person, group, or property.
    Fundamental rights aren’t there to protect nice things you agree with but the most despicable things you vehemently disagree with as long as they do not violate other rights, e.g. the speech does not actually incite people.
    We worry about being forced to pay for contraception in a culture that considers contraception a greater fundamental right than religion. It is dangerous to advocate any abridgement of any right during such a time. We have already lost habeas corpus, the right to an attorney, the prohibition against torture, and requiring warrants for searches and seizures. It is a time to fight FOR rights, not to see how we can bend things to narrow and destroy them more. For we will be the victims of the abridgment.
    “I would give the Devil the benefit of law for my own safety’s sake”. And these people are (without commenting on their eternal destiny) servants of the devil. But I’d rather leave them and you and myself free to express and protest rather than appoint a censor, or worse – the not-so-subtle injustices – forget speedy trial, excessive fines and bail, touchless torture – impose the punishment before they are even convicted.
    Why not just assassinate them with terror drones? Taser them to death? Any of the other things which seem in any other circumstance unjust and sinful?
    If they commit an actual crime, break an actual law, then let them be treated like any other lawbreaker, no better and no worse. That is what the rule of law – which we seem to abandon for both the poor and the elite (HSBC most recently) – requires.

  • SvenMagnus

    The Phelps are helplessly engaged in hatred. It’s so inbread in them from the source, the old man filling their heart with hate, not from God, but from the flesh of a man who do not understand what Jesus said on the way to Golgata: “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”.
    If these hateful people show up at Newtown, do one thing, saddle your horses and go by the thousands, make a ring around them and show them big signposters that they may see the love of God if they let go of their hate and learn his love. Sing happy songs and show them all of the Bible’s verses of what love is and does.
    Maybe thay then will learn what the power of love is….I doubt it’ll work, but it will silence them for a few minutes and maybe it can be a spire of love into their hardened hearts of hate.

  • Joel

    A state that locks up Westboro one day could easily lock up anti-gay Catholics the next.

  • Claire

    I read somewhere that college students (Texas A&M, if I’m not mistaken) formed a human chain to keep them away from a soldier’s funeral. Perhaps Catholic colleges or high schools near Newtown might consider performing the same service for the children’s funerals.

    • Mark Shea

      Works for me. And any attempt to break the barrier should be regarded as assault and met with immediate arrest and jail, followed by a crippling lawsuit and damages in the hundreds of millions. Time on a chain gang sounds good too.

  • The Deuce

    I’m against anyone murdering these guys, and I’m against the sentiment advocating it by your FaceBook commenter, but I actually have no problem with their identities being published. There is a right to free speech in America. There *isn’t* a right to anonymous unaccountability when expressing your free speech. If your words and actions are so horrible that you fear a large percentage of the public may actually try to kill you simply for that reason, I’d say that’s your problem. I don’t think people should get a special right to unaccountability, not enjoyed by the many people who express their opinions in their own names, simply by virtue of being awful human beings. Hopefully, the accountability of being known will shame them into toning it down.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Do you agree with the tactics of militant homosexuals in California publicizing the names of Prop 8 supporters? Yes, WBC is way more out there and almost universally more despised, but be careful what you advocate here.