Multimedia: Students protest against Westboro Baptist Church

Central Michigan University students and community members exercised their First Amendment rights on Nov. 1 to protest the presence of Westboro Baptist Church members on campus.

“I’m against the stupidity,” Seth Greenberg, a marketing sophomore, said. “I feel that everyone should be accepted for who they are and what they are.”

Westboro Baptist Church is best known for its opposition to homosexuality and picketing of funerals. Shirley Phelps-Roper, and her daughters, Rebekah and Megan, were invited to Central by Tim Boudreau, a journalism professor who wanted to show his students how far the First Amendment boundaries can be pushed by people such as the Phelpses.

“Protesting outside a dead soldier’s funeral is one of the most disgusting things I have ever heard of a human being doing,” Greenberg said.

Westboro Baptist Church members began picketing soldier’s funerals in 2005. The church was sued by the father of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Today 46 states have laws limiting protests at funerals. The Phelpses claim this is a violation of the First Amendment. The case, which was presented to the U.S. Supreme Court in early October, has yet to be decided.

Greenberg and other protesters stood outside between Moore Hall and Dow Science Building waiting for the church members to emerge after their first of three appearances for the day.

“Hate for no reason, it’s just wrong,” Jordan Greenman, a political science junior, said.

Greenman sees college campuses as some of the most liberal places in the nation. He said he couldn’t understand how people could come onto a campus and use hate speech and think it would be tolerated. A number of protesters present echoed Greenman’s thoughts.

“I don’t think hate speech should be protected, but it should be protested,” Greenman said.

Protesters kept peaceful and held signs like “Love all, trust few, do wrong to no one,” and “I’m not protesting free speech. I’m protesting stupidity.”

The First Amendments allows all to speak in a public forum, no matter what their message.

“They have their rights and so do we,” Greenman said. “America gives everyone the right to speak, even assholes.”

Mike Nichols’ in-depth interview with Shirley Phelps-Roper
**We apologize for the poor video quality**



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    I can’t find the video on my computer. Is there a multimedia link somewhere? I clicked on the article that says “multimedia” and just see two photos and an article. I want to see the video. Thank you.

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