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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

"""Cult""-ure of hate"

Bill O'Reilly has a heart.
And there go 95 percent of the people who would have read this column.
On March 3, 2006, a young Marine named Matthew Snyder lost his life in a rollover crash in Al Anbar province, Iraq. A funeral was held shortly after in Maryland to let his family and loved ones mourn together in peace.
"In peace" never happened.
It was at their son and brother's funeral where the infamous Westboro Baptist Church decided to grace the Snyder family. This is the same group that is convinced America is going to hell because of our association with homosexuality and having an African-American president.
These are the same people who were in Buffalo after the Continental Airlines Flight 3407 disaster occurred, claiming it as a "miracle from God."
Jerry Falwell is rolling over in his grave thinking, "Wow, these people are extreme."
As the funeral began for Matthew, the Westboro Baptist cult members strategically positioned themselves in front of the church. Armed with signs and speakerphones, they proceeded to tell the grieving family how their son was destined to spend an eternity in the scorching flames of hell.
Albert Snyder, Matthew's father, was staring at a television inside the church witnessing all of this. He managed to make it through the day without pulling out a shotgun and blasting off heads, but the agony was too much for him. He decided that he would get revenge in his own way.
So he filed a federal lawsuit.
A jury of Snyder's peers awarded him almost $11 million dollars for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The story however, goes downhill from here. The U.S. Court of Appeals decided that the lawsuit went against First Amendment rights, and the ruling was null. Additionally, Albert Snyder needed to foot the $16,500 legal fees bill for the WBC.
Albert Snyder would now be forced to fund the WBC so they can protest even more. What a world we live in.
Enter Bill O' Reilly.
In 2007, O' Reilly was introduced to Albert Snyder. O' Reilly had heard about the story involving the Snyders and the WBC, and Snyder was invited on O' Reilly's show. The story must have had a resonating effect on O' Reilly because this past week he offered to pay the legal bills left behind.
Stop and re-read that last sentence. Bill O' Reilly actually did something pretty cool.
I remember one of my friends telling me about how she met one of the leaders of the WBC, Shirley Phelps-Roper, when President Obama was being inaugurated. She told me how she was completely shocked by the experience. Phelps unequivocally believed every word of hatred spewing from her mouth.
That honestly scares me.
When Voltaire said something about defending a person's right to say something until his death, I'm sure he wasn't thinking that something was "God hates fags" or "God loves dead soldiers." Perhaps his tone would have changed upon meeting the Phelps family.
The story is far from over for the Snyder family or the WBC. Sometime in October, the Supreme Court will be hearing this case. If there is any inch of karmic decency in the world, hopefully the WBC will be shut down forever.
If America really is the leader in fighting terrorism, then it is time to put an end to this kind of verbal terrorism. The WBC is yelling "bomb" in a movie theater, and hiding behind the First Amendment to justify their actions.
What Would Jesus Do? Anything the WBC doesn't.

E-mail: sneilans@buffalo.edu


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