Back in 2005, I was working at KERN, a Bakersfield California News Talk radio station. Then PFC Villatoro, Jr. a resident of Bakersfield serving in Iraq was killed by a IED bomb. That would have been the end of it, a funereal for a fallen serviceman, except a church called the ‘Westboro Baptist Church‘ was planning to protest at the service.
KERN Reporter Rolland Davis interviewed Shirley Phelps-Roper, and a soundbyte was later played during a news report mentioning their intention to protest. My jaw dropped to the ground. After Rolland’s top of the hour news was over, I asked him more about who these people were. He gave me the raw interview with Shirley Phelps-Roper to hear. I was astonished by her claims that soldiers that were killed in action are a direct result of the sin of America, and that anyone that isn’t waving their placards around are not serving God, but are dammed to hell.
Sometimes news talk stations boil everything down to a 10 second snippet and can’t always expand upon it. So I edited the interview down, and passed it onto a station manager of one of KERN’s sister station. He played it on his show then passed it onto the producer of the Rusty Humphries Show. Soon the Westboro story spread nationally and their protest antics became known to us all. As for PFC Villatoro, Jr’s service, the WBC stayed away, for reasons unknown.
While the WBC are pushing their 1st Amendment rights to the limit, these people wouldn’t have those rights if people didn’t fight to defend the country they protest in. Dancing on the grave of a fallen solider who has laid down their life for our liberty is cowardly, and the WBC cannot continue to hide behind the 1st Amendment ruse forever.