Joe Paterno's Funeral to Be Protested by Westboro Church, Why This Needs to Stop

Alex Giobbi@@alexgiobbiAnalyst IJanuary 22, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, PA - JANUARY 22: Candles and other memorabilia decorate the base of the statue of Joe Paterno, the former Penn State football coach who died earlier in the morning, outside Beaver Stadium on the campus of Penn State on January 22, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

College football fans were treated to sad news Sunday when legendary Penn State head coach Joe Paterno passed away just two months after leaving the school. For the most part, people offered their condolences en masse by showering his statue with flowers, sharing their thoughts on various sports websites and other gestures. 

However, for every million supporters, there always has to be one idiot that wrecks the mood, or rather, one group of idiots. 

The Westboro Baptist Church has said it will picket the legendary coach's funeral. According to a tweet by church leader Margie J. Phelps, they protest under the blind assumption that it was Paterno himself that encouraged the sex abuse scandal, all for the sake of fame and fortune. We all know Paterno did not report Jerry Sandusky to the authorities, but then again, it was assistant coach Mike McQueary's job to notify them.

We all know that the church is a fundamentalist "religion" based in Kansas, whose views on homosexuality gives it a hate group classification. The church also is seen frequently protesting military and celebrity funerals. Heck, according to an earlier piece done on Bleacher Report, it even planned to protest the funeral of Arkansas tight end Garrett Uekman.

What I have to ask is, "Why?" Why does the church feel the need to project its message of hate around the country, showing up at funerals of people it doesn't know and shouldn't bother? Joe Paterno never did anything to the church, nor did Uekman, Steve Jobs, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, nor the other people whose funerals it protested. They just lived their lives and did their jobs. 

I'm not an advocate for censorship—in fact, if there were censorship, journalism would not be what it is today, but in the case of the church, something has to be done. Ignorance is not the solution here because the church is not the typical bully. If ignored, it just waits for the next person to die and pickets that funeral for whatever ludicrous reason it serves up.

What needs to happen is these people need to be stopped by any legal means necessary. There's the Patriot Guard Riders, a group of bikers who go to funerals to protect the mourners from the protesters, but they are vigilantes, and vigilantism only can get you so far—Bernard Goetz can testify to that. What really needs to happen is a movement to ban the WBC from picketing any more funerals and repayment of damages to those severely affected by the monstrosity they call a church.    

I never met JoePa personally, but according to my friends who study at Penn State, he was a very nice person, a great guy and a true gentleman. He was a proven winner who deserved better than to be thrown out on the street. A guy like him really deserves a nice funeral attended by the people who loved him, knew him, played for him and respected him, not one with protesters from a bunch of ignorant fundamentalist extremist hate group members from Kansas. He and anyone else who will have to deal with them does not deserve this.