Kansas-Based Hate Group Threatens to Protest Gunderson High School Play
Posted by Comments (29)on Wednesday, March 2, 2011
The Topeka, Kansas–based Westboro Baptist Church, notorious for picketing at the funerals of American soldiers because its members believe God is punishing the country for condoning homosexuality, has announced plans to stage a protest outside of San Jose’s Gunderson High School this Friday. The church says it’s coming to San Jose because Gunderson is staging a production of The Laramie Project, a play that tells the true story of the murder of a young gay man in 1998.
As word spreads around the valley, counterprotests are being mobilized on social networking sites. Meanwhile Gunderson teachers and school district administrators are praying for a no-show. Surprisingly, Gunderson’s drama director, Trish Buttrill, isn’t one of those people.
Buttrill has been in contact with Westboro’s leadership via email. While she said she doesn’t believe the group will really make good on its vow to come to San Jose, she says the visit would be an excellent opportunity for her students to see the First Amendment in action.
“I think it will be great, because the more people see them, the more they’re exposed,” Buttrill says. “They’re more of a hate group than a church.”
The play, which will run through Friday, March 4, dramatizes the viewpoints of a variety of people in Laramie, Wyo., where the brutal murder of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard took place. On a fateful autumn night, Shepard was offered a ride home from a bar by two men before being tortured and strung him up to a rural fence. He was left there for dead for no other reason than he was gay.
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