Heard on the Hill

Westboro’s Newtown Plans Spark Grass-Roots Backlash

Westboro Baptist Church’s attempts to ride Sandy Hook’s tragic coattails back into the media spotlight has pushed the highly divisive group into new territory: most wanted by White House petitioners.

Best known for derailing private funerals with its anti-abortion and homophobic propaganda, the WBC announced during the weekend that it planned to picket the Sunday night vigil the community of Newtown, Conn., held to commemorate the victims of Friday's school shootings.

Counter-protesters marched to the Internet instead, prodding the White House to shut down the group one way or another. Six petitions calling for retribution against Westboro have been submitted since Friday, with requests ranging from making it illegal to picket funerals (6,300-plus signatories and counting) to formally recognizing them as a hate group (114,000-plus signatories and counting).

“They pose a threat to the welfare and treatment of others and will not improve without some form of imposed regulation,” warns the leading petition — which has more than four times the support required to prompt an official response from the administration.

Your move, Mr. President.