Fred Phelps Fax Machine Antics

Dear Mr. Townson:

I am employed as a spokesperson and administrator for Sweden's royal family. Is it possible that your newsletter readers can help? I can confirm that American preacher Rev Fred Phelps has been faxing hate messages to us frequently, calling us 'gay faggots' and worse.

As you may know, Phelps and his Westboro Baptist church are best known for their "God Hates Fags" campaigns in the United States.

They were the subject of a BBC2 documentary by Louis Theroux broadcast a few days ago.

I think that Rev Phelps has taken against Sweden after an outspoken minister here, Ake Green, was convicted of inciting hatred of gay people following a homophobic sermon. His sermon caused some misconduct by our people, both regular citizens and gay people alike, in a shouting and pushing match by everyone angry and fighting.

Since that time, Rev Phelps has picked on our fax machine with messages such as, "You're doomed to spend eternity in hell, where all gay faggots will go". That message comes over and over again on our machine.

"All you Swede faggots and your Swedish king and his family." (who is my employer). Rev Phelps has claimed we are "all ignorant bastards bound straight for hell."

I know that this is happening all the time. There have been many other strange faxes containing all sorts of terms of abuse. Every day there are more faxes. What can I do to protect my employer and his family from being forced to receive these things?

Nina Eldh Court Spokeswoman

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: The Westboro Baptist church has protested at over 100 funerals of soldiers killed in the line of duty in Iraq.

Their campaign, called "Thank God for Improvised Explosive Devices" involves protesters holding up signs and chanting slogans such as "God Hates Fags," "America is Doomed" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" at the widows of the servicemen. They seem to delight in hurting and upsetting soldiers, marines and their families.

Unfortunatly, Nina, I do not think Sweden has any law on its books which pertain to unsolicited faxes as we do here in the USA. You may wish to ask your legislature to consider such a law. Our laws against unsolicited faxes were primarily intended against privacy intrusions of a commercial nature and to protect against recipients of same being forced to waste paper and ink, and they seem to be generally obeyed, but some people continue to ignore the laws here as well. There are some guerilla tactics used in this country by unwanted fax recipients such as returning the material with a lot more but you need to know precisely what telephone number is being used to originate the nuisance. Their telephones, computer lines and fax equipment are all set up to totally reject _deliberatly anonymous_ (i.e. *67 type) communications and legal actions against Phelps are almost impossible to win, and they (legal actions) are filed with regularity by Phelps Chartered, the family's law practice.

Police official Ed Klumpp, one of the five Topeka police officers allowed to publicly discuss WBC or Phelps, says officials can do little other than police the pickets for violence or other lawbreaking. In fact, Klumpp says he often recommends that communities facing Phelps pickets concentrate on preventing potential violence from counter-demonstrators. "Phelps' people are most careful to avoid actually breaking _any_ law," he noted. "Most Topeka, KS police officers have been forbidden by our city to speak about Phelps (when a reasonable person might assume the speaker was speaking/acting under the law, i.e. uniform or badge or 'official authority'); those few of us permitted by the city of Topeka to discuss Phelps do so by guarding our words very closely. We watch him very closely for _any_ legal infraction, of which we have seen none." We watch the counter- demonstrators equally of course. That is _all_ we are allowed to do."

So, Nina, be glad that you are removed from the USA, I suppose. We here in Kansas look at Fred with mortification usually; we feel embarassed for him, since he feels no shame on his own. I suggest you ask your telecom /postal authorities to try and help you idiot-proof your fax machine; require a password to recieve/ send a fax; use telco custom calling features to block out unwanted calls, etc. Thanks for writing. PAT]

(Nina enclosed a photograph of the Swedish royal family and herself when she wrote.) PAT]

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