I remember the first time I ever became aware of the Westboro Baptist Church’s existence. It was a rumor. The group, we were told, was planning to protest the funeral of one of the soldiers in my platoon who’d been killed in combat. Furious doesn’t even begin to describe what we felt, but what could we do? We had nine months left in Afghanistan. Then we heard another rumor: a group of bikers was going to show up to the funeral to shield the family and friends of our fallen comrade from the demonstrators. They did, and ultimately drove the Westboro protesters away. I never got a chance to thank them.