Finally, something has me more frustrated and angry than relationship issues. I guess I just needed a good controversy to pull me out of the soup.
I can't recall that I've ever used this space to address my complete and utter distaste for Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church. Consider this a remedy of that omission.
The fun-loving folks over at WBC sent out a press release on Saturday announcing their intention to picket the funerals of the 6 people who died at the hands of Jared Lee Loughner in Tucson on Saturday. Their "press release" (I hadn't realized that "press release was the new terminology for delusional hate-filled ranting. Apparently I'm out of touch) contains such gems as "Thank God for the shooter!", "God sent the shooter to shoot you! And He's sitting in Heaven laughing at you!", "Your federal judge is dead and your (fag-promoting, baby-killing, proud-sinner) Congresswoman fights for her life." The pick of the crop, though is this one: "WBC prays for your destruction - more shooters, more dead carcasses piling up, young, old, leader and commoner - all."
As if it weren't disgusting enough that they own the rights to the domain name "godhatesfags.com," they've also managed to acquire "godhatestheworld.com," among other gems. They protest at military funerals, celebrity funerals, memorials, at churches and even the Holocaust museum. They've been allowed, in the name of free speech, to torment more families in mourning than I thought was humanly possible. And they do it all to spread the hate of God.
That's right. God hates us all, according to the Phelps family, who comprise the majority of this so-called "church"s 71 members. They spend around $200,000 a year to fly protesters to every event possible so they can spread their belief that every tragedy in the world is the result of increasing tolerance and acceptance. After poisoning my eyesight researching their filthy rhetoric I've concluded they pretty much hate everyone. Possibly even themselves. No group that I can see has been excluded from the reach of the hate-speech that flows from their lips and pens like reeking sewage.
I'm not sure how WBC can actually qualify as a "church" or how in the name of all that quacks like a duck their hate rhetoric can be equated with a "religion," but I'll bet ya dollars to donuts they take that religious exemption on their federal tax filings year after year.
Fortunately, the hole they've been digging themselves into with their vituperation has begun to fill to the neckline with a rising tide of common sense. There's a case sitting in front of the U.S. Supreme court now resulting from them being sued by the father of a soldier whose son's funeral they picketed. The initial ruling awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages to the Snyder family. They appealed, of course, and the district court upheld the ruling. The Snyder's momentum in the case fizzled a bit in 09 when a federal appeals court reversed the lower court's award and ruled in favor of the WBC. However, the U.S. Supreme court granted certiorari in March of last year. The case has been heard and a decision is expected this summer. I'm a big fan of free speech, but the events in Tucson show us the cost of fanaticism flamed by the fires of hateful words.
There is no room in the national dialogue for the kind of words that reduce our level of communication to that of locker-room bullies. We must, in the name of enlightenment, peace and justice, condemn the seeds of hate that people like Fred Phelps and his "congregation" sow.
Fortunately, legislators in Arizona have pulled together to pass a nonpartisan bill that bars protesters from coming within 300 feet of funeral services. With the distance afforded by this tidy little bill, a group of angels is forming to ensure the families of Christina Green, Gabe Zimmerman, John Roll, Dorwin Stoddard, Dorothy Morris and Phyllis Schneck will not have to listen to or see Fred Phelps and his evil, intellectually challenged minions.
A young University of Arizona student, 20-year old Chelsea Cohen, has organized an angel action inthe tradition of those created by Romaine Patterson to protect mourners at the funeral of Matthew Shepard.
In addition, both local Dems and Repubs have asked members to line the funeral routes to form a human barricade between the mourners and the Nuckfuts from the WBC.
When I see the things that people like Fred Phelps say and promulgate, I want to throw up. In this world where violence and hatred end human life every single day, it is easy to become jaded. Its easy to look the other way and say "oh well, it's not about me, so why should I care?" Ultimately, it IS about you. About me. About the humanity and the spirit that lives within all of us. I might call that spirit God and someone else might call it the Universe and someone else just might call it Life, but regardless of what you believe, I know you must agree with me that a human life is worth more than simply being the tool for a hate-filled, delusional whackjob like Fred Phelps to spread his ugly rhetoric.
May God grant peace to the families of all of the victims in Tucson, especially those who have died. May God's justice prevail as Jared Lee Loughner stands trial for his crimes and as the courts consider the question of whether the WBC should be liable for the pain and suffering it has caused so many. And may we, every one of us, be reminded that life is both short and precious and let that impel us to show more love, more tolerance, more acceptance, more grace.