When we act the way we wish they would
March 21st, 2014
The funny thing about jerks, bigots, blowhards, and idiots is that they truly believe that everybody else is just like them. And if their message is one no one else is saying, they assume that others have been cowed into silence, that the media is hiding the truth, and that the great silent majority is looking to them to speak what everyone really wishes they could say.
They also believe that their tactics are reasonable and ordinary and that their self-chosen enemies would act just the same if given the chance. No matter how atrocious their behavior, it’s justified by a belief that it’s war and you’re just as bad – or worse!
So it’s illuminating that this week we twice seen that assumption challenged.
First was the reported illness, and then death, of Fred Phelps. Although members of the Westboro Baptist Church positioned that the evil homosexuals were celebrating his death, for the most part the gay community was respectful. There have been no calls to picket Phelps’ funeral in retaliation. There have been only scattered declarations of hate and few have celebrated.
Because it wasn’t his politics or beliefs that made Fred so objectionable. It wasn’t that he “opposed homosexuality” that angered “the militant homosexuals”. Rather it was that his behavior of screaming hateful things during a person’s time of grief that is beyond the pale. And we want no part of that.
And the second example is far more amusing.
Bill Donahue, the leader of the Catholic League was one of the most strident (and absurd) voices calling for the exclusion of gay people from the Saint Patrick’s Parades in New York and Boston. And firmly convinced in the accuracy of his own narrative that gay people hate straights and poeple of faith and are “the real bigots”, Donahue set out to prove his point.
He filed a petition with the organizers of the New York Gay Pride Parade requesting that he be allowed to march under a “Straight is Great” banner. He was sure that this was a message that gay people would find offensive. And, being a hate-filled asshat, he assumed that gay people would act with the same animus and exclusion towards him that is Donahue’s standard action towards us.
But, of course, we don’t hate straight people. And we agree, straight actually is great – just like gay and bisexual. And, thought Donahue probably didn’t know it, many many straight people – Catholics, even – happily march in the parade each year to show their support for the community. Heck, some Catholic churches even have delegations.
So the organizers immediately said yes. Sarah Kate Ellis, the head of GLAAD and a fellow Irish New-Yorker, said she’d be happy to march with him.
The irony is, of course, that the last thing Donohue wants to do is march in a gay pride parade. And now, having been greeted with graciousness, he’s looking for a way to weasel out. (Newcivilrightsmovement)
“Their initial response was okay, you have to come to a training session,” Donohue said in an interview yesterday with NewsMax TV. “People have to wear LGBT paraphernalia … Now they are dancing. They are saying, well … we have our own rules and what not,” Donohue is claiming.
None of which is true.
We require all March registrants to have group leaders attend an event operations training. This is for the safety for our participants. The requirement is not unique to Mr. Donohue.
Mr. Donohue sought prior approval on his group’s slogan, “Straight is Great.” We acknowledged his message and said the text was fine. At no point have we instructed Mr. Donohue as to what must be printed on his group’s shirts.
These moments are important.
Despite how ignoble the Phelpses and the Donohues of the world are, they claim we are worse. And, absent any reason to believe otherwise, gullible people may believe them.
So I cherish the moments when given the choice whether to engage in retribution or to live the message we claim, we choose to rise above the temptations to mirror bad behavior and to instead and give kindness where we received cruelty and show graciousness where only animus has been offered.
Prop 8 Amicus Briefs, Brought to You by the Lunatic Fringe
January 30th, 2013
Dozens of organizations and individuals have filed Amicus Curiae briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing either for or against California’s Proposition 8. A couple of them are worth looking at, if for no other reason than for their entertainment value. For example, there’s this brief filed by Margie Phelps for Westboro
Baptist Church. Amicus Curiae briefs are expected to follow several conventions, and the ways in which Westboro’s brief observes them is indicative of Westboro’s highly entertaining approach to things.
First, instead of being a brief in support of petitioners (the pro-Prop 8 side) or respondents (the side that wants to overturn Prop 8), Westboro’s brief is filed “in support of neither party.” Okay.
And then there’s the Table of Authorities. A typical brief will be loaded up with citations to case law, along with other citations to “other authorities,” which would include sources like studies, articles, books, speeches, transcripts, etc. Of Westboro’s 66 citations under “Other Authorities,” 36 of them are Bible quotes. Which means that there are several pages with nothing but reproduced bible passages, including five pages devoted to the entire story of Sodom and Gomorrah. (“This historical event described in Genesis 19:1-28, Holy Bible, must be considered at this hour…”) The brief also has a lengthy retelling of the Great Flood (“The description of the complete destruction of all mankind – a population as or bigger than today’s population…”).
And after all that, Westboro concludes:
Same-sex marriage will destroy this nation. If the leaders of this country treat what God has called abominable as something to be respected, revered,and blessed with the seal of approval of the government, that will cross a final line with God. The harm that will befall this nation, when the condign destructive wrath of God pours out on a nation that purposefully, in a calculating manner, institutionalizes marriage licenses for same-sex unions, is the ultimate harm to the health, welfare and safety of the people. The government is duty bound – in this Christian nation – to institute the standard of God on marriage, and pass and uphold laws that forbid same-sex marriage.
By the way, Westboro filed an identical brief for United States v Windsor, which challenges the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. If nothing else, I guess that ensures both consistency as well as economy.
Another interesting brief (PDF: 127KB/ 14 pages) calling for the court to uphold Prop 8 comes from a man by the name of David Benkoff. It’s been nearly four years since we last heard from him. Here’s how Timothy Kincaid introduced him to BTB readers in 2008:
David Benkof has been getting a bit of attention lately.
And at first glace David appears to be a young gay man who believes that there are better options for gay couples than marriage, that the community should join him in prioritizing other more pressing issues, that the marriage discussion is harming the efforts of gay couples in red states to get recognition for their unions, and that he wants to help. We’d also think that he’s a gay columnist, that he speaks for an influential collection of gay thinkers, and that he is part of the gay and lesbian community and shares our goals and dreams.
None of that is true.
During the Prop 8 campaign, he trotted out his gay/straight/bi/Idunno-guy-against-same-sex-marriage schtick with a web site called “Gays Defend Marriage,” in which he claimed to be a “gay columnist” who was against same-sex marriage. Timothy Kincaid exposed the charade, Benkoff doubled down, and then he abruptly left the scene, saying he “recently learned quite a bit of disturbing information that makes it impossible for me to continue supporting a movement I no longer respect.”
Well, he’s back now. And for this amicus brief, Benkof teamed up with Robert Oscar Lopez (described as a bisexual man who was raised by two lesbian mothers and who is currently heterosexually married), and Doug Mainwaring (a man who raised two teenage sons after separating from his wife and coming out gay.) Again, we see a familiar pattern: people with life credentials which are supposed to demonstrate their connection to the gay community but who are arguing that the gay community needs to be shown its second-class place in society. Lopez has been playing that schtick at the Witherspoon Institute, which sponsored the flawed Regneres paper claiming to study “gay parents.” Lopez contributed an anti-gay tract at the Witherspoon Institute’s web site praising Regnerus’s paper. Mainwaring is a NOM discovery, who wrote in opposition to same-sex marriage in a tea party newsletter and, more recently, in The Christian Post. Their brief includes all of the standard NOM talking points — watered down and polited up, like NOM might be when on its very best behavior — to try to make the impression that there is an undiscovered reservoir of gay people who oppose marriage equality:
Amici come from a variety of families of origin, we have different religious beliefs and we differ among ourselves about whether legislature should redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. We all believe, however, that Americans ought not be labeled hateful bigots for opposing redefinition.
Our position is based on a shared commitment that marriage is society’s institutional expression of a child’s right to a mother and a father. We are not alone. The ongoing debate over marriage in France has prominently featured gay people who support keeping the understanding of marriage as a union of a husband and wife.
We, and they, believe gay people should be free to love and live as they choose but we also recognize that society has a right to express a rational preference for the kind of unions necessary to the survival of the whole society, and to the well-being of children. Some gay, lesbian and bisexual people will benefit from this preference as they marry a person of the opposite sex.
As you can well guess, Benkof and friends are utterly silent about how LGB people might “benefit from this preference.” They just kind of put that out there. The rest of the brief is basically 14 pages of concern trolling amidst a complete absence of actual facts. (Interestingly, they don’t even bother to mention the Regnerus paper.) It’s much like the Westboro brief that way. Birds of a feather…
Westboro Baptist has candidate running for Kansas School Board
November 6th, 2012
IN the 1990′s the Kansas State Board of Education became the front line in the battle over the origins of the universe. Control went back and forth between various factions, with each changing the standards to fit their ideology.
But things came to a head in 2005 when the Board held hearings on the teaching of Intelligent Design. Recognizing that the hearings were for show (the ID supporters held a 6-4 majority), the scientific community opted not to participate. At the end of a week of Intelligent Design support, the Board concluded that evolution is “an unproven, often disproven” theory.
It wasn’t a bright shining moment for Kansas and the citizens were not thrilled to be portrayed nationally as nutbag extremists.
In August 2006, six conservatives were replaced by Democrats or moderate Republicans and in 2007 the Board voted to bring Kansas’ education in line with scientific consensus, free of theistic explanations. The Board has been controlled by moderate Republicans and Democrats since, and that is not going to change this year.
But they may well find themselves back in the news as an embarrassment. (NECN)
Jack Wu, a Topeka computer programmer, made opposition to teaching evolution the cornerstone of his campaign as the Republican nominee in the 4th District in northeast Kansas against Democratic incumbent Carolyn Campbell, also from Topeka. Wu described evolution as “Satanic lies” and said on a website that public schools were preparing students to be “liars, crooks, thieves, murderers, and perverts.”
Wu also raised eyebrows by saying that he was lured to Kansas from California in 2008 by Westboro Baptist. The Topeka church, led by the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., is known internationally for picketing with anti-gay slogans and proclaiming that American soldiers’ deaths are God’s punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality. Wu is not formally a member, but he’s attended services regularly.
“I consider the people at Westboro Baptist Church good friends so it’s a very friendly and very helpful relationship,” Wu said in an October email, responding to questions about his affiliation. “I learn a lot from them, a lot of truth.”
The Republican Party leadership disavowed Wu, bringing an answer to the question, “Is there anything so wing-nut and anti-gay that even Sam Brownback won’t support it?” Surprisingly, there is.
Westboro Baptist Announces Protest of Steve Jobs’s Funeral
October 6th, 2011
And they used an iPhone to do it.
The First Amendment Lives
March 2nd, 2011
That’s the 8-1 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Snyder v Phelps (PDF: 248KB/36 pages), an appeal of a five million dollar judgment against the Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church. The court reversed a lower court decision in favor of the family of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq and whose funeral was picketed by the Phelps clan. The protests included signs with the statements “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “Fags Doom Nations.” The Phelps clan regularly protests military funerals to push their message that God hates the U.S. because we’re not executing homosexuals as Leviticus commands.
According to the majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, Westboro followed all of the legal restrictions imposed on the group, and by noting them, the court appears to have reaffirmed its approval of those restrictions:
Simply put, the church members had the right to be where they were. Westboro alerted local authorities to its funeral protest and fully complied with police guidance on where the picketing could be staged. The picketing was conducted under police supervision some 1,000 feet from the church, out of the sight of those at the church. The protest was not unruly; there was no shouting, profanity, or violence.
…Given that Westboro’s speech was at a public place on a matter of public concern, that speech is entitled to “special protection” under the First Amendment. Such speech cannot be restricted simply because it is upsetting or arouses contempt. “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” Texas v. Johnson, 491 U. S. 397, 414 (1989). Indeed, “the point of all speech protection . . . is to shield just those choices of content that in someone’s eyes are misguided, or even hurtful.” Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, Inc., 515 U. S. 557, 574 (1995).
Roberts warned that “our holding today is narrow” and is limited by the particular facts before the court. Those facts included that Westboro complied with local laws and did not instigate a public disturbance during their protest. As to the nature of Westboro’s protest:
Westboro believes that America is morally flawed; many Americans might feel the same about Westboro. Westboro’s funeral picketing is certainly hurtful and its contribution to public discourse may be negligible. But Westboro addressed matters of public import on public property, in a peaceful manner, in full compliance with the guidance of local officials. The speech was indeed planned to coincide with Matthew Snyder’s funeral, but did not itself disrupt that funeral, and Westboro’s choice to conduct its picketing at that time and place did not alter the nature of its speech.
Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and—as it did here—inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker. As a Nation we have chosen a different course—to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate. That choice requires that we shield Westboro from tort liability for its picketing in this case.
This ruling is important for many reasons. First and foremost, it preserves the primacy of free speech in America, which benefits us all. But from a parochial pro-LGBT narrative, it’s equally important to note that it proves the lie to the multiple instances when anti-gay activists falsely claimed that advances in LGBT equality and protections — whether they come in the form of marriage equality or hate crimes protections — will result in the infringement of religious and speech rights. They never have and, if this ruling is any indication, it reaffirms the fact that they never will. So the next time someone claims that marriage equality will result in pastors being prosecuted for hate speech, make a note of it: Snyder v Phelps.
Justice Samuel Alito dissented, noting that Albert Snyder, the marine’s father who brought the suit citing emotional distress, was not a public figure, but a private individual who simply wanted to bury his son in peace. He argued that the first Amendment does not mean “that they may intentionally inflict severe emotional injury on private persons at a time of intense emotional sensitivity by launching vicious verbal attacks that make no contribution to public debate.” He then listed some of that possible emotional injury:
Other signs would most naturally have been understood as suggesting—falsely—that Matthew was gay. Homosexuality was the theme of many of the signs. There were signs reading “God Hates Fags,” “Semper Fi Fags,” “Fags Doom Nations,” and “Fag Troops.” Id., at 3781–3787. Another placard depicted two men engaging in anal inter-course. A reasonable bystander seeing those signs would have likely concluded that they were meant to suggest that the deceased was a homosexual.
This line of reasoning suggests that Alito thinks being mistaken for “a homosexual” is grounds for emotional distress. Interesting…
There’s something else that’s even more interesting: Alito made a point that the larger court refused to consider.
After the funeral, the Westboro picketers reaffirmed the meaning of their protest. They posted an online account entitled “The Burden of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A.Snyder. The Visit of Westboro Baptist Church to Help the Inhabitants of Maryland Connect the Dots!” … Belying any suggestion that they had simply made general comments about homosexuality, the Catholic Church, and the United States military, the “epic” addressed the Snyder family directly…
The larger court did not address the “epic” except in this footnote on page 3:
A few weeks after the funeral, one of the picketers posted a message on Westboro’s Web site discussing the picketing and containing religiously oriented denunciations of the Snyders, interspersed among lengthy Bible quotations. Snyder discovered the posting, referred to by the parties as the “epic,” during an Internet search for his son’s name. The epic is not properly before us and does not factor in our analysis. Although the epic was submitted to the jury and discussed in the courts below, Snyder never mentioned it in his petition for certiorari. See Pet. for Cert. i (“Snyder’s claim arose out of Phelps’ intentional acts at Snyder’s son’s funeral” (emphasis added)); this Court’s Rule 14.1(g)(petition must contain statement “setting out the facts material to consideration of the question presented”). Nor did Snyder respond to the statement in the opposition to certiorari that “[t]hough the epic was asserted as a basis for the claims at trial, the petition . . . appears to be addressing only claims based on the picketing.” Brief in Opposition 9. Snyder devoted only one paragraph in the argument section of his opening merits brief to the epic. Given the foregoing and the fact that an Internet posting may raise distinct issues in this context, we decline to consider the epic in deciding this case.
In other words, the Snyders may have had a claim based not on the protest itself, but on Westboro’s Internet posting that was addressed specifically to the family. But for whatever reason, the family chose not to pursue that claim before the high court. Given the court’s warning about the narrowness of the case based solely on the facts considered by the court, the decision might have been a bit different had the family’s attorney chose to include the “epic” as part of their appeal.
Westboro Baptist Is So Extreme…
April 9th, 2010
Even the Klan wants it known that they don’t want anything to do with them. Meanwhile, Nate Phelps, the estranged son of Westboro Baptist founder and patriarch Fred Phelps, sat for a half-hour interview in Canada a few weeks ago:
God Hates Figs
March 14th, 2009
This flyer was distributed during a recent Chicago counter-protest against members of the “God hates fags” Westboro Baptist Church. Food for thought:
[Hat tip: Dan Savage]
“Wow. BTB just got Phelpsed”
November 26th, 2008
That was one commenter’s reaction to another comment left by Margie Phelps. She, of the Westboro Baptist clan, had a few words to say about a protest in Omaha which didn’t turn out so well for her compatriots:
It is so beautiful watching this nation raise an entire generation of mindless illiterate raging brats. It is the perfect picture of the curse of God on this nation.
When they get all riled up and try to attack the peaceful kind-hearted prophets of God, you cheer like a bunch of stupid trained seals. But when they turn their filthy vulgar violence on society-at-large — you cry like a bunch of little girls. The very same day the brutish brats at the Omaha high school were raging — trying to change the standard of God — furious-at-heart because every adult they’ve ever met before meeting the Westboro Baptist Church good souls have lied to them about any and all things important — the Omaha media reported a hysterical conference by the “leaders” of the community about the out-of-control gang problem.
Meanwhile as you show your backsides in your comments — encouraging violence for one reason, to wit, to try to shake off the bands our words put on your evil dark consciences — your duty stays the same forever: Get a Bible; read it; urge your fellow man to read it; obey it; urge your fellow man to obey it; otherwise shut up!
You are an altogether worthless people. You have no character, substance or righteousness. You glorify yourselves and spend out your days in vain pursuit of lust and greed. You hate each other; you hate yourselves; you have a society that is rotting from the inside out; God is cursing you in every way, every day. And you’re just too plain blind and dumb to see it. God did that to you by one awesome judicial stroke: Made you blind, stupid and drunk-acting — so you are incapable of any right thinking. Lord help those pitiful kids raised by the parents of today! They have no hope! That’s why they are reduced to throwing food and drink at people who care for their souls. You taught them that vile parents, teachers, preachers and “leaders.”
God has raised up a perfect arrogant ass to be the president of this generation of spoiled no-impulse-control brats, named Obama. He will lead these bombastic big mouths to their final destruction. God put him in this position of power so he could use him as his servant for his glory to destroy doomed america.
Your only hope is this: Shut your big blasphemous mouth; get a Bible; read it; and OBEY! Fear God! Keep his commandments! He is the Creator of all things. Those animal-acting slobbish children can’t change that fact! The hour of his coming draws nigh. The Judgment Day she cometh.
God hates you doomed america. He sent you sissies and toddlers to rule over you; and they have you in a grip you can’t get out of. God hates you nasty Nebraska. God hates you Oafish Omaha. He hates the lying whore false prophets of your land; he hates the parents of your land; and he hates those rutting retards you call children! God hates you!
One of your only true BFFs in the whole world, at Westboro Baptist Church, the last spot on this earth where you will hear the truth
PS We’ll be back to that high school early and often — stay tuned — because those little brutes WILL drink the cup of his wrath — and since you parents, teachers, preachers and “leaders” won’t tell them the truth — we’ll do the job for you
Westboro Baptists Flee Student Counter Protest
November 25th, 2008
The Westboro Baptist clan was at it again, this time near Omaha Central High School last Friday. A counter protest by students turned, well, theatrical — in a rotten-tomatoes sort of way:
Students threw hamburgers and bottles of lemonade and milk at several members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., students said after the protest. A video of the protest — recorded by 16-year-old student Mason Hartwell — showed one counterprotester on the ground, seated with his hands behind his back and flanked by two law enforcement officers.
Students also chanted several slogans — including the Pledge of Allegiance, where they yelled “Liberty and justice for all.” Police persuaded the Westboro clan to leave once the situation threatened to get out of hand. Police said no one was injured and no one was arrested.
Westboro Baptist To Debate Amendment 2
October 21st, 2008
Florida International University is hosting a debate on Amendment 2, Florida’s so-called “marriage amendment.” Guess who they got to show up to support Amendment 2?
Westboro Baptist. I kid you not.
It turns out that Westboro Baptist was invited by the Stonewall Legal Alliance, an LGBT advocacy group at the FIU College of Law.
This should be fun. Not enlightening, but fun. Some on the right are not amused. I’m not a fan myself of giving this group legitimacy. What do you think?
Today In History: Rest In Peace
October 16th, 2008
Ten years ago today, family and friends were gathering in Casper, Wyoming, to say their final good-byes to Matthew Shepard. Earlier that morning, Matthew’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, met with reporters before the funeral for a very brief public statement. Choking back tears, Dennis said:
On behalf of our son Matthew Shepard, we want to thank the citizens of the United States, and the people of the world, who have expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to our family during these trying times. A person as caring and loving as our son Matt would be overwhelmed by what this incident has done to the hearts and souls of people around the world… We are honored and touched beyond measure…
Please understand and respect my family’s request for a private and dignified farewell to our son today. Matt’s family and friends, loved him deeply, and we need to share a quiet goodbye to him. Matt himself would have been the first to honor another family’s request if this had happened to someone else.
We should try to remember that because Matt’s last few minutes of consciousness on earth may have been hell, his family and friends want more than ever to say their farewells to him in a peaceful, dignified and loving manner.
By all accounts, Matt’s funeral at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church was peaceful, dignified and loving. Only selected friends and family were allowed to attend, in an attempt to keep the service quiet and private.
The scene outside the church was in equal parts dignified and circus-like. Crowds of mourners stood quietly in the gentle snowy weather to pay their respects, while police, reporters, photographers and satellite trucks buzzed around them.
A short distance away stood a contingent of protesters from Fred Phelps’ notorious Westboro Baptist Church. They were there holding signs that read, “God hates fags,” and “Matt In Hell.” But they were surrounded and shielded from the church by counter-protesters — for want of a better word — who fashioned large white bedsheets into giant angel wings.
While Westboro’s tactics were the most talked-about example of anti-gay extremism on display that day, they weren’t entirely alone. Ten years ago today also saw Robert Knight’s Family Research Council use the occasion of Matt’s funeral to denounce Phelps — and to boast about their part in the ex-gay advertising blitz that had begun the day before Matt’s murder. The FRC’s statement condemned Phelps’ tactics while sharing his message of condemning Matthew to hell:
While we share Mr. Phelps’ opposition to the homosexual political agenda, his belief that homosexuality is a sin, and his call for punishment of Mr. Shepard’s killers, we do not endorse his tactics, and have asked his group to stop letting themselves be used by the media to crudely caricature Christians.
The ‘truth in love’ media campaign reaches out to people struggling with homosexuality and offers them hope for change and redemption. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, homosexuals are included in a list of sinners, who, if unrepentant, will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Ten years have passed since Matthew Shepard has been laid to rest. Where are we at today?
One thing is undeniable. We’ve made great strides in changing how people view LGBT people. More people are “out” than ever before, living openly for the most part in relative safety.
And yet, too many things still haven’t changed. It is still legal to fire people from their jobs for being gay. Marriage rights are only secure right now in one state. Wyoming is one of twenty states which still does not have a hate crimes law to cover sexual orientation. And the federal hate crime statute still covers race, religion, and national origin — but not sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.
Yet official statistics continue to show that when hate crmes do occur against LGBT people, those crimes are more likely to be violent crimes when compared to other classes which are already protected.
In these ten years since Matthew’s death, we have continued to lose countless lives — singled out simply for who they were. We’ve lost Brandon Teena, Danny Overstreet, Phillip Walstead, Amancio Coralles, Satendar Singh, Scotty Joe Weaver, Daniel Fetty, Steven Domer, Roberto “Poncho” Duncanson, Sean Kennedy, Angie Zapata, Michael Sandy, Simmie Williams, Jr., and Lawrence King — just to name a very few.
As Judy Shepard has said on the tenth anniversary of her son’s death, so much has changed. Yet so much remains the same.
(Oct 16) Today In History: Rest In Peace
(Oct 13) Today In History: “Something In the Culture”
(Oct 12) Today In History: Matthew Wayne Shepard (Dec 1, 1976 – Oct 12, 1998)
(Oct 11) Today In History: The Vigil
(Oct 10) Today In History: Armbands and Scarecrows
(Oct 9) Also Today In History: Details Emerge
(Oct 9) Today In History: “We Just Wanted To Spend Time With Him”
(Oct 8) Today in History: Two Men Arrested
(Oct 7) Also Today In History: Another Assault In Laramie
(Oct 7) Today In History: “Baby, I’m So Sorry This Happened”
(Oct 6) Today In History: Before Matthew Shepard
A “Guest Post” from Shirley Phelps: Nine Reasons Why “God HATES Colorado”
August 29th, 2008
The Democratic National Convention is over. The Obama has been nominated, the speeches have been made, and now everyone is beginning their long treks home, inspired by the closing night and energized for the fall campaign.
The convention drew quite a few people to Denver, many of them with differing agendas and messages. Among them was a contingent from Westboro Baptist, the famous God-Hates-Fags brand of “Christians.” BTB contributing author Daniel Gonzales recently moved to Denver, and when he learned that the WBC folks have labeled the entire state as the “land of the Sodomites,” he wondered how all of Colorado happened to earn such a reputation. So he decided to write to Shirley Phelps:
Good morning Shirley,
I’m one of Jeremy Hooper’s activist friends out of Denver and I also write for a local gay magazine (the gayzette) here so I had a question about your DNC press release, specifically “Colorado – Land
of the Sodomites.” Could you elaborate on how you reached that determination? Most locals would agree Denver can be pretty gay at times but I’m curious what the state as a whole did to earn this title.
I would be happy to print your response in it’s entirety (as long as it’s not like a thousands words) and may swing by one of your protest sites to say hi during your visit.
Ms. Shirley’s response managed to cross the thousand word threshold — 1,860 words, to be exact — listing nine reasons why “God HATES Colorado.” It’s robably too long to appear on the pages of the Gayzette, but since we strive to present differing points of view from time to time on this web site, we thought you might be interested in what’s on her mind.
Or then again, maybe not. To me, it all has the quality of a car wreck — you know its ugly, but you can’t help but look. So go on. You know you want to.
“Million Fag March” Descends on Westboro Baptist
March 31st, 2008
The name of the march was a bit facetious, but the results weren’t. About 400 people gathered in Gage Park near Fred Phelp’s Westboro Baptist Church to demonstrate against the “God Hates Fags” message that the Phelps clan has been spreading. Kansas City’s Fox4 has the details:
Now This Is Just Sad…
January 31st, 2008
For misguided reasons you are hiding the body of Heath Ledger, and refusing the divulge the time, date, and place of his burial in Perth, Australia, so that we at Westboro Baptist Church cannot attend — in respectful proximity — and conduct a religious service. …
… Please tell us the time, date and place of Heath’s funeral in Australia. Thank you.
That was Monday, January 28, and I guess Westboro’s engraved invitation still hasn’t arrived. So yesterday the Phelps moved to Plan “B”:
WBC will soon launch a new Website — titled GodHatesAustralia. Watch for it.
Doesn’t it just break your heart?
Update: Sadder still. As the commenters have noted, the Phelps clan sent out their second press release, but they neglected to do one very important thing: they didn’t register the domain name. Click on GodHatesAustralia.com, and you see this:
There has been recent statements in the media that godhatesaustralia.com was registered recently by the Westboro Baptist Church. While their intention may have been to register godhatesaustralia, they were too late. Love thy neighbour.
The dancing bear is a nice touch. Poor Westboro. They just can’t get a break.
Phelps Clan To Protest Heath Ledger’s Funeral
January 23rd, 2008
Never one to pass an opportunity to put a “Christian” face on things, the anti-gay Phelpsian cult has announced that they will be protesting Heath Ledger’s funeral:
… God hates Fags! & Fag-Enablers! …
Heath Ledger is now in Hell, and has begun serving his eternal sentence there — beside which, nothing else about Heath Ledger is relevant or consequential.
A lovely bunch.
That Didn’t Take Long
December 27th, 2007
A tiger escaped its enclosure in the San Francisco zoo and killing one young man and seriously mauled two more on Christmas Day, just as the zoo was about to close. Our friends at Westboro Baptist had their press release ready to go the very next day:
Uh, happy Feast of St. Stevens (a.k.a Boxing Day)…
Flirting With A Westboro Man
November 18th, 2007
Charles Firth is an Australian comedian living in the US. He appears on the ABC’s (Australian Brocasting Company) The Chaser’s War On Everything in a recurring segment called “Firth In America.” In this segment, he discovers the allure of a “Westboro Boi.”
Phelps Liable for $10.9 Million
October 31st, 2007
Rueters is reporting that a jury ordered Westboro Baptist Church to pay the family of a serviceman whose burial service was picketed by Phelp’s church.
The jury in federal court determined that the Westboro Baptist Church based in Topeka, and three of its principals had invaded the privacy of the dead man’s family and inflicted emotional distress when they protested at his funeral last year.
This bothers me in a few ways.
First, I am in favor of protected speech, even vile disgusting speech like that of Fred Phelps and his family. While there is no question that this celebration of the poor kid’s death was disturbing, I don’t like the precedent this sets. Perhaps as I hear more about the details – such as whether the protest was on public property or at a private funeral home – I may reconsider. But I recognize that my speech could be unwelcome and distressing to anti-gay activists or devoutly religious bigots.
Second, I can’t help but wonder if the outcome would have been different had Westboro been picketing a gay person’s death. I somehow suspect that the family of the serviceman was held by the jury to be more deserving. Perhaps I’m cynical, but I doubt they would have given $2.9 million to a grieving same-sex spouse.
UPDATE: The final award was much more:
The federal jury first awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages. It returned in the afternoon with its decision to award $6 million in punitive damages for privacy loss and $2 million for distress.