OK, before I write this, I know I’m going against everything I tell everyone to do when it comes to Fred Phelps and his band of crazies. But I have to say it. For all of the Americans out there lucky enough to not know about Fred, Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), or the evil they inflict upon this world, and mostly the next generation of their family, you’re lucky. Because when you come across them, you will hate them. Probably with a hate stronger than any hate you’ve ever felt. And yes, I know hate’s a strong word. But I’ve lived it and felt it. This is EXACTLY what they (they being WBC) want. And our hatred of them is how they’re so successful. There’s the rub.
These people, who don’t even deserve to carry the word “people” because they’re so awful, protest at funerals across the country. Mostly military funerals. And at these funerals they hold signs saying derogatory things about gay people, and the military. Somehow they claim war is caused by Americans accepting gays. Or something like that. Who knows. I don’t even think Fred believes what he says. I believe he does it to make a profit, to feel powerful, to get a rise out of people. All of the bat-crazy stuff crazy people do. But I worry the children don’t know any better. And seeing those children holding the signs. There aren’t words. Awful. But that’s not the point. Well, that sort of is a point. But I can’t fix that.
The point is everything they do is a profit-based business. And the profits are what they use to continue to protest. They protest under the guise of religion (well, sort of. They’re idiots, so it’s not really religion by anyone’s standards but their own). Using the freedom of speech as a shield. Not only to protect them from being shut down, but when someone acts out of emotion, that same freedom wins them lawsuits. And lots of money. Money, essentially, that the rest of America bands together to pay for. And money that is then used to bankroll the next protest. Yep, you read that right. WE are the ones who are making this display of audacity possible (either directly by attacking them and losing cases, or indirectly by helping the family who did attack and lose the case pay what they owe). Many members of the church/of the family (because they’re one in the same) are lawyers. In facts, it’s said Fred would beat any child of his who would not agree to become a lawyer. Several work for the State of Kansas. They know their rights, the ins and outs of the laws, and how to lawfully wreak havoc without doing so illegally. They are very specific in the things they put on their signs and the things they say. They’ve been legally protesting in Kansas for years and years. Many lawsuits have been brought against them, they always win. They file lawsuits against people. I repeat: They. Always. Win.
No one said life’s fair.
So what’s the answer?
Like a naughty child begging for attention, ignore them. Don’t show your emotion to them. Don’t approach them. Don’t acknowledge them.I can’t imagine how hard this would be, especially for the funeral of a fallen soldier. And I’ve never had to try to do it. So I can’t even empathize. This person gave his or her life to defend our country. And here is this small group of small-minded, awful, hateful people not respecting the solider, his or her family, or what the death really stands for. I have only had the displeasure of witnessing the WBC one time when I was in Topeka. It was awful. And I wasn’t attending a funeral or any other event with heightened emotions.
If the funeral is high profile, it’s possible to get boundaries established well before the funeral to keep them even farther away than what’s standard by law. If it’s possible, set specific boundaries. I guarantee you WBC will NOT break the law. These boundaries were set for Dr. Tiller in Wichita. In my eyes he’s no more special than your relative.
Finally, enlist in the help of the Patriot Guard Riders. Many don’t realize this group was established in Kansas, because of WBC. They’ve always been crazy. And this amazing organization, now nationwide, volunteers (at the request of the family) to attend these funerals to protect the family from the protests WBC puts on. They love what they do, and do it well. Regardless of the weather. They ride in unyielding heat, the harshest cold, down-pouring rain. They shield the family by physically building a wall with their motorcycles and flag, and audibly by revving their engines. They stand at attention as if they’re part of the military. And many may be, but it’s not required. When I see pictures of them, I get goosebumps. They are by and far one of the most professional, respectful, selfless groups. There aren’t words.
Growing up my parents used to encourage us to donate to a church. But as a Catholic who hasn’t been particularly pleased with how those donations are allocated and spent, I didn’t get a lot of pleasure donating there. Now, my parents have started encouraging me to “find a cause you do respect and donate to it.” Each year I take time to choose where I’ll donate. In past years it’s been private schools, cancer, heart disease or other medical charities, and I’ve even had years where I’ve really liked a priest my church and donated there. This year, though, I will proudly donate to the Patriot Guard Riders. Although no amount of money can express the respect I have for them, I hope in time everyone will see the way to finally rid this world of people like Fred Phelps isn’t to physically or verbally attack them, but rather to ignore them.
I stole several images (off of Google Images so I’m not sure it’s stealing) that capture what I think of when I think of the Patriot Guard Riders.
This image was taken from the East Texas Patriot Guard page.
This image came from The Democratic Daily (back in 2006). And talks a little bit about history and what they were doing even four years ago.
I love this image. Captures exactly what I think of when I think of the PGR. It was taken from an mlive.com article in 2009.
Another 2009 article. This one from the Green Valley News and Sun. It has more in-depth PGR history. Each state has captains who organize rides as the PGR is invited to ride at a funeral. It’s a nationwide organization, but the efforts are broken down by state to make it most efficient.
I wavered on whether to do this because I don’t want to promote anyone giving them more attention than they already get. But finally decided information is power. Understanding your enemy gives you strength to defeat. This image is pulled from Wikipedia’s Fred Phelps page. You can read about the history of the “church,” family members who have denounced him and his actions.
And, finally, you may or may not be interested in viewing Nate Phelps’ site (one son who denounced Fred). His is a story of abuse, brainwashing, fear, intimidation, hypocrisy, and everything awful you could imagine. How these children stayed in his home is beyond me. I almost couldn’t finish his “speech” (a section of his site) because it reminded me of the book, A Child Called “It.”
Update: I haven’t watched this whole thing, but just found it. May or may not be interesting? What I’ve seen. It takes my breath away to see the brainwashed children. The angry adults. Horrible. I need to stop reading and watching this crap.