Annoyance of the Week

This week’s annoyance is actually an “Outrage of the Week”. This week’s outrage is the radical American cleric, Fred Phelps. Fred has already earned his scarlet A by protesting at the funerals of gay people for years. He is usually spewing something hateful along the lines of “aids is God’s punishment for blah, blah, blah.” Now he and his followers have switched to protesting at the funerals of U.S. servicemen. The theory appears to be something like the following. God doesn’t like gay sex, the U.S. likes gay sex, God wants to get us now, God convinces us to go to Iraq where service people are killed by IEDs — the IEDs doing God’s will. There is no point in trying to dissect the twisted logic behind this kind of hate mongering. It’s sad to me what people do in the name of God or in the name of any faith.

He even showed up in Minnesota this week, “Anti-gay fury mars funeral of a soldier in Anoka“.

The bright spot in the story is that motorcyclists from around the country are provided a counter-protest by showing respect to the slain.

If there comes a day when I have to choose between outlaw bikers and Fred Phelps’ ilk my answer will be found in the squealing tires, the smell of exhaust, a bandana and a lone headlight streaking down the highway.

To round out my personal annoyance this story also makes me confront myself in two ways. One, I like to think of myself as a non-violent person. Yet, if I imagine myself confronting Fred Phelps and his followers at the funeral of my comrades, I realize that I am not only capable of violence but would actually enjoy it. I hate it when I realize what a sick person I actually am. Secondly, while I’ve always felt embarrassment at Fred Phelps’ hateful antics, it was never internalized the way it is today — when he is protesting at the funeral of slain servicemen. This reveals the subtle way that I just didn’t care as much when it was people who are further outside my personal sphere. I was wrong about that. I should always have been this outraged. I will be in the future.

To some degree I realize that Phelps and his followers just want media attention and I am playing into his hand. If we want people like this to go away we should stop paying attention to them. I know this, but sometimes I can’t contain my outrage.

Update: My favorite co-worker sent me a link to this wikipedia entryMembers of Westboro Baptist Church.

The obvious pull quote is this one.

Phelps and Westboro do not permit members to marry outside the church. Since there are very few members outside of the Phelps and Hockenbarger clans, and with the exception of the Drain family few new members have joined, the clans have begun to marry each other, resulting in a form of inbreeding.

Members of Westboro Baptist Church

1 comment on “Annoyance of the Week”

  1. Mentat

    I welcome your outrage and wish for others to awaken as well.
    So many people don’t even know the Westboro Baptist Church exists and many people don’t believe it the first time they hear of their antics.
    Many, many people have suffered at the hands of these sick people — and few have noticed (or at least spoken up) that were not directly affected.
    It is interesting that a change in the target victims has served to both raise awareness of the group and also to further marginalize their “message”.

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