Saturday, November 03, 2007

American Justice

This past week, in holy Baltimore, the hometown of John Waters and Divine, a real judgment was handed down against Rev. Fred Phelps and his Westboro Church. A federal jury in Baltimore awarded $10.9 million in compensatory and punitive damages to Al Snyder, the father of Matthew Snyder, a Marine who was killed in Iraq after the church members protested and picketed Matthew’s funeral carrying signs that said “Thank God for Dead Soldiers!” and “America Is Doomed!”

I feel sad that a grieving father was pushed so far by the Westboro Church monsters, and, at the same time, I’m nearly giddy that finally there’s the possibility that Fred Phelps and his ilk have been put out of the hate business.

But I do wonder, who has been funding these hatemongers for so long? I’ve been trying for a long time to quit my job and just travel, and somehow they’ve been doing it for more than 15 years - protesting and picketing at thousands of events! I’m pretty certain that they aren’t being comped by JetBlue and Red Roof Inns, so how are they affording their very demanding hate schedules? I’d bet an investigation into their finances would turn up some very interesting trivia.

I also wonder why it was ok for Fred Phelps and his followers to picket and protest at the funerals of countless gay people, including Matthew Shepard’s funeral, but suddenly the conservative bloggers and pundits are all up in arms because the Westboro Church-goers have diversified their focus to include the funerals of people lost in the war. For all those years of spewing their Calvinist craziness at the funerals of gay people, I never saw the Fred Phelps clan being lambasted on political talk shows or confronted by angry television pundits. As a matter of fact, when they limited their hatred to gay people, I never saw the mainstream media report on them at all.

But, in 2003, the Westboro Church decided to increase their visibility by protesting at the funerals of military members. And, it’s really worked well for them. Obviously, mainstream America was ok with the Westboro Church members “practicing their religion” by carrying signs that said “God Hates Fags” and “Fags Burn in Hell.” They did it for years with no media attention.

Then, in 2005, they crossed the line of decency by not only picketing military funerals, but by implying that these fallen war heroes might be gay – or “gay enablers.” And that did it. America had had enough, and the conservative right-wingnuts found themselves on the same side of the fence as the gay community in being disgusted by Phelps’ antics. Soon, Fred Phelps had become a hateful, repulsive, contemptible, vile national pseudo-celebrity – just like Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck.

So now, now, the conservatives are speaking out against the Westboro Church. Now states are scrambling to pass laws, specifically limiting the right protest near a funeral, and, last year, President Dumbya signed the “Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act,” which makes it illegal to protest near some military cemeteries.

Now, I’m sure that there are some who, thanks to lack of media attention, just never knew about the funeral protests, until they started hosting them at military funerals. But, we all know that most of the Fox News set would be thrilled with the Phelps clan if they just went back to protesting fag funerals, and stopped bringing mainstream attention to the raw hatred that serves as a foundation for the conservative ideology. They aren’t angry at what he’s saying – because they agree. Just like Phelps, the conservative base of America believes in an angry, vengeful God that hates homosexuals, and just like Phelps they believe that America is doomed because of its diversity.

They just want the Westboro Church to shut up, and to stop bringing the public’s attention to the evilness of fundamentalism. Now, back to my earlier question. Who has been funding these loonies for the past 15 years?


Cyrus said...

I’m guessing that all those gay people, whose funerals were desecrated, and whose families were tormented and harassed by the Westboro fundamentalists don’t fall under the category of “Fallen Heroes.”

Fritz said...

"Who has been funding these loonies for the past 15 years?"

The Phelps family. One daughter is an attorney. I assume the others have full-time jobs, too.

The church membership is mostly Phelps family members.

Cyrus said...

Hi Fritz!

I just find it hard to believe that they are able to fund the traveling expenses of dozens of people for hundreds of protests per year from the income of the daughter's attorney fees.

I mean, given their demanding travel schedule how could any of them work full time jobs? And who is using Shirley Phelps-Roper to represent them in court? It just seems fishy to me.