In some ways I cannot even believe I am wasting my time writing about Fred Phelps, and his followers of Westboro Baptist, because I’m pretty sure we’re all on the same page about them; they are completely nuts. I’ve written about them before, and I would hope, by now, people (whether avid Christian, Atheist, or anything else) would realize that what Fred and the gang stand for is not even Christianity, but complete and utter lunacy. I think it is redundant to even state that I do not agree with them, and hate everything they stand for, but they made the headlines once again, and I find myself feeling the same old feelings, with a different twist.
I read an article on Huffington Post about the father of the deceased Marine soldier who took Phelps and company to court for ruining his son’s funeral by protesting with their hateful signs saying things like, “Thank God for dead soldiers,” “You’re Going to Hell,” “God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11.” In this instance, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Phelps and Westboro Baptist, saying they have the right of free speech to be able to continue to protest at dead soldiers’ funerals. This is completely shocking, disheartening, and disgusting to me, and I believe the Supreme Court, and U.S. Government, has once again failed its troops.
I tweeted my qualms about this last night, and my brother (who is a lawyer) said, “You know I can’t stand Westboro, but that case is the right result. Can’t censor speech.” I thoroughly disagree. Don’t get me wrong, I love free speech, and am very thankful for it. It gives me the right to express my views about Phelps, and even the Government that I am currently unhappy with. Heck, I am even ok with the fact that they have the right to put up their hateful, idiotic Youtube videos about how much they and God hate America, dead soldiers, and fags; I don’t agree or like it, but I understand they have free speech to express their ignorant views just like I do.
I am the least patriotic person I know, and I do not even believe in or agree with the majority of the armed conflict America is involved in, but that is besides the point. When a young (or any age for that matter) man or women gives their life for a cause (this particular “cause” being “their country”) that they are willing to literally die for, and they do die for it, we are miserably failing them and their families if we allow this type of behavior at their funerals; a group of hateful people defecating on the memorial of a death of a solider. Having lost loved ones myself, I can assume the pain of losing a loved one is bad enough, and then to have some clowns with hateful words and signs show up at the funeral? Well, that would be shattering.
For me, this goes beyond free speech. If they wanted to protest at the White House during the soldiers’ funerals that would be one thing, but not at the grave site, where a mourning family is trying to lay their loved one to rest. Not that it seems to matter but, I do not agree with this decision, and it makes me very, very sad to think that these young people who have given their lives for their country, are not protected by their country in the final ceremony to celebrate the life lived, and honor the life lost.
In life I try, as much as possible, to first look inward at my own crap before I place judgements on others’ actions. At the same time, I also try to be the positive change I would like to see in the world around me. I do not know how I can change this, and actually think there is little to nothing I can do about it. But as for my feelings towards Fred Phelps…I think what I hate the most about him and his followers is the reaction that they (or that I allow them to) stir up in me. I hate their hate! I get angry and worked up about them, and I begin to hate them, a whole lot! And by doing so I am allowing them bring me down to a level of hatred that I do not want to go to. It’s easy to hate Fred Phelps. So, in all of this, I guess my learning is trying to not be the hate that I do NOT want to see in the world. I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.