The Westboro Baptist church truly push the boat of intolerance far out into uncharted territories and are best known for picketing funerals. Yes, you did indeed read that correctly, under the cover of the US first amendment right to freedom of speech they excel at being truly offensive by turning up at funerals and holding a protest. They started that trend on 1998 and have been doing it on a regular basis ever since.
Its not just funerals, they also organize pickets outside churches, plays, museums, and department stores. They even turned up at Michael Jacksons funeral and ran a protest there. But its not just about picketing, they also run web sites such as “GodHatesFags” and issue bizarre press releases such as that issued in May 2008 after the deadly Sichuan earthquake that thanked God for the heavy loss of life in China, and praying “for many more earthquakes to kill many more thousands of impudent and ungrateful Chinese Communists”.
So what’s going on here? Well, they just happen to believe that God hates gays more than anything else on the entire planet, so they have made it their self-appointed task to go out and protest anything gay or gay related. In fact, their prejudices run a bit deeper than just being anti-gay, the anti-gay thing just happens to be the most vocal part of their public image. They are also against all other forms of belief, and non-belief. In fact it gets even more bizarre, because on one of their many hate-fuelled web sites, “http://www.godhatestheworld.com/”, they express their condemnation for every single nation on the entire planet with a separate page for each and every one. To put this another way, if its not them, then its evil and wicked, so from their viewpoint they are the only true believers on the entire planet. If you think that they sound like a close-knit family, then you would be right, because most of the members are related to the leader, Fred Phelps. I guess that gives some credence to the thought that insanity is hereditary.
Is your head spinning after that quick tour through their collective belief driven psychosis? I know that mine is, because its truly hard to grasp the degree to which these folks are so totally and completely detached from reality. As a side note, the word psychosis is quite appropriate. A neurosis consists of building sand-castles in the air, a psychosis is where you decide to take up residence in that castle and move in.
So how can anybody possibly respond to something like this? If you ignore them, nothing changes. If you protest, you only end up getting accused of religious intolerance and look as bad as them, so what to do?
Well, it just so happens that one group of folks have hit upon the ideal solution. They went out and joined them, but instead of carrying hate signs, they carried a very different message. In January of 2010, when the Wesboro crew turned up to protest outside Twitter (don’t ask, I can’t even begin to work out why), they found themselves totally outnumbered by a group of folks carrying signs with crazy slogans such as “I have a Sign”, “I’m Tired”, “Where s Waldo”, “Build prisons on the moon”, and “I was promised Doughnuts”. As you might imagine it was a roaring success, everybody passing by was so totally entertained by the pranksters that the Westboro nutters were completely ignored.
Here is a link to an article with photos:
Was that a unique event? Thankfully no, it was the start of a fabulous trend. When the Westboro wingnuts turned up to protest Comic-Con in July 2010, they faced an even larger group that included star trek crew members with “God hates Jedi” signs and robots with “Kill all humans” banners.
You can read about it and see both pictures and videos here:
Its such a beautiful response, I so totally love it. Don’t get angry, don’t loose your cool, instead, go and out-crazy the crazies with prank signs.