Skepticism

Westboro Hits Home

Words have escaped me the past few days as the reality of the most recent school shootings has sunk in. Northern Illinois is my husband’s alma mater and I’ve spent some time consoling him while he wavers between anger, sadness, helplessness and denial. We live about 25 minutes from the campus, we know people who have lost friends and relatives. Sadly, its become a cliche that no one expects school shootings to happen so close to home, and when it does, it’s surreal. Right now, we are a community desperate for answers. And, as is typical when these types of tragedies happen, there is an onslaught of finger pointing at all the usual suspects. If you look at the list below, you should be able to pick out the obvious culprit:

  • A. Guns are too accessible
  • B. People don’t look out for the warning signs of mental illness
  • C. Gay people go to college
  • D. Too much TV violence
  • E. Video games are destroying our society

Obviously, the answer is C. God doesn’t want gay people to go to college, and he certainly doesn’t want preachers who don’t hate gays to speak at colleges*, so he sent a crazed gunman to shoot up a classroom full of kids taking a gen-ed geology course.

And how do we prevent another massacre? Have Phelps and friends protest the funerals of the victims.

I’ve tried to figure out how marching outside a funeral home with picket signs makes God happy. I’ve tried to figure out how it stops gay people from being. I’ve tried to figure out how it stops bad things from happening in the world. I’ve tried to figure out how anyone can subscribe to this particular brand of crazy. But I’ve stopped trying because I feel my brain getting damaged.

ETA:

*Their official reason for protesting is that they disagree with a preacher who once spoke at the university.

Update 12/19/08: 

According to this morning’s Daily Herald, yesterday one village sent a caravan of snowplows to the funeral of one victim.  They lined the plows along the road so the protest would be out of the mourners’ view.  It’s a shame Westboro’s important  warning message was unable to reach the friends and family of those slain by the Good Lord.

And if you want a disturbing look into the mindset of these people, check out this article where Phelp’s daughter says that the shootings are her birthday present from God and points out that one female victim had short hair (short hair = promoting a satanic gay agenda?).

Elyse

Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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13 Comments

  1. Things like this make me wish for heavenly lightning bolts. I suspect that the protesters would find out (albeit VERY briefly) exactly what the higher power thinks of their behavior.

    I know, I know, violence isn't the answer … but it's still a tempting fantasy, in a caped superhero sort of way.

  2. Then again, Phelps probably has done more to advance atheism than Betrand Russell, Richard Dawkins, and Ellen Johnson combined; so maybe he's not all bad (inadvertent good deeds are good deeds nonetheless).

    Not that would be much consolation if he and his band of hateful loonies showed up at the funeral of a friend.

  3. I just don't these people?

    They are seriously delusional if they think 'God' is impressed with people hassling the poor families of loved ones who have just been shot. What about love thy neighbour an all that other religious woo that kinda contradicts that.

  4. By protesting at the services of murder victims, all he's doing is giving Christianity and homophobia a bad name. As far as I'm concerned, he jumped the shark when he started protesting at the funerals of Iraqi war vets.

  5. Elyse,

    You and your family and friends have my thoughts and sympathy also. Not quite as close for us, but my hubby is a college professor outside Chicago so things like this terrify me as well. Phelps just sickens me and I really would have a hard time not punching him in the nose if I came across a protest in my own backyard. I think, re: item B on your list, someone needs to stop Phelps' little tribe from doing this in the name of free speech, and institutionalize them because they are obviously mentally ill. For some reason that does not, however, invoke my sympathy for him and his ilk.

  6. Elyse, you and your husband have our sympathies. We were in a similar situation last April as we watched the Virginia Tech shootings unfold.

    Her "birthday present"? Her f–king "Birthday present"???!!! What a heartless, cruel crazy BITCH!

  7. I've basically given up on trying to categorize or comment on the antics of the Phelps clan. They are just so batty that they are really only a window into the peculiar brain-melting magic of cults, if even that. They are an insanity all unto their own.

  8. Thank you all for your sympathies. Fortunately, we were not directly affected by any of the deaths though people we know have been.

    I do love this closing quote from the last article:

    If God wants you to preach hate to people mourning the deaths of loved ones, will you welcome protesters to the funeral of one of your four children or some other loved one killed?

    “We would hope other people would come to protest that funeral,” says Phelps, who says she’d greet a tragedy as a sign from God. “I’m going to wonder what I did to make the Lord angry.”

    Some might not wonder.

    Just a couple of days ago my husband was telling me about a discussion he had with a co-worker. He said that, unlike Muslims, you don’t see Christians flying planes into buildings saying, “This one’s for you, Jesus.”

    But I think there’s definitely an argument to be made that protesting the funeral of a college student who was gunned down in cold-blood is just as evil as crashing a plane into a high-rise.

    Smaller scale, but just as evil.

  9. But I think there’s definitely an argument to be made that protesting the funeral of a college student who was gunned down in cold-blood is just as evil as crashing a plane into a high-rise.

    I agree completely. These people sicken me.

  10. I’ve basically given up on trying to categorize or comment on the antics of the Phelps clan. They are just so batty that they are really only a window into the peculiar brain-melting magic of cults, if even that. They are an insanity all unto their own.

    After watching the Louis Theroux, and Keith Allen documentaries, I tend to agree. Phelps is to the bible, what Charley Manson is to the Beatles lyrics.

    BTW – I strongly recommend both aforementioned documentaries about the Westboro folks.

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