I’m really tired of people piling on Westboro Baptist and its adherents. It’s a complete distraction from the real channels of power, and an eerie mirror image of the ACORN putsch (except that one is a force for good, the other a force for evil).
Sort of. Given that Westboro, however vocal they may be, is a tiny institution that’s essentially composed of Fred Phelps and his immediate descendants, I’m not sure that they do a whole lot or wield any kind of influence. They’re simply good at getting attention. Homophobia is alive, but the cartoonish extreme that Westboro takes it might be a perverse plus for the good guys. The seductive logic that America is to be hated for coddling the fags even this much is embarrassing. I’ve never once heard of a public figure standing beside Fred Phelps; the same Republican Party that is somewhat less than discerning about the crazies it coddles never, ever endorses anything he says or does. In fact, if I were an Establishment homophobe with a real career predicated on financial enrichment via keeping the fags in their place while claiming to love America, like Tony Perkins or Maggie Gallagher, I would probably hate Fred Phelps.
I just don’t see the point of a Wikileaks-style expose on Westboro. Nobody liked them before. Do it to a bank or a neocon magazine or to Exxon or something. I’m glad Anonymous called it off. What a waste of energy.
Most of society’s rump homophobia boils down to discomfort, with butt sex first and foremost, with “what am I going to tell 6-year old Susie?” running a close second. Maybe one person in a million is interested in joining a church whose only theological tenet is that God Hates America for Not Hating Fags Enough. I’ve always thought that gay sex occupied a bizarrely prominent place in the Christian mind. Shouldn’t they be as worried or more so about theft, which is rampant, than about a sin that only 3-6% of the population commits regularly?
(Of course, it lines a church’s pockets to rail against such a salacious form of evil which almost no one in the pews is even tempted to try. It’s profitable to comfort the comfortable, lucrative to tell pious people that they are virtuous).
I’m not saying Fred Phelps deserves a GLAAD award for making homophobia look so embarrassingly and primeval in the media, but I first heard of him when I was a college freshman in 1999 and I don’t believe Westboro has grown in size beyond the procreation of its membership. Obviously, they get money from somewhere to travel so extensively, but they just don’t have clout. They viscerally undercut any conservative pretense to love the sinner, and they belie the notion that faggotry is about morals or saving the besieged and precious institution of “the family.”
No. Gay rights, like every battle in the culture war, is about riling up base prejudices so that people vote in favor of the people whose real agenda is restructuring the system to make as much money as possible without consequence. I believe Westboro undercuts that goal. They might also get a few people to question the capricious and malevolent nature of their God. Looked at a certain way, Fred Phelps is doing God’s work!
When I was an NYU student, my friend’s firefighter father was called out of retirement to assist with the FDNY funeral for Father Mychal Judge, the department’s chaplain who had been killed in the World Trade Center. Though a celibate Catholic priest, he was openly gay. Westboro turned up with their “God Hates Fags” bullshit, and NYU dispatched some pierced queer undergrads to counterprotest, and my friend’s dad had to keep order at what should have been a solemn, dignified occasion. How surreal.
This man was not exactly a bomb-throwing progressive, but he was disgusted with the little church and everything it stood for. The gay rights struggle in 2011 is at a place where you just can’t openly mock gay people at work or deny them equality in most governmental capacities. You can’t get away with unexamined stereotypes in the media, and “faggot” is not exactly permissible in polite society. We’re winning. Once enough horrid old people die, we will have won altogether.
And I’m fine with God hating me. I hate him, too. He’s killed more people than anyone.