Feuds, Funerals, Fundies and Free Speech

Fred Phelps, the mind behind godhatesfags.com, is quite possibly the modern living embodiment of George Orwell’s quote “if liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” He and his church have become infamous for their shocking-but largely legal-denunciations of homosexuality. Their favorite modus operandi seems to be picketing funerals, as they did with Matthew Shepard.

Their latest gig seems to be picketing funerals of American soldiers killed in Iraq. The argument they base these protests on is that America supports homosexuality, therefore every dead soldier is God’s way of telling America to stop supporting homosexuality. The twistedness of this man is unfathomable-I’ve never known any anti-war protester who actively hopes for the deaths of our soldiers. That’s just sick.

Patriotic veteran bikers seem to think so, as well. Organized as the Patriot Guard, they are now going to funerals to support the war’s dead against the protests of Fred Phelps’ church. While mindless flag-waving annoys me, this seems to me a very noble thing to do.

This shows the world that the best antidote to free speech is more free speech. Those who would curtail Fred Phelps’ right to spew bigotry would merely make it harder to protect other forms of free speech. Meanwhile, protecting all free speech lets the moral force of the Patriot Guard be brought to bear against Phelps and his sinful, racist, drug abusing, immoral lot.

posted by Stuart Richards
  • Rhampton

    Churches to mark Darwin’s birthday

    …Since its inception in 2004, The Clergy Letter Project has drawn 10,000 Christian clerics to sign a letter that concludes, “We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affiriming the teaching of the theory of Evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.”

    Said Michael Zimmerman, “…fundamentalist leaders that keep standing up and shouting that you can’t accept modern science are not speaking for the majority in this country.”

  • http://www.lpgeorgia.com Trevor Southerland

    As a Christian, those people make me sick. People like that are not Christians at all.

    They were in Atlanta to protest Coretta Scott King’s funeral… pathetic.

  • http://libspot.org/member/mlaursen/blog1/ Mike Laursen

    Phelps has just gotta be a gay rights supporter who has gone deep undercover to discredit anti-gay groups. I have to believe that, because otherwise I have to believe he’s really for real. And he’s too weird to believe that he’s really for real.

  • http://exjeffersonville.blogspot.com Scott

    If anyone makes Christians look bad, it’s Phelps.I mean, does he even read the Bible?Or maybe he just removes all that stuff about not judging and love.Only God knows.

  • http://360.yahoo.com/pong_god Robert Mayer

    Hmm, Phelps has quite an interesting theory on the whole Iraq war debacle. All this time I had assumed those soldier deaths had something to do with Barney the Dinosaur.

  • http://strangeland.blogdrive.com stranger

    i like the idea of this patriot guard. i had seen the stories recently about proposed legislation to restrict protesting at funerals, and didn’t know what to think of it. one the one hand, we want to say it’s free speech, but on the other we want to engender a respect for the dead, and more importantly, for the loved ones they leave behind. the idea of a separate group of “protestors” going to show support for the family of the deceased is really the perfect solution. it shows the family that there is respect out there, while eliminating the felt need for legislation that further curtails our (already encroached-upon) rights to free speech.

    as they said about the boondock saints, “they should be in every major city.”

  • http://21cr.blogspot.com DaveT

    Actually, Jesus, in the NT didn’t say not to judge. He basically says to judge properly (not by appearances alone). You have to read the whole thing in context. In Phelps’s world he’s making proper judgments.

    In my world, anyone who accepts the Bible as god’s word to begin with has made a bad judgment already…

  • http://swmolibertarianparty.blogspot.com Keith Rodgers

    Phelps’ gang – and that’s what they are… a gang – came to the big city near me – Springfield, MO (“Now only 95% culture-free!) to stir the puddin’ last year.

    Thankfully, a local radio dude talked one of these nutbags into trading their protest at the military funeral for some airtime.

    It’s a tough call. We shouldn’t be encouraging the stifling of opinion, but OTOH Phelps’ crew could just as easily do their stoopid protests somewhere else. Like some nice, soft rooms, with snug-fitting jackets to wear. And environmentally-friendly paper cups with which to take their medications.

  • http://swmolibertarianparty.blogspot.com Keith Rodgers

    Afterthought:

    “I hate Illinois Nazis.” – “Joliet” Jake Blues

  • http://www.libertyfilter.com putrimalu

    Phelps has just gotta be a gay rights supporter who has gone deep undercover to discredit anti-gay groups. I have to believe that, because otherwise I have to believe he’s really for real. And he’s too weird to believe that he’s really for real.

    I’ve thought that in the past as well, but this just really cements it. I mean, God is punishing America for tolerating homosexuality by killing troops in a war? When people die in wars anyway, no matter the side? Phelps has also says that Hurricane Katrina is punishment for the same things, right?

    You’d think if God wanted his motives known, he’d have picked a less inscrutable way of showing his displeasure with America. How are we supposed to look at a hurricane, and some people dying in a war, and say “Oh, yeah – God must be mad about the gays.” It makes no sense. Phelps has got to be a gay activist.

  • Rhampton

    I suspect Phelps might just be another Tim Wilkins, a ‘former’ homosexual. His Wake Forest, N.C. based Cross Ministry seeks to “evangelize and disciple” gays to join the Church.

    Why I Won’t See Brokeback Mountain

    …I cannot understand why any evangelical would see it — though there appear to be many. But what is more disturbing to me is that many men and women I know with unwanted homosexual attractions are seeing the movie.

    …Opponents of ex-gay ministries will immediately shout “Aha! So you are still tempted with same-sex attractions!” I do not deny it!

    Martin Luther said it this way, “if your head is made of butter, stay away from the fire.” These opponents will also argue that ex-gay ministries “only teach avoidance techniques.” Indeed, avoiding anything which may cause temptation is appropriate and biblical.

  • http://www.stophurtingamerica.com Stop Hurting America

    Indeed, avoiding anything which may cause temptation is appropriate and biblical.

    Egads! I knew there was a reason I shunned that whole ‘biblical’ lifestyle! ;-)

  • paulie cannoli

    The twistedness of this man is unfathomable-I’ve never known any anti-war protester who actively hopes for the deaths of our soldiers. That’s just sick.

    Jeremy Sapienza does.

    Read him explain it here

  • Steve Benton

    Here’s an idea, let Mr. Phelps and his followers protest at the funerals, but for 5 minutes the friends and relatives of the deceased soldier attending the funeral get to punch out him and his people without fear of prosecution.

  • http://blog.joseph-a-nagy-jr.us Joseph A Nagy Jr

    Steve,

    That would be totally awesome.