Wednesday, November 17, 2010
How Do You Know Whom God Hates?
Well, Rev. Phelps was foiled this past Monday in, of all places, Southern MD. He and his minions showed up for the funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Terry Honeycutt in La Plata, MD. According to the Washington Examiner, "the hate group's parade of absurdity received quite a response: More than a thousand counter-demonstrators showed up early, established themselves on the rights-of-way around the church, and prevented the "God Hates Fags" crowd from getting anywhere near the funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Terry Honeycutt." Holly Smith, one of the organizers of the counter-demonstration, described the scene: "I was surprised to hear no shouting or noise in the background. American flags as far as the eye can see... And the Westboro crowd? They are up at a gas station probably a mile up the road, because they couldn't get any closer. We're in the shoulder for probably ten deep for at least 300 yards." I couldn't be prouder of my Southern MD neighbors if they had dressed in drag and thrown a gay pride parade! Way to come together and stand up to blatant ignorance and idiocy!
Phelps and his fanatics are also being challenged in the Supreme Court. The Westboro Baptist Church was sued by Albert Snyder of MD for emotional distress and invasion of privacy after they disrupted the funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq in 2006. Snyder initially won a 5 million dollar verdict against the church, but it was vacated by an appeals court. Phelps claims the issue rests on his First Amendment right to free speech at public funerals, while Snyder claims that the church engages in harassment and that free speech is not absolute. It will be interesting to see how the Court decides this case.
As preposterous as his ideas may be, I am hesitant to say Phelps does not have the right to express them, as long as he is not preventing the bereaved from assembling and participating in the funeral. I think the folks in La Plata had the right idea; outnumber the whack jobs and beat them at their own game. Let the homophobes have their signs and their hatred. We'll fight back by supporting our friends and neighbors with love and acceptance. We'll comfort the bereaved, welcome the outcast, accept those on the fringes. If we can do this, there will be so much less room for those who spew hatred.