Another bunch of charmers. Breitbart.com is carrying a story by the AFP titled “Hecklers harass families of US soldiers killed in Iraq”, dated March 12, 2006, located at http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/03/12/060312122104.pgrezzqi.html.
In a way I don’t want to write too much about this story, because it’s so disgusting and because the less attention this bunch of fruitcakes gets, the better it is as far as I’m concerned.
But there are some good elements too.
The disgusting part: There’s a fringe Baptist church congregation, calling themselves the Westboro Baptist Church, that is based in Kansas, is headed by Fred Phelps, and consists of about 100 members, most of whom are immediate or extended family of Phelps. They’ve been active in their particular brand of cloddishness for 15 years, and have picketed just about everything you can think of, it sounds like. In the case of the soldier killed in Iraq, their problem is not that we are in Iraq (that would be too simple), but rather that the U.S. is a nation of homosexuals and sympathisers of homosexuals, and the soldiers killed were God’s punishment to the U.S. , and that’s a great thing to celebrate.
Oh, and another wonderful note: 11 of Phelps’ 13 children are lawyers, so they know exactly how to protest and where to protest such that they can’t be arrested.
The part that makes this article worth writing about: they’ve finally gotten enough attention and angered enough people with their demonstrations at soldiers’ funerals that a bunch of bikers have started a group called the Patriot Guard Riders, whose mission is to make a showing of support at the funerals and screen out the Westboro Baptist nutcases if possible.
And the Patriot Guard Riders have a heck of a lot more support & members than the Westboro Baptists. The Patriot Guard Riders have a (very nice) website at http://www.patriotguard.org/.
A fitting touch is at the end of the article, with a quote from Mark Potok, the director of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes:
“I don’t think they have any constituency beyond their own members – even the Nazis aren’t interested,” he said.
Phelps’ virulence and frequently graphic condemnations of anal sex could mask a deeper issue than a radically literal interpretation of the Bible, Potok speculated.
“This man probably thinks more about gay sex than any other person in the United States of America and one can only guess at what that means,” he said. “Many of the most homophobic people are deeply afraid that they might be gay.”