Tag Archives: Fred Phelps

Fred Phelps isn’t worth the trouble

The founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps, has died of natural causes at the age of 84. Although Phelps has been excommunicated from WBC for a variety of reasons, the church has asked for respect during this time. Phelps was also the one who started the church’s signature “God Hates Fags” protests. These protests usually consist of a small group of people — sometimes including children — holding signs that say “God Hates Fags” or “America is Going to Hell” and even “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.” Continue reading Fred Phelps isn’t worth the trouble

Would you picket the funeral of Fred Phelps?

Fred Phelps, the founder of the attention-hungry hate group, Westboro Baptist Church died this week at the age of 82. This news has caused a ton of mixed reactions on Facebook and Twitter. Some people are thrilled that this scumbag left the Earth, but some are expressing sympathies for the Phelps family-regardless of disapproving their lifestyle.

Posters from Westboro Baptist Church pickets. Graphic by Haylie Wise.
Posters from Westboro Baptist Church pickets. Graphic by Haylie Wise.

This brings up a good ethical question. Is there ever a situation when we ought to be happy when someone dies? A similar question came up when the Navy Seals killed Osama Bin Laden in a strike mission. There was plenty of push-back when people argued against perpetuating violence with more violence. At the same time, there was cheering in the streets and a sense of closure for the many of the families who lost loved ones on Sept. 11.

Is this oversensitivity from the liberal side, heartlessness from the conservative side, or a mix of both? Should I feel bad for chanting “USA! USA!” when a terrorist is killed?

Here’s my justification. When someone lives their life with such a vile purpose, they don’t deserve to be mourned. I understand that there are people who loved them. The family members who stayed with the WBC are undoubtedly in a state of mourning, and that’s fine. However, I can’t blame the media (MSNBC) if they choose to have victory celebrations because such a hateful man is gone. You’re supposed to live your life in a way that makes people want to speak well about you at your funeral. That can’t happen if you lead a group that pickets the funerals of soldiers with signs that say “Thank God for dead soldiers.”

The best way to react to bad people is to just be nicer to them — kill ‘em with kindness, as the saying goes. Maybe I’m too old school, or maybe I’m just too short to be the bigger man, but I don’t think there’s ever a scenario when we should tolerate intolerance. People who persecute an entire demographic need to be cast out and persecuted themselves to make an example of them. If it sounds harsh, it should. Being sensitive to the feelings of people who aren’t sensitive to other people doesn’t spur progress.

Given how upset people got over the reactions to the death of Bin Laden, I can only hope that people learn to understand that there are several schools of thought at play. Though there’s no correct way to react, I don’t think raising a glass to his death would be such a bad thing.