Westboro Baptist Church protests are rarely covered these days, except for in exceptional comedic effect found in the myriad of ways in which they are counter-protested. This ‘church’, perhaps best known for picketing the funerals of fallen soldiers with the message “God Hates Fags”, essentially seeks publicity for their actions, and so it’s a good thing that publicity for their insensitive, hateful, and abhorrent antics appears to have largely dried up, starving them of the oxygen that spurs them on. Their outlandish behavior, which is offensive to many, is now largely accepted as simply being what they do, and has ceased to be newsworthy, except in specific circumstances such as at one of their recent ‘protests’.
At Arlington National Cemetery yesterday (Monday), hours before President Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in leading the nation’s Memorial Day observances, a Westboro Baptist Church demonstration was counter-protested – by a group including 10 members of the Ku Klux Klan, who were separate from the main counter protest. A spokesman for this branch of the clan, describing his self as an ‘Imperial Wizard’, explained that they were there to object to the Westboro Baptist Church’s anti-troop message.
“It’s the soldier that fought and died and gave them that right to free speech,” said Dennis LaBonte, of the Virginian group ‘Knights of the Southern Cross’.
Westboro Baptist Church’s response? Miss Phelps, daughter of the founder of the ‘church’ Fred Phelps, retorted with “That’s fine, they have no moral authority on anything.”
It’s true – given the history of the KKK, and given the fact that the organization has actually killed people, they have precious little moral authority to stand on. Even so, the message from Miss Phelps carried more than just this fact. It also holds the implication that by a matter of contrast, the Westboro Baptist Church does have moral authority. It doesn’t. The Westboro Baptist Church has tried to use this event to discredit those that oppose them. The subtle message of Miss Phelps’s comment can be easily described as “How can you claim your cause is righteous when you have people like that on your side?”
Well, Miss Phelps, not to discount the possibility of a less than palatable group using an event or a cause to try to gain legitimacy and further its own agenda, which Westboro Baptists will surely be all too familiar with, there is the alternate and far more sensible way of looking at it…
When even the Ku Klux Klan feel the need to meet you with a counter protest, you’ve surely got to know that what you’re doing is really screwed up!