Thursday, February 4, 2010

God hates donuts

Fred Phelps and his gaggle of sign-wielding wing-nuts from the Westboro Baptist Church showed up in front of Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco last week to protest, um, something and were met with lots and lots of other signs. For the first time in their long and ridiculous history of protesting all things offensive to them, these other signs made about as much sense as the baseless arguments used to justify Westboro's hateful philosophy.

The Phelps' small crowd was outnumbered by a much larger crowd of friendly counter-protesters who held up signs with random messages, yelled nonsensical directives and blared Lady Gaga from the stereo. Passersby and press alike stopped to take pictures and cheer on the counter-protesters while pretty much ignoring the Westboro group. The full story and the pictures I've posted can be found here.

If you've just awakened from a 20-year coma and haven't heard of Fred Phelps, he's basically a nut case whose only followers are people who happen to be related to him and they picket any event that they think will be incendiary and bring them media attention, up to and including picketing the funerals of soldiers who were killed in the Iraq war. His pet cause is gays, and he's best known for carrying “God hates fags” signs, but he also hates Jews, Obama, the military and now, apparently, Twitter. Since I live a stone's throw from Topeka, where his church is based, and have worked for nonprofits associated with both AIDS and the Jewish community, I'm well acquainted with his special brand of venom.

No, I won't link to his site, you can google it yourself if you must. However, I will warn you of one thing. There is a strong correlation, and Badger can attest to this, between religious extremists and piss poor web design skills. So if, unlike me, you are someone who can look at these sites with amusement, rather than anger, you will still have to wade through amateurish use of bolding and highlights and annoying animation that takes away from, rather than advances the central theme, etc.

Here in the States we recently celebrated Martin Luther King Day and I love many of his quotes, but a long favorite is this:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. The chain reaction of evil--hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars--must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”

When we look at someone like Fred Phelps it is so easy to get worked up and that is exactly the response he wants from us. He thrives on it, in fact. But there is already so much darkness in this world, why give our energy to something that advances nothing, helps no one and only drains us? I'd rather save mine and spend it on something that is meaningful to me.

And this is why I loved San Francisco's response to Fred Phelps. Because it was ingeniously absurd and simple and completely free of hate. They refused to take the bait and return his malice with more of the same. They stopped the chain reaction and chose, instead, to respond with humor and lightness. The joke was on Fred, which is exactly where it belonged.

Nonsensical signs.  How perfectly brilliant.

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  1. I lovelovelove the counter protesters. Best thing ever and what a fantastic way to defeat his message of hate.

  2. Best. Post. Ever. That is all.

  3. "People who hold signs go on to hold many things..." - from a Flight of the Conchords episode


  4. Great post. What a brilliant way to deal with a sad bunch of tossers. I am going to copy Martin Luther King's quote though. xox

    (Love your signs too)

  5. That's what my life needs. A message on a stick.

    Where do I sign up?

  6. Sheer genius. If only more wing nuts' protests could be defused like this the world would surely be a better place.

  7. LOL, give me some flag, you shameless hussy.


  8. Oh my goodness, I do despair at the things some people believe, I certainly shall not be adding to their stats and Ad revenue by checking them out. I love the response. Well done you for noting it all down.

    Your photo is, I'm afraid, clear proof that you are not the only nut job in your family :-)

  9. Love the Martin Luther King quote and the fact that these counter protesters did so in a funny way. Your picture is funny--glad your fam goes along with it!

  10. Look God, I'm not one to complain but... What's wrong with broccoli?

  11. i wished I could give all these counter-protesters a hug.
    Humor is so more effective than hate.
    Thank you for bringing this event to my attention (and Badger be thanked too!)!

  12. First time I saw that Westboro site I honestly thought it was a spoof on a par with The Onion.

    If we could find someway of turning stupidity into fuel the world would never run out.....

  13. Hahaha, love the picture at the end. This definitely made my day.

  14. To Chris who commented above, I think Kristen HAS found a way to turn stupidity into fuel. She used it to fuel her art! Love your work, Kristen. Great blog!

  15. You can't see me but I am holding a large beautifully lettered sign that reads:


  16. Absolutely freakin' brilliant! I loved this-- thanks for sending me the link.

    You know, because of my interest in "The Laramie Project" I've been looking at pictures of various counter-protests against Phelps and his media harpies, and I've been rather amazed at what I've been seeing: they're turning into a sort of carnivalesque commentary on the stupidity of the WBC. My favorite sign I've seen so far at a phelps protest said this:


    'Nuff said. Keep the love coming!

  17. Great post! Am now going to spend several hours coming up with the perfect sign for me...

    Thanks for Rewinding at the Fibro today. :-)

  18. Just stumbled across this post. Not sure if you are a Kevin Smith fan but his latest movie, Red State, is loosely based on the Phelps family and he had two escaped (is that the right word?!) from the family talk on one of his latest podcast. Truly amazing. If you are interested let me know and I will find a link for you. xx

  19. So I realize that I'm extremely late to this post, I found your blog by googling who was going to Blog Her this year...anywho- what a freaking awesome idea.

    I read about a town in Mississippi that blocked in all the Phelps cars at a hotel with other cars so they couldn't picket a funeral.

    Also..I was very relieved to find out that you don't really believe that God hates donuts, as I happen to believe that donuts are pretty much the best invention EVER.


Mmmm, comments - nom, nom, nom, nom!


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