The Supreme Court of the United States has decided in an 8-1 decision that the Westboro Baptist Church does have the right under the First Amendment to the Constitution to hold anti-gay protests outside the funerals of dead U.S. soldiers.
Mind you, these aren’t the deaths of gay soldiers that the WBC is celebrating (I mean, protesting). These people will protest at the funeral of any soldier.
Their signs say things like, “God Hates Fags” and “Pray For More Dead Soldiers”.
The logic? Well, the United States, in its oh-so-staunch support of gay rights is sinning against God, and for this sin of allowing gay people to, like, stay alive and not be beaten by bigots like the Westboro Baptist Church, God likes to kill U.S. soldiers.
Makes sense right? Every time a bullet from a terrorist pierces the skin of a U.S. soldier, and every time an IED explodes under a military vehicle killing the soldiers inside, it’s really just God exacting his vengeance for our society allowing “Queer Eye For the Straight Guy”, and Lady Gaga, and the WWE – you know, gay stuff.
I guess they haven’t considered the fact that the U.S. also allows people to be extremely bigoted. In fact, there are so many homophobes and bigots in our nation who are allowed to live normal lives and express themselves that, by the Westboro Baptist Church’s logic, it’s equally likely that God is punishing our soldiers because of people like them.
Of course, these assholes would never consider that possibility because, like most religious people, they believe that they have a direct line to God’s guidance and word. So of course God told them to hate gay people and that God himself was killing U.S. soldiers because of our country’s (limited) tolerance for homosexuals. And naturally, WBC founder Fred Phelps must be right. I mean, he does have a congregation of 71 whole people…and there are even a few who aren’t his own family members.
When there is a group of people who interpret a book to mean that they should devote their lives to hating people and then another group who believes that very same book encourages them to devote their lives to loving people, we have two possibilities. The first is that one group or the other is misinterpreting the book, and that’s possible. In fact, it’s possible that both groups are. But since both groups have plenty of actual text to back their claims, no matter how extreme, maybe it’s time we realize that the problem is the book.
How much credence do we need to give to a passage that tells us to love our neighbor, or that homosexuality is an abomination, or how we should stone our daughters after they’re raped, if the same book tells us there was really, in real life, a boat that at one time held two of every species of animal in existence?
I’ve written here before that it’s the fact that we lend religion a certain respect and tolerance that makes it impossible to call religion out when it really is the problem (though apparently that doesn’t apply to Islam, since people in the U.S. can do that all day long). Pretending that it’s totally okay to believe in heaven and hell and talking snakes and Noah’s Ark and virgin births is what forces us to accept that some people think it’s okay to kill doctors who perform abortions and that it’s okay to hate gay people on religious grounds. You know, because that’s what the Founders intended with the whole “freedom of religion” thing.
And let’s not forget that it’s our own (Republican) politicians who gladly watch anti-gay marriage amendments pop up on ballots, since those measures increase voter turnout among the neanderthal bigot population, thereby increasing a Republican’s chance of winning the election on the same ballot.
Now, with an 8-1 vote, and the only dissenting Justice being Bush appointee Samuel Alito, we can surmise that there’s nothing “political” about their decision. There’s certainly no one accusing Alito of being an activist judge in favor of gay rights. They may well have decided the case appropriately in regards to what the Constitution says. That being true, this decision, which reverses another lower court decision awarding $5 million to a bereaved family who fell victim to the WBC’s heinous protests at their son’s funeral, is just plain sad.
It should also tell us something about the Constitution. Much like the Bible, people on both extremes of the political spectrum will appeal to the document as if it’s really handed down directly from God and not just what some people decided a really long time ago. The Founders of our nation knew that they weren’t infallible. Sometimes we need to recognize this. When we base current decisions on documents written by men who couldn’t even imagine the internet or lasers, it’s no surprise that there are disagreements and problems.
It’s also particularly disturbing that (essentially) the same court, also on First Amendment grounds, decided that corporations were people who had free speech and that they could use that free speech to determine the fate of elections in our country with their corporate finances.
And since we know that free speech is, in fact, limited in certain cases, it’s particularly hard to see the good in protecting this kind of hate speech.
But let’s refocus on the Westboro Baptist Church, and I’ll leave with this:
If you hate gay people this much, you’re definitely gay. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. These people have devoted their entire lives to thinking about gay people all the time. Eventually, a rebel son in the Westboro compound will take over the family business after his insane father is dead, deny his true nature for a while, and eventually turn the Westboro Baptist Church into the Westboro Homosexuality and Interior Design Center.
If you’re the WBC graphic designer who made the sign where one male stick figure is, well, fucking another male stick figure, you’re also definitely gay.
If God listens to the WBC, and still puts all those big gay homos out there, maybe he’s doing it to fuck with the WBC because maybe, just maybe ,God hates bigots.
If you’re Fred Phelps’ daughter who screams all day about hating fags because your dad told you to, you really just hate your dad…which is cool, because I hate your dad too.