Monday, February 05, 2007

The rights of all must be protected!

Mixed emotions are defined as seeing your mother-in-law drive over the cliff in your new car. And I for one have zero sympathy for the hateful messages of Fred Phelps and his demented family -- though many of them are truly the warped victims of an abusive old fool. This video disturbs me. Watch it before I comment.

I can’t say I’m surprised by this. What Phelps preaches is such raw hatred that he offends most Americans. Even antigay Christians find themselves unhappy with his actions. They can’t fault his message since they also believe the same rubbish but they certainly think he does their cause little good. On that they are right.

I personally think that Phelps does more to advance equality of rights than he does to destroy it. People are offended when hatred is made so explicit. But only by seeing explicit hatred do they begin to understand what implicit hatred can led to.

The law should avoid as much as possible the regulation of thoughts and opinions. People ought to be free to express those opinions. Fred Phelps and his nutty family included.

But I assumed it was only a matter of time before something like this would happen. They are lucky it was not worse. Phelps is attacking grieving families as they are burying loved ones. What a vile creature he is for doing that? But the Christianists prey on grief and pain. Like vultures they circle waiting for a corpse so they can use that pain and grief in order to push for a “conversion”. I have watched it happen and I have sat in the churches as they brag about how this works “to bring people to Jesus”.

Phelps, however, is not interested in bringing people to Jesus since he is a hard core Calvinist. He thinks you can’t bring people to Jesus only Jesus can bring people to himself and sometimes he doesn’t want to do that. But Phelps envisions himself as an Old Testament-like prophet preaching against the sins of America. And the great sin of America, in his view, is that the nation isn’t ready to execute gay people. For this reluctance Jehovah sends off soldiers to die in Iraq. (As far as I can see only two people confuse George Bush for Jehovah -- one is Phelps. The other is Bush.)

Phelps counts on the government he is attacking to come in and rescue him when he riles up people. It was the police who whisked this motley crew of malcontents out of the storm not God. Jesus didn’t rescue them. Prayer didn’t save them. They relied upon the idea that people have rights and ought to be protected from assault. They relied upon the very principle they attack.

I understand the rage of the people in Delaware. I sympathize with their fury more than they will ever know. I do not condone their actions. The sanctity of individual liberty should never be susceptible to the vicissitudes of the mob. I know that too easily a mob can lynch a Phelps and then turn and lynch an atheist, a black, a Jew, a gay. Unless the rights of the disgusting fringe like Phelps are protected the rights of none of us are secure.


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