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March 19, 2013 3:25 PM   Subscribe

The house across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church is now a Gay Pride centre... and rainbow flag. I never knew I could type and tag a post while simultaneously laughing this hard.
posted by orange swan (107 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sigh, another sign that trolling is serving the Westboro baptist church very well.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:29 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sigh, another sign that trolling is serving the Westboro baptist church very well.

I'm not sure. I agree that it "serves them well" in the sense that it gets column inches written about them, but it's not clear to me that they're in any way "getting their message across." I think when the history of gay rights in the US is written and, specifically, the chapter on the amazing rate of change in public opinion about gay rights over the last decade or so, Phelps will factor as a not insignificant contributor to that change. Having the public face of homophobia be such a disgusting wretch hasn't really done wonders for the anti-gay bigots. Nobody wants to be accused of being 'just like Fred Phelps.' (Well, except maybe Michelle Shocked for some bizarre reason).
posted by yoink at 3:33 PM on March 19, 2013 [20 favorites]


This sounds like one of those Far Side "Trouble brewing" cartoons.
posted by oulipian at 3:35 PM on March 19, 2013 [79 favorites]


Yes, I can't see how the WBC is accomplishing anything but achieving notoriety. People think they make a lot of money suing people they provoke into retaliating against them, but it doesn't seem to be true. The amounts they've won in such lawsuits wouldn't begin to fund the cost of their protests (they all travel a lot), let alone their living expenses.

By contrast, I bet that Gay Pride centre across the street will have no trouble getting funding for whatever it wants to do.
posted by orange swan at 3:36 PM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can't say this enough, but the thing people need to realize about WBC is that above everything else it is a scam.

All of the trolling, all of the bigotry and hate and unbelievably awful beliefs are just that - unbelievable trolling designed to provoke. A member of WBC will never do anything unlawful, will only do the most heinously provocative things permisible under the first amendment and wait for more decent folk to react in tortious ways. There's a reason that every one of the Phelpses has to go to law school - they are very good at making a living at this.

So, as long as the Equality House understands that, and keeps thumbing their nose across the street while not engaging in any other way, this to me is perfect.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:37 PM on March 19, 2013 [15 favorites]


The most important thing I learned from this article is a rainbow house looks really cool and I want to live in one.
posted by threeants at 3:37 PM on March 19, 2013 [66 favorites]


I would like to apply the just ignore them principle which is generally best with trolling, but they need to be reacted to because they do things like showing up at funerals. If the town needs a gay pride center, that seems like as good a location as any.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:39 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anyone want to spot me the cash for a plane ticket for the opening day?

I would dress tastefully and be polite and courteous to anyone involved on either side.

I might even go as far as charming for the cause.
posted by Samizdata at 3:40 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


In related news ...

Westboro Baptist Church Founder Fred Phelps May Be Gay, Suggests Former Member Lauren Drain
A former member of the Westboro Baptist Church who recently published a book about leaving the hate-mongering group has also revealed that founder Fred Phelps's anti-gay ideology may have spawned from a gay experience.

Lauren Drain, 27, was a member of the Topeka, Kan. congregation until she challenged the group's beliefs and had to leave. She sat down this week with the Advocate to discuss her book and her journey from follower to free.

Drain suggested to the Advocate that founder Fred Phelps might have formed the Westboro Baptist Church and begun his anti-gay crusade because of a gay experience. He was a Boy Scout who graduated with honors and was headed for the military, she said. Then, at 17, Phelps changed his mind and was suddenly set on becoming a preacher to fight against "sexual immorality.

Via the Advocate:
I never understood why, when [the media asked him], “Why are you so against the homosexuals? Did you have a homosexual experience? Do you have homosexual tendencies?” And he would get so mad, he would shut down. And he’d be like, “I can’t talk to this person anymore, they’re stupid.” His reaction to that was stronger than any other question you can ask him. So I always wondered that — why does he get so mad? If I’m not gay, I’ll just say I’m not gay. And I’m not going to freak out, like, “Why are you calling me gay?” I always thought that was super strange. … I don’t know what happened there, so [speculation] is all that I can leave it at. But something happened, and something made him change his mind about the military, and in turn have kind of a crusade against sexual immorality and homosexuals.
posted by ericb at 3:40 PM on March 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


They probably do not give a shit. Still, neat move nonetheless.
posted by Artw at 3:41 PM on March 19, 2013


No matter what their motives, I think it's always better to laugh at the WBC than it is to yell at them.
posted by Spatch at 3:41 PM on March 19, 2013 [14 favorites]


The most important thing I learned from this article is a rainbow house looks really cool and I want to live in one.

Painted Ladies.
posted by dhartung at 3:42 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don’t know what happened there, so [speculation] is all that I can leave it at. But something happened, and something made him change his mind about the military, and in turn have kind of a crusade against sexual immorality and homosexuals.

This is rather less than a smoking gun.
posted by yoink at 3:42 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gawker has a slightly more in-depth report on the Pride Center.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:44 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't love this enough. Yay! Thanks for another awesome link, OS!
posted by Lynsey at 3:44 PM on March 19, 2013


The most important thing I learned from this article is a rainbow house looks really cool and I want to live in one.

Here's a great one in Noe Valley.
posted by roger ackroyd at 3:48 PM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm kind of torn. Couldn't this deter some people whom the pride center could be helping? I know that Phelps and co. never do anything violent or illegal, but it still sort of seems like the opposite of a safe space.
posted by roll truck roll at 3:51 PM on March 19, 2013


Speaking of laughing... read the comments.

This is phabulous. Take THAT, phred.
posted by Artful Codger at 3:52 PM on March 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm not convinced that Phelps has ever cared about advancing a message more than he's wanted to perpetrate a con/run a cult of personality. Inadvertently, by being such a vocal, ugly, clownish, face of homophobia, the WBC has probably succeeded in making the LGBT community more acceptable to the average straight American, but Phelps probably doesn't care about that, either. At the end it's all about Fred, I think. If he told his followers to drink the kool-aid, they probably would.
posted by octobersurprise at 3:54 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the NY Post comments:

"we're here! we're queer! may we borrow some sugar?"
posted by orange swan at 3:56 PM on March 19, 2013 [42 favorites]


This is so fantastic, I gave an internal "squee" on reading this. One more step in the right direction.
posted by arcticseal at 3:59 PM on March 19, 2013


There's a reason that every one of the Phelpses has to go to law school - they are very good at making a living at this.

Happily, this doesn't actually seem to be the case whatsoever.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:01 PM on March 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think the WBC is like a cult which has a strategy to keep its members brainwashed and loyal by convincing them that the whole outside world (note that the WBC attacks both progressive and conservative causes (e.g. they demonstrate at funerals of US military veterans with slogans about how the deceased is going to hell) with outrageous demonstrations) is not only sinful and alien but absolutely against the members of the WBC.

So hostile and in-your-face (or just alien-seeming to the WBC cult members) confrontation by anti-WBC protestors (who have been provoked by WBC's deliberately outrageous demonstrations which they require the cult members, even - or especially - their young kids - to participate in) runs the risk of playing into the the cult leaders' plans by making the outside world more frightening and alienating to the WBC members, especially the kids. And making them more dependent on the cult community and leaders.

This strategy for maintaining the cult is also cunning in how involving the cult members in protests means the strategy can hide behind 1st Amendment protection in the US. I think if WBC were based in Canada or the EU, it would have been shut down with the kids rescued by social services by now.

The best strategy for anti-WBC activists in the US is probably on the lines of turning one's cheek and loving one's enemy.
posted by Bwithh at 4:02 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a reason that every one of the Phelpses has to go to law school - they are very good at making a living at this.

Happily, this doesn't actually seem to be the case whatsoever.


Is that true? I read about them years ago when researching for something I was writing then, and this was a big point made. Am I wrong about all of it (which would be nice, obviously)?
posted by Navelgazer at 4:03 PM on March 19, 2013


One thing I did not know until recently was that Fred Phelps was a crusading civil rights attorney back in the 60's. A member of his family who left the WBC, I think it was Nate Phelps, said that he was extremely racist in private. He said that the reason Fred took on civil rights cases was not because he cared about black people but because that was his way of saying fuck you to the people in his sphere, and it was his way of pissing them off and making them "suffer."

So I doubt that his actions are driven by real belief either way, or real desire for a specific result. I think the only result he really wants is to get attention for pissing people off and making them suffer.

I also think his having associated hatred of soldiers/military/the USA with hatred of gays did something really weird in the public perception. If you think someone who hates the military is a piece of shit, you might start thinking twice about the other things that person hates...
posted by cairdeas at 4:04 PM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


GOD HATES SEMI-GLOSS
posted by scody at 4:05 PM on March 19, 2013 [39 favorites]


Ahh, see this is, well, not what I read back in the day but very similar to it.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:05 PM on March 19, 2013


God Hates Neighbors
posted by Raymond Marble at 4:11 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I liked ths comment:
whygodwhy
To do list:
1) Buy concrete garden gnomes and paint them pink.
2) Pink LED lawn lights synched to playlist
3) Make fabulous playlist
4) Set up wifi speakers
5) Front lawn hot tub (optional) with pink to fuschia mood lighting
6) Disco ball(s) weather vane
7) Pink flamingo robot army
posted by eviemath at 4:13 PM on March 19, 2013 [13 favorites]


Speaking of laughing... read the comments.

This one's my favourite:
"we're here! we're queer! may we borrow some sugar?"
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:14 PM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I love this so much I am totally willing to overlook that the green stripes are in the wrong order. (because normally that would make me crazy. yes my crayons were very well organized when I was a kid why do you ask?)
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:17 PM on March 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


As a Topekan this makes me happy. Plus I wish I had known that a gawker writer was in my town. I would have shown him around, so he could go report to gawker commenters that we aren't all Midwest hillbillies who hate gays and wish abortion was illegal.

My first thought when reading about this house was "Great! Giving Fred Phelps more coverage which is exactly what he wants". Most Topekans have learned to ignore him and his ilk. To pretend that they aren't even there, because they love when they are challenged and they love the spotlight.

I do really want to live in this house though. It looks so pretty.
posted by Sweetmag at 4:19 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a gay man this makes me proud and happy, but also as a gay man the dark green stripe should be below the light green one and it makes me sad.
posted by ordinary_magnet at 4:20 PM on March 19, 2013 [17 favorites]


It looks properly ROYGBIV to me?
posted by sweetmarie at 4:21 PM on March 19, 2013


Maybe the Phelpses have OCD and the out of order green stripe is just to fuck with them.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 4:22 PM on March 19, 2013 [30 favorites]


(note that the WBC attacks both progressive and conservative causes (e.g. they demonstrate at funerals of US military veterans with slogans about how the deceased is going to hell)

What exactly are you identifying as progressive here?
posted by Drinky Die at 4:23 PM on March 19, 2013


Nevermind, I see what you are saying now.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:24 PM on March 19, 2013


Possible soundtrack for the housewarming party:

- It's Raining Men, The Weather Girls
- Bad Romance, Lady GaGa
- Won't You Be My Neighbor, Ugly Kid Joe
- There Goes the Neighborhood, Sheryl Crowe
- Look Through My Window, The Mamas & The Papas
- Happy to Be Stuck With You, Huey Lewis and the News
- Let's Get it On, Marvin Gaye
- We've Only Just Begun, the Carpenters
- Happy Together, The Turtles
- Come to My Window, Melissa Etheridge
posted by orange swan at 4:26 PM on March 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


the dark green stripe should be below the light green one

Yeah I was bothered by it at first too. But it's actually (dark red)/(light red)/(dark orange)/(light orange), etc. all the way down. Something about realizing it was a conscious choice made it work for me.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:28 PM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


But maybe they should not play Come to my window.

Or maybe they should....
posted by bilabial at 4:29 PM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Zomg Fred Phelps is a false flag operation perpetrated by teh Gay Agenda! Wake up sheeple!
posted by kmz at 4:31 PM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Tell Me No Lies: Sigh, another sign that trolling is serving the Westboro baptist church very well.

Yoink: I'm not sure. I agree that it "serves them well" in the sense that it gets column inches written about them, but it's not clear to me that they're in any way "getting their message across."

I don't think they're intent on getting their message across as much as reveling in the controversy they create. But with that in mind, like with any typical trolling, once it is realized it is much easier to also dismiss. So thusly, I give the Pride Center huge props for further paving the way for the rest of us!
posted by samsara at 4:32 PM on March 19, 2013


On the one hand this is kinda pointless because I don't think there's any reason to think the Westboro Baptist have any genuine convictions to offend.

On the other hand, that paint job is beautiful and now I really want to paint a rainbow on my house.
posted by straight at 4:32 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Possible soundtrack for the housewarming party:

-Son of a preacher man, Dusty Springfield.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:34 PM on March 19, 2013 [14 favorites]


Yes, what strikes me is just how pretty the paint job looks. It's much more attractive than I ever would have thought a rainbow house could be. It's not that easy to get those different colours to blend so well. I've seen gay pride rainbows that were glaringly crude looking. My guess is whoever picked out the paint has studied colour.
posted by orange swan at 4:35 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


i have never seen a house more in need of giant lollipops on the front lawn.
posted by echocollate at 4:37 PM on March 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also (naturally), Papa Don't Preach, Madonna
posted by octobersurprise at 4:38 PM on March 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Also also (I'll stop now), Push Push in the Bush, Musique.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:43 PM on March 19, 2013


Those guys are so ridiculous and despicable it's not worth anybody else's time trolling them. They're low-hanging fruit.

Someone ought to buy the place across from John Boehner's house instead.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:53 PM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Someone ought to buy the place across from John Boehner's house instead.
posted by dunkadunc


Oh man, I have $10 for that kickstarter....
posted by nevercalm at 5:03 PM on March 19, 2013 [23 favorites]


Sigh, another sign that trolling is serving the Westboro baptist church very well.
I'm not sure. I agree that it "serves them well" in the sense that it gets column inches written about them, but it's not clear to me that they're in any way "getting their message across."


I guess that's true. Their theology states that everyone (including them) is going to hell and that their job is simply to make that known. Given how very few people know that's their actual agenda I'd have to agree they're really not getting the word out.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:11 PM on March 19, 2013


I would like to know more about this Aaron Jackson. What an awesome person.
The center is the work of a roving do-gooder named Aaron Jackson, a 31-year-old community-college dropout whose other projects have included opening orphanages in India and Haiti and buying a thousand acres of endangered rain forest in Peru. This year, his charity, Planting Peace, also intends to de-worm every child in Guatemala.
posted by Houstonian at 5:28 PM on March 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


yea, seriously, he sounds great! someone do a post about him!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:31 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, I just found this article, which gives a lot of information about Aaron Jackson and his de-worming charity. A good person.
posted by Houstonian at 5:35 PM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


The church is pretty much on it's way out as soon as Fred Phelps dies. He seems to be all that keeps those idjits going.
(Is it me or does he look like Max Hardcore?
I mean c'mon, it's the same guy, who are they kidding, right?
(I'm not a fan of Mr. Hardcore, I hadda google. He's the first hit))

It's what, him and 40 media masochists?
posted by Smedleyman at 5:41 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


i have never seen a house more in need of giant lollipops on the front lawn.

Maybe after a tornado drops it on Fred Phelps.
posted by roger ackroyd at 5:54 PM on March 19, 2013 [17 favorites]


- There's a reason that every one of the Phelpses has to go to law school - they are very good at making a living at this.

- Happily, this doesn't actually seem to be the case whatsoever.


Sadly, according to this NPR article in 2001, they do indeed make their money from the law they practice, and they practice well.

The church is pretty much on it's way out as soon as Fred Phelps dies. He seems to be all that keeps those idjits going.

From that same article:
Eleven of Fred Phelps' 13 children have law degrees. Four are estranged from the family, and most of the rest live in the family compound and practice law.
A number of his children and their are quite vocal to their cause, so unless they all have a change of heart when dad dies, their cause will live on. They might even grow, if future generations stay within the compound and are as sheltered as their parents.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:02 PM on March 19, 2013


MetaFilter, I have some bad news they are redditors.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:06 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


This isn't SA, Reddit hate is not a Mefi trait I don't think.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:11 PM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've got to tell ya, I don't know what they do, but they sure as hell could open a painting business. They did a pretty sweet job on that house. They missed a spot or two, but it could've been an incredibly globby mess, and looks damn near perfect.

Good on ya, Gay House Painters!
posted by nevercalm at 6:24 PM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Several comments in here that include guesses, speculation, or assumptions about what WBC's message and mission are. Perhaps this will be of interest:
But the heart of Calvinism is the doctrine of absolute predestination, which posits that in the council halls of eternity past, an omniscient and omnipotent god preordained who would be saved, and who would be damned. Mankind would have no say or choice in this, since they are dead in their trespasses and sin. If you are selected you gain eternal life. If you lose, you suffer the most extreme physical and mental anguish forever. My father has simply refined Calvin’s doctrine to the point where the vast majority of us are going to hell. And he and his followers are among the privileged few chosen by God.

This doctrine is very important to understanding the Westboro Baptist Church. My father, and those who follow him, are not preaching to try to convince people of their truth. Unlike street evangelists, who are trying to convert people, my father has no intention of converting anyone, since conversion is impossible. You’re either chosen, or you’re not. To illustrate, in the mid 90’s my father was a guest on a radio talk show hosted by a popular Christian apologist named Rich Buehler. Mr. Buehler suggested that my father’s failure at bearing any fruit from his evangelizing efforts might point to some error in his theology. With typical aggression my father barked back at him: “That’s not the test!! The test is fidelity in preaching!”
-- From "The Uncomfortable Grayness of Life," by Nathan Phelps

It seems clear that the isloating us/them dichotomy that follows from such a doctrine is perfectly complimentary with the social and power dynamics of plenty of other religious cults. I think their motives for their actions are internal, they have nothing to do with the outside world. Their demonstrations are really about keeping their own members under control, not about getting any message out or capitalizing on the controversy, etc.
posted by Western Infidels at 6:25 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Today on CBC; the Q with JG: Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church..
posted by ovvl at 6:30 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


The documentary The Most Hated Family in America portrayed the WBC as having a dwindling membership - several of the family members have left the church and the remaining members seem to be starting to see through the BS. I agree that after Freddy dies the church probably won't last much longer. However hell will get a new citizen.
posted by bendy at 6:32 PM on March 19, 2013


Inbreeding.
posted by Artw at 6:46 PM on March 19, 2013


I am constantly surprised at the mundanity of life when it is interspersed with everything else:

A few weeks ago, Jackson was walking around the iced-over block when he met Fred Phelps' daughter Shirley, out plowing snow on an ATV. She was wearing a helmet, so he didn't know who she was was until they and her husband got to chatting. She apparently cracked a pretty decent joke. "We all shared a giggle together," Jackson said. "It was a sweet moment. And I just carried on."
posted by Leezie at 6:47 PM on March 19, 2013


After most of my internet time latelt being over in the Steubenville thread, clicking on this link made me laugh out loud and that felt good. I wasn't expecting that picture!!!
posted by sio42 at 6:51 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not to be pessimistic, but Westboro was largely founded by Fred, but the other members are pretty vocal and involved. If it can really spring forth from one guy, it can live on with a scant handful.

From the Wikipedia page on their hateful little church, I learned that not only do they picket events related to gay individuals, but also Kansas City Chiefs football games and live pop concerts. Oddly, their actions at those events don't draw as much attention as picketing across from funerals.

Inbreeding

This is not the case. Daughter Shirley married her her baby daddy, but the oldest of her 11 children was born out of wedlock. Just like the irony of tweeting “Westboro will picket [Steve Jobs'] funeral.He had a huge platform; gave God no glory & taught sin” from an iPhone, Phelps' family are vocal against children born out of wedlock. At least, from reading Shirley's wiki page, I learned that Fred is disbarred, from a bizarre case against a court reporter. Well, bizarre for anyone other than Phelps.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:55 PM on March 19, 2013


Artful Codger: "Speaking of laughing... read the comments."

I really like this comment:

Fruitfly
I'm sending them a glitter cannon for the chimney, it will be set to go off whenever someone opens the closet door.


Rainbow houses look damn cool!
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 6:58 PM on March 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Bwithh: "I think the WBC is like a cult"

It's almost entirely a family ruled by a horribly abusive fundamentalist patriarch and self-styled preacher to his offspring, who earned his living through frivolous litigation. They have a few members who didn't marry in to the family, but for all intents and purposes, it's just a family playing out their awful dysfunction.

There was a pretty detailed account of this by one of the family members who left. Can't recall off the top of my head, but I'm sure someone will post the link if it hasn't been already.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:58 PM on March 19, 2013


From the Wikipedia page on their hateful little church, I learned that not only do they picket events related to gay individuals, but also Kansas City Chiefs football games and live pop concerts. Oddly, their actions at those events don't draw as much attention as picketing across from funerals.

Yes, when my cousin graduated from University of Kansas law school (Go Jayhawks!), they picketed with signs including "GOD'S LAW NOT MAN'S LAW" and my favorite, "GAY HAWKS".
posted by padraigin at 6:59 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


bendy: "I agree that after Freddy dies the church probably won't last much longer. However hell will get a new citizen."

If there is a hell, Fred will be trying to take over as soon as he arrives.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:02 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


If there is a hell, Fred will be trying to take over as soon as he arrives.

He'll have a lot of competition but I think he'll do alright.
posted by bendy at 7:18 PM on March 19, 2013


FUD hates gags.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:44 PM on March 19, 2013


I can't love this enough. Yay! Thanks for another awesome link, OS!

This. Great find!
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:52 PM on March 19, 2013


Infographic depicting the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, including Fred Phelps and his many children, grandchildren, etc.
posted by 445supermag at 7:55 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


filthy light thief: "At least, from reading Shirley's wiki page, I learned that Fred is disbarred"

Yes, which is one of the reasons he wanted his children to obtain law degrees, so they could continue litigating in his style to finance the family/church.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:06 PM on March 19, 2013


my favorite, "GAY HAWKS".

Hi! Miss you!
posted by rtha at 8:12 PM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here's the link to the Planting Peace Equality House page.

The house, which is painted the colors of the Pride flag, will serve as the resource center for all Planting Peace equality and anti-bullying initiatives

So, maybe not a local resource, so much. It's pretty much a donations page at this point so I can't tell general vs local the house's purpose will serve.

I was worried that WBC would constantly harass folks, especially youth, coming to a local resource center. Not that they won't harass anyway. I'm betting they're all a-flurry with activity right now as to how to capitalize on this.
posted by wallabear at 8:14 PM on March 19, 2013


If there is a hell, Fred will be trying to take over as soon as he arrives.

He'll have a lot of competition but I think he'll do alright.


Just picture him and the other baddies of history duking it out: Hitler, Stalin, Vlad the Impaler, Caligula, Ivan the Terrible, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Attila the Hun...

He's just as bad as any of them. The difference between them and him was that he was never in a position to kill people with impunity.
posted by orange swan at 8:23 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I don't understand is why haven't people boycotted the Phelps law firm? Surely that's where most of the family's money comes from. And if they didn't have any money, they couldn't travel all over picketing funerals.
posted by orange swan at 8:33 PM on March 19, 2013


Again, I might be mistaken here, but my understanding is that the funeral-picketing is what supports the Phelps Law Firm, not the other way around. When people get violent or otherwise tortious with the WBC, they file claims, and often win.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:39 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


It seems clear that the isloating us/them dichotomy that follows from such a doctrine is perfectly complimentary with the social and power dynamics of plenty of other religious cults. I think their motives for their actions are internal, they have nothing to do with the outside world. Their demonstrations are really about keeping their own members under control, not about getting any message out or capitalizing on the controversy, etc.
posted by Western Infidels at 6:25 PM on March 19 [1 favorite +] [!]


Sounds like the same mentality as the leaders of North Korea.
posted by pleurodirous at 9:37 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


One of my Uncles lives really close to their compound. I can't wait to see this Rainbow House the next time I'm in that part of town. When I stayed with my uncle a long time ago while my family waited to move in to our new house I would have to drive by the phelps compound on my way to school. I could never figure out why they had an upside down Canadian flag up. What the heck has Canada ever done to them?

Me and a friend threw a water bottle at them once when we were in high school. It hit one of their signs I noticed. We fled all the way to his house outside of town positive this would catch up to us some how. We escaped repercussions and continue to live now as we did then: filled with spite towards the Phelps family.

Another time they made my Mom cry while she was at a stop light. She said one of them started yelling bible crap at her. It really freaked her out so she sped off and started crying all the way home. My Mom had a super short haircut at the time and these people are so fucking thick they probably saw her hair and thought "oh short hair on lady means lesbian YELL BIBLE CRAP".

It was really weird having to walk through them just to get to mass. From the time I was in 3rd grade to about 5th they would picket our church. A whole group would stand out on the corner right next to the building where most every one had to pass through. I remember when they started getting national notoriety. I honestly hoped that would be the end of it and they would either just leave or some vigilante would come and wipe them all out.

Anyway, these are my thoughts and experiences regarding living in the same town with them.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 9:55 PM on March 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


the thing people need to realize about WBC is that above everything else it is a scam.

I've seen the Theroux doc, and while this may be functionally true I don't think it makes much of a difference to think of it that way. They are clearly true believers in what they do. There are many easier ways to make a buck, especially with a law degree. Several of the family work for public agencies to supplement their income [SPLC], so the firm can't be generating all that much independent revenue.
posted by dhartung at 10:04 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Zomg Fred Phelps is a false flag operation perpetrated by teh Gay Agenda! Wake up sheeple!

Whether he means to or not, I think he is doing an excellent job making the homophobes look ridiculous and in his way has helped shape public perception in a gay friendly way.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 11:15 PM on March 19, 2013


IANAL but have any lawyers on here heard of Barretry? Basically, frivolous lawsuits filed to annoy people and for fun and profit.
Barretry is a crime some places.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:34 AM on March 20, 2013


I always liked Chris Mason's approach to protesting the Phelps clan.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:20 AM on March 20, 2013


orange swan: "From the NY Post comments:

"we're here! we're queer! may we borrow some sugar?"
"

I am PROUD AND OUT...of sugar.
posted by Samizdata at 4:55 AM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


more music for the housewarming party: the entire YMCA catalog, of course!
posted by easily confused at 5:29 AM on March 20, 2013


Let's have a kiki at the rainbow house!
posted by rtha at 6:08 AM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


On Twitter, Westboro Baptist Freaks Are Ecstatic About the Gay Rainbow House Across the Street.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:32 AM on March 20, 2013


duh... that should be "the entire Village People catalog", not "YMCA"....

where the heck is my coffee?!?
posted by easily confused at 8:34 AM on March 20, 2013


I love this idea, I do. I loathe Westboro and all their awfulness. But, if I owned the property to either side of this house, I'd be all kinds of pissed off about my own property value.
posted by PuppyCat at 9:49 AM on March 20, 2013


Look, if you live across the street from the WBC, your property value is already in the toilet. The rainbow house certainly isn't going to devalue it.
posted by orange swan at 10:20 AM on March 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Shirley Phelps-Roper loves the house:
“I love it,” she said. “What he does is he keeps the eyes of the whole earth on this message. Now everyday all people are thinking about is God will not have same sex marriage.”
The church has put out a statement.
"We thank God for the Sodomite Rainbow House. It is right across the street from the ONLY church that loves people enough to tell them the Bible truth about the filthy, soul-damning, nation-destroying sin of sodomy...The Sodomite Rainbow house helps shine a bright spotlight on this!"
posted by ericb at 11:51 AM on March 20, 2013


CNN's Jeanne Moos interviews the owner of the house.
posted by ericb at 11:53 AM on March 20, 2013


Sodomite Rainbow House

If only I'd trademarked the name of my bedroom, I could be copyright trolling the Phelps clan RIGHT NOW.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:53 PM on March 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Now the Sodomite Rainbow House needs to get the landscaper from the Chappelle show.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:20 PM on March 20, 2013


I can't help but think about this SNL bit everytime someone uses the term "Sodomite":

Noab: Thanks, Abanasher! Gentlemen. You know, I was looking over your official city brochure. Now... what kind of city slogan is this: [ reading ] "You have to be crazy to live in Sodom -- crazy about sodomy!" Now... if you're going to attract investment, if you expect to have your bid for the Olympics taken seriously, you're gonna have to play down the sodomy!

Head of the Sodom Chamber of Commerce: "Play down"? Come on! What do you think brings the conventions in here? A guy looking for a place he can gamble, practice gluttony, worship a false idol or two... and have a little sodomy! He automatically thinks of Sodom!

Ashmore: He's got a point there!

Noab: Alright, now look at Gomorrah, okay? Now, they're every bit as wicked as you people, but it's just not the main thrust of their publicity. They emphasize more conventional things. I think Sodom should, too.

Head of the Sodom Chamber of Commerce: Oh, like what?

Noab: Well, like the park. Like the museums. Like your restaurants. Like your theater district.

posted by 445supermag at 7:48 PM on March 20, 2013


Getting mad about the WBC is politically easy, because everybody hates them. Conversely, going after them does very little to actually fight bigotry in this country. I worry about the limitations on free speech that are established via supposedly anti-WBC laws, because nobody wants to stick up for such scumbags.

In sticking up for rights, you find yourself defending a lot of scumbags.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:33 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I worry about the limitations on free speech that are established via supposedly anti-WBC laws

Do you have any specific examples that worry you? I know there was a law enacted to limit protesting at funerals, but I'm comfortable with that particular restriction. Who but the WBC would ever want to picket a funeral?
posted by orange swan at 9:00 PM on March 20, 2013


That was the one, there may be others. Yes, people should be allowed to picket funerals.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:19 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Welcome, neighbors! My name's Fred, these folks here are my family and some members of our church. We brought you some coffee cake here as a house warming present. We love how you've fixed the place up already. Things are pretty quiet in this neighborhood. We all just try to get along and quietly mind our own business...
posted by double block and bleed at 4:42 AM on March 21, 2013


Hell for Fred Phelps:
Going to heaven and discovering it is FABULOUS!
posted by Goofyy at 5:24 AM on March 21, 2013


Yes, people should be allowed to picket funerals.

They're still allowed, but they have to stay a specific number of metres away. I get impatient with the handwringing over any restrictions on freedom of speech. Some are necessary. Freedom of speech has never been and never will be unlimited (see also laws intended to prevent yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre and libel or slander).
posted by orange swan at 8:57 AM on March 21, 2013


Hell for Fred Phelps:
Going to heaven and discovering it is FABULOUS!


John Callaghan created a cartoon that showed some members of the KKK shovelling coal in hell with Satan standing guard over them with a forked pitchfork and saying, "By the way, gentlemen, perhaps I forgot to mention that it's Black History Month. FOREVER."

I like to amuse myself by picturing Fred Phelps in hell, being forced to dress in leather straps and a spiked collar and to sit on a float in an eternal Gay Pride parade.
posted by orange swan at 9:02 AM on March 21, 2013


I still think that one green slat is out of sequence. *grumble*
posted by wallabear at 9:01 PM on March 21, 2013


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