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Kill Them With Kindness
January 31, 2010 2:18 PM   Subscribe

God Hates Signs: Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church band-of-bigots showed up in San Francisco the other day to protest at the headquarters of Twitter. (Why? "Twitter should be used to tell the punks of doomed America that God hates you!"). They were met by counter-protesters, well versed in the dark arts of snark. Hilarity ensues.
posted by fourcheesemac (123 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
I will never not be convinced that these guys are an elaborate performance art project -- I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they originated in San Francisco. MTV needs to just give them a show and complete the circle. It could be on after Jersey Shore.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:22 PM on January 31, 2010


So...while this is funny and clever, why do people continue to feed these trolls?
posted by emilyd22222 at 2:22 PM on January 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


What's the deal with the Westboro sign that has BITCH and a picture of a hamburger?

No, not HAMBURGER, hamburger!
posted by vorfeed at 2:24 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Awesome stuff -- I don't think they're feeding the trolls, instead hoping to drown them out by insisting the conversation be about something else, something more fun, in particular the "I WAS PROMISED DONUTS" sign. Man, somebody was promising donuts but then backed out? Harsh.
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:26 PM on January 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Silly Hats Only
posted by The Whelk at 2:28 PM on January 31, 2010 [8 favorites]


So...while this is funny and clever, why do people continue to feed these trolls?

Ridiculing them is absolutely the way to go. Overtly taking them seriously gives them a form of credibility they don't deserve.

What I've never understood about this brand of petty, narrowminded bigoted christanity is why they think their God would choose them as the paragon of His Word on earth. It's like all those slackjawed, underemployed mouthbreathers who spend so much time telling us that white people like them are superior, without a hint of irony.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:28 PM on January 31, 2010 [20 favorites]


Seriously, what?
posted by vorfeed at 2:28 PM on January 31, 2010


I HAVE A POST ON METAFILTER.
posted by localroger at 2:28 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I HAVE A SIGN and ME sum up the endless self-promotion of the WBC pretty nicely.
posted by Monsters at 2:29 PM on January 31, 2010


a bout of laughter will bury them.
posted by _dario at 2:29 PM on January 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


These Rails Don't Scale

QFT.
posted by idiopath at 2:33 PM on January 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


"We have not quarrels with Twitter. Twitter is a great platform," stated a gray-haired WBC woman juggling several signs that could be interpreted as funny and ironic if they were actually funny and ironic. Gesturing to one of the younger WBC women, she added, "Meagan, she's Twittering right now."

But she explained the reason behind the protest: "Twitter should be used to tell the punks of doomed America that God hates you!"


Umm, OK, so they do have a twitter account that they can use to tell us we're all going to hell. So, they must be saying that they're pissed off that some tweets out there are not us-going-to-hell related? Then, shouldn't they be protesting, like, every form of media out there?

You guys have a lot more work to do! I look forward to more signs.
posted by Consonants Without Vowels at 2:35 PM on January 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


The rickroll series made me laugh.

hard.
posted by ShawnString at 2:36 PM on January 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not that I'm justfiying this, but ... the homophobes went to San Francisco of all places, and decided to picket Twitter?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 2:36 PM on January 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


I normally try to approach with understanding. Especially with those that I disagree with. Come over here and play with the nice fun people I think and try. Smite with reason and kindness.

Those motherfucker's are beyond reach even in my book.
posted by vapidave at 2:36 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


God's stomach hurts from laughing at the whole thing -- both sides. In fact, he Tivo'd the moment, and he keeps watching it over and over and over.
posted by Lukenlogs at 2:38 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I've never understood about this brand of petty, narrowminded bigoted christanity is why they think their God would choose them as the paragon of His Word on earth.

I have noticed that all the people I have ever met who know what God wants have found it to be the same as what they want.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:38 PM on January 31, 2010 [77 favorites]


Between this response to Westboro protests, and the "angel action" which was recreated in the film version of The Laramie Project, I think that people are finally figuring out how to deal with these assholes.

When Phelps finally dies, will this whole thing just stop? Can't we just roofie his drink and give him the assfucking he obviously craves? (Not that I'm volunteering... I wouldn't touch him with someone else's ten-foot pole.)
posted by hippybear at 2:38 PM on January 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Here's one of the WBC weirdos explaining the "Bitch Burger" sign (maybe). (My sound card took a dump, so I can't hear it)
posted by Floydd at 2:39 PM on January 31, 2010


Oh, and by the way, if Mefites didn't have enough reasons to hate the WBC already, check this out.
posted by Consonants Without Vowels at 2:40 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


When Phelps finally dies, will this whole thing just stop?

When Phelps finally dies, his funeral should look like a gigantic pep rally, and all the guests of funerals he's picketed should turn out to cheer his death. But they're actually sane, so they won't.
posted by sallybrown at 2:42 PM on January 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


I loved "I have a SIGN". That is my favorite counter protest sign EVER.

I hope it made at least one of those WCB folks look into the abyss and laugh at their own reflection.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:44 PM on January 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


When Phelps finally dies, his funeral should look like a gigantic pep rally, and all the guests of funerals he's picketed should turn out to cheer his death. But they're actually sane, so they won't.

I've never been confronted with Phelps in the flesh, but I think I'd attend that funeral. I just started a savings fund to pay for the travel for that, actually. Thanks for the idea!
posted by hippybear at 2:44 PM on January 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not that I'm justfiying this, but ... the homophobes went to San Francisco of all places, and decided to picket Twitter?

Is there anything in San Francisco more closely associated with homosexuality than Twitter? Surely not.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:45 PM on January 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


The "Vote for No. 6" sign is a personal fave of mine. Anyone remember that episode?
posted by King Bee at 2:46 PM on January 31, 2010 [11 favorites]


emilyd2222: So...while this is funny and clever, why do people continue to feed these trolls?

That was my opinion too... I was all "why do people who disagree with them give them all this publicity" but then I clicked the links and guffawed at the "I have a sign" sign. Also, now I know that Megan Phelps is having a back and forth on Twitter with Michael Ian Black, which is a collision of worlds I did not expect to ever see.
posted by Kattullus at 2:46 PM on January 31, 2010


When Phelps finally dies, his funeral should look like a gigantic pep rally, and all the guests of funerals he's picketed should turn out to cheer his death. But they're actually sane, so they won't.

Won't they?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:52 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just in case you missed it.
posted by netbros at 2:52 PM on January 31, 2010 [19 favorites]


So...while this is funny and clever, why do people continue to feed these trolls?

So...we sit here and do nothing? Seriously? That's your solution to hatred like this?

They aren't trolls, they're far more disruptive. We should sit by as grieving families are confronted with this vileness at funerals? We should avert our eyes, and block our ears, and teach everyone around us that our own morals aren't as important as the Phelpsian need to spill their horrid bile over us? A moderately creative and occasionally fucking hilarious counter-protest is 'feeding the trolls' instead of showing the rest of the world that some of us care enough to do more than avert our eyes and walk on.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:53 PM on January 31, 2010 [9 favorites]


back and forth on Twitter

Is there any way to follow thw conversation without flipping back and forth and trying to match up the timestamps?
posted by Ratio at 2:53 PM on January 31, 2010


These people feed off the hatred they create. They're exactly the same as the KKK. You can either ignore them, or treat them with kindness. Anything else just motivates them to do more.

It's actually even worse when they're Christian based, as they believe persecution is proof that they're doing God's work. Just love on 'em, or ignore 'em. They'll get their due when they finally meet their maker.
posted by toekneebullard at 2:55 PM on January 31, 2010


That entire trip to San Francisco was weird. They focused almost all of their protests on Jewish orgs, the anti defimation league, the contemporary Jewish Museum, my cousin's high school (because there is a Jewish student group there) and then, breaking the trend, Twitter.

I'm convinced they chose Twitter simple because it would rile up a bunch or bloggers and get a million tweets. It had nothing to do with the tone of the rest of that trip.
posted by piratebowling at 2:58 PM on January 31, 2010


I've never been confronted with Phelps in the flesh, but I think I'd attend that funeral.

I missed his, uh, presence, at my high school graduation by a year. His jaunty clan of ne'er-do-wells protested the following year's graduation due to my high school forming a Gay-Straight Alliance.

That said, I'm not terribly far from Wichita, and old Fred is likely to punch out soon, hopefully in a fantastically ironic way. I'm not big on shitting on someone's grave, especially since I don't believe in an afterlife, but an Abbie Hoffmann-esque spectacle seems somewhat appropriate when that time comes. If someone were willing to organize, and doubtless there will be volunteers, I'd be willing to drive up.
posted by Ufez Jones at 2:58 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't see it as feeding trolls. This is beating them at their own game and doing it in a way that is just so wonderfully non-confrontational.

As for Fred Phelps, I have heard that he really doesn't believe a whit of what he says and is just in it for the money. If so, aren't there a lot easier ways to make a living?
posted by Leezie at 3:01 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Michael Ian Black is doing just what the Phelps folks want from Twitter - get a famous person to notice them. He should walk away.
posted by mediareport at 3:01 PM on January 31, 2010


I've never been confronted with Phelps in the flesh

You haven't really lived until Phelps has called you a whorish spawn of Satan during your morning walk to class.
posted by sallybrown at 3:02 PM on January 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


Umm, OK, so they do have a twitter account
posted by Consonants Without Vowels at 2:35 PM on January 3


Thank you for this gift.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:06 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


When Phelps finally dies, his funeral should look like a gigantic pep rally, and all the guests of funerals he's picketed should turn out to cheer his death.

I assume Mr. Phelps will simply ascend unto heaven.

And by 'ascend unto heaven' I mean 'be hurriedly buried in a shallow grave in a field just outside of Topeka after he kicks off during a weekend binge of only-God-knows-what-those-people-get-up-to-behind-closed-doors'*.

why do people continue to feed these trolls

Meh, it's somewhat better than beating the shit out of them, which is probably what would have happened had they gone through with this protest.

*But-probably-wishes-he-didn't
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:06 PM on January 31, 2010


As for Fred Phelps, I have heard that he really doesn't believe a whit of what he says and is just in it for the money. If so, aren't there a lot easier ways to make a living?

I say it's just a matter of time until he's caught with a Swedish male prostitute. dressed in a Jesus costume. and a few Filet-O-Fish sandwiches.
posted by jonmc at 3:08 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think humor is the hunkieset doriest way to deal with these people, who, for whatever reason, are governed by hate and fear. The humor is like a knife that slips between the hate/fear ribcage that these people are ensconced in. In my personal experience, it's the quickest way to amp up the crazy making on their side, and thus presents them as batshitinsane to those who might otherwise be lulled to the dark side of the teabag.
posted by angrycat at 3:09 PM on January 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Okay, fine: 'Only-God-and-jonmc-know-what-those-people-get-up-to-behind-closed-doors'.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:10 PM on January 31, 2010


>: Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church band-of-bigots

Hey! I thought we didn't editorialize around here!

I kid, i kid
posted by dunkadunc at 3:20 PM on January 31, 2010


I like the fact that not taking them seriously casts them as lightweight idiots not to be given serious consideration. Unfortunately, the people Phelps represents are potentially violent, so on one level at least you do need to consider them. As for beating them up, I think that gives them something to rally around and legitimize their fears. A pie to the face, or a silly sign just sends the message that we think you're stupid and we're going to make fun of you. Hard to spin that into anything serious.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:24 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, I think they'd be proud to be called a "band of bigots."
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:27 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sure, God gets angry once in a while, but hate?

Well, that's just going too far.
posted by bwg at 3:28 PM on January 31, 2010


>Shouldn't they hate every medium out there?
They do. They picketed Larry the Cable Guy, even though they generally don't have a problem with Larry the Cable Guy. They just wished he were preaching instead of using the stage to only tell jokes.

Recently, they've been picketing Lady Gaga concerts for her pro-gay views, but also because she has a "whore's forehead."

The man and his followers are insane, and their psychoses make them de facto trolls. They will swarm anywhere there is an audience. In their minds, they think it's because more people should be spreading hate, but deep down they really want to just plain be seen.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:32 PM on January 31, 2010


A great, great confrontation of Fred Phelps and his church members.
posted by Flunkie at 3:35 PM on January 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Okay this is the weirdest thing I've seen in a while: Westboro Baptists singing their version of Lady Gaga's Poker Face.
posted by Kattullus at 3:35 PM on January 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


When Phelps finally dies, his funeral should look like a gigantic pep rally, and all the guests of funerals he's picketed should turn out to cheer his death

Oh man, I would donate vast sums of money towards this. Ideally it would be giant fun fair-type situation with a gay orgy tent, a gay wedding tent, a combination family planning center and abortion clinic tent, a jew/muslim/christian/catholic/hindu/buddhist love-in and bingo game tent, a nondenominational disco tent, and a commemorative sign-making enterprise, plus all the traditional activities one would expect to see at a regular fun fair. At the end of the day, we could all burn a giant Fred Phelps effigy while roasting weenies and making s'mores.
posted by elizardbits at 3:35 PM on January 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


"punks of doomed America"

...And now I realize that I should have read this thread before deciding on my username.
posted by Toby Dammit X at 3:46 PM on January 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


Woah, you guys. What if Fred Phelps only does what he does so that he can unite humanity against one common enemy, much like the squid in Watchmen?
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:46 PM on January 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


The "Vote for No. 6" sign is a personal fave of mine. Anyone remember that episode?

Oh yes.
posted by JHarris at 3:47 PM on January 31, 2010


I'm supposed to feel sorry and sympathy for somebody who clearly, clearly has a lot of issues... but it's awfully hard sometimes.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 3:48 PM on January 31, 2010


We need to get back on topic and discuss the issue of building prisons on the moon.
posted by panboi at 3:48 PM on January 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Netbros, I have to admit I'm discomfited that your "50 best protest signs" link did not include this one.

(OKay, I have a soft spot for that kid because that was at a WBC counter-protest at a high school in my 'hood in Brooklyn.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:48 PM on January 31, 2010 [9 favorites]


Great, now I have "Huh-Huh-Huh-whore's forehead/Huh-huh-whore's forehead" stuck in my brain, and my wife has expressly forbidden me from even humming that song.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:58 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fake protest signs are the best.
posted by DU at 3:59 PM on January 31, 2010


Screw kindness. Rally them up and burn them like their predecessors did "witches".
posted by Malice at 4:05 PM on January 31, 2010


The kids at a local high school counter-protested with a sign saying "Jesus had two dads"
posted by gingerbeer at 4:05 PM on January 31, 2010 [15 favorites]


These people who teach that God is about hate are no better than the Islamic Terrorists who use their religion to excuse killing innocent people with suicide bombs. I don't know how they can seriously call themselves Christian when every writing about Christ is all about love. Seriously, what Bible are they reading? Just like terrorists give Islam a bad name, these people are giving Christians a bad name.

And that donuts sign was awesome.
posted by TooFewShoes at 4:09 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you can find the torrent"Americas most hated family"
its pretty good strange but good
posted by SatansCabanaboy at 4:10 PM on January 31, 2010


The Phelps clan is a family. They have children. If the children can see the signs, it might chip away at the walls being built inside them. The protesters might get through, quite incidentally, to the children, before it's too late. The family is a death cult, not allied to any real church, even the worst kind. When Fred dies, his legacy might live on through one or more of his daughters for a while. If the rest of his grandchildren can be sure to be free, then it will all dry up and blow away, as sure as the Sawney Beans.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:22 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


There was some funny counterprotesting when WBC came to U of Chicago last year.
posted by Mid at 4:23 PM on January 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


That Jesus had two dads sign is brilliant. I'm going to go in the basement and make one right now.
posted by fshgrl at 4:25 PM on January 31, 2010


Heheh.
posted by Doohickie at 4:26 PM on January 31, 2010


The Jew Jesus must forgive them, but I bet he has second thoughts.
posted by hortense at 4:35 PM on January 31, 2010


Here's a better shot of the kid with the Jesus Had Two Dads sign. Brilliant indeed.
posted by wherever, whatever at 4:38 PM on January 31, 2010


Reading this story hit me in a way Phelps hasn't really before. To give some background, I'm from San Francisco (currently away at college) and am well versed in his antics, having worked on stage productions of Laramie Project and Execution of Justice (about the Moscone/Milk assignations and trial of Dan White) where Phelps threatened to protest at my high school, among other things (he showed up at a larger school in the East Bay instead). At the same time, this was even somewhat understandable to me then, Laramie is a play that directly guns for Phelps, and EoJ glorifies Sister Boom Boom, played by a man in a nun's habit. Phelps was always an abomination to me, but it was never a particularly personal issue: I'm not gay, and he used disgusting tactics to protest a cause that I believed in, but that's all it was.

But that really changed for me when I read his San Francisco Picket Schedule:

12:15-12:45 Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission Street - Family are members
1:10-1:40 Anti Defamation League, 720 Market Street - Family are members
1:50-2:20 Jewish Community Center, 3200 California Street - Family are members, where I attended preschool, my gym back home, an arts center where I frequently see performances and lectures, and where I know a number of staff and board members.
3:20 3:50 Lowell High School, 1101 Eucalyptus Drive - Friends with a number of alumni
4:30-5:00 Twitter, Inc., 795 Folsom Street - Gets them the ink, the media loves anything that involves Twitter
7:20-8:00 Golden Gate Theatre [Fiddler on Roof], 1 Taylor Street - One of the old large proscenium rental houses in the city where I've seen numerous shows

Friday

10:00-10:30 Congregation Beth Israel & Day School, 625 Brotherhood Way - Located next door to Brandies Hillel Day School, where I had a number of friends and where I nearly transferred at one point in 4th grade.
11:00-11:30 Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, 225 Bush Street - Family receives every week
11:45-12:15 United States District Court, 450 Golden Gate Avenue - Ok. No real connection here besides driving past it all the time...
2:10-2:40 Jewish Community High School of the Bay, 1835 Ellis Street - Where I visited and applied as an 8th grader to be part of their second graduating class, and while I did not attend, I have several friends who did so. I also attended some classes taught here by Rabbi Alan Lew during high school.
3:00-3:30 George Washington High School, 600 32nd Avenue - No major connection here.
6:50-7:30 The Randall Museum Theatre [Rent], 199 Museum Way - Children's museum around the corner from my house. Visited incredibly frequently as a child. Appeared on the local news holding a turtle there. Learned to ride a bike in the parking lot. The Young People's Teen Musical Theater Company, which put on the production of Rent that Phelps was protesting, is a group that a number of my high school friends were a part of.

It's darn hard to look at this and not to the conclusion that this isn't somehow personal. That Phelps isn't out to get me somehow, that he personally hates me too. I know he's an irrational crazy man and unworthy of my attention, but seriously. What did I ever do to him and his way of life? It defies any and all logic to me, even the most twisted and delusional sort of logic that a man like Phelps would have to employ.

And what's with the hating on the Jews, who have little to do with his cause, and who, after all, read every week (Rebbe Nachman) that "All who live on earth shall realize we have not come into being to hate or to destroy. We have come into being to praise, to labor and to love"?

As much as it pains me to respond to hate with hate, I have to say this: You have a problem with me Fred? Come and get me. Fuck you Fred Phelps.
posted by zachlipton at 4:39 PM on January 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


Just a thought:

It would be really, really neat if someone could be creative enough to convince the Westboro creeples that Scientology is full of f-words that God hates more than all the other ones on earth combined. Those Anonymous people keep focusing on direct action and the most hard-core shit they can think of, but I have a feeling that

(covert SP-destroying Sea Org swinging into motion and deploying PR machines while seeking to infiltrate and undermine another group)
+
(crazy rambly-goo Revelations-quoting BITCH BURGER nutcases)
=
chaos and hilarity on a scale hitherto unknown.

I get chills just imagining the palpitations it would cause in David Miscavige's shriveled little raisin of a heart to see these insane, Bible-thumping SPs parading around the front lawn of CSI in LA.
posted by koeselitz at 4:42 PM on January 31, 2010 [13 favorites]


So...while this is funny and clever, why do people continue to feed these trolls?

Because mockery is the only thing that will piss of the Phelps people. If people get angry at them, they love it. Being on the receiving end of anger fuels their own, and makes them feel righteous and like they're fighting the forces of darkness.

However no one can bear being laughed at for very long. People just wither under true mockery.
posted by zardoz at 5:03 PM on January 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's the bigots that don't carry signs that concern me.
posted by Edward L at 5:08 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Where was the "Bring back the McRib!!!" sign? These people are slacking.
posted by GavinR at 5:10 PM on January 31, 2010


One of the "real" signs is "Thank God for IEDs"? Errr....wha?
posted by DU at 5:14 PM on January 31, 2010


zachlipton, Phelps has to be a con artist, as in all his "hates" this and "God hates" that he forgets that the Bible is incredibly clear on one thing-that God loves the Jews and those that diss the Jews are in incredible hot water with Him.

I mean, of course we all know Phelps is NOT God's mouthpiece for anything, but if there WERE any doubt this would seal the deal.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:19 PM on January 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


It really has gotten to the point where the sanest explanation for the Westboro bunch is some sort of performance art sabotage mission against fundamentalists. A group of people actually having and sustaining these beliefs to the point where they're picketing military funerals and goofy messaging sites is actually a tougher scenario for me to swallow than the idea that this all might be some Project Mayhem shit that Grant Morrison and bitter castoffs of Improv Everywhere put together in order to somehow trigger a large-scale rejection of spiteful conservatism from our collective unconscious. Somehow that makes more sense.

Fundamentalism of this kind is a social cancer, so if anything I feel like I ought to thank the Westboro Church for their contribution to the revelation of its absurdity - who cares if they meant to make it? I think these folks in San Francisco have the perfect counter measure figured out for a hate group's presence in their town, whether it's a false flag hate group or not.
posted by EatTheWeak at 5:21 PM on January 31, 2010


I don't know how they can seriously call themselves Christian when every writing about Christ is all about love. Seriously, what Bible are they reading?
Mostly the Old Testament, I would assume. Probably a lot of Paul's portion of the New Testament, too. There's a lot of flatly repulsive stuff in the Bible.

These people are scum, but the fact that they ignore the good parts of the Bible while you ignore the bad parts of the Bible doesn't mean they're wrong about it and you're right about it; it means that they're scum and you're basically decent.
posted by Flunkie at 5:30 PM on January 31, 2010 [9 favorites]


This reminds me of the "Clown Block" - anti-protesters who dress up as clowns and have organized skits to disrupt KKK and white-power parades. The best way to deal with pompous and evil fools is to mock them into irrelevancy. Which is better:

a) Boo. Phelps is here. This is terrible, I hate that bastard and all he stands for!

b) Hurray! Phelps is here! Everyone, let's make signs!

The first option keeps Phelps odious aenda out front - it makes protesting worth his time. The second option makes the event a silly sign convention, where everyone is competing for attention - Phelps and his clan will just get lost in the noise, because they're not amusing or compelling.

I think this should be seen as an opportunity to see and be seen for the funniest, cleverest members of the local community wherever Phelps shows up. Veterans' groups already look at it as an excuse for an organized ride for charity whenever he comes sniffing around soldiers' funerals - loud pipes save lives, and save greiving loved ones from idiotic chanting across the street.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:31 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's an account by someone who was sued by a member of Phelps' church. And here's an extended article by someone who argues that the Westboro Baptist Church is a deliberate scheme to make money via civil litigation.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:42 PM on January 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


But that really changed for me when I read his San Francisco Picket Schedule:

They only stay a half an hour at each location? Really?! I'm sorry, but that's weak. They've always been transparent in their attention whoring ways, but you can't make it any more obvious than this. I thought the whole point of picketing was to stand in front of one spot all day and annoy the people inside by marching back and forth, not run from place to place like it was some kind of demented Christmas carolling party.

On the other hand, maybe one of the WBC really gets off on route maps and timetables and is just having a blast planning all this. You never know.

"Hey, Jim, the Westboro Baptists were just outside with signs."
"Protesting us?! What have we done?"
"I don't know. They waved the signs at me as they ran by but I didn't get a good look. You know how I can't handle motion blur."
"Why the hell were they running?"
"Apparently they were late. One of them hollered at me that he was sorry they didn't get here sooner, but there was traffic on the bridge. And they couldn't stay because they have a 12:00 at the cookie factory and Action 7 News is going to be there."
"Those fiends!"
posted by Spatch at 5:47 PM on January 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I really like this one from the University of Chicago counterprotest that Mid mentioned above in the thread.
posted by Flunkie at 5:54 PM on January 31, 2010


Oh, and I suggest reading "Addicted to Hate", which is an inside look at the Phelps clan (based on interviews with children of Phelps who have apostatized).

They're even more messed up than you might imagine.
posted by Flunkie at 6:01 PM on January 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


It was a similar sign, totally out of context (self-link), that prompted me to create a tumblr account to record dumb things that I like. So yes, "I have a sign" is definitely on the list of "dumb things that I like." Effective or not, I totally LOLed.

I think humor is the hunkieset doriest way to deal with these people, who, for whatever reason, are governed by hate and fear. The humor is like a knife that slips between the hate/fear ribcage that these people are ensconced in.

I agree 1000%. Or 110%. Whichever is funnier.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:35 PM on January 31, 2010


Just to clarify some of their weirder behaviors, from what I've read: The "Thank God for IEDs" sign and the picketing soldiers funerals is because they think God wants to kill soldiers because America tolerates gays.

Yeah, they're insane.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:36 PM on January 31, 2010


They're even more messed up than you might imagine.

Flunkie. O. M. G.

Understatement of the year.
posted by The Whelk at 6:39 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


A great documentary on the Phelps clan was done by Louis Theroux in the documentary The Most Hated Family in America.

Sad group. You don't realize how deep the crazy goes until you watch them.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:41 PM on January 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


The "Vote for No. 6" sign is a personal fave of mine. Anyone remember that episode?

I'm pretty sure that was "Free For All".
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 6:57 PM on January 31, 2010


Oh great, WBC made a music video for their "Whorish Face" homage. I guess they're a bit obsessed.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:59 PM on January 31, 2010


Further proof that no one is immune to Gaga.
posted by The Whelk at 8:24 PM on January 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


For some damn reason I never get tired of reading about these assholes. Why is that? They make my skin crawl but I just can't get enough of them. I think it's that I keep trying to understand them. Sure they're isolated, but they live enough in the world that they know Lady Gaga and yet their world view is so disturbed and insular. Is this really the power of one man? Could their fuckwit patriarch really be so charismatic, so controlling that they don't begin to doubt and rebel against his obvious insanity? It's kinda like the Manson family.

The next time they come to Portland to protest something, I'm totally going to be there with my own funny counter-protest sign.

You know what? That just screams PDX meetup to me. How 'bout it, kids?
posted by dchrssyr at 8:39 PM on January 31, 2010


Metafilter: the dark arts of snark

sorry. had to.
posted by Moistener at 8:39 PM on January 31, 2010


Oh, and I suggest reading "Addicted to Hate", which is an inside look at the Phelps clan

Wow. That's a rabbit hole down into the crazy. It's like fate dealt Phelps everything he needed, combined with his own choices, to be the absolute embodiment of a crazy religious zealot in the USA.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:46 PM on January 31, 2010


People ... they have a constituency of maybe 12 followers in the entire country. Hardcore *fundamentalists* even mock the Phelp's. They affect no issue, influence no debate, persuade no person. They are less than insignificant.

Time to tuck them in the memory hole.
posted by RavinDave at 8:56 PM on January 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Could anyone tell what the sign next to "I love sodomy!" said? Well, the last word, mainly. mysterious!!~~~
posted by rubah at 9:02 PM on January 31, 2010


They are less than insignificant.

I know, dude, but they're still interesting as hell for some reason.
posted by dchrssyr at 9:02 PM on January 31, 2010


CAREFUL NOW and DOWN WITH THIS SORT OF THING are my favorite Moral Guardian sign. I've been tempted to join the local group of PETA protesters with these signs every time they decide to target a circus.
posted by happyroach at 9:32 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't it make more sense if they were all a bunch of really dedicated performance artists, trying to make the religious right look as bad as possible?
posted by dunkadunc at 9:58 PM on January 31, 2010


I came this close to convincing one of my coworkers that Michael Phelps was part of the Phelps clan.
posted by klangklangston at 10:28 PM on January 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Has anyone ever tried some basic civilian defense on these clowns?

I mean look at Spatch's observations and ask yourself, what if a group of people were all in route to the same place as Fred and company and suddenly, you know, had car trouble. Oh dear, trapped on some side street half way to some place where you were going to make asses of yourselves YET AGAIN, and now you are trapped in a sea of stalled cars, surrounded by people with their hoods up and scratching their heads. Almost exactly like not being the center of attention when the TV cameras show up.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:35 PM on January 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's quite funny reading these comments. So many people here seem to have hate and anger towards this group (yeah, I know some of it's supposed to be sarcasm). How do you hate a group of people because they're preaching a message of hate? Isn't that just as deluded? The only thing that makes sense if you really disagree with their hate is to have sympathy for them. That may be hard, but otherwise you're just doing what they're doing, even if it's to a lesser degree.

Same goes to the rubber-necking, "OMG those guys are so crazy", morbid curiosity type of attitude. When you do that, you're distancing these people from you because you can't or won't relate to them, but they're just like you at their core. It's so easy to understand them if you really want to.

BTW. The doco that mccarty.tim linked to was really insightful. Popped me right out of the silly attitude I had worked myself into.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 11:26 PM on January 31, 2010


Metafilter : I'm going to go in the basement and make one right now
posted by mannequito at 11:39 PM on January 31, 2010


Entertaining. There's little better than having a good time at the expense of biggots.
posted by Jeremy Banks at 11:58 PM on January 31, 2010


SF FTW!
posted by Pronoiac at 3:08 AM on February 1, 2010


I have to say I actually love the WBC and their ilk, and I love this counterprotest more than the earnest/loving/angry responses, because it shows off the fun, joyous, open character of the people the WBC despises far better than a grim-faced, humorless shout-fest. What doesn't get much play, unless I'm really not paying attention, is how someone who's a homophobe, but in an amorphous, everyday sort of way, gets engaged in an internal dialogue by these protests.

Maybe you're not real keen on gay stuff, gay marriage, gay adoption, whatever. You see these guys protesting soldier's funerals (something that should be sacred, in your mind) and everywhere it's "GOD HATES" this and "GOD HATES" that, and seeing that vague subconscious thought that a lot of people harbor without overt intention makes you think "GOD hates?" and introduces a little doubt. It brings something to the surface that most people prefer to keep submerged, like their own little seeds of racism, or sexism, or doubts about immigrants, or whatever, and drags it up into the front part of the brain.

The insane people, the pathologically stupid people, and the hard-core angry everything-haters get reinforced, pulled-in, and buoyed by the WBC, but there really aren't that many people who are actually like that all the time, and they are stuck in their stupidity by genetic design, alas. The casual phobes, on the other hand, see their casual bigotry out there, in big, multicolored ALL-CAPS, and I think most of them feel a little shame, and a little doubt, too. Maybe they start to think about things they'd otherwise leave to fester in the dark recesses of the unexamined mind.

At the same time, the mostly-mainstream, but still homophobic, congregations have to move a little to the left, a little to the side of what might be their own rhetoric, at a slightly lower volume, and most respond in the language of compassion and rejection of that kind of hatred. It might not be sincere, at first, but it feeds a feedback loop of increasing tolerance, if not acceptance (we're asking a lot of people who believe everything as read), and that goes somewhere good. By creating an symbolic association between homophobia and hyperactive, blowhard crazy in the minds of mainstream people with little niggly doubts, things are moved forward.

It's not what it should be, but there's a lot of dumb to overcome.
posted by sonascope at 4:20 AM on February 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's not "deluded" to hate specific people who have dedicated their lives to making the world a worse place for people in general, Soupisgoodfood. "They hate and you hate, so you're deluded" is a grossly absurd oversimplification.

Frankly, I don't think that that documentary popped you out of a "silly attitude".
posted by Flunkie at 4:48 AM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


This "church" also hates hockey, Lady Gaga and The Holocaust Museum in Houston.
posted by iviken at 5:51 AM on February 1, 2010


If I created a sign to stand next to them, I'd have one that said

"God Hates in Slightly Mysterious Ways"
posted by MuffinMan at 6:09 AM on February 1, 2010


What I understand from Phelps and the WBC is that God Hates, well, EVERYTHING. And I mean, who wants to be buddies with someone who Hates them? Its hard to walk away from cute little baby jesus-who-loves-you, but the God-Hates-[Everything]? Easy-peasy. Screw you God! I Hate you too!

I think Phelps is promoting an atheist agenda.

{/hamburger}
posted by sandraregina at 6:55 AM on February 1, 2010


Brother Jed Smock used to get a lot of counter-protests when he would visit FSU in the past couple of years. He would hang around campus, often with a couple of haunted-looking acolytes, and yell at students that they were "Whores" and "Faggots" and "Masturbators" and so on. A few people showed up wearing "Yes Jed, I Masturbate!" T-shirts once. I thought that was pretty funny.

Smock is sort of the "guitar mass" version of Phelps.
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:16 AM on February 1, 2010


Oh, the "Phelps is a con artist" link is quite compelling as to how he's doing this for money. In which case, these sorts of mocking anti-protests are the perfect antidote. Its hard to get riled up enough to punch him out or otherwise violate his rights - and give him an opportunity to sue - when you're laughing at him. And he can't do anything about it.

Bring on the snark.
posted by sandraregina at 7:28 AM on February 1, 2010


Its hard to get riled up enough to punch him out or otherwise violate his rights - and give him an opportunity to sue - when you're laughing at him.

Come to think of it, this is precisely what Mel Brooks has been doing with Nazis since 1968. And no one seems to think he's giving the Nazis "undue attention" in doing so.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:31 AM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Michael Peter Woroniecki (famous for the involvement of his teachings in the Andrea Yates murders) came to my campus last fall to wave signs and preach doom. I walked up to him with a big beaming smile and yelled "Hail Satan!", giving a thumbs-up.

In retrospect, he probably thought I was serious.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:49 AM on February 1, 2010


They only stay a half an hour at each location? Really?! I'm sorry, but that's weak

I'd be surprised if they showed up at all of those locations; from the 2nd link in the post:

Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your perspective, Fred Phelps and his followers cancelled their appearance before Fiddler on the Roof.

Part of their strategy is to announce far more protests than they appear at. The announcement causes the same reaction - fear, anger, attention - whether they follow through with an appearance or not. And often they don't.
posted by mediareport at 8:03 AM on February 1, 2010


I mean, of course we all know Phelps is NOT God's mouthpiece for anything, but if there WERE any doubt this would seal the deal.

Actually, no, I very strongly associate Phelps with Christianity and the fact that he has secured such enormous publicity I see as a sign of God's grace towards him. Surely the fact that so few Christian organizations actively protest against him is not just luck but a sign from heaven. I mean, disowning him is one thing, a sort of Christian betrayal I suppose, but from where I sit he represents highly successful Christian values and therefore likely he is indeed a mouthpiece for God.
posted by Rumple at 8:12 AM on February 1, 2010


That "They're in this for the lawsuit money" link would be more compelling if it included any evidence that the Phelps have regularly been making money by suing cities, opponents and "any private property owner he happens to be standing on." Even the story in the comments at Making Light from someone who claims to have been sued for yelling at a Westboro kid says s/he was "ordered to pay a nominal sum and deliver a written apology to the girl."

I'm sure Phelps & Co. know the law to the letter and use lawsuits as weapons of harassment, but it's not clear to me they're getting rich that way.
posted by mediareport at 8:14 AM on February 1, 2010


The announcement causes the same reaction - fear, anger, attention - whether they follow through with an appearance or not. And often they don't.

...any way we can encourage them to continue that trend?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:19 AM on February 1, 2010


The first time I encountered this kind of counter-protesting was at an pro-choice rally in Davis, CA a few years ago. Along with the usual contingent of people holding the same pro-life and pro-choice signs you see at every such event, there was a group of (what I assumed were) students holding things like lamps and Burger King signs, etc. It absolutely blew my mind and changed the way I think about protesting.

We need a better name for this than "absurdist" or "Dadaist." What I saw was culture jamming at a literal level--jamming the frequency of anger with noise and derision.
posted by albrecht at 8:20 AM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


...any way we can encourage them to continue that trend?

I'm with the "have a fun party at their protests" crowd.
posted by mediareport at 8:25 AM on February 1, 2010


zachlipton, Phelps has to be a con artist, as in all his "hates" this and "God hates" that he forgets that the Bible is incredibly clear on one thing-that God loves the Jews and those that diss the Jews are in incredible hot water with Him.

Oh, but there's an easy way around that, St. Alia -- simply redefine what "Jew" means.

Phelps is no con artist. Completely barking mad, yeah, but no con artist. He honestly, sincerely believes this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:33 AM on February 1, 2010


Metafilter: some kind of demented Christmas carolling party.
posted by cereselle at 8:34 AM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I suppose I understand "is a con artist" in the weak sense that he might be making money off of this, and that he's probably bringing absurd lawsuits against people (as he always has about everything), but that's not enough to mean "con artist" in my book.

I'm sorry to repeat my own link, but anybody who thinks Phelps probably isn't really a disgustingly hateful person, and instead is merely just an amoral con artist who does what he does simply because that's how he can get money, really should read "Addicted to Hate". He's an absolutely abominable man, far beyond merely "doing bad stuff for the sake of money".

And that's even assuming he's making any significant money off of this. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets some donations from bigots around the country based upon his appearances, but I would bet that he makes far more from the tithes that his law degree-wielding offspring pay him.
posted by Flunkie at 9:12 AM on February 1, 2010


He's an absolutely abominable man, far beyond merely "doing bad stuff for the sake of money".
Perhaps I should have said far beyond merely "pretending to be hateful for the sake of money".

He does hate. Deeply. And not just "fags". He is nothing but hate.
posted by Flunkie at 9:15 AM on February 1, 2010


Ugh, preemptively clarifying my preemptive clarification!
And not just "fags"
I didn't mean "not just" in the sense of "he hates gays, that's not so bad". I meant "not just" in the sense of "not only". He hates pretty much everyone and everything.
posted by Flunkie at 9:17 AM on February 1, 2010


Flunkie: You don't think hate is a delusional emotion?
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 5:30 AM on February 4, 2010


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