Archive - Mar 2014

March 16th

Pre-Eulogizing Fred

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Memo to Fred Phelps: ADIOS, I PRESUME.

So, if a Facebook post by an estranged son and some limited followup reporting as of this writing can be believed, Fred Phelps is gonna die soon.

And that's great, because as people go, Phelps was pretty fucking awful. Not the worst, because as vile as he was, Phelps' actual power was microscopic. What little power he did wield, he generally wielded against grieving people, presumably because he was too ridiculous to be able to upset anyone who wasn't already upset about something important.

So, yeah. assuming this isn't some weird side-effect of backwoods church politics, Fred Phelps is awaiting a fairly imminent death in a Kansas hospice right now. So yeah, good riddance. Yeah, the air's going to be a little crisper and the sun's going to be a little brighter the day it's able to shine on a Phelpsless human race. But.

Fred Phelps is nearly universally reviled. A lot of people hate him because, well, he's fucking awful. But even fucking awful people like religious conservatives hate him, because he made religion look even worse than most of the other stuff religions do. Which is an impressive feat.

Phelps was able to exhibit a behavior - specifically, printing up signs that say "GOD HATES FAGS" on them and bringing them to the funerals of dead soldiers - so reprehensible that even people who agreed with his message had to denounce him because of his tactics.

But that's the thing. Phelps was barbaric and uncivilized, inside and out. Now that he's gone, we're left with thousands, if not tens of thousands, of his fellow travelers, all of whom maintain positions of power and influence by merely NOT using the word "fags" in public.

From Bryan Fischer, to the Arizona legislators who tried to pass the recent religious discrimination law; from the drastically overcounted Million Moms and the National Organization for Marriage to the organizers of St. Patrick's Day parades all over the place today, the theological bigotry of Fred Phelps trives, behind a mask of civility, or plausible deniability, or at least socially acceptable expressions of bigotry.

The world's not going to be a lot better when Phelps dies. He's not the one who's been holding us back. He was just very good at being the worst. And once he's gone, nobody's going to step up and make himself the villain in his stead. They're going to keep the facade up unless we manage to strip it away from them and redefine unacceptable to a point where you don't have to bring a printed slur to a military funeral to be a pariah.

On the other hand, it's not that often that things make the world even a little better, so don't let this cynicism stop you from enjoying a Phelps-free world.