The Art Of The Press Release

« August 2005 »

Memo to Fred Phelps...

Hm. Memo to Fred Phelps... Shit. I have a lot of words, but none of them really work for Fred Phelps. He exists in a kind of space outside of Dumb. He's like some kind of physical force, an unholy nexus of stupidity, religion, and bigotry that, despite all that, manages to be comical. It's as if Hitler had been reincarnated as a three-legged puppy. And the puppy is up there on the balcony, barking out "Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Puppy!".

And the things coming out of the three-legged Hitlerpuppy's little fuzzy mouth are awful, horrible things. And you know, in many ways, that the Hitlerpuppy should be condemned, and the Hitlerpuppy should be stopped. But you can't take it that seriously, because, well, it's a three-legged Hitlerpuppy.

That's Fred Phelps. The self-proclaimed pastor of a self-proclaimed church whose congregation appears to consist almost entirely of his extended family. The man behind the infamous The church that proselytizes its one true faith by going to the funerals of AIDS and gay-bashing victims to cheer.

He's so bugfuck that you can't even call him bugfuck, because you'd then need to invent a time machine, go back in time, and stop yourself from ever having called anyone else bugfuck ever.

You know how crazy Phelps is? When people in a deep suburb of Nashville, Tennessee chase your sorry ass out of town for being too homophobic. That's a level of crazy I can barely begin to comprehend, much less describe.

Phelps was in Tennessee to start his latest round of funeral protests. But this time, the victims weren't gay. They were two Tennesse National Guardsmen killed in Iraq. This may be the single most insane public relations move in human history, an act so inexplicably self-defeating you know it has to come from pure, unmitigated belief in one's own righteousness.

Why would he do such a thing? To find out, I turned to the source - a source press accounts kindly referred to as a "press release". ACTUAL NOT ACTUALLY A PRESS RELEASE QUOTE TIME!

"They turned America / Over to fags; They're coming home / In body bags."

You see what I mean about the puppy thing? Phelps actually believes that God is punishing America for coddling queers, and is doing it by causing American soldiers to die in Iraq.

That's an epic hateful perversion of religion and morality, but it's presented in a ridiculous rhyming couplet of doggerel! A sentiment so vile that even the people who, in their heart of hearts, secretly agree with it don't dare say that they do, because Fred Phelps and his kin are the only people on the planet with the genetic disorder that prevents them from realizing what they sound like.

But somehow, even when Phelps is at his most entomologically-intercoursing, he still manages to get more respect than he deserves in the media. This is partly because it's impossible to give him the respect he deserves without violating federal assault laws, but there's still something to be worried about when what Phelps put out for this past weekend's protests got called a "press release".

So, for the benefit of the national media, here are some helpful tips if you're wondering whether something is, or is not, a press release.

If, on their own website, they provide the document as a poorly scanned PDF canted at a ten degree angle, it's NOT A FUCKING PRESS RELEASE. Even for an inbred preacher's family in the middle of Fuckitall, Kansas, there's gotta be access to at least one 300dpi scanner with some straightening guides.

If the item in question contains poetry, it's NOT A PRESS RELEASE.

If the item in question contains a cartoon, it's NOT A PRESS RELEASE. Particularly if it's a cartoon showing a young, white American youth with tousled hair and jeans, holding a sign that says "THANK GOD FOR IED's". I am not kidding you here.

If the item in question contains the phrase "Now God Himself is America's Terrorist", it's NOT A PRESS RELEASE.

It's not like we don't have other nouns. "Flyer", perhaps modified with the adjective "amateurish"? How about "screed"? Maybe "manifesto", like the Unabomber? Just because it had a time, date, and location on it doesn't make it a press release. Otherwise, the gas station would be alerting the media every time I filled up. Phelps hasn't earned even that minimal level of legitimacy.

You know what the best part about a three-legged Hitlerpuppy is? Every time it goes to give the Sieg Heil salute, it falls over.