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January 12, 2006

I think the Rev. Phelps is queer as a $3 bill

I think the Rev. Fred Phelps is a homosexual who can't deal with God having made him that way, and who attempts to hide his sexual orientation by vicious attacks on gay people.

I could further exercise my First Amendment rights to express my opinion with additional observations about Phelps, but I'll skip them in favor of quoting him on the reasons he and/or followers are showing up at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and waving signs that say things like: YOU'RE GOING TO HELL ... THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS ... GOD HATES FAGS.

Here he is, in his own words: "They served in a fag army for a fag nation. America has sinned against God. Its days of grace are over."

Phelps (I cannot bring myself to again attach "the Rev." to his name) is in the news in Illinois and other states because of the funeral demonstrations. Legislation has been introduced that would ban the demonstrations within 300 feet of where the services are being held. Even for a near-absolute 1st Amendment guy like me, that seems reasonable.

'course, in this instance, it would seem reasonable to me if family and friends of the dead soldier beat the crap out of the demonstrators. But violence would be wrong, which brings us to a man who truly deserves "The Rev." in front of his name -- in capital letters: THE REVEREND Peter Wehrly.

The Rev. Wehrly, of Springfield, buried his soldier-son in Galesburg recently, with the Phelps crew present and waving their obnoxious signs. His reaction: "I'll be diplomatic -- their theology is unique ... I disagree with them. But the greatest irony is that my son died defending their right to free speech."

Those, ladies and gentlemen, are the words of a man of the God I learned about in the non-denominational but essentially fundamentalist church I faithfully attended while growing up down in the hills of Southwest Missouri. Not a single member of that congregation would ever have uttered a sentence with the words "God hates..." in it.

Anyway, the legislature is likely to pass the bill. Phelps promises to challenge it in court on First Amendment grounds if it is passed, as he did when his home state of Kansas passed a similar law. He says he won there and will win here.

Could be. Regulating demonstrations and protests based on the message being delivered is dangerous to the rights critical to all of us. Putting up with pukes like Phelps is sometimes part of the price, high though it seems.

In the meantime, God bless and comfort the Rev. Wehrly.

Posted by jcb at January 12, 2006 04:41 PM


The "God hates..." formulation is possibly the most absurd point these nuts make. God doesn't hate anybody. Not even Phelps. Satan is the one who hates. And guess whose thrall those who hate are in? Could it be (cue Dana Carvey imitation) ... Satan?

Posted by: Michael Romkey at January 12, 2006 05:13 PM

We hurt ourselves as a nation when we modify legislation for these fanatics. In most states there are laws against basically causing trouble.

1. Arrest them all; everytime, under current laws.

2. Sue after.

3. We can all move on, with our rights intact.

Disturbing the peace

n. upsetting the quiet and good order particularly through loud noise, by fighting or other unsocial behavior which frightens or upsets people. It is a misdemeanor, punishable by fine or brief term in jail.


Cut off your nose to spite your face.

Posted by: Supagenus at January 12, 2006 06:51 PM

I think it is quite apparent that someone is handing out the titles "Reverend" far too liberally these days.

Posted by: Porter McNeil at January 12, 2006 10:40 PM

When I lived in Iowa City, Mr. Phelps graced us with his presence twice.. Once to protest a play about Matthew Sheppard and once more to protest a high school graduation ceremony because there was a gay student winning an award. Both times he and his protestors (who are mostly his family) came in with a lot of fanfare by the media and were ignored by folks without any incident.

Anyway, I'm in the cutting off one's nose to smite one's face camp. I would like to see the media black Phelps out completely. Think about it - he comes to town but the papers and tv news ignore him (the same way he's ignored at his protests). He can't get his message out and the bigoted mouth-breathers who keep him afloat financially look elsewhere. Crafting legislation after him just gives him more attention. I am by no means placing any of the blame for this on the press. However, I do think if ignored he would either fizzle out quickly or quit hiding behind the 1st amendment and do something illegal for attention. Either way we're rid of him.

Posted by: t at January 12, 2006 11:28 PM

I'm with Michael (two comments above) - If that's not distrubing the peace, I'm not sure what is. Arrest them, let the funeral go on, turn them loose with a fine afterwards. Other than that, shunning is just about perfect.

Posted by: Rich Moroney at January 13, 2006 10:22 AM

It's difficult for me to get worked up about the Rev. Fred Phelps, just as it is the Rev. Jesse Jackson or the Rev. Al Sharpton. Phelps is the doppelganger of Cindy Sheehan. Both are so extreme, they only garner the attention of the press or of the like-minded. Pathetic.

Posted by: paladin at January 13, 2006 01:39 PM

Paladin, that may have been the stupidest comparison I've ever read. Sharpton and Jackson are s#!+-stirrers, to be sure. But they don't hate in the name of God. Cindy Sheehan LOST HER SON IN IRAQ.

I don't agree with the tactics of any of the three aforementioned, but none is like the bigot Phelps. To make that comparison is to show you couldn't find your a$$ with both hands and a flashlight.

Posted by: Blablabla at January 17, 2006 12:10 PM