God Sent The IEDs!

You have to love it when blogging is this easy.

First I have to reaquaint you good folks with a single Mr. Fred Phelps. Phelps is the leader of the non-affiliated Westboro Baptist Church based out of Kansas. Phelps was also catapulted into the public spotlight a few years ago when he led a group of protestors at the funeral of young Matthew Shephard.

Matthew Shephard, if you will recall, was a young Wyoming teen who was beaten to death because he was gay. Beaten. To death. And when his grieving family went to pay their final respects they were met with picket signs proclaiming that “God Hates Gays”, and that Matthew was going to hell. All thanks to Fred Phelps.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t an isolated incident. Apparently the Phelps clan during the nineties frequented funerals of AIDS victims, and the anti-homosexual protests continued after Matthew Shephard’s. But here is where the story takes an odd twist.

Phelps now has his crew putting up protests at military funerals. And we’re not even talking about gay military members either. Just any old military funeral. In the words of the group’s lawyer, Shirley Phelps-Roper:

The scriptures are crystal clear that when God sets out to punish a nation, it
is with the sword. An IED is just a broken-up sword…

So let’s all hop on board the logic train for this one. God hates gays. America at least struggles with trying to treat gay people like they’re actually people. God doesn’t like this and so, in the words of another protest sign, “God Sent the IED’s”. Or put more frankly, the reason why our soldiers are dying in Iraq is because God wants to punish us for allowing gay people.

You should all know by now my absolute intolerence of bigotry. I can’t can’t can’t stand it. But this… this just boggles my mind. Can anyone explain to me how this is acceptable behavior? Seriously, I want to know. I want to understand the thought processes behind someone who wakes up in the morning, gets dressed, shaves, brushes their teeth, has breakfast, and thinks to themselves, “you know, I think we need to go out there and spew hate speech at a funeral.”

As a good friend of mine explained to me last night, sure, the bible can be interpreted in such a way being gay is bad. But in nowhere does it give you permission to treat gay people as such. It doesn’t say that you shouldn’t beat a hetero to death, but if the person is batting for the other side (so to speak), than feel free. The bible doesn’t tell you to cause deep emotional harm to the loved ones of a gay person by crashing the funeral. And the military thing is just… out there.

But there is a brighter side to the story. There is a rather well organized group that has mobilized to combat the disgusting displays of Phelps and his ilk. They are called the Patriot Guard Riders, and while their efforts are definitely, at least from my viewpoint, unexpected, it is most assuredly welcome.

The PGR is a band of about 5000 bikers. When they get wind that Phelps is going to crash another military funeral, they mount up and ride out. Waving flags and revving enginges, the patriots provide a barrier to keep the Phelps group from interracting with the mourners while at the same time providing enough noise to keep the grieving family from having to hear the anti-gay slurs and insults tossed at them from the protestors.

Now I say this is unexpected because culturally, I find it difficult to believe bikers would take up the gay torch. Even now don’t think I’m naive enough to believe that the bikers are engaged in a pro-homosexual movement. They aren’t doing this for the gay community, they are doing it for the military men and women whom they respect. But at the same time, we find that we’re on the same side for once. While an absolute void of decency exists, it allows us to really see the decency in others. A group of people now find themselves perhaps on a side of the fence they would have never seen themselves on, and maybe that might open some eyes.

And that, my friends, is progress. In all its infinitely slow glory; a decent person doing a decent thing-progress.

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