It has been brought to our attention that Fred Phelps, who is known for picketing funerals of victims of AIDS, is planning a ?God Hates Fags? protest here in our community today at the memorial service for the five Cheerleaders from Fairport High School that were killed recently.
Of course, my perverse sense of humor immediately cackled with glee at the thought that my area (Fairport is just to the east of Rochester) has somehow earned the attention and protests of Fred Phelps and his merry band of hatemongers. Phelps and those like him amuse me to no end, and part of me would love to check out the protest tonight just for the sake of satisfying my morbid curiosity.
But on the other hand, I can’t help but feel bad for the friends and families of these girls. I can only imagine what it must be like to have such hatemongers intrude upon what is already a sacred time of expressing the pains of grief and loss.
Of course, Phelps and his group really give no strong explanation of why they chose this funeral to picket. Indeed, their only comment (other than to rattle off a long and nasty sounding Bible passage) about this stop in their picket schedule is to decry the girls who died as “raised-for-the-Devil, American whores.” Personally, I find these inflammatory and awful words, and words that I find hard to believe Phelps has any basis for using. After all, he doesn’t know these girls personally.
Personally, I suspect that Phelps simply chose this funeral to picket on the grounds that it’s the day before another scheduled protest that will take place approximately two hours from the Rochester area. As such, it strikes me as (1) a protest of convenience and (2) nothing more than another opportunity to toot his own self-righteous horn. (I cannot fathom a more despicable violation of a funeral than that.)
In the end, I think that the Fairport High School are right in their assessment that Phelps is simply looking for more intention and their subsequent request that those attending the memorial service ignore him to the best of their abilities. However, I hope that those in attendance at least shoot him a consterning look that communicates the shame he should feel.