Fred Phelps is dying, according to his son. If this was sixteen years ago, I’d have been dancing a jig, and preparing to pour a fifth of Jameson’s on his grave, making sure it passed through my kidneys first. But thinking about it now, I don’t think I’ll bother.
Most of you have a lot less history with Phelps than some I know.I first encountered Phelps when he decided to start showing up at gay funerals in St. Louis. This was the late 90’s. People on Yahoo Pagan Chat couldn’t believe the stuff I told them about Phelp’s Westboro Church, and the hate they spewed outside funerals. The state of American discourse had not been fully destroyed by the Net yet. I wonder if those who didn’t believe me, what they’d say now.
Phelps will die,and it will be a headline across the country. All of those planning to protest his funeral,or praise whatever gods you do or don’t believe in, don’t bother. Go read some investigative work about Fred’s family, and realize they’re just another sideshow. They’re con artists and grifters, using hate to get cash.
The saddest thing about Fred and his church to me, is how they feed into and benefit from hate. I know something about that particular emotion. I’ve spent weeks, days and months ruled by it. It used to be my master, and hit me with the right thing, and I hand over my leash to it in seconds. Do yourself a favor when it comes to deciding to what to post about Phelps:Don’t be me.
You want the best reason to not give into hate? Here’s the best one,especially if you’re over 30: it’s tiring. It’s third behind only depression and parenting for sucking the energy out of you? Think running a marathon is tiring?Try holding a grudge for a couple of decades. That takes real endurance, my friends.
Here’s what you should do, if you’re really upset about Phelps and his ilk. Go help something they hate. Find an AIDS hospice and volunteer. Protest for reproductive rights. Go find a trans friendly business and go give them some cash. This is how you win against hate, people. You go love something instead.
In ending, I also learned that Phelps has been excommunicated from the church he founded. I like to think it’s because in his dying days, Phelps finally some compassion for those he had spewed so much vile garbage against. I have this lovely picture of Phelps sneaking into a gay bar in Leavenworth, the hate in his heart too much to bear anymore. I think of him seeing men in love,even with other men,and wondering where all the love he’d once felt had gone. Maybe that’s what is killing him,here at the end.
I wonder what will become of Westboro without Fred. Most cults and con cams die on the vine without a strong leader. But judging from some of the nonsense being spewed by homophobes in office everywhere, I think they’ll still be here. But time is not on their side. They are the last bellow of a hateful world, one that fools like me think is on its way out.