Hate must end with Fred Phelps’ death

Montana Samuels

By Montana Samuels | gargoyle@flagler.edu

After Fred Phelps, the founder of Westboro Baptist Church, died on March 19, the immediate temptation was to respond to the death of a man who represented so much hate with hostility.

Phelps and his cohorts at Westboro Baptist were responsible for spreading hate around the United States in the form of protest. Their protests included the funerals of United States armed forces members and hate crime victim Matthew Shepard. They even threatened to picket the Sandy Hook Elementary School funerals.

The Westboro Baptist Church compound is about 10 minutes from my home in Lawrence, Kan. The group has picketed the graduations of both high schools in my town, as well as numerous other events in the area. With the group being such a presence where I’m from, Phelps’ death has even bigger meaning.

Throughout the country, the question has become whether Phelps’ funeral should be protested in return for all the funerals he protested. There are two ways this situation could be handled, but one will have a much bigger impact than the other.

The easy choice would be to protest the funeral. Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church are the epitome of a hate group and they don’t deserve any better. Even though they deserve nothing less than a protest, an incident-free funeral would send a much bigger message.

Phelps and his family based all of their protests on the mantra “God Hates Fags”, which is nothing more than a cry for attention. With this being said, the lack of a protest would bring no attention to his funeral, which is the opposite of what Phelps and his family would have wanted.

As a person who perpetuated so much hate, none of Phelps’ hostility should be carried on after his death. If people protested their ringleader’s funeral, the Phelps family would view it as a final honor of sorts, an homage to Phelps’ own tactics. Although most will understand that the protest is not intended as an honor, the Phelps family and their minions at Westboro Baptist are not in this school.

Let us all remember that the reason we hated Phelps was because of how generally terrible of a person he was. No burial deserves to be disgraced by protestors shouting hate at the family of the deceased. Keep in mind that being a good human being is more important than making a terrible day for the Westboro Baptist Church members even worse.

I plead with all those thinking about carrying out a protest to reconsider. I understand that many have been offended and affected by this poor excuse of a man, but it will mean far more if no one hears about this funeral. It will prove that Phelps and everything he stood for was wasted effort on the part of the Westboro Baptist Church and will hopefully lead to the end of the “God Hates Fags” era.

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