OH, THOSE WESTBORO BAPTISTS…up to their old shenanigans again.
As the tornado-ravaged communities of Oklahoma stare into the incomprehensibly intimidating task of rebuilding their lives while mourning the losses of those who perished, the attention-craving halfwits at Kansas’ Westboro Baptist Church have again littered the Internet with their schoolyard taunts, gloating about how wonderful it was for God to orchestrate such a magnificent tragedy.
With the unpredictability of the sun rising and setting, the WBC then threatened to picket the funerals of victims, beginning with the services for nine-year-old tornado victim Nicolas McCabe, all but daring the community to try and quash their noisy little First Amendment fiesta.
By now, most are familiar with this incendiary group of Bible-thumpers (as opposed to “Bible-understanders”), who picket the funerals of pretty much any high profile victim whose services are likely to receive media coverage. Like the little boy peeing his pants just to get some attention, the WBC relish dropping themselves into otherwise somber, dignified situations and spewing outrageous rhetoric that suggests that God not only hates certain people, but that God reserves a particularly venomous hatred for people like the little children killed in the Sandy Hook shootings, the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack, United States military personnel killed in action, homosexuals and the ringleader of them all, that depraved enemy of God and Mankind, Roger Ebert.
While observers can be forgiven for writing off the WBC as a gaggle of headline-seeking simpletons, one can only imagine the intellectual challenges inherent in joining the WBC and having to learn which Biblical passages to ignore and which ones to misinterpret.
Although the church often makes good on its threats to picket, their recent promise to defile Nicolas’ funeral ended in a deafening no-show, although some online accounts alleged that the group were arrested before they could begin the picketing. Certainly their absence might also have something to do with the presence of another lively group who, unlike the WBC, actually did make it to the funeral.
Perhaps it was just a busy week for the Westboro people. On May 2, 2013, longtime Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman passed away from liver failure at age 49, capping off an agonizing two year medical battle that began when Jeff contracted a flesh-eating bacteria (necrotizing fasciitis), after being bitten by a spider. Last week, Slayer announced that they would hold a memorial service for Hanneman on May 23 at the Hollywood Palladium.
Shortly after news of the memorial hit the wire, Westboro took to social media to announce that they would be protesting Hanneman’s service, suggesting “Jeff made a mock of sin through Slayer’s music. No wonder God struck him down early in life.”
Slayer issued a statement asking fans to take the high road and simply ignore the WBC and instead proceed into the venue to celebrate Hanneman’s life. However, the WBC’s threats to picket the service proved as empty as their collective capacity for logic. While heavy metal fans were lined up on Sunset Boulevard waiting for the WBC with signs of their own, the church never showed.
By the estimate of one of its members, the WBC spends nearly a quarter million dollars annually to fly around the US and picket innocent victims (I wonder if they use these flights to practice their picketing strategies by hectoring the First Class cabin; “GOD HATES FREQUENT FLIERS!”). The odds are therefore good that the WBC will find a funeral to mock at some point in the near future. Should you happen upon one such event, here are three songs that you might consider playing in front of them at an ear-splitting volume.
Recalling the ancient proverb,”The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” the WBC have unified the country in ways that no political party, sports team or religion ever could. They have been condemned by traditionally conservative churches, liberal advocacy groups, politicians and communities as a whole. People who would normally cross the street to avoid each other rally together in their condemnation of this group’s spiteful practices and in doing so, they imply that beyond our differences, we all aspire to something greater. That’s powerful stuff.
And hell, where else, other than the movies, can you see a motorcycle gang and a small town joined in such a solemn display of community?
This syrupy, country-tinged track takes on that sector of society who are so quick to condemn homosexuals both as individuals and as a larger group. Deftly sidestepping heavy-handed condemnations of such close-minded judgments, vocalist Evan Dando instead invites empathy, taking the perspective of the man or woman being persecuted, asking “Why don’t you look after yourself and not down on me?” Plus, with a no-holds-barred fellatio reference, you’re sure to get a rise out of the sign-toting boneheads.
Because after all, aren’t clowns ultimately a cartoonish group of people swathed in bright colors who purposefully enter large gatherings to invite laughter and derision on themselves?