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Fred Phelps. RIP ... well, maybe.

So that's it, he's gone. I'm a bit conflicted about this one. On one hand, he was the most hateful, vile, horrendous old bile-spewer in the world - on the other, he was a half-senile old fool with silly signs in bright colours. I'm not shedding any tears over him - he founded that dreadful cult and was therefore responsible for all the reprehensible things they did. I don't think anyone could possibly be sorry that the man who caused a group of disgraceful followers to picket the funerals of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary school tragedy is dead. I don't think anybody should be losing any sleep because the man who told his flock to protest the funerals of American soldiers is in the ground.

But I've also read some tweets from his granddaughters, Lauren and Megan. I remember Megan from the Louis Teroux documentary a few years ago, and back then the horrendous girl made my blood boil. But now, as we all knew so many of then would, she's left that awful cult and come to her senses. And she's sad because her grandfather is gone, and I think I can understand that. As much as I hate the adults who believe this crap and choose to preach Fred's hate to the world, I feel sorry for all the stupid little kids who stand by the roads holding "God Hates Fags" signs because their woeful excuses for parents tell them to. Megan, Lauren and lots of the other young adults who have since (or surely, will have soon) left the cult can't be held responsible for that. My issue with the adults has always been that they're adults - they have the ability to leave, to think for themselves, to have some comprehension and compassion in regard to what they're doing to others, and yet they're choosing not to. But when you're born into that, what can you do? When you're five years old, grandpa is just grandpa. You don't understand issues like homosexuality, religion or hate, you just love your grandfather. At ten years old, maybe you realise that people hate him, but of course you have no idea why. And really, at what age do you draw the line? When your family, your friends, your entire social circle is entrenched in this ideology, how do you even find a way out?

Megan posted that she wished the world knew how kind and loving her grandfather could be at times. I take issue with that - I don't think Fred had any semblance of kindness in him at all. But how can his granddaughter, who sat on his lap as a child and who adored him with every bit of her little-girl heart, be expected to see that? It must be an enormous struggle that she and the rest of the exiled family are facing now, learning to love after a lifetime of hate. I think we owe it to them, and to ourselves to forgive them. I know I do.

I often found Fred a bit hard to take seriously - he seemed such a doddering old fool, half-senile and full of bigoted nonsense. He was such a product of a bygone era, and was really nothing more than a figurehead in recent years. His deplorable daughter Shirley seemed to take on more of the hate-mongering than he did. Fred has been obsolete for a long time, and was apparently excommunicated last year.

I think the more important thing to realise though is that however much hate the Westboro Baptist Church spewed out into the world, IT NEVER BROKE US. Fred tried for years to make the whole world hate as much as he did, and it achieved the exact opposite effect - the LGBT community banded together to protect themselves from his vitriol. Christian communities used him as an example of what not to do, and embraced love when they otherwise might not have. Bikers, servicemen and women, families, friends and strangers joined together to stop them hurting those who were mourning loved ones. And through all the abuse, drama and hate, that's the one thing that stayed constant. The WBC never won. Never.

So now that he's gone, let's not embrace the hatred he tried so hard to preach to the world for decades. Let's be gracious in defeat. We were always going to win this one, so how about showing a little bit of the love Fred was so undeserving of, and offering a bit of love and support to the people struggling with loss. If a hateful old man like Fred Nile can't destroy the spirit of love in the world, nothing can.

I know a lot of people are hoping he's in hell. I don't believe in hell, and even if I did, I don't think I'd wish that for him. I hope wherever he is, he's in the midst of a long-overdue epiphany. I hope he's learning all the things he needed to know on earth. I hope he's learning to love, to forgive, and to repent - not for the sake of god, but for the sake of the people he left behind.

I'm not celebrating his death, because that would imply that he was ever a threat to us. We are stronger than he will ever will be, and love will always win out over hate. There was never any question about that, so why act as though we've lost a worthy opponent? Fred Phelps was never our equal. He never said or did anything that was going to change the world. He was a blight on a paragraph of history, but it's over now and we're still standing. He's not. So I'm going to offer my condolences to the brave, confused, heartbroken young women who have lost their beloved grandpa, because to me that's all he needs to be remembered as. His religious hatred can be forgotten. We can choose to never think of him again, god knows he deserves it. But he was family to some people, and I'll never stoop to the WBC level of taking that away from them.

Goodbye Fred. I won't miss you - but there are a few that will. I hope you realise how little you deserve it. I hope you find the love and understanding in death that you never knew in life.

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House Of Omniscience

Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.

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