Now why, you ask, may I be thanking God for a lot of hate mongers? For people inflicting harm to the parents of dead soldiers? For people who have spurned every belief system but their own, even the dogmas of other Christians, and other Baptists to boot? Why would I thank people who use other people’s suffering as a way to draw attention to themselves and their megalomaniac founder, a fame whore about one step removed from Mark David Chapman in his utter depravity? Why would I draw your attention to people who have distilled only the pure hatred of a distant Hebrew deity without any of the mitigating love that was supposed to emanate from his son? (I’m an atheist, but I’m just asking here.)
I’m not just pointing it out because it’s timely (the Supreme Court recently decided that these God-fearing Christians could harass the families of dead soldiers any damn time they please to show God’s condemnation of America for its tolerance of gays). I point this out because we hate a lot, America. We’re good at it. It’s in our blood. If we all weren’t such consummate haters, Sean Hannity would never have brought these lunatics on the air in the first place. We like watching the Westboro crazies on Fox News because we enjoy the spleen it allows us to vent. In fact, I would say, taking a leaf from George Orwell’s 1984, that our hatred has taken on a nightly, regimented format, replete with car commercials and steak with shallots. Hatred was built into the spiritually parsimonious Puritans that first landed on these fertile shores. It’s built into our discourse and our increasingly heated political rhetoric. When it is put into action, as it was in Arizona earlier this year, we are surprised and quick to blame anybody but ourselves. It wells up very easily in those who are inexpressive, who have no creative outlets, who have no way to show what they are feeling, except, say, with a lifestyle or a rigid political affiliation–a flag if you will–to say what they can’t work through logically.
It’s not that we don’t love. Humans love a lot. They love their children. They love Elmo. They love the Beatles. They love the hit show Glee. They love Mother Teresa (except for Christopher Hitchens). But what to do with the still abundant rage and violence that is stamped into our lowly monkey DNA?
I thank God for the Westboro Baptist Church because they remind us that there is perversity everywhere, not just in Kansas. These sociopaths show us all what we’re capable of if we live in insulated cults drowning out other people’s logic and reason (sound familiar, Fox News viewers?), and that’s why the First Amendment and Milton’s Aeropagitica before it encouraged a markeplace of ideas, true and false, side by side. We need to know exactly where the haters are and what they think. Because the fact is, there are a lot of people who mindlessly hate homosexuality, and these people won’t be swayed not even until they become consumed by their hatred and drop dead of myocardial infarction. We need to know who they are, because they aren’t merely people hiding in the shadows. They hold elected office and do violence on paper.
The Westboro sideshow wasn’t much of a concern to conservatives until the group started picketing military funerals. Do you see now, gay haters, what it means to be hated and hounded for no good reason? Do you realize that one of the darkest creatures of your id, Rick Santorum, is still running loose and considering a presidential bid, drawing political strength from that hatred. Do you not see how he and the Westboro crazies are not far removed from each other? Santorum may not get it all mixed up with the army somehow, but that’s a distinction with little difference.
Maybe you’ve seen the movie “The Aristocrats”? It’s a film about a tasteless joke that seems to have no reason for being other than to gross people out as its teller runs through a litany of a sick family’s sexual perversions. Why would somebody tell such a disgusting joke with no punchline that serves no purpose than making us sick? Because the sickness itself becomes funny after a while. And that’s what has happened with the media frenzy known as Westboro and Rev. Fred Phelps. I submit the joke that the Westboro Baptist Church has been playing on us: a perverted family act that has completely lost its sense of offensiveness and brought incest to a whole new level.
“… the Aristocrats!” yelled Rev. Fred Phelps, as America writhed in tears of laughter Friday realizing that the Westboro Baptist Church was only telling a joke the whole time.