Phelps, Corpses, and Dollar $Democracy
an essay by James Nimmo
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The Irreverent Fred Phelps has been protesting for years at services for people dead from HIV-AIDS, presumed gay by Phelps, and at public meetings of governing bodies of municipalities, schools, libraries, or wherever Rev. Phelps thinks people are getting soft on gay equality and could use a stiffening dose of fire-and-brimstone street preaching.
Could it be that Fred Phelps and Company are actually doing something constructive by protesting and picketing with their vile and vitriolic calumny at the funerals of gay and military Americans? Can this Janus-faced* country actually learn something from the Phelps charade of civic concern?
The public only became familiar with Phelps when he desecrated the straight majority funerals, especially irritating to those who lost loved ones in the invented war created by the Bu$h Junta to install Dollar Democracy on the rest of the world. So we have a double edged sword--fundies wanting to extend their fanatical beliefs to the rest of us, AND ordinary people being assaulted with corpses created by the Bu$h Junta and trying to honor the senseless deaths of their friends and relatives.
The demented demagoguery of the Irreverent Fred Phelps, as he and his tribe demonstrate at funerals, has hit a very sore spot indeed with our human feelings concerning the mystery of death and its remains.
Our species has had an elemental awe for corpses from pre-history. The documentation could begin with the magical cave-paintings of Lascaux; continuing through the Greek legend of Achilles dragging the body of Hector around the walls of Troy; the Egyptian Pharonic-style of mummification brings endless fascination; on through the photographed dragging of dead American soldiers though a town in Somalia; and the dragging of James Byrd down a country road in Texas.
We gay people have our own image of a corpse: the silhouette in our minds of the murdered Matthew Shepard tied to a split-rail fence. Are these images an offering to a god that our human minds have created in order to distract our thoughts from the real price of things, much like muzak does when you're shopping?
Yes, Phelps can do his odious public act of wiping his nose with the Bill of Rights. He could yell fire in a crowded theater also-- legal maybe, but morally indefensible and not suitable to his orgasm-like need to display his anti-social behavior.
Phelps uses the First Amendment as Defense
Ah, the First Amendment of the American Constitution---five invaluable freedoms: religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition for redress of grievances. Surveys and on-the-street interviews have shown there is a minority of citizens who can name all five freedoms and without confusing them with the other Amendments.
For sure, Fred Phelps and his God Hates Fags family can name these fabulous five as they are using them to make their living. Can one call it a living when it consists of picketing at military funerals in the USA, claiming that these deaths are happening because the Phelps god is displeased that the USA "tolerates" homosexuality?
Rev. Phelps readily boasts of the legal settlements he receives for winning civil rights infringement cases his home-grown legal team is able to achieve. The clan thrives on controversy and profits from misery, possibly projecting outward their own warped thinking.
Hate Crimes Bills for the Straights
The U.S. House of Representatives passed in 2006 a bill restricting demonstrations at military funerals--no mention is made of other kinds of funerals, according to the New York Times.
The Kentucky chapter of the ACLU has filed suit to protest the passage of a state law, similar to the other states that have piled on, restricting demonstrations and protests within 300 feet of memorial services, wakes, and funerals.
Oklahoma, where I live, not wanting to be left behind, has it's own version of this bill introduced by another irreverent, Paul Wesselhoft, legislator from Moore, OK--a vehement opponent of gay equality and a retired Army chaplain.
As a long-time member of the ACLU and a plaintiff in an ACLU of Oklahoma lawsuit protesting an opposite-gender-only marriage amendment, I well know that the only true client of the ACLU is the Bill of Rights.
Xian Double Standard**
The invented advent of Gulf War II by the Bu$h Junta brought to Rev. Phelps an additional venue for his anti-gay religious outreach: military funerals. As with any capitalist growth industry, one needs new markets to exploit. Not content with the limited outlet of gay funerals, and lacking the spectacular murders of the kind such as happened to Matthew Shepard, Rev Phelps has been using the bereavement of military families as a platform for his new business plans.
Another example of the amoral indifference of straight Xian charity was shown in the aftermath of the Matthew Shepard murder. Many states had legislators concerned enough to introduce some version of a hate crimes bill that included coverage for gays/lesbians, or to amend existing laws to include gays/lesbians.
There was also a parallel Federal bill but the proudly self-righteous homo-foes insisted that any murder was the equivalent of any other murder, just like any robbery is the same as purse snatching! But most of these bills ended up just as dead as Shepard, killed by a paucity of urgency rather than the violence of a pistol whipping, but dead nonetheless.
So here we have the double standard of the fabulous Xian-right: enthusiastic to a fault when their sensibilities are besmirched but completely drained of Xian charity when gay families are subjected to the ignorant indignities of the Phelps crew. Don't forget that the prime motivation for these state bills limiting protest only came about when Phelps turned towards the straight majority.
Is it possible that our society, being fed a chimera of lies from the Bu$h Junta as to why America's military is needlessly dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, is anxious to bury its mistakes, human and political as quickly as possible, with as little fanfare as is decent, such as the photographic blackout of returning military coffins at Dover Air Force Base?
I would never engage in this kind of dereliction of morality even at Phelps's own eventual funeral, yet as a gay man, I'm immediately suspect and held to a higher standard of morality, similar to being guilty until proven innocent. Our gay and lesbian lives represented by our participation in the working life of our society are not as valued as dead soldiers killed in an invented war created to support oil prices and Dollar Democracy.
We gays and lesbians of America will only gain what is our birthright when we refuse to step back, refuse to go to the back door, refuse to accept only crumbs from the big table. If this sounds like the civil rights talk of the 1960's, you're right. Only when we throw a social wrench in the business and political gears of our country will we be recognized for our valuable contributions to the fabric of humanity.
*Janus is the Roman god of gates and doors (ianua), beginnings and endings, and hence represented with a double-faced head, each looking in opposite directions.... Janus also represents the transition between primitive life and civilization, between the countryside and the city, peace and war, ....[ http://www.pantheon.org/articles/j/janus.html]
**I use this spelling of "christian" to emphasize the intensity of the jesus-cult's obsession with torture and blood by means of a cross.