Fred Phelps died. He was old so I’m not shocked by his death at all. Upon hearing that he had died my first thought was “Oh, we’re going to get so many memes out of this.” That’s probably a little fucked up, but I can’t decide if it’s me or if it’s the internet that should take the heat for that. To my credit, my next thought was that I sincerely hope the LGBT community pickets his funeral with really loving, caring signs like “Sorry for your loss” and “Hugs” and “We love you.” I’m not sure when the service is going to be, but maybe there’s still time to put that plan into action. It would be better karma than pissing on his grave, which is what we all actually want to do.
People like Phelps and his followers intrigue me because I do not understand them. At all. Not even a little bit. Their worldview is anathema to everything I believe in. Looking at the way they live their lives and how they think is how I imagine scientists will feel when they finally find a non-carbon-based life form: “What the fuck is this? How does it even work? Why does it exist?” The difference being that those scientists will poke and prod and make it their life’s work to figure it out, while I choose to dismiss the Phelps family as whackadoo extremists and ignore their antics completely because they’re irrelevant.
But they don’t know that they’re irrelevant. Isn’t that interesting? They honestly think they’re changing the world. Or something. I guess. I’ve never understood their logic, really. How does picketing funerals and spreading hate with (poorly made and often grammatically incorrect) signs change the way the government legislates morality? How could it? It doesn’t. And the government shouldn’t be legislating morality anyway. It’s not the government’s job, past making sure that people don’t rape, rob, or murder each other. Contrarily, it is apparently the government’s job to bomb the shit out of countries where brown people live so we can take their oil and impose our culture upon them to create more consumers for products we don’t even make anymore. So, yeah, that whole funeral thing makes sense.
Here’s the thing about social conservativism: it is, by its nature and almost by definition, temporary. The world will move on with or without us. Cultural evolution is a slow process, and it’s getting slower because people are living longer and longer. Which is not to say that people shouldn’t stand on their values and stick to their principles. That’s our right and our responsibility as Americans, as humanists, as humans. But people have been talking about how the world is changing for the worse and they wish everything could stay like it was in the good old days since the dawn of time. The changing is never going to change. It is inevitable. Culture is fluid and always will be. To say that there’s just this one thing that culture should always be, or one way that people should always act, or one set of morals that will always apply is ridiculous and ignorant, in the truest sense of the word.
I don’t know too much about the history of Westboro Baptist, so I’m not sure why Phelps chose to take on homosexuality as his personal crusade. We have so many more pressing problems. Honestly, the type of sex that people are having should be the least of anyone’s concerns in a world full of war and disease and starvation and hate. If a gay couple in love has perfectly boring, routine sex, who cares? Why is that anyone’s business? There are straight couples who have kinky, freaky, weird sex that I can’t even fathom. Fifty Shades of Grey was one of the best-selling books of all time, and no one’s picketing about that piece of shit book turning every horny housewife in America into a Wanda von Dunajew wannabe. For fuck’s sake, there are furries out there, guys. Just sit back for a second and try to wrap your brain around furries.
More to my point, though, there are serial rapists, child molesters, wife beaters, and people being forced into the sex trade against their wills. I feel like these are more important issues when we’re talking about sexual morality. And sex shouldn’t really be the thing we focus on when we talk about morality in general. Sex is the least of our worries as a nation. But as long as we’re talking about it, why don’t we put more energy into advocating for safe sex and universal access to (both male and female) birth control? For responsible relationships? For healthy body image? For ethically-sourced pornography? If we’re going to make sex a morality issue, let’s at least be realistic. All those blabbering mouths on tv and talk radio saying that promoting birth control promotes premarital sex? Those people are morons, and they have the argument backwards. There has always been premarital sex. There will always be premarital sex. Sex existed before marriage existed. It will never go away. Get. Over. It. Furthermore, we have an astounding rate of extramarital sex in this country. So the whole waiting until marriage thing clearly isn’t working out that well anyway. And if we keep trying to stop marriage equality from happening, all gay people will continue to be forced to have nothing but premarital sex. I mean, if we’re just going by math, it seems like gay marriage would really help out the right wing’s numbers, don’t you think?
I guess I got a little off topic there. I might have said a lot of this stuff before and I’m almost certainly preaching to the choir here. I just don’t understand the hate and the vitriol that the WBC spreads. I don’t see the point of it. I’m not religious myself, but I feel like any god who deserves adoration wouldn’t hate anyone at all, or advocate this type of hate and anger over something that can’t be changed. And if Jesus saw the way that the WBC congregation treats their fellow man, I think he’d probably cry. Or slap them where they stand (he was buff, too – that shit would hurt). Their approach doesn’t make sense to me. It’s not like making people feel like shit is going to change their minds. Has that ever worked? Not really. It just galvanizes them to stand up for themselves and others like them. At least in my experience. And honestly, I can say that for Fred Phelps: he gave those of us who oppose his philosophy something to rally around, ideologically. Someone to point to and say “You are the problem.” Ah, well. On to the next nutjob. I’ll get my ranty pants ready.