WBC picketed my high school!

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    Nov 12, 2007 6:05 AM GMT
    I was just talking to my parents on the phone tonight, and apparently my high school in my home town of Acton, MA put on a production of "The Laramie Project", and was one of the first to put on the play -- it just opened. I'm really actually quite impressed, my little suburb of Massachusetts making the news for putting on this play that a lot of other schools won't.

    Both of my parents surprised me with their vigor for the play. "It was really incredible," my Dad said. "It was amazingly moving."

    "It could have been a Broadway production," said my Mom, "You'd never have believed the performers were high school students."

    And apparently Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church went to Acton, MA and picketed outside my old Catholic church (my mother said, "They had a bunch of signs about how our pastor was a whore, or something. Strange bunch of people.") And they picketed my old high school for putting on the play.

    I was stunned when my parents told me. Fred Phelps and his infamous gang in my tiny little suburban hometown! My mother said, "I think it's so sad that there are people like them who have such hateful beliefs."

    "Are you kidding?" I said, "That's so exciting! The WBC in Acton? I wish I'd been there!! I would have gotten photos with them!"

    My parents didn't really know who they were so I explained -- they picketed Shepard's funeral in the first place, just lost this significant court battle, etc.

    I just couldn't believe it. The director of the high school theater group now is a woman who was the mother of one of the kids in my high school class, perhaps the only kid I knew in a class of 300+ kids who was openly gay (and was mercilessly picked on for it, which I feel awful about now -- wish I'd done something to stop it) and apparently she's really taking the school in a rather progressive direction.

    Still! Fred Phelps! In my little hometown!

    I was tickled pink.
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    Nov 12, 2007 6:22 AM GMT
    Oh! And, to my utter delight, when the WBC start picketing, students of my high school responded by standing facing them and singing the Beatles' "All You Need is Love."

    My Mom said, of the WBC, "How sad that there are people who persevere in such hate." I said, no, on the contrary, while it's sad for them, because they must be in deep pain, at the same time I think they do a service for humanity -- they're so insane that they don't sway anyone towards their beliefs, but serve as this polarizing force that brings out the best in the communities they travel to, letting people oppose them by practicing love and tolerance.

    Well, except the occasional person who gets so mad they act against the picketers in violence, which is too bad. But otherwise, I really think the WBC does, globally, more harm than good.

    (Which is not to say I wouldn't sue them if I were the parent of a dead soldier, nor that I'm sad to see them on their financial last legs as a result of said suit.)
  • HndsmKansan

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    Nov 12, 2007 3:52 PM GMT
    Hey, sorry you had Phelps in your town. We view him as a disgrace here in Kansas. Please don't hold it against out state...
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    Nov 12, 2007 7:18 PM GMT
    i'm so over fred phelps and wbc. i see them so much...they've become like the inlaws i can't stand to see around.
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    Nov 12, 2007 7:57 PM GMT
    An Aside:

    I only discovered the other day (while researching "The History Boys") that there are discussions on IMDB.com about the movies.

    Here is the link to The Laramie Project movie. Scroll down, the Message Boards are toward the bottom. It has a spirited discussion on "what do you think about homosexuality?"
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    Nov 12, 2007 8:18 PM GMT
    I saw them once here in Montana. Actually witnessing that much naked hatred combined with willful ignorance is a terrifying experience.

    He and his supporters had come to Helena to protest at the funeral of Sen. Max Baucus' nephew, who was killed in Iraq. My mother had come from Houston to visit me, and I took her to Helena to see the Capitol and the Cathedral, both of which are quite beautiful. We didn't know there was a funeral going on, so we couldn't go inside. We waited on the steps, therefore could see and hear Rev. Phelps' disgusting display.

    It is one thing to read about homophobia to that degree. It is something else entirely to see it. These people were red-faced, spitting, screaming with hostility. Why does someone get so worked up over us? I came away thinking that Fred Phelps has got to be the biggest closet case alive today, and his self-loathing is the only explanation for his actions...
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    Nov 12, 2007 8:32 PM GMT
    jarhead5536Why does someone get so worked up over us?

    In most cases it's because they fear they are one of us. Larry Craig, Ted Haggart, etc. You can be sure that Phelps had homoerotic wet dreams during puberty.
  • EricLA

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    Nov 13, 2007 12:31 AM GMT
    I've been impressed with some community's reactions to Phelps and the WBC's visits. To turn a negative into a positive, I've heard they create fundraisers where people bet how long the WBC will picket. The winner gets a token prize and the proceeds go to charity.

    Whatever you do, don't engage the WBC. They love building verbal confrontations into physical confrontations. Many of the family (the WBC is made up of a lot of Phelps family members) are lawyers, so if they're touched they bring assault charges against the perpetrator and sue them. That's apparently a way they finance their protests.
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    Nov 20, 2007 8:39 PM GMT
    atxclimber: My cousin went to Acton-Boxborough (assuming you mean the public school there). He started their gay-straight alliance back in the early '90s.

    Some of the best public schools anywhere are in that region. Seems like Acton-Boxborough, Lincoln-Sudbury, and Concord-Carlisle (mine) are always battling it out for bragging rights as "top school". Of course, the ridiculous property tax rates help too.

    Anyway, small world.
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    Nov 27, 2007 6:32 PM GMT
    Fred Phelps is good for the gays and here is why:

    Judy Shepard said everytime Fred Phelps protest, gay rights and liberal groups protest against him and raise money for LGBT causes. So, essentially Fred is creating great awareness about homophobia, hate and bringing in thousands of dollars for good causes like LGBT homeless youth, suicide preventions, AIDS, etc.

    God Bless Democracy!
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    Nov 27, 2007 6:33 PM GMT
    and even channels like Fox News which are virulently anti-gay have teamed up against this wackjob because they are pissed he is saying thank God for every horrible event and that he is protesting military funerals.