God Hates Picket Signs

In the U.S. of A., picketing funerals is a Constitutional right, according to the Supreme Court. Given that, I just want to make the highly unoriginal point that just being legal is not enough to make something okay.

Youth holding pickets about God sending you to hell.

Image via Bodhipaksa blog.

The irony here is that Westboro Baptist and other picketing fundamentalists (if any even exist outside of crazy Westboro Baptists) would agree with me. They would argue that legalizing same-sex marriage or abortion doesn’t make it right or acceptable in the eyes of God. In fact, they’d argue, it’s so repugnant to God that we’re actually doing the right thing by picketing these funerals, raising people’s awareness of His coming wrath.

And yet, somehow they don’t get the fundamental rule of social courtesy: that you don’t treat somebody in a way you wouldn’t want yourself treated. That there are certain social boundaries that need to be respected, and one could make the argument that customs around saying farewell to a loved one are some of the most important. The message about how much God hates fags/abortion/you can come later.

Or should we assume that these people genuinely believe that bombarding the bereaved with brightly coloured messages of God’s hatred and rejection is worthwhile free speech? Perhaps we should ratchet up the ante as soon as one of their parishioners kicks the bucket. Sure, two wrongs don’t make a right, but it’s still awfully tempting. I wonder if they’d be as enthusiastic about funeral pickets if their own farewells were interrupted by signs that say “You’re going to Hell” and “God hates HATE”.

Sadly, though, it probably wouldn’t change the minds of most Westboro Baptists. To them, it’s justifiable to picket sinners’ funerals (that’s us all) and try to bring us a message of repentance. That’s loving. But I’m sure they’d think it repugnant to picket at the funerals of decent people – their own people – who are God’s beloved children. Is this the thanks they get for trying to warn the nation of its descent into gay-loving, baby-killing, God-offending unrighteousness?

You just can’t reason with some people. You can’t get them to empathize. And sadly, many of those people are religious (though not all religious people are unreasonable). Why examine your own opinions if you firmly believe God is on your side? And why would you respect somebody if you believe God hates them?

The saddest part of all this is that the Westboro Baptists’ logic, though twisted, is impenetrable. It rests on the basis of the Supreme Being’s hate for certain people and life choices. The only way to assail it is to knock that assumption off its pedestal. And unless you can get God to come down from on high and make a pronouncement, good luck with that.

In the wake of this decision, some states are looking into the possibility of passing restrictions so protesting picketers have to stay a set distance away from a funeral party. Better than nothing, I guess. But I can’t help thinking that passing restrictions on the proper times and places to speak freely is not the same as preventing freedom of speech. The dead could have their dignity, the mourners could have their goodbyes, and the protesters could have their neon yellow signs somewhere else. Everybody wins.

Which probably wouldn’t be good enough for Westboro Baptist. For them, a win-win situation is bad: sinners shouldn’t win.

Thanks, Constitution, for protecting freedom of speech for Westboro Baptist. But now who’s going to speak up for the dead, and for the people who love them?

Corduroy skirts are a sin!

Image via The Frisky.

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Posted on March 5, 2011, in Fun with Fundamentalism, Other People's Business and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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