Why I'd never picket a funeral - even one of somebody as loathsome as Fred Phelps

Now is the time to dissect the ideas of the Westboro Baptist Church

Jamie Tabberer
Monday 17 March 2014 17:05 GMT
Fred Phelps, preaching here at his Westboro Baptist Church in March 2006, is reportedly close to death, his son said
Fred Phelps, preaching here at his Westboro Baptist Church in March 2006, is reportedly close to death, his son said (AP)

As reports circulate that Fred Phelps, the hateful founder of the 'God Hates Fags' Westboro Baptist Church, is approaching death at the age of 84, so are calls for his funeral to be picketed. But there is no poetic justice about this idea - rather, it's just painfully predictable, and in depressingly poor taste.

The 'Picketing Fred Phelps' Funeral When That Bastard Dies' Facebook group has already generated 1,000 likes, and one can easily picture such a hysterical scene - as well as the likelihood of things getting out of control.

The temptation to react with anger to news of Phelps' ailing health is understandable; he and his Church have staged one of the most stingingly memorable anti-gay campaigns of the last two decades. Then again, they've also attempted to picket children's school plays and One Direction concerts, calling Harry and co 'crotch-grabbing little perverts'. Although dangerous and hurtful, their ideologies are preposterous. Now is the time to revisit them, dissect them - and dismiss  them. Indeed, we need to do something to counteract the wave of publicity around Phelps' death that will doubtless benefit his church, one of the more hateful organisations in modern society.

There's no denying Phelps is an evil man and the world is better off without him. But I take no pleasure in his being close to death - if anything, I'm sad he lived for 84 years with such a bleak outlook. I'd hope, on his deathbed, that he wonders if he was wrong about a few things. If his more aggressive detractors were to picket his funeral, they would simply be lowering themselves to his level, and making their argument contradictory and redundant. For there is no justification for celebrating someone's death - no matter how much you may disagree with them.

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