So we all know about Westboro Baptist Church and their leader the Reverend Fred Phelps, and most of have probably read about how these hate-mongering reactionaries go around the country picketing the funerals of soldiers, murdered gays, high school proms and graduations where any tolerance of homosexuals is displayed.
Well now a group of motorcyclists known as the Patriot Guard Riders is traveling the country with the specific purpose of confronting Phelps and his cabal
, shielding soldier's families, and providing a loud, visible counterpoint to Westboro protesters. So the question you might ask is, "Would the Riders have shown up at...say...Matthew Shepard's funeral? And if not, why are you highlighting their cause on your blog?"
My answer to that would be: No, I don't believe that the Riders would do the same for a murdered homosexual. But as a motorcyclist myself (bet you didn't know frog's could ride, did you?), I know what kind of commitment is involved in riding 400 miles in wintertime just to confront a bunch of wackos. In addition, though I don't agree with the war, protesting at a dead soldier's funeral is just plain disrespectful. And finally, I applaud anybody who stands up to the pernicious, corrosive rhetoric of a group of loathsome charlatans like Fred Phelps and his followers.
Phelps, et al came around our area a while ago to "protest" the gay weddings taking place... Our townsfolk were remarkably restrained--believe me, the urge to jump the line and tune up some of those mouth-breathers is powerful, but it's exactly what they want. More Attention.
What to do...
One MUST stand up against thuggery, but one must NOT make it worse. I guess.
Interesting. It is quite a dilemma, these two sides of covering Phelps. I notice robot buddha is from upstate New York. I spent last summer in Plattsburgh, NY, working as an editor at the newspaper. While there, Phelps' crew came during the town's summer celebration to protest its gay mayor. Phelps ducked out at the last minute, but he sent some of his, um, followers. One was a boy -- maybe all of 12 -- standing on the corner and holding a sign that says "PRIESTS RAPE BOYS."
We had quite a discussion at the small-town newspaper on how to cover this circus. Unfortunately, the option of not covering local residents standing across the street screaming at them as they are surrounded by cops does not really exist.
I suspect that Phelps has some dark skeletons in his closet. His focus on homosexuality is too intense to be Biblically derived.
Plattsburgh has a gay Mayor too?
Frogs ride motorcycles? They wear helmets, I hope. I think its great, what they do. I think a similar model should be done at clinics.
Frogs ride motorcycles? They wear helmets, I hope.
Indeed we do. In fact, we just climb inside.Here's a picture of Kvatch's motorcycle
Unfortunately, the option of not covering local residents standing across the street screaming at them as they are surrounded by cops does not really exist.
Nonplussed...welcome. The whole thing gives me hope, I think. Someone standing up to challenge these wackos.
Mr. Heston...wouldn't that be something, Patriot Guard Riders at clinics drowning out absolutely everything with the sound of their V-Twins.
"..a group of loathsome charlatans like Fred Phelps and his followers.."
I couldn't agree more, frog. I found their website and was convinced it was a parody for 15 minites until I realized I was horribly wrong.
I blogged this too, but, in my neck of the woods [Toledo] the 'big' story was the arrest of 3 'terrorists' who were planning big stuff [well according to the Bush folks]. Yes sir, Roberto Gonzales was giggling at the arrest which shows that hte warrantless wiretaps are working to keep us safe. Gag.
The point of issue with my story and these right-wing Christian nuts is that these sanctimonious Christians thank god for the IED's which blow up our soldiers, but the 3 Muslims download jihad stuff from the net and get busted big time.
And we wonder why they hate us.
I am fully suportive of the role of the Patriot Guard Riders and fully against what Phelps is doing. I wish I had a motorcycle to join you guys to prevent folks like Phelps from disrespecting the funeral of someone loved by others. This goes beyond whether a person is in favor of or against the Iraq war.
Ron the former BMW R69 owner
while i don't agree with the war, i do support anyone who has the courage and dedication to serve in the military. funerals are a time of mourning and deep emotional turmoil and healing. the grief of a family should be respected. these types of prostests are repulsive. if these people want to protest, then they should do what everyone else does and march in front of the white house, the ranch in crawford, or in front of capitol. this type of behavior at such a time is abusive, ignorant and just plain mean. i wish i could ride or somehow show my support for the riders. i think what they are doing is fantastic.
As a PGR, I value the support of those in agreement with what we stand for (see info @ www.patriotguard.com)
"There is a time and place for everything". Protesting ones personal views, no matter what they concern, at a funeral of fallen military personel, is neither the time nor place. There is a human trait called compassion.
I went to law school in Topeka, home of the Westboro Baptist Church; Jonathan Phelps (one of Fred's sons) was a classmate of mine, as was another of the group. To characterize Jon as a "mouthbreather" - impugning his intelligence - is to underestimate the strength of the enemy.
Jon is as bright and articulate as he is misguided.
Not only is the family the heart and soul of the Westboro group (in fact, the WBC has few members who are not family), but the Phelps family Fred, Jon, et al., are lawyers (though I believe Fred Sr. was disbarred back in the 1980's).
Yes, we should do our utmost to oppose hate groups like the WBC - without diminishing our own First Amendment rights to speech, assembly and religion. But one should also be wary of infringing those rights with the WBC, because they can and will strike back through the courts.
EVERY VISIBLE OPPOSITION TO PHELPS IS A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION!
This is such a sad commentary on our times. This country has always treasured our freedoms of speech and religion. When the two are mixed it can cause people to lose one or the other. The armed conflicts we are now involved in may or may not be correct, but we are there. We send our men and women to do an ugly job, and we must support them. To do otherwise would make a mockery of them. When one of our troops is lost, a little piece of all of us is lost. All we can do then is to show our love and support to their families, and try to help them overcome their grief. When someone tries to disrupt the funeral of one of these poor souls, it vividly shows the hatred in their own soul. How can they possibly expect us to believe that they are doing God's work when they cannot show love, sympathy or respect for the bereaved.All we can hope is that maybe these people will realize their Lord also died a terrible death for them. And for the soldier that they are dishonoring. Do they believe He would want this?
Thank you PGR for what you do. Let us remember that when we no longer respect our soldiers they may decide we don't deserve them.
To quote Red Skelton "Good night and God bless".
First i just wanna say thank you not just to the riders but for everyone who lives in this free country and yet can stand here and protest the very people that volunteer to serve it. The key word there is volunteer. I wanna say thank you for exercising your right that my fellow soldiers fight and how my brothers and family have given there lifes so you can protest the very reason they died. So thank you for putting a reason to there deaths. Finally i just want to thank each and everyone of you from the bottom of my heart. Thanks to all the prior service for serving your time. Sincerly SPC Brandon Williams US ARMY
well I'm the young marines and i support the PGR and my hero is pitbill her is a member of the PGR and someone out there needs to know that they care
okay....first things first. We, the PGR do not CONFRONT anyone....we actually turn our backs to them and ignore them. We go to funerals of fallen HEROES as invited guests.
We have NEVER asked if the hero is male,female,black,white,gay or straight. We do NOT care. Our job and sole resposibility is to make sure that the family of the hero as the most respectful,peaceful day they can as their loved one is laid to rest. Any one can join as long as they can stand with honor and respect for the fallen hero.
All due respect... But you're responding to a post that is almost 3 years old and that was written when the PGRs were just getting started.
Moreover--and I thought I was quite clear about this--my questions were hypothetical. The bulk of my post was about the commitment the PGRs display and the disrespect Westboro Baptist displays to just about everyone they confront.
I have nothing but admiration for PGR.