Fred Phelps, Welcome To The Mainstream

The "Jerry Springer" face of religious fanaticism, the Fred Phelps "God Hates Fags" clan, was finally sued for protesting a soldier's funeral and a jury awarded the plaintiff $11 million for invasion of privacy and emotional distress. Good luck getting the cash, man. It's a shame the jury can't award the plaintiff poetic justice so he could bludgeon the defendants to death with a ball pen hammer, like gay playwright Joe Orton's lover did to him.

They've been protesting funerals of gays and AIDS victims for years but have gotten far more publicity protesting soldiers' funerals. Louis Theroux's BBC documentary on them, The Most Hated Family In America, details the unyielding hostility and arrogance of this gaggle of screaming white trash, and after watching only a few minutes you could spontaneously combust with rage. Have a fire extinguisher handy.

No doubt about it, the Phelpses are nasty customers, the last stage of fanaticism before suicide bombing. Their poor children follow in their footsteps like trained seals, and if you think kids are best served in a heterosexual, religious home, watch these characters in action. Shirley Phelps-Roper, Fred's daughter, appears almost deformed by hatred and resentment, with witchlike "Bride of Frankenstein" hair and the raging expression of a vulture about to pounce on a dead cow. She would benefit from an Oprah makeover, but wouldn't go anywhere near the stylist. The documentary includes a clip of Sean Hannity calling Shirley "A sick, soulless, twisted human being," and a "religious nut." Too little too late, Sean.

Congress, incensed at the family's outrageous disrespect for troops, even passed a law to keep them a safe distance from funerals, the "Respect For America's Fallen Heroes Act." But Congress didn't say one word when they were protesting only funerals of gays. Aside from a bit of perfunctory TV coverage, the only Americans likely to be familiar with them were gays themselves and anyone who watched The Laramie Project.

Conservatives have been quick to harrumph their condemnation of these monsters, smug in their jaded expertise and moral superiority, as if to say, "we're the good conservatives, and these are the bad ones." But the Phelpses, except for their tacky language, oddball tactics and Wal-Mart wardrobe, are no different from any other antigay media whore. Everything the Phelpses say was said, in more highfalutin language, by mainstream right wing speakers at the Values Voters Conference, And how is holding a sign using the word "fags" any different from Ann Coulter or any other insult comic saying it?

How is Matt Barber of Concerned Women For America decrying "homosexual acts, such as male-on-male anal penetration which exposes gay men to extremely high risk of deadly and infectious disease" any different from Shirley's screaming of "Fags take it up the tail bone?" Barber, so obsessed with gays you would think he secretly wears a bejeweled teddy, has his 1000th column about the "sin of homosexuality" currently on, but Hannity never describes him, or any of the other antigay crusaders he regularly hosts, a "religious nut."

Radio's Michael Savage, in a gay bashing class by himself, has repeatedly said many of the same things as the Phelps's, such as that gay couples' raising children amounts to "child abuse" and "makes me want to puke." Maniacal "Christian" columnist Kevin McCullough never misses a gay bashing opportunity, and called Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace a "real man" whose comments that homosexuality is immoral "riled the feathers of girly men and manly women." That sounds a lot like "fags" and "dykes" to me.

The Phelps's routinely cite the same Biblical justification for their views as McCullough and his ilk. Without benefit of hair and makeup people, they're easy to hate, but are no different from the impeccably coifed and telegenic antigay oppressors who actually have power. The media sanctimoniously brings them on shows like "20/20" where John Stossel interviews them and
gives the Ann Coulter treatment, expressing mock horror while simultaneously helping to spread their message, But the next time they protest a gay's funeral, don't expect much coverage.

Father Jean-Baptiste Edart, a respected Biblical scholar with the John Paul II Institute in Rome, recently stated that there is no doubt whatsoever that God condemns homosexual acts. He might as well be standing in Vatican City holding up a sign saying "Il Dio Odia I Fags."