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Fred Phelps' Gay Hating Protest Awards Marine's Family 10.9 Million

Updated on November 1, 2007

Can You Really Put A Price Tag On Hate Or Its Ultimate Cost? - Don't Get Me Started!

Fred Phelps (a supposed religious leader of a fundamentalist church) with around seventy members (most of the members are reported to be a member of his family) saw his church slammed with a 10.9 million dollar judgment against them for protesting at a Marine's funeral. Mr. Phelps and his congregants spend a lot of their time going to funerals to picket with signs that have such snappy tag lines as "God Hates Fags." They are especially present at military funerals as of late due to the fact that supposedly soldiers' deaths are all related back to the fact that America is tolerant of us gays. (We'll deal with the "tolerance" thing in a future blog) Well finally a family (of a non-gay Marine) brought Phelps and his merry band into court for disrupting his son's funeral and causing emotional distress. And for now, they've won. But forget about the fact that this was a Marine or that he was or wasn't gay for a minute if you will and what I'm really wrestling with is whether or not you can really put a price tag on hate or its ultimate cost? - Don't Get Me Started!

Sure, as a gay man (but more importantly as a human) I feel that Phelps got what he deserved. In my life I've been to a lot of funerals (and get your minds out of the AIDS gutter for a moment) most of the funerals I've been to have been extended family members, losing all four grandparents, etc. These times are difficult enough for you emotionally that there is no way I can even begin to imagine having to walk a gauntlet of people screaming hateful things as they wave their signs high in the air taunting you. And I'm glad that someone stood up to these bullies but when the judgment was handed down one of Phelps daughters was quoted as saying, "It's going nowhere" she said of the jury's decision "This is a nothing. God is not going to stop killing your soldiers. He's not going to stop pouring his wrath out on this nation. America is doomed." So I have to wonder whether or not this will make a difference to Phelps and his church.

The judgment is supposedly three times more than the assets of the church or what Phelps has personally so it will definitely cripple his efforts. But what boggles my mind is how someone, anyone can spew such hate and at the same time talk about God? I'm not the most religious person in the world or the smartest but it's hard to connect the hate thing with some omnipresent spiritual being, to me anyway. I mean, does God really have that much time on his hands to spend it hating us gays? We all know that his (according to Christians) son Jesus spends most of his time in prison and rehab waiting to enter the hearts of celebrities and rappers so who knows, maybe this is what God does with his days. But I seriously doubt it.

Sure, I want to see Phelps and his church punished for all that they've done. I don't think anyone has the right to inflict such emotional harm on anyone. But I also think that more than anything, Phelps is a media whore. He's been to every major funeral as if they're the different cotillions in the south for a girls' coming out rite of passage (coming out, hmmm, isn't that ironic?). The first time I think I heard about him was the Matthew Shepard funeral but he was also causing a riot at Coretta Scott King's funeral as well due to her support of gay rights. I just have to wonder if his passion about all of this isn't more about his passion to see himself in the newspaper and on the news. And maybe this judgment is giving the repulsive reverend exactly what he wants.

What I want is to not hate him back because he hates me for who I am and I've never even met the man. What I want is for all of us to be able to understand how lucky we are to be Americans and say whatever it is we want to say without fear of being beaten or silenced. What I want is to stay centered but if I'm really honest all I want to do is hate him right back and stop him from perpetuating his hate by not only convincing simple minded adults to go along with him but also committing a much more heinous crime by inducting children into his crusade. And yet there's a part of me that would much prefer the Phelpses of the world as opposed to the co-workers and supposed acquaintances that snicker behind your back or tell "gayer than gay" jokes without understanding how those can be even more hateful. I don't want them behind their masks or hoods. I want to see their eyes so that I know who I'm dealing with. I've always felt there's something about knowing the players that allows you to better understand the game and how to ultimately win it.

I hope the judgment against Phelps and his church stands and I hope it does stop him (or anyone else) from showing up at any more funerals. But more than anything, I really wonder what the ultimate price is that will be paid by all of us regarding this judgment and I hope its effects are positive. You see the jury and judge sent a powerful message but they can't change Phelps or his followers from their beliefs only their actions. And maybe in that last sentence I've finally figured out what victory was truly won in this courtroom. In America you're allowed to believe whatever you want but when it comes to your actions you need to be held accountable. And aren't our actions (or deeds as it were) how a man is ultimately measured? (If so, Phelps is about a quarter cup of a human being, add hate and stir until it boils) Everyone ultimately has to answer this question for themselves but I do wonder, can you really put a price tag on hate or its ultimate cost? - Don't Get Me Started!

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    • rgarnett profile image

      Rachael Fields 7 years ago from KC, MO

      Thanks so much for posting this article. I understand your sentiments on wrestling with hating him back. I am aware that this was written a really long time ago - but I am glad to have stumbled upon your hubs. I am a believer that using kids to further your agenda is the worst thing someone could do - so besides being a woman who loves a woman and a strong supporter of all things gay, I just think that part of his little church is the worst of everything else he has done.

    • profile image

      a friend 9 years ago

      Great article. I do think it is important to hit them in their pocket book. They go to funerals to incite violence so they can sue people. That's how this small hateful church makes its money. They are lawyers who fill the coursts with frivolous lawsuits. 10 million dollars per funeral...

    • stanskill profile image

      stanskill 9 years ago from Greensburg, PA

      There is going to come a day when people like Phelps will be pitted with the likes of the KKK. Look at the start of Gay rights marches. There were just as many, if not more protesters of the cause than marchers for it. Now, they are like a tiny side show at a circus. If my proposal catches on, what signs could Phelps and those like him hold. It truly doesn't have to be an issue. We can take charge.

    • somelikeitscott profile image

      somelikeitscott 10 years ago from Las Vegas

      Eli and Earth Angel, thanks so much for the comments. Eli, no way Phelps is getting into my corner of hell. I'm a believer that we all create our own hell right here on earth for ourselves but I always kid with my pals that I intend to get to hell first and decorate in my colors so that they have to deal with my taste for all of eternity!! (Phelps is obviously not one of my pals). And Earth Angel, I'm with you on the karma and thanks for the love and support. Always appreciated. Go out there everyone and have a hate-free day!!

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 10 years ago

      Great Hub Scott!

      Phelps, his followers and other close-minded individuals infuriate me! That you can keep your cool, examine all sides and still keep a bit of compassion and all of your humanity is admirable! It also saddens me, and continues to surprise me each and every time, that this kind of unfounded hatred continues! You are right to question the cost; one drop of a certain poison can pollute a hundred gallons of pure water!

      You're right, it's not just gay rights, it's human rights!

      In communication skills it is estimated that only 7% is actually verbal and 93% is action! This is why Phelps and his "tiny band of the mislead" act out instead of just speaking out! Our actions (and words) need to consistanty reflect what you say above in your well written Hub!

      Spiritually, I prefer the beliefs of "cause and affect" and "karma" over the vision of an angry bearded father figure in the sky! It allows me to let go of the anger, focus on the positive, and let karma take its course! In the long run, what you are doing for the good will far outweigh anything bad Phelps can do!

      Unfortunately, loosing this lawsuit will do little to stop them! Long before it got this far, all assets would have been transferred into other parishioners hands! When the Marine's family goes to collect, they will find the coffers completely empty!

      Again, the single greatest crisis facing us today is the lack of independent thinking! Thank you Scott for your independent thinking, unique insights and openness! You make the world a much better place!!

      Blessings, Earth Angel!

      P.S. Divine Presence sends you love!

    • profile image

      Eli Reusch 10 years ago

      Great article. Phelps and his in-bred brood of halfwits will hopefully be stopped by this decision. I'm an atheist, which in this case bothers me because I don't believe in eternal damnation and hellfire. Knowing Phelps would be going there might be a small measure of comfort in the face of his ignorance and hatred.