In a nation that can’t reach a consensus on pizza toppings, we do occasionally blunder into near-total agreement. Case in point: the Westboro Baptist Church. There are serial killers who inspire less unanimity of negative opinion. I even conducted a brief Web search to satisfy my own curiosity. The only people I can find who have anything positive to say about the apples that fell off Fred Phelps’ tree are the apples themselves and a few stray worms.
Tuesday afternoon, the Westboro-ites took to the Web to share their displeasure with Ireland’s recent vote granting legal recognition to same-sex marriage. While there is no shortage of people worldwide who opposed the Irish ballot measure, the Westboro folks were the only ones who voiced their anger by protesting against the wrong country. In their haste to let Ireland know they disapproved of its vote, Westboro put together a protest depicting the flag of the Ivory Coast, which at last check remains farther from the Emerald Isle than Westboro’s hometown of Topeka, Kansas.
Their geographical misadventures aside, the Westboro-ites always manage to accomplish two things:
- They force even people who agree with some of their professed principles to reexamine their positions, lest they be linked to Westboro.
- They unite people who would otherwise be at odds to unite in their enmity for Westboro.
And God love them for it. Don’t get me wrong; on my personal scale, I like Westboro almost as much as I like the stomach flu. But wouldn’t it be just smashing if all wingnuts, bent wheels and moody loners literally identified themselves with ill-worded, cringeworthy signs hand-lettered in Day-Glo colors? Moreover, wouldn’t the American experience be that much more fun if the bottom feeders, lunatics and sideshow rejects were as noisy as they are noisome? Unfortunately, some of the ugliest of our fellow free people somehow manage to escape the downward gaze in which Westboro spends most of their time.
On Wednesday, former Sen. Rick Santorum announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. While Santorum’s announcement elicited muted enthusiasm from the conservative and libertarian side of the spectrum, his hat-toss was greeted with cheers by unlikely cheerleaders. Leftist hate blogs breathlessly resurrected an attack aimed at Santorum. Back in 2003, a leading Democrat “intellectual” named Dan Savage conducted what’s known as a Google bomb, the purpose of which was to link Santorum to a particularly loathsome definition. What should have been dismissed as bigoted bile was instead deployed across the liberal spectrum with twisted glee. And now that Santorum is back in the race, Savage’s crude barb has reemerged.
Savage, who is infamous for a variety of indecent and frequently anti-Christian utterances, ought to be as universally reviled as Westboro. Instead, he’s touted as a cultural expert and frequently appears in the media with nary a mention of his appalling resume. The difference seems jarring. Two instances of equally unacceptable misbehavior, and one is not only forgiven, it’s exalted as an asset. The only real difference between Westboro and people like Savage is that Westboro pretends to adhere to Christianity, while Savage proudly admits he hates it.
Savage’s fellow liberal icon Bill Maher, on whose show Savage once stated, “I wish all (congressional Republicans) were <expletive deleted> dead,” is perhaps best known for calling former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin a “<expletive deleted.>” While Maher’s misogyny is well-documented, his outright disdain for Christianity is more so. The Democrats’ favorite standup vulgarian expressed his hatred of the Almighty thusly: “A more psychopathic character you will not ever find in fiction. Just the idea that people worshipped the God of this Bible is insane. There is no more psychopathic mass murderer than God.” During their 2012 confab in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Democrats collectively booed the Lord. Even President Barack Obama considers Christians to be dangerous troglodytes: “(I)t’s not surprising, then, they get bitter; they cling to guns or religion.”
Westboro Baptist Church members have earned nearly every bit of the animus we direct toward them. Nobody really wants them around, and nobody really should. But Savage is no less of a cretin, and he enjoys the tolerance — if not the endorsement — of liberal intelligentsia from coast to coast. Maher is one of the Democrats’ leading “thinkers.” And of course, Obama occupies the White House.
Ben to the Westboro kids: You’re doing it wrong. Take the “Baptist Church” out of your name, and you’ll at least move up on the Democrats’ scale from “Santorum” to “ISIS.” Take “God” out of your fluorescent placards, and you’ll get booked on a speaking tour — if not the next HBO panel. The Democrats don’t mind that you hate; they even share some of your prejudices. You just hate the “wrong” people.