Westboro Baptist at the Reason Rally? March 15, 2012Posted by Ubi Dubium in Events, Rants.
Tags: first amendment rights, Reason Rally, religion, Westboro Baptist
I’m hearing all kinds of comments about the invitation NAP expended to WBC, both for and against. I’ve commented on several parts of this issue on other blogs, but I really want to collect my thoughts about this in one place.
Perhaps the NAP overstepped a boundary when they invited WBC. They probably should have consulted with the other event sponsors first. This is the first time an event like this has been held, so I can forgive some confusion over protocol.
Now to WBC themselves: Their business model is reprehensible. They are using the First Amendment and our court system as their own personal cash cow. Fred Phelps is a skilled civil rights attorney, and knows exactly how to stay within his First Amendment rights, while at the same time being as offensive as possible. He takes his troop into situations where they will be the most objectionable, with the objective of being arrested, ejected or assaulted. Then he files a lawsuit for a civil rights violation, and wins, and that’s where WBC’s funding comes from. They aren’t trying to make converts, if you ask them they’ll verify that much. This isn’t some holy quest for them, it’s a career path. The best thing we can do about these people is to refuse to engage with them, because that will cut off the money supply. Ridicule is good too.
Would they be likely to show up at the Reason Rally uninvited? Of course they would. How could they resist? With all the media coverage, how could they not bring their circus to town? They want to be in front of a hostile audience and the press, and what more prominent place could they pick than our Rally? Actually inviting them is probably the best way to discourage them. They don’t want to go where they are welcome, there’s no profit in it.
But if they do show up, is it of more benefit to them, or of more benefit to us? If our thousands of happy heathens can be warned that WBC’s main goal is provocation and inciting assault, then chances are good that WBC will be unmolested. Laughed at and ridiculed, certainly, but not assaulted. And the biggest odds of assault come not from our crowd, but from the DC police, and maybe the other true believers.
And it’s because of the other True Believers™ that are planning to be there that WBC can be useful to us. Those xians who are there to share their “true belief” are going to have to stand right next to the WBC hucksters with their hate-filled (but well designed!) signs, and try to explain to us how they are different. I’m hoping that one of the effects of the evangelists’ attending our Rally is that, for a least a few of them, their basic assumptions are going to get a good shaking up. The nastiest most horrible people they meet on that day will not be atheists, but the bible-spouting WBC. And they will probably meet a lot of atheists that do not match their preconceptions of what a non-believer is like.
So if WBC shows, maybe they can be useful. At the very least, it should be an interesting day.