Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Where Even the Crazy are given Credence

| by TFLS | 5:08 PM |

There is a nut job named Fred W. Phelps. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Mr. Phelps calls himself a reverend; though I think his only connection with Christ would be similar to that of the Kane character in Poltergeist 2. The man, to put it succinctly, is a carbuncle on the ass of life. He and his tiny crowd of dentally challenged, venom spewing ‘church’ members attack the families of fallen soldiers – haunting their graves like ghouls – feeding on misery. I always thought the publicity he got was for the zoo value (what's that monkey doing, mommy?). But seriously - is this guy a ‘fade away into obscurity’ wierdsmobile, or an – ‘oh no, it’s Waco’ type? I’m afraid the latter - and I’ll tell you why. It has to do with evolution; the evolution of violence and how that manifests itself within the confines of a twisted mind. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First let me catch you up on what our Mr. Phelps has been doing of late. Oh – you’re gonna love this. It’s a real doozy.

Phelps has taken on the country of Sweden. You heard me right – Sweden: as in lutefisk, fjords and ABBA - saving his most virulent rhetoric for the Swedish royal family. He even has a website dedicated to this latest obsession – “God Hates Sweden”. Hear any Twilight Zone music in the background? I do. This story evokes that old adage, “Only in America”; because only in America is this brand of insanity actually encouraged. I mean – think about what Phelps has to say in general. First, he operates a website called, “God Hates Fags”. That’s bad enough; but now it seems god hates Swedish people too (at least according to Phelps). Wow - I cannot even begin to answer such rampant stupidity. You all know that bat-boy here is certifiable – right? Yet he’s often been given a national platform from which to spew his insane and violent ramblings (though not recently, I’m happy to say). Most agree that what he says is past offensive (that’s a given); but the way that he says it (especially lately) touches upon an even deeper problem, in my mind. Phelps parrots what can loosely be called ‘his betters’ – Falwell, Dobson. Each of them has said similar things. Well – maybe not called down a jihad against Sweden. That particular perversion is uniquely Phelpian – but the ‘moral majority’ hates homosexuals with the kinds of fervor usually attributed to Inquisition torturers. But Phelps – Phelps takes what other, more ‘mainstream’ religio-fanatics say and makes their fantasies real.

How does he do this? By acting upon his beliefs. Where Falwell might sit in a chair and opine that, in his narrow view of the world, god does indeed hate homosexuals – Phelps feels the need to get out of that chair and take his hatred into the streets. He and his merry band have been known to assault people with their home-made (and badly spelled) signage. If you watch video of the man – you can see his jaw clenched and his hands twitching. He can barely restrain himself from strangling whoever it is disagreeing. I half expect to see Will Sampson out there, medicine bag in hand, chanting away. Only Phelps isn’t likely to dissolve into the rock leaving a gooey skeleton behind. No amount of prayer will banish this poltergeist – he’s in it for the long haul. And that scares me, folks. Why? Because it has become OK to act out violent fantasies in America these days. Twenty-odd years ago Phelps behaviors would not have even been tolerated. Take a look at how society as a whole marginalized the KKK as a primer. They had all but faded into the woodwork – and then the neocon take-over of America occurred and all bets were off. The ‘talk’ quotient ratcheted itself up. I won’t waste your time tracking this – but there’s a clear line between bellicose bellyaching and ‘lets all go burn down the castle’.

Enter Phelps into the latter phase. He looks around and sees his betters coddled and promoted by the mainstream media. A light bulb briefly brightens that sewer he calls a mind. I can get away with this, he thinks. It’s allowed. I can say anything I damn well please – especially against homosexuals, the neocon substitution for Jews in Nazi Germany. Think Phelps is too nutty to either attract or personally promote actual acts of violence? May I once again draw your attention to my KKK analogy? Twenty years ago I thought they were merely cartoon figures milling about smartly within the confines of my TV. Then they staged a march right down the middle of my street, and I discovered different. Right now all Phelps does is send filthy faxes and bash the occasional anti-protestor on the head with a sign. I’m afraid that will change – especially as he is now garnering more media attention with this Sweden thing.

How do I suggest we respond to Phelps? Well – watching him like a hawk would be a nice start. Not taking him on in any forum for discussion is another. The man loves to make Coulter-worthy charges. The mere act of answering such base and scurrilous accusations lends them credence (visual media please take note). All one person has to do is respond, and it immediately grants legitimacy to the attacker AND their inflammatory statements. You see - if you begin to explain why something is, or is not - you have already lost the debate. This man has carved out a bully pulpit by the sheer dint of his delusion-laden rhetoric. Attacks of the sort Phelps indulges in are driven by fear, or, as is more likely, prompted by some kind of clinical insanity. If fear - then his fear comes from a lack of certitude – about himself, his beliefs - the very existence of a soul. This lack of certitude lies at the core of Falwell and Dobson’s venom as well, in my opinion. Such overkill usually means that somewhere, deep inside, that person is mortally afraid. Perhaps, just perhaps, their truth may not stand alone in its righteousness. Maybe their gods aren’t the only gods – and folks - that can be a really scary thought to someone desperate to convince himself that heaven takes appointments.

In addition - let us not forget the very real possibility of true mental imbalance here. Fred Phelps may rightly be full-goose bozo. That, in my opinion, is what makes this man truly frightening. And because he cloaks his instability in religious euphemisms, the powers that be (hello FBI!) are ignoring what could be a very real danger. Brutal words lead to vicious action - as has been proved time and time again, throughout recorded history. Violence may indeed be the last resort of the feeble-minded, but it is always the first choice for any who believe they personally have replaced God. Anyone in this mans crosshairs had better damn well watch their back.

(Cross-posted in all the usual places; and Hat-tip Mustang Bobby of Bark, Bark, Woof, Woof and Shakesville for the Swedish connection!)