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A Good Enough Actor to Fool God?

By Brian | January 25, 2008 | Share on Facebook

Jason Bennion points us to a story about the Westboro Baptist Church in Topkea, Kansas, who plans to picket Heath Ledger’s funeral because he played a gay character in “Brokeback Mountain.”

I tend to view blatant homophobia, as well as most other kinds of bigotry, as some combination of ignorance and stupidity. I feel like the vast majority of society has gotten past these hangups, and tends to view folks who still walk around hating others as the exception, rather than the rule. To be sure, there are still nuances around the edges of prejudice that we need to work through, but as far as institutionalized or formalized hatred, I think it’s at least on the rapid decline, if not altogether eliminated. Call me optimistic, call me naive, just don’t call me late for dinner…

Anyway, the folks at the Westboro Baptist Church are doing their best to test my theory. Check this out:

“You cannot live in defiance of God,” [Shirley Phelps-Roper, spokesperson for the Church] said. “He got on that big screen with a big, fat message: God is a liar and it’s OK to be gay. Heath Ledger is now in Hell, and has begun serving his eternal sentence there.”

So what they’re saying here, I think, is that it’s not only wrong to be gay, it’s wrong to pretend to be gay as well. I’m no expert, but even if you’re in the “homosexuality is a sin” camp, you would think that God would be able to tell the difference.

Although I guess if you take this ridiculous logic to its ultimate conclusion, it’s possible that Mr. Ledger is in pretend Hell, serving his eternal sentence for his pretend sins.

But wait, there’s more:

Started 1955, the Topeka, Kan.-based church has conducted over 34,000 peaceful demonstrations opposing the homosexual lifestyle, according to their Web site, GodHatesFags.com. The organization runs various Web sites, including GodHatesAmerica.com and others that condemn lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, Muslims, Roman Catholics and Jews as well as certain nationalities, according to Wikipedia.

“God hates fags,” [Ms. Phelps-Roger] said. “The wrath of God has been revealed before the eyes of this nation with the death of Heath Ledger. . . . This nation worships the dead almost as much as they worship their filthy sex acts. America is doomed.”

The article also says the group is known for picketing the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq. So many people to hate, so little time…

So there you go – ignorance and stupidity, or evidence of systemic intolerance? I’m hoping that folks like Jason and I are the majority now, and the disgust/disbelief we have for people like this reflect our society’s norms. Who’s with me?!?

Topics: Movie Talk, Political Rantings | 5 Comments »

5 Responses to “A Good Enough Actor to Fool God?”

  1. Jeff Porten says at January 25th, 2008 at 4:07 pm :
    This goes back to an old argument between us. I’d like to live in a world where you’re right, but I think that these hatreds are nowhere near as eradicated as you think they are. There *has* been tremendous progress in the last forty years, but we’re at a stage where the people who are inclined to agree with Westboro Baptist generally keep their mouths shut when they’re in a national forum. It’s not that they’re no longer out there, and it’s not that they don’t share these beliefs with other like-minded people, and it’s definitely not that they’re not teaching these hatreds to their children.

    This is why I’ve been so disturbed by Guantanamo, and by the general disregard for civil liberties that Americans have for certain classes of people. In polite company, proponents of Gitmo say that it’s about locking up suspected terrorists; privately, I’m sure the talk is more about getting rid of the sand niggers. Timothy McVeigh was put to death by the rule of law, because he was a white guy.

    My suspicion is that so long as we tolerate this kind of treatment towards *any* class of people, we shouldn’t be surprised if the next generation turns its disregard back to those classes of people who are historically hated. We’re both members of that group, and there have been many times in history when Jews thought they could breathe easy, like we do, only to see the tide turn again.

    Maybe you’re right, and we’re instead on a historical cusp, the first time in history when tolerance of outsiders became permanent. I hope you are.

  2. Brian says at January 26th, 2008 at 1:00 am :
    Interesting points. On the one hand, if people who agree with these folks keep their mouths shut in a national forum and share their beliefs with like-minded people, I think I’m OK with that. I might find these ideas repugnant, but who am I to tell anyone else what to think? As long as they don’t take any action to hurt anyone, they can discuss whatever they choose in the privacy of their own homes.

    As for Guantanamo, I think you’re reaching a bit. Remember, these folks were picked up on a battlefield. They may all be the same race/religion/nationality, but they’re not there only because of those things. One could perhaps make the wrong place/wrong time argument for some of them, which is unfortunate, but it’s not the same as say, rounding up Asian citizens during World War II.

  3. Ilya says at January 27th, 2008 at 4:51 pm :
    I normally try to stay away from stating what I consider every educated person should consider obvious. It is obvious in this case, but I will state it nonetheless, because I’m with you. These Westboro folks are deranged, not only stupid and ignorant. Fanatics of all kinds will make their grand proclamations, and the only thing that we can do in response is ridicule them but otherwise ignore them. It’s not like you can appeal to their good senses and debate with them… Sad, really.

  4. Jeff Porten says at January 29th, 2008 at 1:10 pm :
    Brian, you’re proving my point. During WWII, most people wrongly believed that the Japanese internees were enemies of the state. Today, most people wrongly believe that Gitmo prisoners were picked up off battlefields.

    Of course, during WWII Americans didn’t have Google, so one might argue that one has to be willfully ignorant this time around. I invite you to Google “who is at Guantanamo” and click on the first link.

  5. Brian says at January 29th, 2008 at 11:41 pm :
    (Note to others: the article Jeff refers to is here).

    This article is quite the exercise in acrobatics. Allow me to summarize:

    1) Court documents on 132 detainees were released under habeas corpus petitions (Ed. Note: wasn’t the suspension of habeas corpus one of the examples of Bush “shredding” the constitution?)

    2) Of the 132, 57 were captured in Afgahnistan (less than half!)

    3) Of the other 75, most were captured in Pakistan by Pakistani authorities. The article implies, although it never states, that none of these 75 were “combatants.” I presume they just happened to be in Pakistan (where we famously let bin Laden escape by delegating his capture to…wait for it…the Pakistanis!)

    4) The article goes on to focus on the 10 men the government no longer considers enemy combatants, detailing their stories in an attempt to show how we are an awful, awful nation because we mistakenly picked up these ten (likely innocent) people.

    5) Near the end, it mentions that the Defense Department put out it’s own report on this topic, separating detainees into “participated in hostilities” and “did not participate in hostilities,” but strangely doesn’t give the breakdown (I didn’t page through it all, but copious info from DoD is available here). It does, once again, imply that anyone captured outside of Afghanistan was not captured “on the battlefield.”