The Westboro Baptist Church was forced to cancel its plans to protest at Leonard Nimoy’s funeral at the weekend when no-one would tell them where it was.
The group often descends upon the funerals of celebrities and soldiers with neon signs filled with homophobic slurs, but couldn’t locate the late Star Trek actor’s after planners decided to make the memorial private.The Independent, Westboro Baptist Church
I’ve said my piece about Leonard Nimoy’s passing, albeit it took me two years to write what I thought about it and never posted the article anywhere aside from this blog. It is like a lot of entries on this public blog. They are here if anyone is interested enough to go back through the archive and look for them. These articles aren’t for general consumption, they are my thoughts set down for my own reasons, thoughts that I don’t mind sharing with the curious if there are people who are curious. So this blog entry really isn’t about Leonard or my feelings for Leonard or Spock. This is about a penchant for grandstanding in self-destructive ways by a particular religious cult in the US.
I have broached this subject several times on bulletin board systems and email groups, but I’ve never said a word about Westboro Baptist church on this blog because I really don’t have much of an opinion about the beliefs of others unless they potentially impact me or the people I love. I don’t talk about things that don’t interest me on my blog, so I generally don’t talk about religion. Being an atheist and freethinker myself, I have almost no use for religion, but there are occasions when the discussion of religion can’t be helped. This is one of those times.
The Westboro Baptist Church members are essentially the same as most other christianist/dominionist cults in that they think we are in the end times and they want to bring about the second coming of Christ. They hope to do this by provoking attacks upon themselves, and they do this by inciting rage in people who really cannot be relied upon to be sensible in the face of provocation. Those people are the survivors of tragedy, the funeral parties for the recently deceased.
What has evolved over the years that these protestors show up at funerals is, the Westboro Baptists are penned into a protest area where they are out of sight and hopefully out of earshot of the grieving. This is stalemate between the grieving and the protesting is achieved by local police forces who are understandably just trying to keep the peace. I believe that this entire effort is counter-productive and in the end ineffectual. There is a simpler, albeit more violent, solution that will end this stalemate, permanently.
We should not be protecting the Westboro Baptists when they attempt to picket funerals. What should be done instead is that local law enforcement takes the time to explain to the leadership of this church that the grieving are statutorily exempt from criminal charges if they attack outsiders who attempt to disrupt funerals. Funeral attendees are demonstrably not of their right mind. The leadership should be informed that picketing funerals is an attempt to have oneself killed as a martyr. That attempting suicide in this fashion is an admission of insanity on the part of the Westboro Baptists; and that they consequently can be detained without trial for mental evaluation indefinitely, and possibly committed to a mental institution for the rest of their lives if they insist on persevering in this deranged behavior. Then we as a culture sit back and wait. If the Westboro Baptists picket, they get to go talk to headshrinkers for the rest of their lives, the few of them that survive. I’m good with that, and they do need help.
As a side note, I’ve had quite a few people object that we shouldn’t require funeral attendees to kill the Westboro Baptists in this fashion. I agree. We should be able to have the insane committed for their demonstrable insanity. Insanity like believing that if they die martyrs they’ll go to heaven. Insanity like believing that Jesus hates homosexuals (he doesn’t, that passage is in the part of the Bible that came from the Torah, the Old Testament) There are a whole host of ideas which are insane on their face that the religious really should be cautioned about espousing belief in, in public. What they believe inside their own heads is their own business, just don’t expect the rest of us to endorse these ideas when you speak them or act upon them because there are broader concerns that should be of more importance than their personal insanity.
This article started life as a facebook status update which I backdated and expanded on for the blog. This is the first of the Let’s Talk About Religion Then articles which will be published eventually. They will be published because religionists can’t stop telling me about how right they are. They aren’t, and these articles will document the facts behind this judgement of mine. Chronologically the article will appear before Atheism is Not a Belief System on the blog, but that can’t be helped now. I’ve written many things in other places over the years and this monologue about the Westboro Baptists emerged about the same time as my original authorship of the atheism article on that now defunct BBS that I continually mention.
The article’s title is partially derived from one of the many alternate titles I tried for the Atheism is not a Belief System thread on that long-dead BBS, during the phase of trying to kill the damn thing. I have spent years of quality time listening to dissections of religion, as have most atheists who spend time around other atheists or who have personally had to divorce themselves from a religion forced on them by their parents. That process is painful and requires thought, some of it worth going through again just for the purpose of exercise.
h/t to pointofinquiry.org for the insights into why god is a substitute for your parents.