In the early ’90s, before anyone outside of the State of Kansas had ever heard of the Westboro Baptist Church, protesting against Mr. Phelps was a favorite pastime for the administrator of this site, gays, and gay rights activists alike. Counter-protesting was a liberating way to express the frustrations of the oppressed to the oppressors. After 9/11, Phelps started protesting the dead soldiers and a friend of the administrator asked why. His response was, “No one had ever heard of them before, and now attention is being drawn to their anti-gay message.”
Over the decades, debate has been thrown around amongst the Lawrence and Topeka area about value behind participating in a counter-protest against Phelps and his crew. Many that have been given time to think about it realize that giving the WBC the attention they desire is what keeps them traveling around the country. Should the news outlets around the country stop covering the, “Church,” then the WBC would fall off the public’s radar.
The entire situation calls to mind a political cartoon from the ’80s when a convicted murderer was about to be executed. It showed the protesters holding signs calling for his murder, and the protestors were portrayed as having fangs, claws, and other monstrous features to show the true hate in their hearts. A half century from now, children will have access to all of the video footage throughout history. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could show them that we handled Mr. Phelps’ death with a certain level of class, dignity and respect? The footage of people celebrating in the streets and partying when Bin Laden was killed was unpleasant enough.