Sunday, February 8, 2009

Phelps Bashing and Other Hobbies

Once again, over at AbsoluteWrite, the subject of Fred Phelps and his gang of loonies has come up. The press over there is uniformly negative, and with good reason. While some of the members over there are Conservative in their viewpoints on homosexuality, it’s possible that not a single one of the 26,000 plus members on the board agrees with his tactic of picketing military funerals to get his point across.

But I’m saddened and dismayed at the vehemence that some of the anti-Phelps crowd, both on and off the board, displays.

They hope that someone pickets his funeral, when it comes, though they disagree with picketing funerals as a general rule.

They hope that when it does come time for him to meet his maker, that he’ll be resigned straight to the depths of Hell.

I’m sure some of them, deep down, think he should be stood against a wall and shot, or stoned to death.

There’s a link on the board to an article written by a journalist about Phelps. The article was written as work-for-hire, meaning the author does not own his work. The paper he was working for does. The paper refused to publish the work, and no wonder—it was poorly written, and made such broad statements as, “Where any family counsellor will assert that a child who strangles pets has almost certainly been brutalized as well,” without so much as a single citation to back up his words. At this point, we’re not even sure who, exactly, the author is talking about—Phelps, or his son Mark.

The paper he worked for, quite rightly in my opinion, refused to publish the work. This was within the rights of the paper, and no insult to the author. Every day, companies pay writers for work that may never see publication for a variety of reasons. As long as the writer is paid the agreed-upon fee, that's their right.

So how did this document come to be published, and available on the web for all to view? The author, claiming he was owed additional compensation for his work (despite having been paid the full amount agreed to in his contract) filed suit in court. The document was appended to the suit, therefore making it a public document. Within hours, parts of the document were published in rival papers (who published it in stories about the lawsuit), and the text of the whole document, including the lawsuit, was available for public viewing on the internet.

An order was obtained by the paper to have the suit sealed so that the Clerk of the District Court could no longer make copies, but no such order was issued to anyone else who already had a copy. The damage was done, and the work was effectively published, without the permission of the copyright owner.

I personally don't believe that the author was trying to get more money out of the publisher. Two things have me convinced that the purpose in filing the suit and appending the document to the suit was to get around the strictures of the law without actually breaking it. One: the document was made public on a large scale within a span of less than 48 hours of filing the suit, and two, appending the document to the suit wasn't truly necessary. The author was filing suit for unpaid overtime, and how the document itself could aid his cause in this is a mystery to me.

I go into such detail about such shady ethics because I’m trying to show that in trying to combat one evil, those who are willing to resort to such tactics are sinking to his level, and even sometimes below it at times.

Combating hate with hate doesn’t work, friends. It only breeds more hate, and the cycle continues.

I follow a man who tried to break the cycle. This is what he says about such circumstances:

“Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”

“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”

“Judge not, that ye not be judged.”

“The measure you give will be the measure you get.”

Do unto others, not as they have done to you, but as you would have them do to you. The measure you give will be the measure you get.

Those are truly chilling words, if you think about it. Have you ever consigned someone to the depths of Hell because they did something so heinous it was beyond your comprehension?

Have you ever actually crossed the line and done something cruel to someone because they truly deserved it? You get what you give.

Those words aren’t idle dreaming. They’re true. So many times, I’ve given evil and had it come back on me in one way or another. And so many times, I’ve given love and also had it come back to me, in one way or another. I prefer to give love. It doesn’t end up hurting so much.

I have to say that I truly pity Fred Phelps. A life dictated by overwhelming hatred can’t possibly have that much joy in it. A life directed by the fear of the wrath of God means he has little time to contemplate the everyday wonders that show the love that God has for him. He must hate himself as much as he hates me and my lesbian and gay friends.

And so, a prayer. May God fill the hearts of Fred and all who hate with joy and peace and understanding and love.

Love will cast out fear and hate.

Only love will cast out fear and hate.

1 comment:

TheCarruths said...

Cruised over from AW (I'm a noob).

I agree. "Fighting fire with fire" is only sage advice if you're in the insurance business. I understand too well frustrations inspired by the cruelty, indifference, and ignorance of others. I am a very passionate person, prone to intense emotions and reactions, and recognized this at an early age. This may be why I also learned to take great care in how I direct those passions.

I believe that people's choices are as much a reflection of their worldview as their views on the target of those choices. Phelps is expressing his ideas about what kind of world we live in and what sort of powers govern it. I believe that when I take strong objection to a view or act and choose to engage said person that I am accepting a measure of responsibility to show them (whether they can see it or not) that their worldview is, at best, incomplete. The first question I ask to weigh the wisdom of my intended response is whether I will be confirming the ideas I wish to oppose.

Another way to view this is through (forgive the metaphor) an ancient maxim of warfare: never accept what the enemy gives you. In this case, Phelps would be "giving me" a standard of interaction where we are inexorable enemies, reconciliation impossible, annihilation of one side or the other the only outcome. I know this is false, pity him the pain of bearing this lie, and do precisely what he does not expect.

This conflict approach served me well during a period of scarce employ when I worked as a bodyguard. Enigmatic graciousness allowed me to cordially resolve altercations in an environment where violent resolution was taken as given. I believe the principle has broader applications.