Fred Phelps is nearing death, according to multiple reports. There are numerous outlets that are voicing interest in protesting the funeral of the man, famous for his outspoken hatred and condemnation of the world. When he dies, no one should attend the funeral; let him pass into oblivion, unnoticed, unchecked – forgotten.
Phelps was the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church and made infamous for the absence of love he displayed for his neighbors. The church has, on numerous occasions picketed and protested at funerals. The irony of engaging in the practices of Westboro against its favored son are hopefully not lost.
It isn’t a simple nod to some higher road for which I’m saying people shouldn’t attend his funeral, even if it is just to picket. It is because, as Robyn Pennachia at Death and Taxes brilliantly demonstrates, Phelps gave people an easy scapegoat. Focusing on Phelps as a man allowed people to forget all of the terrible injustice that minority communities suffer.
From Death and Taxes:
“The Westboro Baptist Church, however, does not affect policy. Anti-gay politicians and groups with more “legitimacy” than WBC, however, do. They’re the ones we have to actually watch out for and worry about, not some absurd sideshow.”
When Phelps dies, no one should attend the funeral. No one should make a fuss. Instead, focus on repairing the damage and injustice that has been done and still lives on.
Joshua is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. You can follow him on Twitter @Joshual33.