YOU'RE STILL WRONG
POST MRR COLUMN No. 8
by Mykel Board
aka Today I Wear Black
“This nation is poised to trash the first amendment just to stop my preaching. I'm kind of honored.” --Fred Phelps
The enemy? Hey: it could be like Sid Vicious in his swastika shirt… singing My Way. What could be punker in the 21st century than becoming a Muslim? --Mykel Board writing about Islam as Punk in 2012
It's Friday, March 21. I wear black because FRED PHELPS, founder of Westboro Baptist Church, has kicked the bucket. Actually, I wear black every day. I live in New York and am an old punkrocker, so OF COURSE I wear black. Today, I have an additional reason.
According to CNN Phelps was often called "the most hated man in America." I bet he loved the label.
The hate-baiting Southern Poverty Law Center calls Westboro Baptist "arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America."
Fred knows if he sticks to picketing religious right-wingers and homos, he'll again be shuffled off to the side, ignored. Most Americans are neither religious maniacs nor fudge packers.
Phelps understands that the glue holding America together is... well... Americans. And the glue that holds Americans together is the love of people in uniform-- American uniforms.
From The VFW to Veterans for Peace, Americans love soldiers-- especially dead ones. Arlington Virginia Military Cemetery has as many visitors as Disneyland. Let some veteran into a ballpark... and there'll be a ceremony. An incalculable number of minutes-of-silence® have been spent on people who did nothing more than murder their fellow human beings-- and in turn get murdered by them. Americans can't get enough of flag-draped coffins.
So, where do Fred Phelps and the Westboro dozen go? You guessed it, to MILITARY FUNERALS. And not with just any picket sign. What's gonna offend most? Would you believe THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS? Or PRAY FOR MORE DEAD SOLDIERS?
This is what makes Phelps so punkrock. He takes the most precious idea... the thing Americans hold dearest... almost all Americans... and he pisses on it.
There are trials... arrests. Fred's case goes all the way to the Supreme Court. Amazingly, in 2011, the court upholds Westboro's right to picket military funerals. Unhappy at that, Congress and several states pass laws requiring some distance between the pickets and the funeral. Other states try more obstructionist tactics. Everybody hates Fred.
In 2013, more than 367,000 petitioners ask the White House to legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as A HATE GROUP. The White House calls Westboro's protests "reprehensible" but says "as a matter of practice, the federal government doesn't maintain a list of hate groups." Yeah, right.
But that's not the point. What IS the point is that Phelps chose his targets to maximize offense-- not to make a statement. I doubt he believed half of he said. Check it out:
Denmark legalized gay marriage long before the U.S. did. Was Phelps out there damning the Danes? Where were the GOD HATES DENMARK signs? How 'bout HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN WAS A PEDOPHILE? Pickets at the funerals of anybody whose last name ends in SEN? It didn't happen. Denmark has five million people. Most of them don't give a little mermaid's ass what happens in the U.S. Attack Denmark? Why? There's nobody to offend.
Fred wasn't against homosexuality any more than I'm against fellatio! He was an agitator, a rabble-rouser, a troublemaker. A punk.
When the band Guest Shot filmed a “porno” (actually just a girl clit diddling herself) on Westboro church grounds, Fred could have called the cops. This wasn't picketing. This was trespassing. But there was NO reaction from the Westboro crew? Why? Because that too was punk. It was something Phelps could understand and appreciate.
So at 84, Fred Phelps is gone. And with his death, I'm afraid, will go the spirit of the church. The spirit of punk.
If I can get Fred's kind of reaction when I'm his age, it'll be a dream come true. In the meantime, I just sit in front of my Toshiba laptop, typing this column-- wearing black for a good reason.
ENDNOTES: [You can contact me by email at email@example.com. Through the post office: send those... er... private DVDs..or music or zines... or anything else (legal only!) to: Mykel Board, POB 137, New York, NY 10012-0003. If you like my writing, you can be notified when anything new is available by joining the MYKEL'S READERS Yahoo group firstname.lastname@example.org]
-->Like a Virgin dept: The town of Virgin, Utah requires a fee from residents who want to comment on zoning and planning issues at Town Council meetings. They have to pay $25 for the "right," according to a new law. Two years before, the town tried to require homeowners to have guns for self-defense. That law was struck down by the courts.
For me, that's a perfect representation of our democracy. Free speech to anyone who can afford the price-- and a gun to enforce it.
-->Women are the oppressed ones? dept: You'd expect that in a society that values men over women... and oppresses women... and creates a patriarchy... women would be unhappier than men. You'd expect that women would be offing themselves at twice (or more) the rate that men do. Why live under such oppression? Why just not take half a dozen pills and end it all?
Well, that's not the case. The Guardian reports “Male suicide rate in the UK is 3½ times that of women.” Wikipedia tells of a similar disparity among US suicides. So, who has the harder life? The most misery? Hmmm?
-->Why is MRR like the NFL? dept: Readers of my post MRR columns know that the reason for my being fired from that zine was my insistence on using the word “nigger” rather than Ni**er, when quoting someone who originally used that word. Now the NFL follows suit.
Instead of firing players who use that word on the field, the team will be penalized 15 yards for each use. You can bet your black ass that the first person to use the word will NOT be white.
John Wooten, head of the Fritz Pollard Association, wants the rule extended: “We want this word to be policed from the parking lot to the equipment room to the locker room. Secretaries, PR people, whoever, we want it eliminated completely and want it policed everywhere.” He says.
Guess who the policing will hurt most. It always does.