[originally published at henkimaa.blogga.nu Tuesday 08-Jul-2003 3:22 PM. Some links have been updated.]
Publicity, publicity, publicity
The Anchorage Daily News, by the way, seems to be wrong about how many churches the Phelpists actually picketed in Anchorage on June 29. I daresay they mainly depended on the Phelpists’ published itinerary, instead of checking it out with the churches themselves. The exceptions — the churches the ADN reporter talked with — were Metropolitan Community Church, which was not picketed despite its lesbian/gay outreach, and Anchorage Baptist Temple, which was picketed, despite its prominence in Anchorage as a bastion of anti-homosexuality.
My own sources indicate that the only church besides ABT that the Phelpists made it to that fateful Sunday was Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church. The Phelpists apparently considered ABT and Elmendorf AFB more important than the smaller churches they’d originally targeted, because of course they had more people, & would more likely lead to the slaking of the Phelpist thirst for publicity.
They didn’t get much, all the same. A story in the June 30 Anchorage Daily News, which said far more about the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court decision than it did about the little contingent of “religious protesters.” Maybe a story or two on local TV news. Three letters to the editor published so far, & a Compass op-ed piece a couple days before Pride day.
There has been a bit of argument behind-the-scenes about whether it was good or bad to have been so very quiet about the Phelpists. “All the Phelpists want is publicity,” says once side, “& we shouldn’t give any at all to them.” “So what?” says the other side, “if more people knew the kind of stuff the Phelpists were spewing, it would gain sympathy for us.”
The Phelpists themselves bolster the “all they want is publicity” argument by having a page on their website about how “fags can make $millions” by taking pledges for each minute of a Phelpist picket. “[G]et people to send money for each minute that WBC pickets, brag to the local newspaper about it, and get our message that ‘God hates fags’ to everyone who reads the paper,” the Phelpists jeer. Consequently, “don’t give ‘em even the least bit of publicity” proponents urge targets of pickets not to do fundraisers.
But y’know, now that I’ve weighed the arguments, I don’t really think it makes a difference. The Phelpists will continue to picket with or without publicity. Very few people will have their minds changed one way or another. Those who agree with Fred Phelps & his family already feel free to say & do the same homophobic things they say & do irrespective of whether an occasional newspaper story says word one about them. Those who are unsure — well, most people I’ve met, even of the Jerry Prevo variety, think Phelpist tactics are disgusting. Such blatant idiocy, who knows, might actually drive some people into the arms of toleration & acceptance.
And if one can raise money for a deserving organization for each minute a Phelpist stands on a corner with a stupid sign, fine.
So lets ignore them even better by not even considering what they want, & should they come to your attention — well, have a chuckle. Or just blow your nose & continue on your way. It just ain’t worth agonizing over.
But I don’t mind that it went the way it did in Anchorage. The Phelpists publicity hounds just didn’t get much return for all the airfare they must’ve paid to get here, & let’s not forget hotel & per diem.
Thank you, Phelpists, for your generous contributions to the Anchorage economy.
Update/correction: 16 July 2003
I am informed by a correspondent that All Saints Episcopal Church was also picketed by the Phelpists on June 29. My correspondent points out that — unlike the other main Episcopal church in town, St. Mary’s — All Saints does not subscribe to “the acceptance and toleration of the homosexual lifestyle” but does accept “all persons have spiritual needs.” Obviously, my correspondent goes on to say, the Phelpists picked All Saints “out of the phone book” without bothering to learn about its beliefs. My correspondent also remarks that All Saints practices the teaching of love — contrary to the Phelps’ hate tactics.
Based on what I’ve learned about Phelps & Westboro Baptist Church, I agree 100 percent that the Phelpists don’t bother to learn the truth about what the targets of their pickets believe, or live. On the other hand, to teach love rather than hate in itself seems to be sufficient offense in Phelpist eyes to warrant their hatred.
- 6/20/2003. Fred Phelps coming to Anchorage. The “godhatesfags.com” followers of Westboro Baptist Church pastor Fred Phelps announce plans to picket in Anchorage during PrideFest 2003.
- 6/27/2003. Anchorage Pride 2003: Look how far we’ve come. A brief history history of the annual Pride parade in Anchorage from 1983, in which there were 19 marchers, to 2001, in which there were two to three thousand. Can the followers of Fred Phelps wreck that? Don’t think so.
- 7/8/2003. Those Phelpists aren’t too clever, are they? Why did Westboro Baptist Church, famous for their website “godhatesfags.com,” picket Anchorage Baptist Temple — famous in Anchorage as the very center of antigay attitudes in Alaska?
- 7/8/2003. Publicity, publicity, publicity. Which Anchorage churches during PrideFest 2003 did the Phelpists picket, & which not, & why?
- 6/12/2009. Billboards. While in 2003 Jerry Prevo decried Westboro Baptist Church tactics, in 2009 he & his allies didn’t hesitate to use children — even some younger then 10 — in a very like way, as billboards for their parents’ prejudices.