That the Westboro Baptist Church is protesting his death isn't surprising - they use any tired link to homosexuality to protest anyone's funeral, and I think they just figured out that a celebrity's will get them a whole lot more attention than usual.
Lots more video, reactions, and an interview with Fred Phelps himself on this protest, after the jump.
I think that's why that gay TNR writer can't really take it all too seriously and why a gay blogger like me can't feign any sort of shock - this was 100% predictable because it's happened before and it keeps on happening. I'd be shocked if it didn't happen.
And where was Dan Abrams's disgust when the WBC was protesting the funerals' of AIDS victims back in the early 90's? Back when they were only going after us gays, they couldn't get all that much attention. Then they started protesting military funerals under the pretense that God was punishing America in Iraq, and they suddenly became the worst thing ever. States passed laws to keep them away from funerals, talking heads started getting indignant, flimsy excuses to arrest various Phelpses were found - you can really tell where our society's values are.
Here's Joe Scarborough and Myka Brzezinski discussing the Gibson comments on MSNBC:
Brzezinski's right - the comments are a whole lot worse when you hear them than when you read them. Completely inappropriate and a total shout-out to the you-know-who's out that these people can't directly address without being labeled extremists.
But Scarborough's repetition of "young father" when talking about Ledger brings this whole thing right back to what its about - homophobia. Yes, the man was a young father, but does that somehow make Gibson's comments worse? Do people who aren't fathers deserve to live a little bit less?
I would turn around what he says when he opines about how we've gotten to a point in America where someone be straight but play gay for a film and be the recipient of homophobia and say that if these folks were going after an actual gay person, talking heads like Scarborough would care less.
It's not that we've come to a point where you can't play gay and not be a recipient of homophobia, it's that we haven't come to a point where a gay man on the receiving end of this sort of homophobia is as much a victim as a straight "young father" is.
On the January 23 broadcast of his nationally syndicated Fox News Radio show, John Gibson responded to a post on the blog Think Progress about his comments the previous day mocking the death of actor Heath Ledger, and said, "Did I mock him?" After Gibson's producer, known on-air as "Angry Rich," pointed out that Gibson had in fact mocked Ledger's death, Gibson replied, laughing, "Oh, that. Well," later adding, "There's no point in passing up a good joke." When Angry Rich noted that a commenter on Think Progress asserted that "Gibson will be whining tomorrow that his words were taken out of context," Gibson replied: "No. I meant them, whatever they were. I don't remember what they were, but whatever they were, I meant them."
Still later in the broadcast, Gibson returned to the controversy and said: "ThinkProgress.org, the George Soros organization, is attacking me for calling Heath Ledger a weirdo in discussing his death yesterday. At first, I thought, oh, they're lying, I couldn't have said that. And then I listened to the tape, and I realized I did say that."
Why does this guy have a radio and a TV talk show?
But back to the Phelps Klan. Here's Fred being interviewed for an Australian news show. I'm always surprised when someone talking to them tries the "Doesn't God love everyone?" line with him. Anyone with any passing familiarity with the group knows that they're way beyond that argument:
Notice that American commentator towards the end - he implies that the WBC just started protesting funerals with the Iraq War. You know, forgetting that they were protesting AIDS victims in the early 90's and Matthew Shepard later in that decade, well before the invasion of Iraq. But it's hard when they gain publicity when you're just protesting gays' funerals.
It's always interesting for me to see how most straight media reacts to the WBC or blatant homophobia like John Gibson's - they know it's wrong, but they don't know how to deal with it, how to place it, so they just repeat over and over how wrong it is. And then gay people like that TNR writer in the first clip get involved and realize, oh, wait, they're taking this seriously this time, can't just laugh it off like usual.
Then again, if they're attacking a straight man, can it really be considered homophobia?