After the state of Arizona passed emergency legislation to keep protests 300 feet from funerals and burials and someone organized a human shield between the funeral and the Westboro Baptist Church, a right-wing radio show has offered some free radio time to the WBC in exchange for them canceling their protest of the Arizona shooting victims.
Not to belabor the irony, but after a long, national conversation about violent rhetoric in the national discourse, Shirley Phelps-Roper will be taking to the radio to talk about God's plan for the destruction of everyone who doesn't believe the exact same stuff she and her father do.
The national discussion about violent rhetoric has been messy and incoherent, with few people even agreeing on what violent rhetoric is and most big-media liberals looking to score points and give their audience some red meat while proposing few solutions (other than to hate Republicans, but that's not really all that much work for many liberals).
Be that as it may, if we're talking about the sort of rhetoric that leads to violence, then Fred Phelps and Company should surely be mentioned. While most Americans are either repulsed or completely ignorant of who they are, there is a certain kind of person who might be drawn to their black-and-white world, their angry, vengeful God, and their easy explanations for every tragedy that always put the blame on society in general for conformity and stupidity instead of the Truth that only Fred Phelps and his followers know.
While The Mike Gallagher Show, which is giving Fred Phelps this platform, might legitimately think that they're doing something good for everyone, all they're doing is taking a message that several hundred people might have noticed that afternoon at some distance from the funeral and syndicating it nationally where the sort of people who might be looking for a simplistic explanation for everything bad in the world.
The fact that Mike Gallagher will probably say that he doesn't agree with the Phelpses at all, that the WBC is terrible, etc., will just be icing on the cake for people looking for an ideology that can sufficiently piss off everyone, the right, the left, and people who don't care about politics. That might not be important to me or you, some people get off on ideas that are roundly condemned by everyone.
GLAAD has a petition up, which might help if The Mike Gallagher Show legitimately thinks they're helping and isn't looking at this as a publicity stunt.
I should point out that this part of their press release (via email) annoyed me to no end, where they explain to whatever hapless journalist assigned to this story who the WBC is:
For more than 20 years, the Westboro Baptist Church has cynically and maliciously exploited the suffering of countless brave and patriotic American families by protesting the funerals of innocent victims and fallen heroes. Westboro Baptist Church has held up signs at the funerals of fallen soldiers, saying "Thank God for IEDs," "Pray for More Dead Soldiers" and "God Killed Your Son." Before the families of victims of September 11th, they held up signs saying "Thank God for 9/11" and "God Hates America." Westboro has picketed the funerals of hate crime victims with placards reading "God Wants Your Son Dead" and "God Hates Fags."
Indeed, "for more than 20 years" they've been "protesting," but the "brave and patriotic American families" and "fallen soldiers" didn't see "Thank God for IEDs" until about a decade ago. Before that they just protested gay people's funerals and the funerals of people who died because of HIV/AIDS and the media didn't care because they were just good Christians protesting the perverts. Then they got the bright idea to protest the soldiers who were killed in Iraq and suddenly the media noticed they existed and roundly condemned them as the worst people in America.
Yeah, the worst thing about WBC is that they protest The Troops, the real, straight (please don't ask), American heroes and the innocent (so they can't be sexual, much less gay) victims of national tragedies. If only they had stuck with fags.
I would have hoped that GLAAD wouldn't perpetuate that revisionist history, but here we are.