The Legacy of a Fanatic

The recent death of Fred Phelps has inspired joy in the hearts of many. In articles about his death he’s been called ‘monster’ and ‘Satan’s servant’, among others. It’s not hard to see why people are glad he’s dead. Described by Louis Theroux as ‘an angry, bigoted man who thrived on conflict’, he spent years fronting the Westboro Baptist Church, brainwashing his family – and others – into spreading hatred against all those who don’t fit the Westboro ideal. Which is basically anyone but themselves. Their infamous pickets, where they brandish signs with slogans such as ‘God hates fags’, ‘Fag troops’ and ‘Thank God for dead soldiers’, have brought them worldwide ‘fame’, for want of a better word. They are seen as evil cunts who think nothing of who they might offend or distress. But ask yourself this: in terms of what they believe, are they any different from a lot of other religious groups out there?

I see a lot of myself in the Phelpses. They are outspoken fuckwits who use foul language to get their point across. So am I. They thrive on conflict and argument. I too enjoy these things, to an extent. They are stubborn fuckers who won’t change their opinions for love nor money. Yep, me again. Of course, I also see major differences between myself and them. I don’t necessarily think I’m right all the time; I just think what I think. If someone disagrees, then fine. The Phelpses believe that they alone speak the truth: that God is punishing America by killing soldiers in war, creating natural disasters and giving people cancer, all because of America’s acceptance of homosexuality. I don’t intentionally go out of my way to offend people (although I accept that this is what I inadvertently do sometimes); the Phelpses love offending people, they love it when people shout abuse at them when they picket.

This week I’ve read a lot of articles about Westboro, and rewatched Louis Theroux’s two documentaries about them, and I’m still buggered as to why they do what they do. OK, they hate gay people and ‘fag enablers’ (I personally prefer the term ‘gay enthusiast’, a club to which I happily subscribe). So do many churches. But other churches seem to want to convert people in order to save their souls (which, admittedly, can be fucking annoying). But the Westboro Baptist Church don’t want to do that. They say they have no interest in winning souls for Christ. Jael Phelps, Fred Phelps’ granddaughter, said in Theroux’s documentary that, by picketing, they’re doing a ‘loving and courteous thing’. But going on their beliefs – that they are the only ones who will be allowed in heaven and everyone else is heading straight for hell – even if someone does heed their word and change their behaviour, if they don’t join the church they won’t be going to heaven anyway. By all accounts, it’s quite difficult to get into the church. They’re not exactly known for welcoming people with open arms. So, someone is going against the word of God, and Westboro tell them so, and, whatever path they then choose, they are condemned to hell. The church have no interest in taking them under their wing, so they’re definitely going to hell. So, the church’s idea of being loving and courteous is telling someone they’re going to hell, regardless?

Of course there’s one explanation for their behaviour. It gets them a fuckload of media attention. They seem to thrive on all the shit that is written about them. They believe it gives them power. Which is essentially what every church wants. Of course it’s false power: they’re a tiny church in a ‘bourgeois, middle-class area’, as Keith Allen put it. So, they exert their power in other ways. Such as excommunicating Fred Phelps last year. Not allowing the younger members to have friends outside of the church. Threatening members with expulsion if they don’t adhere to the doctrine. In recent years there are been many defections, and these ex-members are cast out with no chance of seeing their friends and families again.

The practice of excommunication is something they have in common with other religious communities, for example the Amish. They also share many other things with churches around the globe. A belief that they alone are following the scripture in full, when actually they’re picking and choosing what to believe. A belief that they have a right to judge people on how they live their lives because they are God’s ‘chosen ones’. A belief that pride has no place in worshipping Christ, and yet everything that comes out of their mouths is tainted with pride and arrogance. A belief that if you’re in a relationship with no intention of getting married then you’re only in it for fornication, when in reality it’s those who oppose sex before marriage that are obsessed with shagging. And, of course, hypocrisy: condemning others to hell for things which those in the church are also guilty.

Fred Phelps has left behind a lot of hate. And probably his death will only tighten the bonds of the church, making them more determined than ever. If only they saw what we saw. When they see themselves in the media, they see their message being spread and think this gives them power. Yes, their message is being spread, but it doesn’t make them powerful. It makes them look like the fucking brainwashed, ignorant, intolerant wankfoxes that they are.      

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First the Poles, now the gays…

So, God does exist.  And he’s shown himself to be a vengeful God, and those in Britain are feeling his wrath.  To punish them, He has caused the recent storms and floods which have swept the country.  Their crime?  To allow gay marriage.  Or so David Silvester, a UKIP counsellor, says.  Fucking moron.

Of course, this isn’t the first time gay people have been blamed for adverse weather conditions.  Back in 2006, my home county of Yorkshire was hit with torrential flooding, and this was apparently due to too much ‘pro-gay legislation’, according to the Bishop of Carlisle.  What fucking lunacy.  As Andy Parsons, a British comedian, said at the time, Yorkshire isn’t exactly noted as being a hotbed of the gay community.  Followed by a quote from another comedian, Frankie Boyle: ‘A God that’s anti-gay’s hardly going to flood Hull and leave Brighton’.

Do people still believe that natural occurences such as storms and flooding are due to straying from the Gospel?  Obviously so.  Which shows how fucking stupid they are.  If natural disasters are God’s revenge for us straying from the Gospel, wouldn’t they be happening every day?  Because people stray from the Gospel every day.  People kill each other every day.  People commit adultery every day.  People use contraception every day.  People steal every day.  There is only one reason alone why people choose to blame floods on gay people, and that is because they are fucking homophobic arseholes who need their eyes gouging out with a rusty teaspoon.

Then comes the next article which caught my eye today, headlined ‘Smoking or drinking during pregnancy can make your baby GAY’.  Notice the capitals.  I’d tell you which paper it comes from, but I’m thinking you could make an educated guess yourself.  Yes, apparently if you smoke or drink during your pregnancy, you have a higher chance of having a gay child.  Which is of course the most important thing to be considering.  Let’s not worry about the child possibly being born addicted to nicotine, or with foetal alcohol syndrome, or with a very low birth weight.  It’s being born gay that’s the problem.  Jesus, people are cocking imbeciles.

So, let’s get a couple of things straight.  Gay marriage hasn’t caused the floods.  Global warming probably has.  And, if it’s scientifically proven that smoking and drinking causes a baby to be born gay (which I doubt, anyway), is it really a fucking problem?  There are bigger things to be considered with that issue.   

That’s so gay

Growing up in a backwards town like Doncaster, the mere mention of homosexuality was a minefield.  You can’t really call old working-class mining communities hotbeds of the gay community.  Fortunately times have changed, and people are more tolerant and relaxed towards homosexuals.  Or so you would think.

I recently read an article by Will Young about the use of the word ‘gay’.  Of course, as a teacher I’m well aware of how language changes through the years.  The word ‘gay’ has had an interesting journey in terms of changes of meaning.  An article on one of my friends’ Facebook page led me through its transformation: from meaning ‘joyful’ in the 12th century, to ‘addicted to pleasures and dissipations’ in the 17th, to a prostitute or a man who slept with lots of women in the 19th (I particularly like the expression from this time, ‘gay it’, meaning to have sex.  I may use it more in conversation), to a promiscuous man sleeping with women or men in the 1920s and 1930s, up to the 1950s, where it was clearly defined as meaning a homosexual man.  However, now we come to the 21st century and times have changed again.  The word is being used to describe something as bad or wrong.  And Will Young, and a lot of the gay community, are not happy.

My first response to this was ‘so fucking what?’  That’s to the use of the word, not the gay community being unhappy.  It’s a natural progression of language that words change their meaning, or acquire new meanings.  The reason why I was so flippant is that I really don’t see why being homosexual is an issue this days.  I have many gay friends, but the fact that they are gay has absolutely no relevance to our friendship.  At the end of the day, it’s none of my fucking business who they shag.  I’ve also had acquaintances who were homosexual, who completely defined themselves by who they ‘gayed it’ with.  For me this has always struck me as a little odd.  For example, I don’t define myself by who I shag (which is a good job really, seeing as I don’t shag anybody).  On the same token, I don’t define myself by my job, my hobbies, my taste in music, whatever.  People are a mixture of many things and shouldn’t pigeon-hole themselves.  Maybe because I’m not gay is the reason why I don’t understand it.  But what I mean is, is that if you are gay, I really don’t give a fucking rat’s arse.

Coming back to the usage  of the word.  I was under the impression that being gay in the UK wasn’t so much of a problem now.  We’ve introduced gay marriage, and I can honestly say, with the exception of a few of the older generation, I don’t know anyone in the UK who has a problem with gay people.  I really did think that it wasn’t a fucking issue anymore.  Which just shows how wrong you can be.

I was shocked by the statistics in the Will Young article: 23% of young gay people have tried to take their own lives, and 56% have self-harmed.  Why, when actually as a society we are extremely tolerant and accepting of the gay community?  Well, as adults we are.  Kids, even though they may not necessarily be homophobic, can be really bloody cruel.  So gay pupils in schools will be a target for bullying.  A sad fact.  It’s also true that kids can be fucking stupid.  Some of them, especially primary school kids, will be using the word ‘gay’ to mean shit, and not even be aware of its meaning with regards to homosexuals.  As Young said in his article, education is key here.  We should be educating our children what these words mean, be teaching about homosexual relationships in sex education and possibly even about how homosexuals have been treated in the past in history lessons.  Well, we learn about how Jews and black people were treated, so why not homosexuals as well?

Saying that, I’m not sure if we should go on about it too much.  In the past the issue needed to be talked about in order for gay people to be accepted.  However, in order to normalise something, and in my eyes, being gay is normal, the best way is to not go on about it.  Treat it as if it’s normal and people will think it is.  Of course there will always be a minority who think otherwise, but we have to remember that these people are cocking moronic knobheads who aren’t worth the time of day.

It angers me that the situation hasn’t improved as much as I’d originally thought in the UK.  Although today I happily discovered that the situation is changing quite rapidly in Poland.  At least in the big cities.  Having spent four years living in the fucking stinking cesspot that is more commonly known as Koszalin, there was a lot of homophobia around.  Not obviously apparent.  Oh no, people were far too discreet.  They would never make outspoken comments on the subject.  It was far more underground, said in whispers and hidden under comments about the Catholic Church and how right that institution is about everything.  (I would like to stress that I am speaking generally.  I know a few people in Koszalin who have no problems with homosexuals whatsoever.  Unfortunately they are in a minority though).  However, today I met a lovely student who has only lived in Krakow for a couple of months, and who very openly told me that his main reason for the move was to be with his boyfriend.  Now, for most British people, this wouldn’t be a very shocking revelation.  But for a country such as Poland, where the Catholic Church still has a massive hold, it’s great to hear people being so honest about their sexuality.  Well, it made me smile anyway.

What a shame the same can’t be said about a lot of other countries.  In previous posts I have described Nigel Farrage as a vile goblin of Satan and Nick Griffin as the devil’s second in command.  If this is the case, then Putin must be old Beelzebub himself.  After passing the anti-gay law this summer, Russia has had a spate of homophobic attacks, the most recently being a gas attack in a nightclub.  In an ironic twist of fate, the nightclub in question was a club which the Polish student I was just speaking about used to frequent whilst living in Moscow earlier this year.  Having taught many Russian students at summer schools over the past four years, it comes as no surprise to me that Russians are, in general, still quite homophobic.  And the anti-gay law which was passed is just fucking nonsense in my opinion.  What, they think if they stop people talking about homosexual relationships, it will stop people being gay?  Fucking imbecilic clitfaces.

As I said before, it is a shame that many gay youngsters in the UK still feel ostracised by society.  Obviously a lot of work still needs to be done.  Saying that, if we consider how gay rights have changed over the past fifty years, and how much equality has been achieved, that is something as a society we should be proud of.  Especially comparing to other countries, and how far they still have to go.