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Feel a little pity

Nathan Phelps reports:

I’ve learned that my father, Fred Phelps, Sr., pastor of the "God Hates Fags" Westboro Baptist Church, was ex-communicated from the "church" back in August of 2013. He is now on the edge of death at Midland Hospice house in Topeka, Kansas.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made.

I feel sad for all the hurt he’s caused so many. I feel sad for those who will lose the grandfather and father they loved. And I’m bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their good-byes.

What a terrible way to go: it sounds like his family is eating each other from within, he’s been kicked out of his own church (I would like to know the story behind that…if he was drifting away from the message, in what direction?), and now he’s dying alone, isolated by the people who ex-communicated him.

His legacy is a terrible one, but I’ll take a moment to feel a little pity for a tragically misguided old man, and the family who suffered through caring for him.

Now if only the haters of Westboro Baptist who perpetuate that legacy would only take a moment, too, to look at that sad old dying man and realize that there lies the end of the path they are on.

Comments

  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    Feel a little pity?

    Hmmmmm….

    Nope. Sorry, I can’t.

    On second thought, I don’t feel sorry at all.

    Don’t let the coffin lid hit your ass on the way out, Fred.

  2. anuran says

    Your compassion does you credit, PZ.

    It looks like he took it VERY hard. From a local paper

    After Phelps was voted out of Westboro Baptist Church this past summer, he was moved out of the church and into a house, where he was watched to ensure he wouldn’t harm himself, a son estranged from the church said Sunday.

    Phelps eventually stopped eating and drinking, and on Sunday, he was near death, son Nate Phelps said in a Facebook posting. The information also is based on an email sent by Nate Phelps to a Capital-Journal reporter.

    The behaviour of the members of his former church is despicable. When a man is dying it is purely evil to deny him and his estranged family the last chance at comfort and reconciliation.

  3. anuran says

    Also hoping people don’t picket his funeral. It’s the obvious thing to do, but it would simply feed into the WBC’s hateful worldview and demean the people who took part. Better to turn it into some sort of positive event by staying a respectful distance away and having a big Gay Pride fundraiser for something positive like anti-bullying initiatives.

  4. dhall says

    A quick Internet look doesn’t provide much more information as to why he was booted from the church or what his current condition is, other than bad. I have a lot of sympathy for his son; I can’t imagine what it must be like to be in his shoes. I also have a lot of sympathy for anyone else whose life was so adversely impacted by this deluded creature and his minions.

  5. Akira MacKenzie says

    I can certainly feel sorry for Nathan, though I fail to understand why he’s feeling badly about a man who (by his own account) brutalized and abused him throughout his life. It takes all kinds, I guess.

    Speaking for myself, I can’t wait for my own abusive, right-wing, Catholic father to croak so I can give him just what that fascist pig deserves: a long, piss on his grave…

    …or, better yet, on his actual corpse during the funeral service.

  6. Sili says

    For lack of a hell, this will do.

    If only it could happen more Republan politicos (and for that matter blue dog Democrats).

  7. says

    He almost certainly would reject compassion from most of us, as he would reject our contempt.

    It’s nice he’s lived long enough to see same-sex rights triumph. Knowing he has been a political failure, and a failure to his family and his god: drink deep of defeat, loser.

  8. Al Dente says

    I’m sorry that Nathan is losing his father. I’m even sorry that Fred spent his last days in such despair he stopped eating. I am not sorry that a hating asshole is dying.

  9. opposablethumbs says

    I think Azkyroth had a good suggestion – people might quietly line the route of the cortege holding placards that read “I am sorry for your loss”.

  10. says

    For those who don’t know: Nate Phelps is an atheist, and now branch director for CFI Calgary. Growing up, he took enormous damage from his father, who was as much an asshole to his own family as he was to, well, gays notably, but really everyone outside his cult. If you’ve ever seen Nate speak, you’ve seen some of this pain come out. In my observation, children of abusive parents suffer horrible internal conflict. So spare *lots* of sympathy for him, right about now.

    Fred, however? Not so much. My guess is that his excommunication is part of an internal power struggle — quite predictable, given the nature of the family-cult.

  11. opposablethumbs says

    … and I do feel sorry for Nathan, for the blow of having to face the utter finality of having lost out on ever having a decent father.

    (Sorry for the poorly-expressed sentiment, but I hope it’s not too garbled).

  12. Eirik van der Meer says

    I will always feel pity for any creature that suffers. Some will say he got what he deserved, but I refuse to accept that. Nobody deserves to suffer. That’s what they think…

  13. says

    Hearing Nathan Phelps speak at the Reason Rally was one of the highlights of that event for me. I definitely feel a lot of sympathy for him, especially since he has said that the members of WBC are denying the apostates the chance to say goodbye to their father. That sort of closure can be very important to children of abusive parents. As for Phelps Sr., I cannot regret his passing, but I do regret whatever in his life led him to be so utterly guided by hate for so long.

  14. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I can certainly feel sorry for Nathan, though I fail to understand why he’s feeling badly about a man who (by his own account) brutalized and abused him throughout his life.

    At the very least, if Fred doesn’t apologize and try to make amends before he dies, it’s literally impossible that it will ever happen. I’m pretty sure that’s part of why my ex took her birthgiver/mother-in-name-only’s death so hard. >.>

  15. says

    My sympathies to Nathan, and all those who will be grieved, and I hope Fred dies easily. The dynamics of a dysfunctional family are complex, to say the least, and I hope there’s comfort for those in need of it.

  16. Larry says

    A wasted life spent worshiping a fairy creature, believing it to be telling him to go forth and hate. I’ll withhold my sympathies for those more deserving.

  17. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    It says a lot about Fred Phelps’ parenting skills that his family kicked him out and does not visit as he lays dying. That is his monument to the world, a family where most either cannot or will not feel compassion.

    Such is his legacy. If only he had enough decency to be sickened by that.

    Also, I feel no need for any type of protest to show up at his funeral. Only ghouls engage in that. Let the Phelps clan mourn in peace. That is, those family members who are capable of mourning.

  18. Hank Fox says

    A funeral is a private family affair. I would NEVER show up at one to picket, and I hope nobody else does either. But responding publicly in any other way to the public acts and attitudes of that shitty little man — oh yeah, that’s totally appropriate.

    I know too well that loving a relative, even a parent, is not an automatic given, and I have to wonder why there is any love there at all, but I wished Nathan all the best on Facebook.

  19. Pierce R. Butler says

    anuran @ # 4: Also hoping people don’t picket his funeral.

    Should there be any sort of burial ritual, those picketing it will probably belong to Phelps’s ex-church.

  20. Akira MacKenzie says

    I’m sorry for dragging my own personal shit into this. I’m having own of those weekends.

  21. atheistblog says

    Spewing hatred for the dead in the name of reason or rationality is taking atheist to nowhere. And meanwhile religious people claiming moral high ground by feeling pity for the dead.
    And if you are a rationalist you should know that its not that religious people think dead are going to jesus so they feel pity, but caring or feel pity for dead is Universal human moral compass.
    When only religious people were saying that Bin Laden should not have been shot dead unarmed or should not celebrate death, mean while no people of reason take that position, it doesn’t show that people of reason are immoral or lacking pity for dead, because atheist like me take that position as well, but it shows that there are lots of people of reasons lacks that human moral compass, just like how lots of people of reason are misogynist.
    Don’t cherish the death of any, human species always felt pity for the dead no matter what, if feeling pity for any dead brings any permanent harm to world, let me know how, then I will stop pity for any dead, good or bad, friend or enemy.
    ATHEIST should claim high moral ground than religious. Don’t cherish or celebrate the dead, and don’t be like westboro church people, if so what’s the difference between westboro people and you ?
    ATHEIST MUST BE BETTER THAN THAT. Even you should feel pity for the westboro haters.
    Morality was not born after jesus, human morality evolved and existed in every human society. So please show the people of religious that morality of people of reason are better and have high moral ground than people of religious. This is one way to disprove the moral jesus myth, every human being can be better than mythical jesus character.
    If you are unable to claim high moral ground, fine, then you are no better than ordinary, but at least have some humility and keep quiet. Being atheist doesn’t mean it is okey to be hatred spewing ordinary humans. ATHEIST MUST BE BETTER THAN THAT.

  22. carlie says

    I feel sorry for the waste of a life that Fred Phelps made of his.

    I feel sorry for Nathan and his other relatives who won’t ever get to have the closure of seeing Fred change his ways and ask their forgiveness for how he treated them.

    That’s about the best I can muster.

  23. Menyambal says

    I feel sad for them all. Sad for the loss of family, sad for wasted lives, sad for the hurt caused and suffered, sad for the lost cause.

    Right or wrong, the old boy wasn’t indifferent. He dedicated himself to a cause, stood up to the world, told what he thought was truth to power, or, possibly, ran one hell of a con for a long time. Now, at the end, he’s lost.

    The world has changed, and what he tried to do has probably hurt the cause to which he dedicated his life. His family and his church, his own little world, has spit him out. His god awaits, and God only knows how he feels.

  24. Alverant says

    I didn’t know that about Nathan. Ironic that the only one willing to take care of Fred is the Atheist son he tossed out. I wonder how much he’s reflecting on that fact.

    For Nathan’s sake, I wish a quick resolution to the person most responsible for his pain so he can move on and live his own life.

  25. DBP says

    I’m glad that asshole is dying. The world will be a better place when it no longer has to waste resources maintaining the life of that breathing pile of feces.
    Fuck him and fuck him again. My only sadness is for the fact that he lived long enough to shit his evil onto this planet and that he was such a miserable asshole of a person and father.

  26. DBP says

    Fuck “atheistblog” as well. No one is spewing hatred “in the name of reason,” they’re spewing hatred towards someone who worked a significant portion of their life actively and intentionally making the world a worse place. His dying doesn’t make him suddenly a better person or undo any of the fucking horrible shit he has done. He was an evil man who did many evil things and never made an attempt to undo any of them, nor has he even tried to apologize for being such a shit. The world is better off without him and those like him.

    Also, I personally feel he is getting too much sympathy.

  27. Al Dente says

    atheistblog @27

    Don’t cherish the death of any, human species always felt pity for the dead no matter what, if feeling pity for any dead brings any permanent harm to world, let me know how, then I will stop pity for any dead, good or bad, friend or enemy.

    Fred Phelps devoted his life to hating everyone else in the world. When he dies I won’t piss on his grave only because I don’t like to stand in line. Feel pity for Phelps all you like. Do not demand that others do the same.

  28. Andy Groves says

    There are unconfirmed reports that Phelps was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. If true, and if his disease is in its terminal stages, it might explain why he is no longer eating and drinking.

  29. Alverant says

    When my cat and dog were ready to go, they stopped eating too. At least I was able to put them down and spare them further pain. I would grant Fred that tender mercy.

  30. jaybee says

    One of the theories about why Phelps was excommunicated is that they view death as a sign of God’s disfavor — that is why they protest at funerals, as the deceased obviously did something to piss off God. Knowing that the elder Phelps was about to pass, they didn’t want that judgement to reflect on their little sect, so they played the No True Scotsman card and are now pretending Phelps isn’t one of them, and the elder Phelps’ death will be confirmation that God punishes the wicked.

  31. Louis says

    1) I am sorry for Fred Phelps’ victims.

    2) I am sorry for his friends and family who will miss him.

    3) I am sorry for the family he harmed and who will have mixed feelings about this.

    Condolences to all.

    4) Fred Phelps lived his life the way he thought he should. I can’t condone the little I know of his actions, but neither can I be especially happy at his passing. There is always another bigot to fill the gap, his legacy lives on. His death is not a victory for anyone. Had he changed his mind, THAT would have been a victory. The harshest criticism I have is that he lived too long and did too much harm. I’m happy that is over, I hope another bigot does not fill the gap despite my expectations.

    5) All that said, his grave should be marked with something like the verse that Byron suggested for Castlereigh. That’s what a legacy such as his deserves.

    Louis

  32. Louis says

    Oh and a picket? Nah. Too easy. Do better than the WBC, it’s not hard and can be done a lot funnier.

    Louis

  33. Akira MacKenzie says

    Menyambal @ 40

    Thanks. I’ll be OK. Today is my “Friday” and I’ll have the next few days to rest and try to forget the shit. Then, next week is my long-awaited vacation at Lake Geneva, WI playing Old School D&D. I’ll be a lot happier, then.

  34. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Louis, I see people on Twitter doing the same tired jokes about either being sexually assaulted by satan or not being allowed into hell.

    As for what I think, he should be forgotten by all of us.

  35. laurentweppe says

    The behaviour of the members of his former church is despicable. When a man is dying it is purely evil to deny him and his estranged family the last chance at comfort and reconciliation.

    I heavily suspect that his “flock” pulled a Ceausescu on him: he grew too old and frail to frighten them into submission anymore, but instead of simply leaving him, his followers retaliated by giving him a taste of his own medicine by forcing him to go through the whole pretend-trial-slash-public-humiliation-by-the-mob-slash-becoming-his-own-family-hostage procedure.

    His dying doesn’t make him suddenly a better person or undo any of the fucking horrible shit he has done. He was an evil man who did many evil things and never made an attempt to undo any of them, nor has he even tried to apologize for being such a shit. The world is better off without him and those like him.

    When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices; and when the wicked perish, there is jubilation.
    In the end, Phelps did manage to make some atheists go all biblical on him.

  36. Amphiox says

    Don’t cherish the death of any, human species always felt pity for the dead no matter what, if feeling pity for any dead brings any permanent harm to world

    Not feeling pity for any particular dead also does not bring any permanent harm to the world.

    No one should feel pity for the dead anymore than a woman should feel emotional over having an abortion.

    And at any rate, pity is much better spent on the living.

  37. says

    I think it was comedian Mark Thomas who said that he wanted to see Margaret Thatcher buried in a huge ceremony at Westminster Abbey, but that there seemed little point doing that now she was dead.

    And part of me thinks that about Fred Phelps. But … you know what: no. He’s a human being with a family. I’ve never met him, and me hating him seems like him winning, somehow. I think we can feel sympathy for a dying man, and for his family. And, unlike his God, I would never condemn a man to Hell. He, like the rest of us, is just one little man who’s only afterlife is other people’s memory of what he did in the world.

    The important thing, though, is for us not to forget that Christianity motivates the most appalling beliefs. His homophobia was not one insane old man misreading the Bible, it’s just what most Christians of his generation believe and are quite happy to say in public.

    Anyway, let’s take in some cheery news:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/15/catholic-church-of-scotland-dying

    We’re a few delayed retirements from there only being forty Catholic priests in the whole of Scotland, with only two in training. Half the parishes are closing.

    The vile, right wing Christianity that mainstream Catholicism and Fred Phelps both represent are dying off.

  38. georow says

    I live near Topeka, and have always been mystified by Fred Phelps. Before he was a hate-monger of the worst sort, he was a rather brilliant civil rights lawyer who was responsible for taking down many of the city’s Jim Crow laws in the 1960s. He received a number of awards from African American civil rights groups including the NAACP. Until relatively recently, many leaders of local African American groups were very reluctant to criticize him because of his importance in local civil rights. He also once sued Ronald Reagan for appointing an ambassador to the Vatican. He believed that this was a violation of the 4th Amendment. Even though I have a hard time feeling any pity for the man, I can’t help but think what a tragedy his impending death really is. Had he not become a hateful deranged (and in my opinion, mentally ill) fanatic, it’s likely he would be passing away rich in praise for his contributions to civil rights. Instead he will die alone, remembered only as a hateful monster.

  39. says

    Hmmmm. Maybe I’m reading too much into the specific phrasing, but the reports aren’t saying that Fred Phelps is being totally isolated, merely that the relatives who he kicked out of his life aren’t being permitted to see him now when he’s dying. Sad, but if you had the paranoid, hate-filled worldview of the WBC, you might be afraid to meet someone you had kicked out after becoming too feeble to defend yourself. After all, “we expect of others what we know of ourselves”, and from his expressed worldview it’s all too easy to imagine Fred Phelps physically attacking someone on their deathbed if he thought he could get away with it.

    @39, jaybee:

    That simultaneously is hilarious and has an eerie ring of truth to it.

  40. Amphiox says

    But also, to paraphrase Shakespeare, feeling pity is much more about the one who feels the pity than the one who receives it.

  41. Forrest Phelps says

    Fred Phelps was vile in thought, words, and deeds. No one should be “required” to feel pity for him, just as no one should ever be “required” to feel love for someone. We can all agree that the world would be better with less people like Fred Phelps because there would be less hate. So how does “hating” on him help bring about a better world with less hate?

  42. georow says

    Dang it! In my previous post it should be 1st Amendment not 4th. Representation in the Vatican is about teh establishment clause, not search and seizure.

  43. DBP says

    In the end, Phelps did manage to make some atheists go all biblical on him.

    I don’t know what you mean by this.

  44. says

    DBP:

    I’m glad that asshole is dying. The world will be a better place when it no longer has to waste resources maintaining the life of that breathing pile of feces.

    You’ve certainly illustrated how much you have in common with Mr. Phelps.

  45. says

    @51,Forrest Phelps:

    That’s kind of an interesting point. I do recall reading a published study which concluded that actually, contrary to popular belief, people who hold in their anger did not eventually explode with it — on the contrary, people who acted on their anger, even in relatively benign ways like punching a pillow, tended to be angry more often and suffer more over it. So perhaps “feel free to be glad Fred Phelps is dead, but keep it to yourself” is the best we can hope for, all around.

  46. DBP says

    So how does “hating” on him help bring about a better world with less hate?

    I can’t see how it makes the world worse to be honest about one of the least pleasant people to curse the world by remaining alive.

  47. DBP says

    You’ve certainly illustrated how much you have in common with Mr. Phelps.

    “I’m glad he can no longer make the world a worse place!” is somehow equal to “I intend to make life as bad as possible for other people” to you.

  48. ekwhite says

    For some reason, the story about Fred Phelps Sr. makes me want to cry, not just for Nathan Phelps, but also for Fred Phelps. Yes, many of the things he said and did were disgusting, but to die alone, abandoned by your family, is not a fate I would wish on anyone, even him.

    At the end of his life, he is paying for his lack of compassion, but it doesn’t make me happy. It makes me sad that he is suffering. It makes me even sadder that Nathan Phelps is suffering too.

  49. Amphiox says

    So how does “hating” on him help bring about a better world with less hate?

    Not “hating” on him does not either, so I’d say its a wash.

    But if raging about him on the internet, which again harms no one, makes the rager and some of the readers feel better, then doing so has increased the total sum of happinness in the world. And is that not a good thing?

  50. barnestormer says

    Nate Phelps speaking at the Reason Rally:

    “They called me a rebel. For years I bore that label with shame until I realized that confronted with the god of my father, rebellion is the only moral option.”

    I’ve had enormous sympathy and respect for Nate ever since I first encountered him in Addicted to Hate. I wish him peace and comfort. I hope everyone in the Phelps family, and all the WBC, and all of Fred Phelps’ victims find the same.

  51. says

    I wonder if it is hard, lying in your death bed, to realize that so very many people are happy to see you go.

    Not that happy is the only feeling I feel about Phelps’ death. I can feel bad for a life wasted and feel my heart ache in sympathy thinking of man alienated from his family dying alone. But I don’t think there is anything harsh or cruel or inhumane to be glad that someone who has helped drive so many to their deaths via suicide or hate crime is meeting his end. That the world is better off without him is both true and of his own making.

  52. duce7999 says

    I am suddenly reminded with what those wily Norwegians did to that awful killer. Do you recall it?

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/norwegians-heckle-mass-killer-anders-breivik-with-pete-seeger-childrens-song/

    Reciprocity isn’t what is needed, but we can still respond. I like the idea of something like an annual memorial award given to someone that would have pissed him off the most. The person most committed to equality and acceptance.

    I know that there are plenty of great and wonderful people that are actually committed to that cause that would provide a name suited to emulation. However, I think we can repurpose his hate into something positive.

    Any other ideas on how we can surround his hate and force it to surrender?

  53. anteprepro says

    ekwhite

    Yes, many of the things he said and did were disgusting, but to die alone, abandoned by your family, is not a fate I would wish on anyone, even him.

    At the end of his life, he is paying for his lack of compassion, but it doesn’t make me happy.

    You are a kinder soul than I. I say he made his bed and now he must lie in it. He is the one who warped the ideologies of his family. It bit him in the ass. Good. I’m just sorry it had to happen so close to his death bed and it didn’t happen him to sooner. You revel in divisiveness, dogmatism, and hatred? You indoctrinate your family to do the same? You cause family members like Nate and others to suffer if they don’t submit to The Holy Cause? And now suddenly we are supposed to feel bad for you because the monster you created rebelled against its creator? Fat chance.

    I wouldn’t wish it anyone. But is it poetic justice. I’m not happy, but I do not pity him either. It warrants from me only a bitter, somber chuckle, and a desire that hopefully some of his fellow shitheads will learn from Fred’s mistakes. I’m not holding my breath.

  54. woozy says

    Pity for Fred, yes. Sympathy, no. But I’m not a vengeful nasty guy. I take no joy and pleasure in watching a man die. But no sympathy. Just pity. … And a hope, but no expectation, that he experiences one moment of clarity and remorse at what a shit he was.

    For Nathan… *Full* sympathy and condolences and I hope he finds the resolution, comfort and meaning that he needs.

  55. lurker says

    First post. Sorry it is far too long, and sorry if I am bringing my own “daddy issues” too much into this, but this was all very triggering for me, so please forgive me.
    My deepest sympathies go out to Nate and his family. Yes Fred Phelps’ message was vile, but I’d like to think of Nate primarily. I can only speak from my experience (which was much less extreme), and I hope Nate will forgive me if I project too much here….
    My father was also an angry, selfish, spiteful man. I was subjected to brutal physical punishment similar to Nate, including the running and working all hours and the constant psychological abuse and manipulation. I also eventually cut all ties with my father, and he poisoned my family against me for years, isolating me to continue the abuse. I dealt with, (and still deal with) the mental issues from my childhood.
    But when my father got ill it all came back. I tried desperately to remember something good about him. I felt bad for not having tried harder. My friend put it a good way, she said I was “mourning the father I never had”. And when my family told me I couldn’t see him, it was hard to deal with. Even though I had told myself I didn’t want to see him, nothing had changed, maybe I did. Then it was too late and he died. And I still live with that. There are a lot of “what ifs” that can go along with a situation like this.
    Fred is still Nate’s father. And while I saw the hateful messages, and have no obligation to feel anything for a man I never knew and don’t admire (to put it mildly), it is the scared, old man I can muster pity for. But mainly his estranged family, excluded from normal grieving processes, and in isolation from those with shared experiences. And just in case Nate reads these posts, I want him to know, that while I saw the message his father spread, I didn’t have his experiences with Fred. I know if everyone had hated my father, it probably wouldn’t have been any easier. I hope that whether his siblings have the compassion to let him say goodbye or not, that he manages to find a way to grieve for the father he had and the one he didn’t have. And I hope he can see that that situation is not his fault, and no matter what the world says, thinks, feels, and no matter how justified he thinks they are in their opinions, he has the right to feel however he wants, and to grieve however he needs to. So for Nate’s sake I won’t delight in his grief. I want him to know he is not alone. For what it’s worth. My thoughts are with him.

  56. anteprepro says

    As for picketing a Westboro funeral: Fuck that. They don’t deserve the attention.

    As for Nathan Phelps: I feel unending pity for his situation. He suffered the most at the hands of this man, and now he has to be the one standing by him on his deathbed, comforting him, and has to be the one left to mourn for him. That is a huge fucking burden that is nothing but salt in the wounds that Fred and his church have given to Nate.

  57. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    Fred Phelps is not an evil man and not a monster, because there are no such things. He is a person.

    A person who did terrible, hateful things. A person who pushed others to do terrible, hateful things. A person who made the world a more terrible, hateful place. A person who brought great pain to those around him and now finds himself isolated and dying, with that isolation born out of the same terrible hate he sowed.

    I hope his death is as quick and painless as possible. I hope the living don’t suffer too much over this. I hope his hate dies with him.

  58. says

    And in the end you’ll pack up, fly down south
    Hide your head in the sand
    Just another sad old man, all alone and dying of cancer

    And when you lose control you’ll reap the harvest you have sown
    And as the fear grows, the bad blood slows and turns to stone
    And it’s too late to lose the weight
    You used to need to throw around
    So have a good drown as you go down all alone
    Dragged down by the stone

    – Pink Floyd, Animals, from the song “Dogs.”

    Far more eloquent than anything I can think of to write. I can not improve on perfection.

  59. atheistblog says

    Al Dente @35

    Fred Phelps devoted his life to hating everyone else in the world. When he dies I won’t piss on his grave only because I don’t like to stand in line. Feel pity for Phelps all you like. Do not demand that others do the same.

    Yeah, I am demanding you, only you, to pity. If you do not obey my order you will be prosecuted tomorrow, you have one night, tonight, to obey my order.

    Duh duh, this is why, this is exactly why, PZ, atheism as something beyond movement, something good, never gonna happen. Because people like Al Dente, ( the pricks is good adjective here ), are part of ATHEISM. For these people philosophy, ethics are too much. But something as petty, something as vengeance, are their daily staple. You can’t simply even tell them there is something wrong with vengeance, there is something wrong with hatred.
    Its not just jesus who can say ‘show other cheek,’ any one can pity people like Phelps, that is something good, something not westboro people. Should we have to show hatred, and sink to westboro people level ?
    See, you can’t even say this, and people like Al Dente just simply spun your words, asking to show love not hate as too demanding and it is authoritarian for these Al Dente people.

    No wonder why good people like Neil Tyson distance themselves from atheist and call themselves agnostic. In 21st century it is too easy to mock religious idiocy, too easy to prove religious fanatics wrong, too easy to discredit scriptures as myths, but if you need people of world to think and hear what you have to say, first you have to tell what you are, what you want to present yourself as !

    Not just science, Emotion, love, art, are all part of everyday human life. Science is tough and hard to understand. You can tell in any easy language as possible how time and space are relativistic not absolute, but if you don’t understand special and general relativity, if you don’t even do simple algebra to calculate and understand that math, it is so hard to have the ‘feel’ of space-time relativity.
    But give people art, poem about love, even if they are not expert they would feel as something triggered inside them. To fully grasp science, you need hard work. Don’t expect science would be easy for 7.5 billion people on the earth. When you present art, emotions, love, poem, even if you miss something in the presentation, people still go home taking something, feeling with awe. Because that’s innate to people. Science need thinking, that hard work for lot.
    If you miss momentum, acceleration, relativity, then there is no way you gonna grasp general relativity, all you have to understand is, some vague insinuation, nebulous analogy. Speaking of nebulous analogies, that’s exactly what religions does.
    If you want the world to listen, don’t tell the world that hate is ok. And don’t write a reply saying how hate is part of life, how hate is good sometime, how hate is inevitable, how hate is necessary. For morality you don’t need to tell people any epistemological explanation, you don’t need to give an objective reality. So keep it simple as possible.
    Hate is bad, Love is good, don’t show hate even to the people who hates you.
    Then for the argument sake don’t heap arguments saying how it impossible when terrorists hate you, you can’t stop hating them. People don’t live their life like a Scientific formula, if a formula has to be successful, it has to be proved correct everywhere. Don’t see anthropology as mathematical formula.
    I don’t hate people who hates me, because I don’t go to their level. If you are Al Dente, well, you are welcome.

    When you show yourself as arrogant prick, hatred prick, no different than westboro haters, then you show to the world as that’s what who you are.

    Lot of these Atheist are so sexist and misogynist, how in the world anyone gonna tell them and convince them that don’t hate, it kills you from inside, pity even those who hates you.
    PZ, Good luck with your ATHEISM as something good movement. People like Al Dente reminds me of Bill Maher, he opposes war, imperialism, warmongering,religion, fanaticism all those liberal stuff, but when it comes to Israel, well, there is an unconditional exception for all those said.

  60. Forrest Phelps says

    @#55, The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs):

    Feeling glad about someone getting their comeuppance is much better than hating them, so I agree with you and thank you for you contribution. I don’t think you have to keep it to yourself, though. Saying “I’m glad he’s dead” of someone is rude, but not hateful.

    The point which I think I failed to make clear, is this:

    Fred Phelps believed and preached “God Hates Fags”. We (atheist) therefore “hate” him for this.

    Who is the one who decides which hate is a good hate, and which hate is a bad hate?
    (and what is the annual salary?)

  61. Desert Son, OM says

    lurker at #66:

    Joining carlie to say thank you for that post, with thoughts of support for you in your own grief at the recollection.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  62. vaiyt says

    Fred Phelps challenges some people’s sense of ethics because he is a man who made his life’s mission to spend every waking moment he had making the world a worse place.

  63. says

    Dear Atheists.

    Please let me remind you of something.
    EVERYONE DIES.
    EVERYONE.

    Everyone dies ALONE. Even if you’re on a careening plane holding the hand of a loved one, YOU DIE ALONE, and they do too.

    Most people’s deaths are not particularly pleasant.
    This is not only not unusual, not only common – it is INEVITABLE.
    Everyone dies. Most suffer.

    Phelps is going through an experience tied for the number one spot on the “experienced by humans” list, the other being birth.

    He’s dying after a LONG, LONG life, one of doing exactly what he wanted to, controlling others.

    Sympathy for the family, yes. Sympathy for his victims, yes.
    Sympathy for HIM? For living a long life and then dying in a bed?
    Same as my grandmas, my grandpa, eventually my parents and me?

    WHY?
    Death is PART OF THE PACKAGE, and he can’t complain that his came unfairly harshly or too soon.

    Death is also necessary, I should point out.

    Stop mourning a fully-lived life and natural life processes.

  64. says

    Apologies if anyone else has covered this already, but it’s my understanding (from an unsourced source) that Phelps was excommunicated because the Westboro-ites hold that we are in the end times, and that anyone who dies before the actual end has been cursed by God to be sent to Hell. Since he was clearly going to die before the end (though I don’t know how they can be sure of that, it would be embarrassing if their God ended the world before Phelps died, after all) he clearly couldn’t be leader of the church anymore. So, hoist by his own petard, there.

    What a set of evil beliefs.

  65. says

    NelC, if that’s true they apparently haven’t considered the idea his death is the beginning of Armageddon. I’m sure he’d like that idea.

  66. anteprepro says

    atheistblog:

    this is exactly why, PZ, atheism as something beyond movement, something good, never gonna happen. Because people like Al Dente, ( the pricks is good adjective here ), are part of ATHEISM. For these people philosophy, ethics are too much. But something as petty, something as vengeance, are their daily staple.

    You characterize Al Dente as your example of bad atheism? Of lack of ethics? As vengeful ? Yeah, you are a fucking clueless git. Righteous, justified anger isn’t vengeance or lack of ethics. Also, speaking of ethics: “pricks” is a gendered insult that we don’t tend to appreciate here in Pharyngula. Kthnx.

    You can’t simply even tell them there is something wrong with vengeance, there is something wrong with hatred.

    Are you one of those blowhards that whines about how someone is “intolerant of intolerance”?

    any one can pity people like Phelps, that is something good,

    [citation needed]

    people like Al Dente just simply spun your words, asking to show love not hate as too demanding and it is authoritarian for these Al Dente people.

    “Show love not hate” is a platitude and is dangerously close to tone trolling.

    No wonder why good people like Neil Tyson distance themselves from atheist and call themselves agnostic.

    Yeah, I’m sure that’s it. Has nothing to do with Christian demonization and fauxlosophical word games. Nosireebob.

    If you want the world to listen, don’t tell the world that hate is ok.

    Okay. We are going to continue to tell that Fred and his clan’s hate is not okay. What’s the issue?

    And don’t write a reply saying how hate is part of life, how hate is good sometime, how hate is inevitable, how hate is necessary.

    I somehow think you regard any kind of anger our moral outrage as “hate” if you imagine that those would be our responses…

    Hate is bad, Love is good, don’t show hate even to the people who hates you.

    In other words, don’t oppose your abuser or you are Just As Bad. Because Both Sides, etc. etc.

    Fuck that. Love if you can, forgive if you can, but don’t be afraid to do what you must to defend yourself from those who aren’t as kind-hearted.
    .

    I don’t hate people who hates me, because I don’t go to their level.

    Good for you, but who gives a shit?

    When you show yourself as arrogant prick, hatred prick, no different than westboro haters, then you show to the world as that’s what who you are.

    These are loving, unhateful words…how?

    The bottom line: You are not the ultimate arbiter of what does and does not qualify as Hatred. You are obviously taking a narrow definition to exempt yourself and a broad definition to chastise Al Dente. Check your biases and pre-conceptions. And if you can’t and are going to double down on your asshattery, and then “Go Fuck Yourself:” in advance.

  67. woozy says

    Spewing hatred for the dead in the name of reason or rationality is taking atheist to nowhere.
    No-one’s spewing hatred in the name of reason. People spew hatred for the sake of a catharsis and anger.

    Yes, we should raise above reactive hatred and nasty revelry in another’s misfortune. That’d be the good and mature thing to do.

    But none the less there’s nothing wrong with observing that Phelps was a vile evil little despicable man and the world will be better with him dead. That’s not hate and ill-will; it’s simply fact.

    Although I’ll try to be graceful in the news of a fellow human beings death, I will not condemn anyone for feeling pleasure in the removal of a nasty enemy and his foul words. In fact, I will take comfort in these expressions of pleasure. That is not inconsistent. While I will feel pity at the death of a human being (or at least I’ll try) I feel expressions of rejection of the vile and nasty actions and words should never cease, not even while mourning the death of the human being who uttered them.

    … or in other words….

    I, personally, will not piss on his grave. But I’ll buy Al Dente a drink when he does.

  68. robro says

    My sympathies to Nathan. He sounds like a genuinely good person to care about his father even in the face of so much abuse.

    Let’s hope that one thing to come from this is that the WBC fades from the world.

    NelC — Interesting proposition and sounds plausible, given the nuttiness of that cult.

    atheistblog @#27

    …human species always felt pity for the dead no matter what…

    We don’t know that and have no way of knowing it. We only know that people started burying some dead people long ago. We don’t know that they buried everybody. We don’t know why they buried anybody or why they included grave goods. We certainly don’t know what they felt, if anything. Any interpretation of ancient burials that ascribes to them pity or religious experience is merely projecting onto them our feelings, our cultural experiences, our religious propensities. That’s all.

  69. monad says

    I suppose I could feel some pity for however much is still left of young Fred, the little boy who wanted to find a place in the world and didn’t need to end up like this.

    But there are about 150,000 people who are going to die today, many in as awful circumstances, and the only reason this is one I know about is because of his career of hate. So how about this: if I somehow get through enough of the list of people to spare compassion for, I will for him, but he’s not jumping the queue just because he’s famous for being awful.

  70. says

    This story reminds of the way Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s son (who was in a fundy christian cult) treated her and other family members after they were murdered. He refused to submit a DNA sample to help identify their bodies, unwilling to help solve their murders.

    Some people can become unfathomably callous when their minds are addled by extremist ideology.

  71. anteprepro says

    Forrest Phelps:

    Fred Phelps believed and preached “God Hates Fags”. We (atheist) therefore “hate” him for this.

    Who is the one who decides which hate is a good hate, and which hate is a bad hate?

    Here’s my rule of thumb:
    Hating people for innocuous parts of their identity or harmless actions they make: BAD
    “Hating” people for things they say or do that result in needless harm to other people: GOOD

    That isn’t the ultimate authoritative word of the matter, but hopefully it sheds light on the subject, for all of those out there who can’t distinguish intolerance and vocal opposition to intolerance.

  72. Amphiox says

    Hate is bad, Love is good, don’t show hate even to the people who hates you.

    Oh, you mean like, “turn the other cheek”? You know this presupposed morality here is entirely religious.

    No, for a matter of fact hate is not bad, and love is not good.

    Hate and love are both neutral in and of themselves. What matters is what they are being directed at.

    Hate directed at the wrong things is bad. Hate directed at the right things is good. Love for right things is good. Love for the wrong things is bad.

    The world does NOT have too much hate in it. It has hatred directed at too many of the wrong targets.

  73. mikeyb says

    I don’t hate him. I just hate that he wasted his one and only life consumed with hatred rather that trying to open his eyes and actually understand the world even if its just a tiny bit.

  74. Holms says

    Preventing even the excommunicated family members seeing their own (also excommunicated) father is unexpectedly hateful, even for a group known only for its hate.

    May he, and the rest of the family for that matter, fade swiftly into obscurity.

  75. Endorkened says

    It isn’t his fault he’s broken. It isn’t his fault he’s filled with hate. There’s a thing in his mind that’s trying to spread without any regard for ethics, because that’s all it has any capacity to do–it’s a throwback that evolved to live inside chalcolithic societies. It can’t survive in a changing noosphere and, if it were sophisticated enough to warrant it, you might make an argument that you should feel sorry for it, too.

  76. Azuma Hazuki says

    Nate and I are fairly close on the Book of Faces. I have not checked in tonight yet but will have (more) comfort for him if possible. Nate’s past is a long, lacerated scroll of horrors at this man’s hands, and the fact that he’s the one comforting the man who hurt him so is just mind-blowing. My respect for him, already at a high level, is overflowing now; in many ways he is the modern Robert G. Ingersoll.

    @NelC, seriously? THAT’S why they excommunicated him? This is an almost ludicrously symmetric case of poetic “justice.” I don’t hate him, but feel intense sorrow for a life wasted in this way and sympathy for all his victims living or dead. That this is a fitting end for him does not lessen its tragedy.

  77. yubal says

    Hm, I guess we all face death with a memory how we lived our lives. And the consequences thereof.

    @ Fred Phelps

    I hope you can leave life easily without suffering too much .

    Fear no death. It will be only the end of you and your mind. Nothing will change. In a few billion years, the atoms that make up your body and those that make up mine will travel together in a cloud of debris shattered by a nova throughout the cruel voids of space that make up most of our galaxy. And there is hope for another star, another life, in another time, and maybe another attempt for …. a glimpse of eternal beauty.

  78. says

    Somehow, these lyrics from Dylan’s Masters of War seem somewhat appropiate:

    And I hope that you die
    And your death’ll come soon
    I will follow your casket
    In the pale afternoon
    And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
    Down to your deathbed
    And I’ll stand over your grave
    ‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead.

  79. Muz says

    Ex communicated? Wow. How weird. We need to send Louis Theroux back in to find out what’s going on. There’s a few big departures lately it’d be worth him talking to as well.
    That doctrinal theory of why they did it seems plausible, but it wouldn’t be surprising if there’s some legal, property based motive too.
    The daughters seem to have been running the show for a long while now, but now they hit a snag when it comes to true leadership, what with them being women and all. And with no figure head to rant and annoy people in just the right way they may have a harder time generating lawsuits to make any money from (although this has probably been true for a while too).
    That Steve Drain seems to have become more and more central to the whole thing and he’s a properly unsettling fanatic.

  80. says

    This has been weighing me down all day. It’s triggering, for me; so much remembered pain in my own life!

    I can’t hate Fred Phelps. Somehow, it isn’t in me. I feel sad at the waste of a life, at the waste of the lives of his family, at the damage he has caused. I hate what he did. I often wished he would come to the end. or to his senses, or to justice, but knew at the same time that he would go on and on and on until he was physically incapable, and then his family would continue; he has trained them to hate.

    But I can’t hate a person, I never met. I can’t find pleasure in imagining causing more pain. There’s enough to go around already.

    I feel so sad for Nate; abuse loads so much guilt, so much confusion, so many conflicting feelings into someone’s mind, going through a period like this is agony.

    (Personal story; may be triggering.)

    My ex-husband died last summer. I had been wishing he would; it had been some 25 years since I’d seen him, but he still managed to continue to hurt me and my family, and his other children and wives. He lived to hurt; he didn’t want love, or friendship, but fear. He was a Fred Phelps in miniature, quieter, less public, but equally malevolent.

    When we knew he was dying, it was like the end of a jail sentence coming up. For us; not for him; he managed to set up a family feud from his deathbed. It was what he wanted out of life; to be in control, even if he wasn’t there, to have everybody angry with everybody else.

    And then he died. And I was completely floored by my reactions. First, I was angry, shaking with anger. Not at him, at a god I no longer believe in. For not existing, for not having a hell for my ex to go to. It wasn’t fair for him to just die and be done with it!

    Then there was the guilt; if only I had done something different all those years ago; maybe I could have turned him, maybe … Useless guilt, a hangover from long-renounced Christianity.

    Then guilt that I had wanted him to die.

    Then pity; dying surrounded by strangers, with all your assorted children and wives glad to see you gone. How sad for him! (But he brought it on himself, I knew.)

    More anger, more guilt, more grief at the loss, all those decades ago, of hope. More relief. From moment to moment, my feelings changed.

    Now, over half a year later, there only remains a sadness. And a silence; as my kids worked through their own tangled feelings, each on his or her own schedule, we stopped talking about it, for the first time since they were small. More grief.

    And I think of Nate, starting down that road, estranged from his family, alone with his memories. So sad! I hope he finds comfort somewhere. I hope he has people in his life who will listen and care and not give advice. I hope he is able to forget, at least sometimes.

    (Submit? Delete? Is this useful? Delete? … )

  81. Desert Son, OM says

    Susannah at #94:

    Is this useful? Delete? …

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I was grateful to read your comment, and thank you for it. It seems very apropos to the thread and the issues in discussion. I send supportive wishes for you and your children.

    Thank you again.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  82. seranvali says

    Hmmmm…not sure what I feel here. I’m sorry for Nathan, he still cares for the father who threw him out. That takes a good heart. I’m sorry for the pain his family will feel, at least those who give a damn. I’m sorry for his victims and that many of them won’t have the closure they need to put his influence behind them.

    Him? He’s dying and he’s alone because the church he created spit him out. That must be very bitter indeed. He taught them to hate and that’s exactly what they’ve done. He spent his life doing hateful things and that’s finally come back to bite him. I wish it hadn’t been that way. I wish he’d found some way off this path but once he followed result seems inevitable. I think I actually do have some compassion, he wasted his life and he must know it by now. I feel sorry that he’s alone now and there’s nobody he can talk that through with and maybe find some peace, but the odds are that he’ll die hatefully, just as he lived.

  83. says

    I will not feel any pity at all.

    He is a vile, bigoted, abusive, ignorant, sadistic man who has brought untold amounts of pain to innocent families for no reason.

    He has personally wished that people I know spend all eternity in raging hellfire for the sin of loving someone that don’t have Phelps prefered genital configuration.

    I’m not going to crow or throw a party or anything, but I will say “about time, good riddance, hope the rest of the castle collapses onto his head and his family breaks from his nasty ways”

  84. knowknot says

    Wow, people.
    I just hope we all get at least as much piss on our graves as we deserve.
    Knock a man off his horse when his blade gets long, yes. Defend everything against the chaos that comes from broken human minds, absolutely. Bloody yourself when necessary to do it, definitely.
    But anger in excess beyond the moment is just freaking pathetic in the end.
    Would you feel pity for Nathan if something in him had responded to his upbringing differently? If he’d become more like Fred? If he were Fred NOW?
    And failing to even try understand the horror that may well be in a broken mind, and maintaining what for all intents and purposes is a curse, especially up to (and past?) death is just… metaphysical.
    Evil is a ghost, it is cheap, and invoking it is cowardice.
    And I am not preaching, because my grave will be awash.
    |
    But thanks for the post, PZ. It was touching, in an almost William Carlos Williams sort of way. I know you can rage, and I respect that, and I thank you for this.

  85. knowknot says

    # 86 Amphiox

    Hate directed at the wrong things is bad. Hate directed at the right things is good. Love for right things is good. Love for the wrong things is bad.
    The world does NOT have too much hate in it. It has hatred directed at too many of the wrong targets.

    - Apparently the hate you have seen and the hate I have seen are very, very different beasts. The one I’m familiar with has notoriously bad aim, tends to keep shooting after it has actually managed to hit a target, and then defile the street before it leaves town. Tends to accomplish little, overall.
    - The people I’ve known who have managed to accomplish something in the face of cruelty, or injustice, or whatever, have been those who had the courage to run on something other than a fire in the belly.
    - And of love, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anyone love “the wrong things.” I have seen people obey the wrong things, obsess over the wrong things, tientheir imaginations to the wrong things, fear the wrong things, fail to question the wrong things, and become incapable of conceiving their own being in the absence of the wrong things, but love? Needing a picture on that.
    |

    Hate and love are both neutral in and of themselves.

    - But here our hates and loves become not only dissimilar, but dimensionally incongruous.
    |
    Obviously none of this proves you wrong; I have been deluded in other matters. Just saying.

  86. zaratoothbrush says

    To me, hatred of an individual is a legacy of the myth of agency. I thought that knowledge today was dominated by the idea of process. The universe is a gigantic cloud of things that are happening. The only strategy we should adopt in response is to try to understand what is happening inside this amazing cloud, and why. Surely that will help.

  87. René says

    I always felt a great pity for Phelps Sr, the disgust he felt for other human beings must have hurt him a great deal. Having said that, I feel strongly for Nate too. I hated my father all of my life until ten years after he died. Then I understood.

  88. markd555 says

    I have to wonder if he was excommunicated BECAUSE of his sickness.
    Church logic:
    God is responsible for every little thing, Fred is sick, god must not feel like healing him, therefore Fred is bad.

    As much sense as “god kills soldiers because gay people exist”.

  89. lurker says

    Thankyou carley # 69 and Desert Son # 73 for your kind words.

    And thanks to Susannah # 94 for sharing. I hope you and your family are ok, and I send the best wishes of a total stranger, (which you don’t have to accept).

  90. Moggie says

    georow:

    I live near Topeka, and have always been mystified by Fred Phelps. Before he was a hate-monger of the worst sort, he was a rather brilliant civil rights lawyer who was responsible for taking down many of the city’s Jim Crow laws in the 1960s.

    According to Nate, all the while Fred was fighting for civil rights he was an unrepentant racist who privately spoke of PoC in disgusting terms. Perhaps he just saw this as a career?

  91. Anri says

    atheistblog @ 71:

    Remember folks, a movement can never produce anything good, or change the world for the better if any of its self-proclaimed members are not fully wonderful people.

    And I think history proves this.

    … hang on, I just said something very, very stupid, didn’t I?
    Ah, but then I was agreeing with atheistblog, so there we go.

  92. Ishikiri says

    Don’t picket any funerals, don’t throw a party, don’t shout it from the rooftops: but do acknowledge the truth: Phelps was a vile man whose death will increase the grand sum of human happiness. Not by much, since his church is still active, but it will.

    PZ’s point about this being a portent of things to come for the other members of WBC is very cogent.

  93. Forrest Phelps says

    @#83: anteprepro

    “Hating people for innocuous parts of their identity or harmless actions they make: BAD
    “Hating” people for things they say or do that result in needless harm to other people: GOOD

    That isn’t the ultimate authoritative word of the matter, but hopefully it sheds light on the subject, for all of those out there who can’t distinguish intolerance and vocal opposition to intolerance.”

    As good a guide as is possible, I think. My worry would still be that by accepting “hate” in any way, one runs the risk of justifying “bad” hate. We could get in to a long discussion of what actual harm did WBC’s protests cause, versus the harm caused by hateful comments directed at Fred Phelps on this thread. Personally, I think WBC’s protest were obviously much more hurtful and caused more harm, so I’m not really trying to equate the the two. As much as I understand the hate in this thread directed at the man, I just think it encourages a culture of even more hate. I feel encouraged by the number of people who have manged to convey disgust but have still retained their sympathy for another human. In any case, thanks for the response.

  94. benjamincano says

    I heard a rumor on Dan Savage’s blog that excommunicating him might have been a move made to spare the church the expense of paying for his end-of-life care.

  95. Marc Abian says

    #23

    that shitty little man

    #79 woozy

    Phelps was a vile evil little despicable man

    How short was this Phelps, and how much did this contribute to the hateful person he became?

  96. sheikhmahandi says

    I don’t know about picketting his funeral, I personally would not waste my time travelling to Topeka expressly for that purpose, however, if I was there I would probably do what I saw once in Fife, Scotland. As the funeral procession passed by I noticed that a number of people turned their backs on the cortege, some men who had on hats did not remove them (as is traditional), I asked my cousin (who I was visiting at the time) why the show of disrespect, his reply was “the deceased scabbed during the 1925 general strike”. I guess what I am saying is, it is ok to feel pity for Nathan, and others who where excommunicated by Fred, but that does not mean that we have to respect the deceased.

  97. jamessweet says

    I feel neither joy nor pity, but the ex-communication thing is really interesting. I’ve seen at least three totally different and totally plausible explanations in the comments. Would be interested to know the real story!

  98. methuseus says

    Whether I feel he deserves it or not, I feel sympathy for any who is dying. Especially since he may be in pain. He also has no chance to see any of his children. If he wanted to apologize to Nathan or anyone else, WBC won’t let him. (unless I’m reading it wrong) That deserves sypmathy.

  99. says

    If he wanted to apologize to Nathan or anyone else, WBC won’t let him. (unless I’m reading it wrong) That deserves sypmathy.

    I do not have much experience with this, but if he wanted to see them, could the WBC really stop anyone? It appears he is in a hospice house, not on their property. How much power do they have to make such decisions?

  100. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    Homophobes aren’t born, they’re made. Ditto abusers. Someone or something made Phelps snr. the way he was. I for one am just sad he died before seeing and acknowledging the error of his ways. I feel sorry for him because his lasting legacy on this earth will be one of hatred. I pity him. But I can’t sympathise, and I won’t mourn him.

    I hope Nathan’s OK though. He seems a decent bloke.

  101. says

    @114: If he’s incapacitated, then someone (probably whichever of his kids is dominant in the WBC at the moment) is making his care decisions. And they may very well have the legal power to restrict who have access to him.

  102. says

    Oh, and whatever theological reasons may be being given out for the excommunication (and I haven’t bothered to confirm whether any of them are better than rumour), I still say they’re just cover for a power struggle. And I have a hard time pitying the man: he spent long years creating the system that has now spit him out; he assiduously trained the people who have done this to him to be the sort of people who would do it; it was a predictable outcome. He made his bed, now he (almost literally) must lie in it.

  103. Al Dente says

    anteprepro #78

    Thank you for making a better response to atheistblog than I could have.

  104. omnicrom says

    I am not sorry Fred Phelps in a sorry state. I am not sorry that he’s probably going to die soon. I will not be sorry when he dies.

    However I do feel pity that Phelps is now alone and cut off from all that he ever made or was. I feel pity that he’s dying alone in a hospital. I even feel pity that he’s been exiled from the church he made.

    I am not sorry for Phelps. He made his bed and now he lies in it. However I can still pity him that the bed he made is lonesome and cold.

  105. Ray, rude-ass yankee says

    I, personally, plan to play Green Day’s
    Ha Ha You’re Dead
    loudly, on repeat, for a while, when the asshole dies.

    I do feel bad for his son Nathan, but I have no pity or sympathy in me for Fred.

  106. Dark Lesson says

    Pitying this creature requires expending energy that’s not worth being expended on him.

  107. seranvali says

    Georow:

    He was once a brilliant human rights lawyer and this is what he became? That really Is tragic. All that lost potential. In fact that makes me want to cry. I wonder what happened to spin him around like that. It sounds like we lost a really fine person all those years ago.

    I do feel pity, knowing this. Pity for who he was, pity at losing him, pity that he’ll die alone and despised when his life could have been so different and he could have contributed so much.

  108. minnemooseus says

    I have a suspicion that Fred and companies twisted antics actually made a substantial positive contribution towards the recent burst of gay rights advancements (or something like that).

    In other words, he made anti-gay look so bad, that good things happened.

    Minnemooseus

  109. anuran says

    @68The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical

    Fred Phelps is not an evil man and not a monster, because there are no such things. He is a person.

    There are good men. There are evil men. There are people who are saintly (without the need for gods to plop a halo on them) and there are monsters. If you don’t realize this you have lived a very sheltered life.

    Fred Phelps was a hateful, evil man by any definition and a monster by any reasonable one.

  110. anuran says

    @122Goodbye Enemy Janine

    The WBC will be picketing Fred Phelps’ funeral.

    Wibble? Flurp? Ga-wa-wa-wa-wahr?
    You just broke my tiny frog brain.
    Looks like the girls and boys at the Onion will need to polish those resumes. They can’t keep up with reality.

  111. robster says

    Nasty old Phred is waiting to be saved, from death most probably. You’d think after all the endless praying, mindless worship and the rest of the reqired nonsense, the Baby jesus would go “poof” and phix Fred. But no, not a word. Can’t say that outcome is totally unexpected.

  112. WhiteHatLurker says

    The Topeka Capital-Journal entones:

    Pastor Fred Waldron Phelps Sr. was excommunicated from the Westboro Baptist Church after advocating a kinder approach between church members.

    Not for advocating being nicer with the wide world, just between themselves. Rather telling, I would think. I’m not discounting other reports that the break was to ensure church assets aren’t taken up during Fred’s illness and death.

    (EMphaSIS mine.)

    I’m giving pity up for Lent.

  113. anuran says

    OK. Looking at the comments and checking the Twitter account….
    Looks like the whole “WBC to protest Phelps’ Funeral” is not from Maggie Phelps’ twitter account. It’s from a spoof account.