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Comments

  1. Sastra says

    Given that Fred Phelps was kicked out of his own church, it will be interesting to see if the Westboro Baptists picket his funeral with hate messages.

    A contingency to be considered by anyone who plans to picket his funeral: you’d blend in with them.

  2. justsomeguy says

    It’s not in poor taste to bake a cake and celebrate quietly among friends. The world did become a better place today, after all.

  3. Louis says

    I won’t say adieu, I’ll say au revoir. Because sure as eggs is eggs some other identical, interchangeable, shitting bigot will fill his boots.

    Condolences to his family, condolences to his victims, condolences to the rest of us when his successor vomits forth the usual garbage.

    Louis

  4. raven says

    As their magic book says, “As you sow, so shall you reap”.

    Fred Phelps just made millions of people a little happier today and the world a slightly better place.

  5. robro says

    Kevin — It’s just possible that picking at scabs can be part of the healing process, particularly if we’re talking about emotional wounds rather than physical ones. While I too would rather think about Fred Rogers than Fred Phelps, we can’t always focus on the good people and must face the fact the world has plenty of stinkers.

    justsomeguy — At the risk of quoting John Donne, I wouldn’t say the world is a better place today because one disgruntled old man has passed on. That said, it hasn’t made it a worse place, at least for most of us.

  6. Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts says

    Death is an inevitable and sad affair and yet there is still one less awful bigot around to picket funerals.

    I badly want to see irony by his funeral being picketed, but the fact the he’s dead is by far tastier than the bloody taste of any schadenfreude I might get to experience.

  7. moarscienceplz says

    Moms Mabley: “They say you shouldn’t say nothin’ about the dead unless it’s good. He’s dead. Good! “

  8. cheesynougats says

    I want to feel satisfaction at hearing this, but all I feel is sadness for his family and for him. To die stewing in one’s hatred of people is a horrid way to go.
    If I believed in life after death, I would hope that he would be happy afterward. To those members of his family who are grieving, my well wishes go out to you. To any family members who are taking sick satisfaction in his death, I wish a bit of empathy for other humans.

    Requiescat in pace (sp?) Fred Phelps.

  9. anuran says

    “I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.” – Clarence Darrow

  10. U Frood says

    I don’t like to rejoice in anyone’s death. I’m glad that he won’t be able to spread his hate anymore, though his organization still exists to do that for him.

    I’ve often wondered how people can claim to love God if He is everything they believe him to be. Fear, sure, I can see worshipping the God who would punish America because he hates fags so much out of fear. But Love? How?

    The same thing with this Church. It treats even its own members like crap. Why do you want to be a part of that?

  11. Alverant says

    Some say you should say good things about the dead.

    Fred Phelps is dead.
    Good.

    My thoughts are with Nate and the other family members who have escaped the abuse and will now never be able to get closure due to the actions of the other family members who kicked him out yet still kept him prisoner.

  12. says

    As one of the authors of “The Gay Agenda” I’d like to send flowers purchased with the profits of our book of evil.

    Anyone know what the proper address would be?

  13. otrame says

    I read somewhere that there was a planned march for his funeral. The signs would say “I’m sorry for your loss.”

  14. tbp1 says

    Maybe not quite on topic, but I’ve always wondered where they got the money for all the travel they did. To take that many people to that many places must have cost multiple tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars a year. Does anyone know?

  15. says

    I would hope that everyone, except those who genuinely grieve for him, would stay away from the funeral out of respect for those who do feel the loss.

  16. says

    They got their money from lawsuits. It’s an entire family full of lawyers — they loved it when someone was sufficiently outraged to break the law to interfere with them.

  17. says

    scienceavenger:

    I hope his funeral is a rainbow-filled one

    I don’t. Fred Phelps was a vile human being who fought to deny queers like myself their rights. He and his cult picketed funerals and disturbed the grieving of people who lost their loved ones. I don’t think it is right to turn around and do the same to his grieving family. I have no love for Fred Phelps, but there are some who do. They should have their chance to grieve in peace.

  18. Eirik van der Meer says

    The world may indeed be a better place without men like this, but i refuse to take joy in the death of another human being. Can we give this topic a rest now?

  19. says

    It’s also worth noting that they announced they would protest at many, many more places than such a small group could ever physically visit, and then actually showed only at the venues where they expected the most hostile attention.

  20. gussnarp says

    @Randomfactor #23: My thoughts exactly. This has been the last link about Fred Phelps I will ever click on.

    @Wyalnn #15: Thank you, I’ve been trying to think of that song based on tiny snippets of the video going through my head for weeks now!

  21. Shatterface says

    I want to feel satisfaction at hearing this, but all I feel is sadness for his family and for him. To die stewing in one’s hatred of people is a horrid way to go.

    Since his friends and family specialised in the persecution of grieving families, I say fuck them.

  22. says

    @PZ Myers #32 –

    They got their money from lawsuits. It’s an entire family full of lawyers — they loved it when someone was sufficiently outraged to break the law to interfere with them.

    The supreme irony being that they, themselves, set the precedent of demonstrating at funerals. And we should stay away from the funeral (which they have already said will never happen) “out of respect?” I refer you to my previous comment about precedent.

    Fred Phelps was a monster, and a father to monsters. While he took no direct part in the deaths of others, there is definitely blood on his hands. Being a part of a demographic that was his perpetual target of hate, I will not pretend to feel any sadness.

  23. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    I refuse to pretend to mourn this evil asshole. I’m so glad he’s gone.

    My empathy for his family does not dim my gladness that he will stop hurting people, finally.

  24. Al Dente says

    I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying that I approved of it. -Mark Twain

  25. Moggie says

    One day, when my mother was dying, she said to me “I’m such a silly girl”. I was floored. This woman, who had seemed perpetually middle-aged until she was suddenly old, this rock who had always epitomised adulthood to me, had never once referred to herself in that belittling way. It made me realise that she was once a little girl, full of wonder and optimism for the boundless possibilities her future held. And that girl was still there, looking up wide-eyed as the years and the layers and the defences we build up around ourselves were stripped away by the pain and the fear.

    After mum died, I mourned the adult I’d known, but I also mourned the child I’d never met, who had been denied many of the futures which could have been hers.

    For all her faults and limitations, she was a good person, which Fred Phelps wasn’t. But Phelps was once a little boy, with so much potential, and I’m willing to bet that boy was there at the end, wondering where it all went wrong. I won’t mourn the man, but I’m sorry the boy didn’t have a better life, however much he was to blame.

  26. hexidecima says

    I am glad he is dead. Yes, another bigot may take his place, but maybe not since there is slow but steady progress in seeing people like him pass into history. I will drink a glass of nice wine and smile that the world is a little better with him gone.

    I will also fantasize about dancing the mamushka on his grave.

  27. says

    I do have to wonder: How many of the people telling others to be polite and respectful and above it all have actually been targeted by Phelp’s hate? How many of you are straight people, who may have been disgusted but who were never actually emotionally invested in what he was doing?

    I was among the counter-protesters when the WBC came to Seattle, several times. I have helped put people back together after those encounters. I had a friend commit suicide because trying to push back against their hate proved to be too much for him to bear. I have come very close to that point myself.

    So let me advise you very politely: check your privilege, and shut the fuck up. If you want to cast your eyes down and assume a solemn, silent mien, fine. I will not, and don’t you dare presume to instruct me.

  28. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Gregory in Seattle:
    Just don’t do anything that would get you arrested.

    What makes you think you’re a better judge of what’s worth him getting arrested over than he is?

  29. firstapproximation says

    “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

    HOWEVER, the above does not for Fred Phelps. I and the world are better off with that fucker gone.”

    – John Donne, 1624

  30. says

    Gregory in Seattle:

    And we should stay away from the funeral (which they have already said will never happen) “out of respect?” I refer you to my previous comment about precedent.

    Fred Phelps was a monster, and a father to monsters. While he took no direct part in the deaths of others, there is definitely blood on his hands. Being a part of a demographic that was his perpetual target of hate, I will not pretend to feel any sadness.

    Like you, I am part of that same demographic. I also don’t feel sadness about Phelps being dead. I’m glad he’s gone.
    That said, he was a human being. A vile, heartless stain upon humanity, but still human. Not a monster.

  31. grandolddeity says

    I wonder if there is a deathbed confession from Fred Phelps that (the hateful Abrahamic) God does not exist.

    Fred, meet Thomas, Albert and Christopher.

  32. says

    http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/03/interview-hozier-take-me-church-homophobia-video

    Trigger Warning for the video at the link:

    Andrew Hozier Byrne—a 24-year-old Irishman who goes by his middle name onstage—has captured passion in his first single, “Take Me To Church.” “It was always about sexuality,” he says earnestly over a crackling phone line from a Dublin café. “There is no greater celebration of life, and nothing more human than a sexual act.” Intended as a swipe at the Catholic indoctrination so intrinsic to Irish culture, Byrne uses the song to speak against any construct that condemns sexuality, which he believes “undermines humanity at its most natural.”

    [...]

    Byrne found that the message also lent itself to the LGBT community’s struggle against discrimination and hate. He decided to deploy it as the soundtrack of a brutal video about abuses occurring against the gay community in Russia that he hoped would have a greater impact. His instinct was correct: Viewers on Youtube and Reddit flocked and reeled. The video went viral overnight, generating more than 2 million views to date.

    This video is a disturbing snapshot of the world that Fred Phelps helped create.

  33. ck says

    Tony wrote:

    This video is a disturbing snapshot of the world that Fred Phelps helped create.

    While also being a huge “fuck you” to the world that Fred (and the legions of almost Freds) helped create.

    On another note, the comments on that article are the usual disgusting “stop being anti-Christian (or Catholic, in this case)” nonsense, so it’s probably just best to skip that part.

  34. Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness says

    #4 Louis

    I won’t say adieu, I’ll say au revoir. Because sure as eggs is eggs some other identical, interchangeable, shitting bigot will fill his boots.

    I visualize those bigots as squatting over Fred’s boots. While they are at it, how about getting his hat too?

    Expressing anger at a corpse is something people have been doing for a long time. Ancient Romans would dig up a corpse and throw the body into a river to shame it and the surviving family. I get it. What you do is going to come from how strongly you feel about what Fred did. The wish to push back at his family what they have spread themselves, is doubly appealing. I say, do what you must.
    My hope is that the targets of WBC can step away so that they are not drawn into the whirlwind themselves. I have that hope because I think being able to step away would indicate some recovery for them. Could mark that this corpse is truly dead.
    Continuing the fight for equality on other fronts sure needs doing. But you do what you must.

  35. woozy says

    The world may indeed be a better place without men like this, but i refuse to take joy in the death of another human being. Can we give this topic a rest now?

    I don’t know. How catharsis been reached?

    Seeking to not take pleasure in any person’s death might make me a better and more enlightened human being. But those expressing anger and satisfaction at the death of an evil human being don’t hurt me any. If any one wants to piss on his corpse, don’t let me stop you. And talk about it as long as you want.

  36. Louis says

    Lyn M,

    What other people do is…what other people do. I’m not worried about it. Let a thousand flowers bloom! There’s no “right” way to respond to the death of anyone, let alone a hatemonger like Phelps.

    What I do is not just related to how strongly I feel, but how I think it’s best for me (with my particular set of circumstances etc) to act. Sometimes it’s best for me to act against my strongest feeling. So, yes, whilst I do take your point that sometimes feelings and actions will line up, I don’t think it is (or dare I say should be) universal.

    Just clarifying, s’all! ;-)

    Louis

  37. WhiteHatLurker says

    According to WIBW there be no funeral for Fred Phelps. Don’t know what they plan to do with the corpse.

    Twitter quote from WBC “Westboro Baptist Church thanks God for Fred Phelps Sr.’s passing“.

    “The evil that men do lives after them” William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

  38. says

    Janine @54:

    As bad and vile as Fred Phelps was, Scott Lively is even worse.

    I agree completely.

    ****

    ck @55:

    On another note, the comments on that article are the usual disgusting “stop being anti-Christian (or Catholic, in this case)” nonsense, so it’s probably just best to skip that part.

    At this point, my default is “don’t read the comments”. The only time I do is when someone points out that the comments are worthwhile.

  39. says

    Janine:

    As bad and vile as Fred Phelps was, Scott Lively is even worse.

    Truth. Lively has caused much more harm than Phelps did, and shows no sign of stopping. For all the ugly and repulsive beliefs held by Phelps, he was a big frog in a little pond. That’s not the case with Lively.

  40. robro says

    They got their money from lawsuits. It’s an entire family full of lawyers — they loved it when someone was sufficiently outraged to break the law to interfere with them.

    Interesting. I knew there were a bunch of lawyers in the organization and I knew they engaged in a lot of litigation, but I didn’t know that they might actually turn a profit at their game. I figured they were just bigots and stupid…well, they’re that…but I can now imagine that they very cynically picked events to harass so they might have a reason to sue somebody and make money. That’s pretty disgusting.

  41. Usernames are smart says

    To paraphrase the Rude Pundit:

    Or, maybe even moreso, I would like to think that, at the moment of his death, Phelps did not see any light, any path through the clouds, just a brief realization that this, indeed, was it, and that he was so very wrong, just before eternal darkness clouded his foul brain forever.

  42. Attila says

    Could we offer the same advice Christopher Hitchens offered the grieving family of Jerry Falwell. “Give that man an enema and you can bury him in a fucking shoe box.”

  43. Akira MacKenzie says

    To borrow from Mecken:

    “Has it been duly marked by historians that Fred Phelps last secular act on this globe of sin was to catch flies?”

  44. sparkles says

    Say what you want – the guy obviously went quackey. But He DID start out great. In fact, he was so amazing originally.

  45. robro says

    This business of how WBC makes money is intriguing. Per the Pppffff Maggie Phelps-Roper admitted that they spend upwards of $200k a year in travel expenses. They only take donations from members, of whom their are only about 40. Of course, that could be bullshit. Wikipedia also says they have received money from law suits, and “legal fees”. According to the Pppfff:

    “WBC, through the closely related Phelps Chartered law firm, has collected fees under the Civil Rights Attorney’s Fees Award Act of 1976 when their protests have been unlawfully disrupted.”

    So, perhaps the Federal government is paying for them to sue people, governments and so forth under the guise of civil rights. One might ask if Fred, as a civil rights attorney, figured out how to milk this and exercise his religious demons at the same time (he appears to have always been religiously conservative).

  46. anuran says

    I’m put in mind of this letter from Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Priestley. Especially:

    Yours is one of the few lives precious to mankind, & for the continuance of which every thinking man is solicitous. Bigots may be an exception. What an effort, my dear Sir, of bigotry in Politics & Religion have we gone through! The barbarians really flattered themselves they should be able to bring back the times of Vandalism, when ignorance put everything into the hands of power & priestcraft. All advances in science were proscribed as innovations. They pretended to praise and encourage education, but it was to be the education of our ancestors. We were to look backwards, not forwards, for improvement;

  47. says

    (Excuse the caps, but) would a sign

    PHELPS DIES
    FAGS LAUGH

    be appropriate?

    But actually, I’m sad he died. Not because he’s dead, but because he died before seeing his ugly organization being reduced to fragments, arguing with each other. Because it seems he died before realizing he has thrown his life away, spewing hatred to rake in cash, and raking in cash to spew more hatred. Before realizing that the members of his family who got out, are happier for it.

  48. says

    but I can now imagine that they very cynically picked events to harass so they might have a reason to sue somebody and make money

    Exactly. That’s their scam.

    That’s also why, if anyone insist on protesting Phelps’ funeral, they’d better be damn sure to read up on exactly what the law allows. If you put one little toe across the line, you won’t just be arrested. You’ll be signing over your paychecks to the Phelps family for years to come.

  49. sugarfrosted says

    @40

    My empathy for his family does not dim my gladness that he will stop hurting people, finally.

    No, it doesn’t mean he’ll stop hurting people. His organization outlasts him. The only way he could stop hurting people is if that group collapsed as well, but even with that, the type of hurt his organization did would keep hurting even if the organization disbanded. It would only cease when the people he hurt eventually died as well. So really his death did nothing.

    So really, I can’t even find myself being glad even though I will not, as you will not as well, mourn his passing.

  50. says

    Too bad I’m not a christian, or I could start a christian environmental movement:

    GOD
    HATES
    (plastic)
    BAGS

    (I know, I won’t give up my day job).

  51. playonwords says

    He made a hell and lived it. His suffering has ended and now let us hope that WBC fades into the darkness too.

  52. Brian O says

    The most batshit crazy thing about Fred Phelps has nothing to do with later notoriety, but that he was an assiduous Civil Rights lawyer in the 50s and 60s, supported Al Gore (when Gore seemed to be something of a homophobe himself) and stood for The Democrats at several primaries. Even more insane is a brief (and rather cosy) relationship with Saddam Hussein. Either somebody hacked Wikipedia or Phelps’ biography is truly one of the weirdest I’ve encountered — you simply couldn’t make this stuff up.

  53. says

    I would like to apologize for my outburst above; I didn’t realize just how much a trigger this would be. I stand by what I said, but I should have been more civil about how I said it.

  54. gardengnome says

    Perhaps it would be best not to judge him here and now – leave it to history. I suspect its verdict will be harsher; if it remembers him at all.

  55. bargearse says

    Gregory in Seattle

    It wasn’t so long ago when some nice people on this site took the time to comfort me when something triggered me. You’re outburst was understandable given everything Fred Phelps has done to hurt you, I’ve never had to experience that so there’s no way I’m gonna judge. Take care

  56. anteprepro says

    Gregory in Seattle

    I would like to apologize for my outburst above; I didn’t realize just how much a trigger this would be. I stand by what I said, but I should have been more civil about how I said it.

    It was much deserved righteous fury and it helped to hear from someone who actually had to deal with the pain these people cause first-hand, instead of just thinking of their “hate” as some abstraction. Your post was dead on, pitch perfect, and I felt that it gave me added perspective even if I already agreed with your conclusion. No need to apologize and I hope people pay attention to your “outburst” because it is a very important point.

  57. anteprepro says

    gardengnome

    Perhaps it would be best not to judge him here and now – leave it to history. I suspect its verdict will be harsher; if it remembers him at all.

    I don’t trust that this will be true. Whitewashing, rosy retrospection, “don’t speak ill of the dead,” “product of their time” etc. If they remember him, they will find ways to remember him while ignoring the severity of what he has said, done, and believed. If they don’t remember him, then that is just doing him and his kin a favor, to some degree. It is perfectly good to judge him here and now, and to make sure that we don’t forget what an amoral, hateful, sociopathic fucker Phelps was. Because there is a lesson to learn here regarding the “value” of Dogma and Hate, and we can’t trust the fucking history books to retain that lesson, sadly.

  58. Wylann says

    Gregory in Seattle, I don’t think you need apologize for your post, but it shows class and character that you did.

    Although I am straight, I have directly interacted with the Phelps family. I rode with the Kansas Patriot Guard for a couple of occasions (but no funerals, I can’t do military funerals) and stood between them and returning veterans, and one time, a secondary school. I don’t think Fred was at either of the events I attended, but they are vile, vicious family, and I can’t imagine what it must have been like growing up there (although Nate gives some disturbing insight).

    I think it really bothered them that I showed up at the protest wearing this.

  59. anuran says

    Gregory in Seattle, Phelps was a walking provocation and incitement to antisocial activity. I just didn’t want to see him get in one last act of venom by getting a decent guy like yourself to do something you might regret. He wasn’t worth it in life. He’s definitely not worth going to jail over now that he’s a corpse.

  60. twas brillig (stevem) says

    I have to add this link from Daily Kos about the good that resulted from Phelps’ evil. Phelps
    I have to admit that I agree with this article, pointing out that Phelps was the cause of “gay-pride”, to counteract Phelps’ “gay-hate”. And it is only fitting that his ghost be squirming to remembered as a hero *for* the gays instead of the *eliminator* of the gays. His corpse will spin….
    :-{
    But giving Phelps allowance for raising “gay-pride”, should I praise Bill O for raising awareness _against_ all the cr@p he spews? No. Bill O is so subtle, Phelps was blatant.

  61. woozy says

    Am I the only one getting a little tired of hearing “Phelps ultimately helped out the gay movement by being so awful he unified everyone”? Yes, I get it and a nice big glass of lemonade has a certain amount of appeal over a mound of rotten lemons. But it’s a pretty tepid glass and not really worth drinking; maybe a sip or two but not worth swallowing.
    Without Phelps are we claiming gays would have simply sat around complacently doing nothing and straights would have continued bashing thoughtlessly for the last 40 years? I think most people saw him and thought “Holy shit, what a really rude nasty human being; can he possibly be real” but I don’t think a single person ever thought “gee, is that the typical homophobe? maybe I should start supporting gay rights rather then bashing them like I always assumed I should.” And frankly, I’m personally a bit insulted when someone implies that without a hater like Phelps I would be apathetic and compliant.
    Is it too much to assume that the real force behind the gay movement was… the gay movement?

  62. Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive] says

    If anything, Phelps inhibited progress by giving homophobes something to point to – “I may think that queer people are icky and subhuman and need to be put in camps, but I’m not like that guy.”

  63. naturalcynic says

    Rachel Maddow had a great non-obituary. She didn’t mention his name at all and emphasized the generation of good will towards gays that he engendered as a result of his protesting.