They claim their way is tolerant
They claim my way is vile
I call them less than human
But I do it with a smile
I tell them God despises them
And all the things they do
I calmly, coolly anger them
And all in public view
With bible-message banners
And with bibles as my props
I call them less than human
And a handful blow their tops
They will curse the name of Jesus
And deny His holy Word
They will make opinions known to me
By flipping me the bird
If I’ve wound them up sufficiently
Then some may even spit!
The things I say are hateful
But it’s me who might get hit
So I snap it up on camera
And I edit for a bit
Till my taunting looks angelic
And their tolerance, like shit!
It’s some useful propaganda
For us Catholics, I hope—
Cos you can’t condone such violence…
Unless you are the pope.
Now, this is a slick little piece of propaganda (embedded below). The bigots clean up nicely, in their suits, ties, and lapel pins, but their message is that some people are not worthy of the rights that other people enjoy–that some people are less human. They can say it politely, they can say it non-violently, but when they hold the banners they do, they are standing side by side with the Phelps family, and there is no way that the context of their actions, taking the wrong side on a civil rights fight, can be viewed as a neutral action. It is an affront.
And when you look at their wide shots, you see the major response to their demonstrations is either that they are ignored, or that they are responded to appropriately. Chanting profanities is protected speech; blasphemy is protected speech. Ripping apart your own bible is protected speech (yes, throwing the pages is littering). Flipping the bird is protected speech (even toward police!). Direct threats are not protected, and physical assault (throwing bottles, ripping signs, spitting, etc.) are not protected. The yelling, chanting, etc., are a very reasonable and measured response to the messages on the signs. The physical violence, I cannot condone at all.
But you know who can? Pope Francis.
Oh, well. But there are pragmatic reasons not to assault protesting bigots, too. Exhibit one, this video–if only a tiny percentage of counter-protesters are riled up enough to, as the pope himself would, punch someone in the nose, that’s enough for a good propaganda video. (My favorite part is just after the 12 minute mark, when people blaspheming is responded to by a group chant of a Hail Mary–it really is as if specific words have magic properties, and we could all fly if we learned how to pronounce windardium leviosa just right.)
So, their verbal assault on a class of citizens? protected. Counter protesters’ verbal assaults indicating disagreement? protected. Counter protesters crossing the line to physical (or to individual-directed verbal threats)? Nope. Not even if the pope says it’s ok.