Sunday 23 October 2016

Let Westboro Church zealots speak, so people know they're cuckoo-bananas

A SPOKESPERSON for the Westboro Baptist Church was on my radio show during the week, and generated a huge negative response.

That the response was negative was predictable, but the nature of the negativity was interesting.

The spokesman, Steve Drain, is a former TV producer who converted to the Westboro brand of fire and brimstone biblical literalism after going to make a documentary on them (not only did he convert, but he brought most of his family).

He is now aligned with all the teachings of the church - gay people are going to hell, as is everyone else positively disposed towards gay people. He takes part in the activities that have made the church hated globally - picketing funerals (most recently the funeral of Joe Biden's son Beau) while holding placards emblazoned with slogans like 'God Hates Fags'.


His justification for picketing Biden's funeral was that Senator Joe Biden had voted in support of gay marriage.

No surprise then that the response to his interview was negative. The surprise was how much of the response wanted not to disagree with him but to censor and silence him, as if his words were somehow dangerous. They were objectively offensive. But dangerous? Hardly.

In fact, you could argue that cartoonish bigotry of the Westboro group is exactly what liberals should want to put on air. This is not silver tongued prejudice, shrouded in twisted logic and insidious persuasion, rather it's the kind of frothing at the mouth designed to lose friends.

Maybe people mix up the power of speech and the power of ideas - it doesn't matter that people hear you speak, if the ideas you convey are heard as being cuckoo-bananas.

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