Yesterday, nearly 1,000 people filed silently through the Municipal Auditorium in Slidell, LA to pay last respects to Marine Sgt. Michael Guillory of Pearl River (whose passing was respectfully noted in blue jersey mom's IGTNT diary last week).
Notably absent at the auditorium, or anywhere in Slidell, were the
immediate family followers of "Rev." Fred Phelps of the less-than-universally-beloved Westboro Baptist Church, who had earlier vowed to use Sgt. Guillory's funeral as a public platform to spout their beliefs that God is so appalled at Americans' tolerance for people loving one another that He singles out warriors (and Connecticut schoolkids) for killing.
(It is assumed this makes sense to Him, at least.)
It's possible that the efforts organized by Veterans AGAINST the Westboro Baptist Church to provide a silent, unmoving human barrier between mourners and Fred's Freaks discouraged the, um, Church.
Or perhaps it was the Phelps Clan's earlier experiences in the area that gave them pause.
Back in 2010, Phelps called for a protest at a high school in Ascension Parish because the school was mounting a production of "The Laramie Project." None of Phelps' own people showed, but one fellow-traveler from Gonzales did, only to be met by over 500 counter-protesters.
Still, he probably had a better day than the actual Phelpses who attempted to crash another military funeral the following year in Brandon, MS, just outside of Jackson. That group of Holy Haters had a few difficulties...
A couple of days before, one of them (Westboro protestors) ran his mouth at a Brandon gas station and got his arse waxed. Police were called and the beaten man could not give much of a description of who beat him. When they canvassed the station and spoke to the large crowd that had gathered around, no one seemed to remember anything about what had happened.Yes, even down here in the reddest of Redlands, we have our limits, and WBC's actions trump them. Hell, even the f'ing Klan's complaining about the Phelpians, not unlike the Somali al Qaeda branch denouncing the American-born jihaddist recently, presumably for giving fanatical terrorists a bad name.
. . .
Most of the morons never made it out of their hotel parking lot. It seems that certain Rankin county pickup trucks were parked directly behind any car that had Kansas plates in the hotel parking lot and the drivers mysteriously disappeared until after the funeral was over. Police were called but their wrecker service was running behind and it was going to be a few hours before they could tow the trucks so the Kansas plated cars could get out.
A few made it to the funeral but were ushered away to be questioned about a crime they might have possibly been involved in. Turns out, after a few hours of questioning, that they were not involved and they were allowed to go on about their business.
How bad are Phelps' Phunny Phellowes? Heck, even the denizens of Free Republic hate 'em, though their theories of who the WBC is really working for (Soros) are a bit odd.
I've my own opinion (you ever doubted?). While we trumpet the sacredness of such Constitutional Amendments as the First (and, too much, lately, the Second), I believe the one that most resonates with Americans is the Fourth, the famous proscription of unreasonable searches and seizures universally broken by presidents throughout our history.
The Amendment so perfectly exemplifies a basic right all Americans expect, the right, as Louis Brandeis so famously put it, "to be left alone."
We all respect the rights of belief protected by the First. I will fight to the death to defend Mr. Phelps' adherence to the notion that a great, big dude shat out a perfectly serviceable universe in the course of an afternoon and that said dude is just hopping mad over "unnatural" acts perpetrated by His creatures.
But his right to his beliefs doesn't trump another family's right to be left the hell alone, particularly when they are called upon to participate in the extremely unnatural act of having to bury their child.
With all the deep and bitter divisions in our society, the fact that people I could never imagine agreeing with on any subject share this credo has given me a new, well, faith.
We apparently do have a sense of decency, at long last.