Skip to main content

As my profile will tell you, my name is Ash McGonigal, and I'm a filmmaker from Topeka. I'm currently working on pre-production for a documentary, The Tolerance Project.

There have been a lot of documentaries about Westboro Baptist over the years. One of the most infamous, Hatemongers, was made by Steve Drain, who became a member of the church over the course of filming. Fall from Grace, currently on Netflix Instant Watch, gives the Phelps family a lot of time to explain their beliefs.

We aim to do something different. Phelps and his church have bullied my town longer than I've been alive. My parents urged me not to mess with Westboro Baptist Church, or even let them know my name. I want to highlight the brave souls in Topeka and nationwide who have opposed his efforts.

(more post-squiggle)

Another goal of mine is to document the unified fashion with which the rest of the country has opposed Westboro -- and most of our budget will be spent on travel expenses, given the huge number of pickets the cult does around the country.

Throughout the pre-production process, I'll provide updates and stories from Topeka. Our web site, scheduled to launch next week, will host a video log of our progress and updates from the anti-Westboro community.

Westboro Baptist Church is the truest definition of a group of bullies. It's a group that the KKK looks at and says "Dude, you're giving us hate groups a bad name."

And it's all my hometown is known for.

Gay Topekans enjoy no protection from discrimination in the workplace (and even if they did, our status as a Right to Work for Less State would render that protection moot). And it's hard to imagine that drawing a crowd of protesters to work with you wouldn't be a firing offense, even if other protections existed. Even if the boss sticks up for you, most Topekans would rather avoid a group of crazy people shouting obscenities at them. Fred's hysterics give him far more power than his message or his congregation warrant.

Compounding the problem with Fred's powers of intimidation are politicians who condemn Phelps and his actions while supporting Westboro's legislative agenda. When liberal enclave Lawrence passed an ordinance barring discrimination by sexual orientation, a state law overturning it was prevented only by the end of the legislative session. In fact, a state law prohibiting sodomy remains on the books -- and a commission set up by the governor specifically to remove anachronistic legislation refused to include that statute in the list.

These legislative decisions have a huge impact on the ability of Topeka to mobilize against the snake in our midst, and part of our work will be to get the responsible parties on the record about why.

But we need your help. We have the drive to complete this project, but not the resources. While we're waiting for Kickstarter, in the places Phelps goes where we can't get to, if there are Kossacks available who can get video of counterprotests and post to YouTube (or elsewhere), please let us know.

This is a big project, so if you have expertise to offer and you feel moved to offer it, we can certainly use it. But if changing the reputation of a city was easy, everyone would do it.

Originally posted to Geiiga on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 01:20 PM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets and RaceGender DiscrimiNATION.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site