Violence shattered the innocence of a Connecticut town on Friday. A man whose motives we may never fully know or understand killed 20 children at an elementary school, along with six staff members and himself. It is unfortunately a type of story that has become more and more prevalent in American society today. Another crazed individual shot up a theatre in Colorado in July and killed a dozen people. A few years ago, a blaze of gunfire saw 32 people die at Virginia Tech. Anyone who believes, in this day and age, that such violent acts cannot happen where they live is smoking some quality reefer.
While there’s certainly plenty of finger pointing and hypothesizing going on, there is also an outpouring of love and decency as people keep the citizens of Newtown, Conn., in their thoughts. I felt particularly warm when I saw the row of teddy bears commemorating the dead. This should be a time for healing and uncompromising humanity. Sadly, there is one bad apple whose worms are making their bitter taste known.
The rest of us are trying to come together as a society, but the kooks with the Westboro Baptist Church are continuing to beat their drum of judgment and hatred for all to hear and cringe. I was reading a story this morning about how the Westboro folks plan to protest at the funerals and vigils in Newtown. The reason being that Connecticut is one of the states allowing gay marriage, and this massacre is seen my these narrow minded nuts as God’s judgment for letting that happen.
Here’s a statement from Shirley Phelps-Roper, a spokesperson for Westboro church and daughter of church founder Fred Phelps, via Twitter: “Westboro will picket Sandy Hook Elementary School to sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment.”
Most folks are trying to put a salve on a hideous and gaping wound, and these “church folk”—a term I use loosely—think the solution is to pour battery acid on said wound. Instead of using God’s mercy to make this world a better place, the wing nut church from Kansas is bringing forth what it believes to be God’s wrath.
One of the down sides of living in a free society is that our right to freedom of speech is the same as theirs, so I’m not going to advocate that someone find a legal way to shut them up. Instead, it would be wise to use our collective voices to drown them out. Let them know how we don’t approve of their invasion of our funeral parlors and graveyards to speak ill of the dead, especially of the good soldiers who gave their lives so that putrid prognosticators like them can speak freely without the government locking them up and throwing away the key.
I won’t advocate silencing them because I don’t think anyone has the right to trample on freedom. We’ve got people trying to push more gun control on us because the murderer in question used a gun as his tool of evil. I’m not in favor of infringing on the Second Amendment, so I’m really not keen on whittling away the freedoms provided by the First Amendment.
Anger is not the answer to this problem. Judgment is not the answer to this problem. Suspending freedoms is not the answer. The solution to this problem—at least the part involving the Westboro Baptist Church—is by not letting the venom spewing from the parishioners’ fangs bring us down. Mourn the dead. Feel for those still alive. Seek ways to keep this tragedy from destroying us a nation. If the Westboro folks aren’t on board for that, too bad for them. We will not become a society of hatred just to please them.
P.S. While we’re saying extra prayers for people, we should probably say a few for the good folks in Topeka, Kan. Connecticut will only have to put up with the lunatics for a short time; the people of Topeka actually have to live with them!