One of the stories that was trending yesterday featured country music singer Brad Paisley. Apparently the Westboro Baptist “Church” decided to stage one of their protests outside of his upcoming concert by carrying signs that said “God hates drunks.” Brad decided to take a picture with these “parishioners” and share it on Twitter.
You know, I really have to wonder how people get to this point in their thinking. For one, I’m concerned that they really believe the stuff they spew out. What ever happened to ‘hate the sin, not the sinner?’ A quick look at Wikipedia under this so called religious doctrine left me dumbfounded. The domain name of their website says it all, but looking at some of the details about who and why they choose to protest just makes me sad. With all of the publicity and trouble they’ve caused, I thought they were a huge group. Apparently not, since this says that in 2011 they had “about 40 members.”
So then I really had to think – what does this say about our society? It’s possible to get mired down in the negative when looking at these kinds of stories. The flip side of them is that people seem to rally against this kind of visible and vocal hate speech. A great example of the opposite side of the coin can be found in another community that faces its own stereotypes – the bikers. A group that has repeatedly tried to thwart the efforts of WBC planned to combat protests scheduled for Maya Angelou’s funeral – “in spite of her political beliefs.” Their presence ended up not being necessary because of the attendance of the Secret Service but still, it’s nice to see that political and ideological opposites can still agree that hate for hate’s sake should not be tolerated.
Of course, my mind always returns to the basis of prejudice. The deeply held belief in an unsubstantiated “truth.” We face it all the time as parents and loved ones of people who have an intellectual disability. It even comes from within our own community. How many times have you heard someone say something like “Yes, my legs (arms, eyes, hearing, etc.) may be impaired but it doesn’t affect my thinking – I’m still a whole person with a lot to contribute” or “A physical disability has no impact on my IQ.” In this case, it’s not blatant hate that causes the opposition, but the cultural belief that a less than average intellectual capacity equals “less than” value in a person. Even people who are not prone to hate can be led to make value assumptions based on what they have been taught (either directly or indirectly through collective social consciousness) and firmly believe.
The WBC is an example of extremism at it’s worst. The fact that it operates under the guise of a legitimate religion makes it even less palatable in my opinion. But this kind of hate and ignorance can and is being opposed from all walks of life. What we need today is for more people to stand up and “ride” against the insidious misunderstandings that don’t generate that much national media attention.
That’s just my 2 cents.
What are your thoughts?