Some people are saying we shouldn’t celebrate the death of Fred Phelps. Okay, I get the point. We’re trying to be compassionate, enlightened, and wise.
Okay, I’m not celebrating.
But at the same time, neither am I forgetting the years and years of vileness, the malignant hatefulness, the deliberate perpetrations, the sheer malevolence of everything that he and his followers committed in the name of god. I refuse to forget the hurt and outrage he and his followers caused in thousands of good people who merely wanted to grieve in peace. And I cannot forgive the damage he and his followers did to the image of Christianity, a faith that once stood for forgiveness and love.
Some people say that celebrating his passing would make me as bad as him. I call bullshit on that.
People who have been hurt and outraged and traumatized by this evil old man have a right to feel their emotions. Phelps was an attention-whore, wallowing in the hatred he created, wanting others to hate him in return. He succeeded in generating hatred for himself and his family.
And while it’s easy to be enlightened and say things as profound as “hatred is like drinking poison, hoping the other person will die,” it’s not so easy to put aside that emotion. When the anger is finally resolved, the result is glee. Even celebration.
So here we have the final resolution. Fred Phelps failed. He went to his grave alone, unloved, and unmourned. Fred Phelps is dead. We’re still here. And yes, even the best of us will have to admit to a simmering resentment of the whole Phelps Klan. So yes, we are allowed to celebrate the last failure of this terrible man. The world is a better place with one less hate-monger.
And no, that doesn’t make me as bad as him. It makes me honestly human. It is simply me recognizing and voicing my own emotions in response to the final disappearance of a malignant and hurtful voice.
Later, when enough time has passed, when we have some perspective — then we can ask, what happened to this human being to turn him into what he became? What do you have to do to a man to get him so fucked up? Later, we can ask that question and feel sorry for the hellish prison of Phelps’ own sick psyche. Maybe he was suffering from some bizarre emotional derangement, maybe there was a physical cause, maybe he was torn by his own psychological demons. Maybe we can talk about this someday.
But right now — those who have been hurt and outraged and traumatized — please don’t say they’re not entitled to breathe a large sigh of release. Phelps is gone. We’re still here.
And we are. So take it away Stritchy!