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Don't Give Them What They Want PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

People I respect deeply are going to disagree with me on this, but I have to propose this idea as I think it's the best way to deal with this digusting problem.

Ignore them.

Who you ask? Well, I'm not going to mention their names. But imagine a group of so-called Christians who picket funerals with large signs indicating that some supreme being or other has an intense dislike for those of us who are homosexual, and you may get an idea of who I mean.

To explain why, I need to invoke Howard Stern.

Well, not actually Howard Stern, but an anecdote from the movie about him, called Private Parts.

Here's the exchange from the script, where the popularity of Stern's "shock jock" radio show is being discussed:

The average radio listener listens for thirty minutes.

The average Howard Stern fan listens for...are you ready for this? An hour and thirty minutes.

How can that be?

Answer most commonly given: "I want to see what he'll say next."

All right, OK, fine.

But what about the people who hate Stern?

Good point. The average Stern hater...listens for two hours a day.

Look, but if they hate him, why do they listen?

Most common answer: "I want to see what he'll say next."

As a small test, I mentioned in a chat room that I was writing about this person. The first question? "What did he do now?" We are not immune to the mind-stealing focus of hatred.

I fear that some in the skeptics movement are falling into a trap when they discuss this unnamed person and his "church." It's one thing to expose the ramblings of Jenny McCarthy or Kevin Trudeau as dangerous... they don't WANT you to do that. They want you to accept them.  What they're saying is dangerous and incorrect, and should be challenged.

Not so with this group. They want you to revile them. They want you to blog about them, talk about them, and focus your hate on them. They want the media to cover them and talk about how ridiculous their latest stunt was. Why do they want this? I don't care. Seriously, I don't care. And neither should you.

Ignore these people. Their message is so over-the-top that they don't need debunking. Let them blow away and take their rightful place next to any of the thousands of other self-serving hypocrites pretending to have a calling from a higher power. Learn to be comfortable with the fact that there are lying, evil bastards out there who want your attention, and understand that you win when you don't give it to them. We all do.

 

 

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written by Killer Rabbit, June 07, 2009
On the one hand I agree, if everyone ignored them it would be for the best. But that's not going to happen. Simply ignoring them by yourself will do very little. The media and general public keep the issue alive. At the very least you have to try to convince others to ignore them, like you're doing now; which technically involves not ignoring them smilies/wink.gif

As for someone else we should ignore, I think I'm going to write a greasemonkey script to assist me in that.
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Agreed
written by Liveliest Crib, June 07, 2009
Ignore these people. Their message is so over-the-top that they don't need debunking. Let them blow away and take their rightful place next to any of the thousands of other self-serving hypocrites pretending to have a calling from a higher power. Learn to be comfortable with the fact that there are lying, evil bastards out there who want your attention, and understand that you win when you don't give it to them. We all do.I concur wholeheartedly. Not only does failure to ignore these hateful morons give them the upper hand, but I fear that mass failure to ignore them could lead to frightening legal consequences.

I have observed that their over-the-top stunt-bigotry causes even some civil libertarians to question whether they can legally be prevented from acting as they do. On so called progressive blogs, many commenters invoke the "fighting words" doctrine (which they are typically loathed to do) or worse, have suggested that they be imprisoned for their message.

I fear any encroachment on free speech. Even if there is a just rationale for legal intervention in these cases, I fear the precedent that it could set.

I would rather just ignore them.
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Oh, and . . .
written by Liveliest Crib, June 07, 2009
In the spirit of this article, I'll not bother to vote on an unmentionable comment that appears before mine. smilies/cheesy.gif

P.S.: Any chance the site will add a "preview" button to the postings?
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written by redwench, June 07, 2009
I really never have paid much attention to religious idiots, that particular group included. I am a firm believer in free speech, even the extreme kind. Let bigots of all persuasions blather on freely, it's better than them doing it in secret like the neonazis do in Europe. At least if it's in the open, I know who the mentally challenged ones are.
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written by TDjazz, June 08, 2009
Seems we have an elephant in the room, but I won't say a thing. smilies/wink.gif
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written by MadScientist, June 08, 2009
The Whackboro Bumpkin Club still makes it to the news? I wouldn't ignore them; simply ignoring them could be dangerous. Just watch them from a distance and make sure they're not threatening too many people. People should stop interviewing the loons though and definitely don't give them any publicity in the papers (or TV news).
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written by razmatazspaz, June 08, 2009
Let's DO pay attention to one who has left this group. After several years he is telling his story of abuse and brainwashing at the hands of this group's leader. Nate Phelp's has written a book about his experiences which is coming out soon. http://atheistnexus.org/page/nate-phelps-2009-aa-speech

This group was in my city this weekend protesting the ordination of the first African American woman rabbi. Why? I'm not sure. The free thought community was buzzing with this news. I wish we could ignore them and they would go away but I don't think that's going to happen. The hatred and anger they display is deeply rooted in their (their leader's) beliefs.
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Incitement to violence and disturbing the peace
written by halidai, June 08, 2009

I think they should be ignored whenever possible. However when they're being unacceptably rude and causing a trouble they should be prosecuted under existing laws. The right to free speech does not bestow a right to force one's speech upon others at loud volumes at all hours, or to encourage others to commit criminal acts.
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A Net Positive
written by redonionking, June 08, 2009
Have you considered that the long term effects of this groups existence are probably positive?
Because of their unthinking extremism, they offend many people who would normally be against the gay community. Surely this must make at least some of the offended think twice about their own prejudices towards gays. From what I've read they certainly don't seem to be getting support from anyone but themselves, so they aren't really having a negative influence.

This leaves only the chance that some people will reconsider whether they want to be on the same side as these people.
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written by Rustylizard, June 08, 2009
Good post, Jeff – lots of things to consider. A glance at this page does demonstrate the “mind-stealing focus of hatred.” It’s dead easy to attract negative votes; hard to attract positive ones. Usually, I will not reward an individual with a negative vote or a hit to his/her website if I think that is what they are aiming for.

Once in awhile, even we skeptics benefit from the law of unintended consequences when it comes to negative publicity. During the last holiday season, FFRF had a large spurt in growth thanks to FOX and Bill O’Reilly’s unfair coverage of their freethought sign in the state of Washington’s capital. And occasionally, the actions of some groups are so disgusting that heavy media coverage probably helps drive corrective legislation – hate crimes come to mind.

When it comes to media control, though, I don’t think we have a lot of influence. Strong emotional content helps generate ratings, so sensationalism rules the game. I wonder, if a goofball posts to this forum and helps generate increased website traffic through hatred, does JREF benefit in terms of increased advertising revenue? We don’t want to kill the bird if it is laying a golden egg! Perhaps I need to change my voting strategy.
smilies/wink.gif
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written by kodabar, June 08, 2009
Gosh, am I in the unpopular minority again?

These people that you so despise are a religious group who are acting on their beliefs, no matter how wrong or unfashionable they may be. I dislike all organised religion no matter how palatable or otherwise their views are. To draw a line and decide which religions are acceptable is something that worries me. There are many aspects of mainstream Christianity that I dislike and it would seem that thhese days they tend not to talk about these subjects so openly as once they did. This in itself does not engender my acceptance of them.

So have we given up and decided to tolerate certain delusional groups, but not others? The issue of homosexuality in mainstrem Christianity is somewhat unresolved and continues to threaten to cause a schism in even the Church of England. This little group has taken a stance on the issue. I may well dislike them and this area of their beliefs, but I find it just as offensive when mainstream Christianity tells me that the definitive position comes from the "old man who lives in the sky" (cf Carlin) and gains a degree of legal recognition and even protection.

There are bigger issues to fight than this one surely. Just because you refuse to name them doesn't mean that we don't know who you're talking about; I'm sure we all do. I find the Catholic Church's stance on abortion and contraception to be far more offensive, partly because it has a much greater impact on many, many more lives. I look forward to your article on the Pope whose name you dare not speak...
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Definitely up, over and beyond the top.
written by CasaRojo, June 08, 2009
Hi Jeff. If you're referring to the unnamed person or group (and their type in general) that spams Swift threads I couldn't agree more as I've recently come to that same conclusion. However, the adage 'keep your friends close and your enemies (not to be confused with enemas) closer' should be paid heed IMHO. Openly ignore them but keep a close eye. Wack jobs are wack jobs and ultimately are very predictable. Given the opportunity they will destroy the target of their delusions.
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written by Elexina, June 08, 2009
I agree, the media feeds the frenzy. But the media responds to the public and if the public at large is no longer interested, the media will lose interest as well. Of course, that includes Howard Stern himself, who does sometimes (disparagingly) talk about he-who-does-not-deserve-to-be-named.
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The Bigots and Their Love of Hatred
written by Josh111485, June 08, 2009
I agree with Jeff. If these bigots are just yelling and picketing, I can ignore them. If they're physically hurting someone that's when I feel the need to speak up and take action. As long as the backwards thinking bigots keep their hands to themselves and don't physically hurt anyone I can ignore them. smilies/grin.gif
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written by The_Libertarian_Otaku, June 08, 2009
Ah, yes, Fred Phelps and his homophobe club.

I have to ask two things: 1) Does Phelps REALLY believe what he's preaching, and 2) as much as he runs down gays, why doesn't he just come out of the closet already?

This group was in my city this weekend protesting the ordination of the first African American woman rabbi. Why? I'm not sure.


Surprising, considering that Phelps fought for the civil rights of black people back in the day.
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written by mama1974, June 08, 2009
The squeaky wheel get's the grease. The squeaking is bigotry and the grease is media attention. I don't think that keeping quiet and ignoring the hateful will make them go away and I wouldn't want the silence of the non-bigots to be construed as tolerance or agreement. I try not to "answer" hate with hate as I find that mocking their hypocritical nonsense to be more effective. If one believes in the "loving god" then why would he create homosexuals only to hate them? Is god just a twisted jokester? Why is there homosexuality with in the animal kingdom? Is there a special gay cat hell? Being an atheist, I tend to group these zealots into the mentally ill catagory and hope that the more they are heard, the more they are watched before they becomes dangerous.
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written by stacyhead, June 08, 2009
In KY, there is a group of biker dudes that will show up at military funerals and block of said fatuous group and make lots of biker noise (vroom vroom) at an attempt to divert attention. While I think the bikers have the families best interst at heart, it turns the entire funeral into a fiasco. So sad for the people who are mourning.
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written by Kuroyume, June 08, 2009
And that's the problem. When he-shall-not-be-named shows up at a funeral with his fleeced flock, signs, and bullhorns it makes one wonder how they would feel if someone did the same to them. And it begs the question: Have these brain-damaged people ever read the bible (even the new testament)? Can they read (auxillary question, worth 5 pts)? Right there, the big-daddy molded in flesh says, literally in Luke, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." (and similarly in Matthew 7:12 and Luke 10:25-2smilies/cool.gif. So, I say we take their own guidance - they are doing this unto us, we should reciprocate in the same manner (no more, no less). Any police or legal interference immediately allows that they come under the same interference when they do the same. In other words, have the lawyers ready and law on one side must be balanced by law on the other. It would be interesting and enlightening to see how that would proceed. They would cease and desist or the law would be wielded duplicitiously wherein we can all see the true state of our nation (and I can finally move to Canada where hockey rules). smilies/wink.gif
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Don't feed the troll...
written by stifenlaso, June 08, 2009
Enough said.
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written by rootietoot, June 08, 2009
I don't always agree with you, but on this, I do. As a Christian, these people you (don't)speak of piss me off. I ignore them because the alternative is blowing a head gasket.
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written by Silver, June 08, 2009
I think it is important to confront Phelps and his gang of thugs just to help isolate them and to give encouragement to those he is targeting. His main target up until the recent past has been the gay community. Phelps first became famous for picketing the funeral of Matt Shepard, the young man from Wyoming who was brutally murdered becaue he was gay. Lately he is demonstrating at high schools who put on a play called "The Laramie Project" which is a play about the murder of Shepard. At a couple of schools hundreds of high school students have shown up to rally in support of their fellow students who happen to be gay or lesbian.
As to the funerals I think the wishes of the families involved should determine if there is to e an effort to counter the hate mongers.
As you might predict of a fascist like Phelps he has turned his hate toward Jews. Last week he began demonstrating at synagogues in Seattle with signs that said "God hates Jews."
This sort of bigotry should not go unanswered.
http://www.kcjc.com/200906058517/news/phelps-clan-plans-synagogue-picket.html
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No comment
written by Mully410, June 08, 2009
I'm not commenting because I know that's what you want.
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written by daveg703, June 08, 2009
...and Third of All, at this point in time, (shudder!), let's make one thing perfectly clear: "Begs the question" does not mean what all but.000000071% of people using it think it means.

Thank you all for your kind attention and your adulation- and good night.
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@daveg703
written by JeffWagg, June 08, 2009
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begs_the_question

Yep, you're right.. but the original meaning is rather useless, and the "common" meaning is so "common," that I contend it is ok to use it that way. smilies/wink.gif
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written by Kuroyume, June 08, 2009
When I'm not using 'begs the question' as a logical fallacy, I'm meaning that something raises the obvious question or questions to be asked. Same as 'raises the question'. Do you mind? smilies/smiley.gif

Their actions go directly against their belief system - unless they don't mind if I were to show up at one of their funeral services with a mob toting bullhorns and signs. My spidey sense tells me that they wouldn't be all too pleased. Oh well for them. Too bad...
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I'm not so sure
written by Alencon, June 08, 2009
I hear what you're saying but I'm not so sure it would work. Sometimes you just have to give in to the impulse to beat the living crap out of someone who richly deserves it. If nothing else, doing so would certainly help to lower your blood pressure.

Do you think these people would still show up if they were in danger of life and limb?

Like Heinlein points out in Starship Troopers, the old saying that violence never settles anything is pure nonsense. Violence, pure naked force, has undoubtedly settled more issues than all the other methods combined. One thing I can guarantee you is they won't be lifting too many signs while in traction.

Of course, on the other hand, being made "martyrs" might be just what they're looking for so perhaps ignoring them is best after all. Still, couldn't we just bruise them up a little bit? smilies/wink.gif
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written by tctheunbeliever, June 08, 2009
Are we finished talking about not talking about them?
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written by Phatchick96, June 08, 2009
IMO, these half-wits don't deserve a lot of attention. They're the human and moral equivalent of a pile of dog crap on the sidewalk and if that was all the attention given them, they'd soon lose their taste for demonstrating.
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@daveg703
written by Cunning Linguist, June 08, 2009
...and Third of All, at this point in time, (shudder!), let's make one thing perfectly clear: "Begs the question" does not mean what all but.000000071% of people using it think it means.
So there are 4.6 people on the world that use it correctly? And everyone else, even though they use it in a consistent way, and it conveys the meaning they intend to everyone but those 4.6, are using it wrongly?
I think Wittgenstein would disagree.
Language belongs to the people, not to those who write dictionaries or cling to them for dear life. A dictionary should describe language use, not prescribe language use. Or would you want us to go back to writing English as Chaucer did? Or an even earlier version? If you abhor change in language use, surely we should go as far back to the source as we can.
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written by Dooyoowoowoo, June 08, 2009
This odious man and his followers are banned from the UK. Hooray! there is a god. Oh, hang on, wait...
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I must correct something
written by BluesFan, June 09, 2009
written by stacyhead, June 08, 2009

In KY, there is a group of biker dudes that will show up at military funerals and block of said fatuous group and make lots of biker noise (vroom vroom) at an attempt to divert attention. While I think the bikers have the families best interst at heart, it turns the entire funeral into a fiasco. So sad for the people who are mourning.

=====
First, the group of bikers is likely the Patriot Guard, of which I am a member.

Second, we go only where invited, by the family.

The first mission I rode the hate group was there, due to configuration of the roads, we had to park and walk across the hiway, where we formed a flag line blocking the incoming mourners from having to see these folks and their posters.

The filth and hate I had to endure from a CHILD that they brought with them was disgusting.

Our job was simple, Ignore them and shiled them from view as much as possible.

Which we did until they left.

Later, at a rest break during the actual funeral, a woman pulled up and thanked us with tears in her eyes.

It was a sad day spent doing a good deed for a strangers family and friends.
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written by BillyJoe, June 09, 2009
I assume we all agree that the end-point of whatever stragedy we adopt towards this group is to lessen the influence of the group.

If we ignore the group, does that increase or decrease their influence? It obviously depends on how many ignore them. If all the media outlets ignore them, we're on a winner. But pigs can fly.

If the media are not going to ignore them, what does our silence achieve? It means that the groups hate speech goes unchallenged. This could sway vulnerable youth - our future - who have not got it all figured out quite yet.

We have to respond. But the manner of the response is important. Cool-headed, matter of fact exposition of the fallacy of their arguments, followed by humourous ridicule of their position.

They will not go away if we, a small minority - and we're only ever going to be a small minority - ignore them.
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Disagree!
written by Matt_D, June 09, 2009
I made a lovely long post here and it disappeared. Lets try again.


I must respectfully and strongly disagree with Mr. Wagg on this issue. I've had some direct contact with Westboro Baptist Church and Pastor Phelps (gasp! I named them) - a very good friend of mine directed "The Pastor Phelps Project", a play that ran in Toronto last year and got a fair bit of press coverage (the WBC tried to come to Canada to protest, but were denied entry because they're classified as a hate-group here). I also perform ambient/noise under the moniker "Fag Enabler" (a phrase Mr. Phelps loves to use) and use samples of Mr. Phelps's sermons in my music.

I believe that by discussing the WBC and they're cartoonish bigotry, we can use them to illuminate a lot of the more passive, innate bigotry in the western world. For example, the WBC has been protesting the funerals of homosexuals for years. Everyone shook their heads and said "well isn't that awful", but it wasn't until they started protesting at the funerals of soldiers that states began passing laws banning demonstrations near funerals. Clearly, in the eyes of lawmakers, the lives of soldiers and homosexuals, and the sanctity of their funerals, are not equal. We have the WBC to thank for illuminating this.

Also, I'm curious as to Mr. Wagg's labelling of the WBC as "so-called Christians". They're probably the truest Christians in the United States. Most of the Bible isn't about loving your neighbour, it's about the myriad things God abhors, about killing those who oppose God's will, anda bout hating in the name of God. I have a kind of perverse respect for Mr. Phelps in that he truly believes what he says and practices it (before he became famous for the more outlandish escapades of his church, he was known as a civil rights crusader in the 60s). A disgusting bigot like Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell may stop short of calling for homosexuals to be put to death, but only because they're cowards afraid of losing their power or their public voice, not because they aren't just as full of hate as Mr. Phelps.


We need to respond, but not directly to the WBC. We need to use the WBC as a tool to illuminate bigotry and hatred in the more-mainstream Christian community, in the government, and in the public in general.
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written by kenhamer, June 09, 2009
Has anyone seen the movie "Hangover" yet? It's getting great ratings, but it looks to me like just another teen gross-out movie. So I'm torn. When movies get good ratings (particularly when they are accumulated on sites like rottentomatoes) I usually enjoy them very much. But is it really possible to "enjoy" even a good movie like this? Conversely, is it possible to not enjoy a really good movie?

I imagine I'll find out soon enough.
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written by Dragonblaze, June 09, 2009
Well, the Pastafarians turned up to the *blip* picket at Little Rock dressed like pirates, and turned attention away from that sorry bunch. Maybe that is the best way of dealing with them, not with attempts of silencing them or showing hatred at them, but ridiculing the bejesus out of them.

Details available here: http://www.arktimes.com/blogs/...matie.aspx
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written by Steel Rat, June 09, 2009
I say "begs the question" can be used both ways. The more literal meaning is the colloquial usage, and just makes sense to me.

Now when we're talking about the word "nuclear" being mispronounced as "nucyuler", or any other number of ways, that really irks me.
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Upcoming Counter Protest in Seattle
written by Silver, June 10, 2009
http://seattletimes.nwsource.c...nny10.html
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I think you're right on this, Jeff
written by Metatron, June 10, 2009
They are clearly getting the attention they seek.

I concur the best plan is to deny them that attention.
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written by BillyJoe, June 10, 2009
I don't think there's any excuse now.
Bluesfan and Dragonblase have shown how it can be done successfully.

The "ignore them" approach won't work. Rather than meekly surrender, they're more likely to be stung into perpetrating even more extreme publicity seeking behaviour untill finally it will be impossible to ignore them.


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written by BillyJoe, June 10, 2009
...remember that the initial response to creationism was to ignore it. Now look at the mess that has to be cleaned up.
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written by kenhamer, June 10, 2009
One the one hand, "Hangover" was better than I thought it would be, but not as good as the ratings might suggest.

One the other hand, I'm kinda disappointed that no one got the point about ignoring things only works if you really ignore them.
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written by BillyJoe, June 11, 2009
I'm kinda disappointed that no one got the point about ignoring things only works if you really ignore them.
Point not lost.
But if you pointedly ignore something are you really ignoring it?
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Good idea
written by OnlyCheryl, June 15, 2009
Freedom of Speech does not guarantee anyone an audience.
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written by vasallese, July 09, 2009
I am hoping because this is such a small so-called "church" that they will die out soon. Especially as the children grow up and realize what a jackass their leader is. After all, several of his children have left his little enclave because he was such an abusive alcoholic father.
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