Thu. May 26th, 2022

These Okies are just OK by me. Maybe if Fred Phelps and his little band of hate-filled goofballs have their tires slashed often enough, they’ll stay home and stop bothering grieving military families.

Okla. Residents Refuse to Help Hate-Spewing Westboro Baptist Church Members After Tires Slashed

by Lauren Kelley
AlterNet.org
Nov. 16, 2010

Several members of Westboro Baptist Church — best known for their despicable “God Hates Fags” protests — showed up in McAlester, Oklahoma, over the weekend to picket outside the funeral of Army Sgt. Jason James McCluskey. When they returned to their car, they found that the front and rear tires had been slashed.

What happened next was pure karma: “[A]s their minivan slowly hobbled away on two flat tires, with a McAlester police car following behind, the protesters were unable to find anyone in town who would repair their vehicle,” Tulsa World reported.

What’s more, Assistant Police Chief Darrell Miller told the local paper that a counter-protest of some 1,000 people showed up at the funeral to taunt and jeer at the half-dozen church members.

McAlester, Oklahoma: No friend to Westboro Baptist Church.

Read more at Raw Story.

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Ken Carman
Admin
11 years ago

Mixed feelings. Justice… in one sense: turn around being fair play. But if we came into a more pro-Westboro town to protest the protesters, how would we feel if the same happened.

Today’s Inspection kind of mentions this, in a sense. Does not nasty often lead to more nasty? Break down of common decency and manners lead to more break down?

But I see the irony and how it was well deserved. As I typed: mixed feelings.

Joyce Lovelace
Joyce Lovelace
11 years ago

“Does not nasty often lead to more nasty? Break down of common decency and manners lead to more break down?”
Sounds like something I might have said – or maybe Jon Stewart.

I have mixed feelings too. I love the image of them limping out of town, but slashing tires is still vandalism.

RS Janes
11 years ago

The Phelps idiots have been so egregious and nasty for so long — and gotten away with it — that I feel that a little vandalism is excusable in this case, but the best part is that no one in this Red State OK town would fix their van. Besides, I’m convinced Phelps is doing this just for publicity to collect more money for his rotten church and further ‘protests’ like this one. Now he can spend some of that money replacing tires. I would feel the same, BTW, if a progressive group were interrupting military funerals for enlisted ratings like this one to yell “baby killer” or whatever. It’s a pointless, stupid protest against the wrong target.

Ken Carman
Admin
11 years ago

Essentially I agree, RS. But let’s do a bit of a role reversal. Let’s say the community it pro-Phelps as a whole. There’s a soldier’s funeral and the usual Phelps crap happens. There’s also a counter protest. Tires are slashed. No one will work on the vehicle. Counter protesters limp away.

The question here was answered by the police when questioned. They felt all need protection, even those we despise.

I don’t support Westboro in any sense, and I suppose you could be right. Maybe it was a trick to cull more funds. As far as I know they slashed their own tires. But unless proof of that exists they deserve the same protection. As despicable as they may be, if they can be denied service could Blacks, or Jews, or whomever be denied service? Isn’t vandalism still vandalism?

I am by no means comfortable typing this; but attempting to see this in the larger perspective. One edition of Inspection covered this conundrum. There has been a serious push over the years for the law, and how we treat people, to be relative to whether we like them or not; agree with them, or not. If we find their, unfortunately in some cases, legal form of protest obnoxious… or not. It’s a trend far more dangerous and offensive than even Westboro, for no one can guarantee who, or what, will be unpopular tomorrow.

Who will not get service next time? Have to tolerate having their tires slashed, sit at the back of some bus, not allowed in some whites only, Christians only, Atheists only, Neo Cons only, Liberals only ice cream shop?

Needless to say, still I shed no tears for Westboro over this and can’t help but snicker a little. But if I ran a shop, as long as they paid and not demand I listen to their trash, I probably would have replaced their tires. Charged them the going rate. Though the temptation to do otherwise would be there. So I do understand.

RS Janes
11 years ago

If the vandals were caught, they should be prosecuted for vandalism, but I’m glad they weren’t. As far as repairing their van, I don’t think what the Phelps haters do equates with the conditions of ethnic or racial heritage, or even a political point of view. People can be, and have been, refused service for acting obnoxiously or inappropriately — I was in a store where they made a guy leave because he was loudly telling other customers to “hurry it the f*ck up!” — and if the Phelps crew isn’t obnoxious and inappropriate, the words have no meaning. I take your point about free speech — but the least the law could do is keep the Phelps ‘protestors’ far enough away from the funerals so that their “God hates fags” BS doesn’t intrude on the ceremony. As far as I know, this hasn’t been done. The grieving family should have some rights, too. If someone was singling you out and yelling insults at you, and refused to desist when politely asked, don’t you think you should have the legal recourse to have them arrested for assault?

Ken Carman
Admin
11 years ago

The problem here, RS, is we agree… but there is a bigger picture. If I’m in a business and obnoxious, obviously they have a right to refuse to serve me. I’m pretty sure I have already stated that. But I have lost clients because, while surfing the net, they found one of my columns the don’t agree with. I have gotten rotten to no service for similar reasons.

A society where everything is based on whether we agree with each other would be no society at all. Even our distant ancestors had to put up with crap from each other to hunt down a food source, find shelter, grow crops.

I am not saying “the same,” or “equating:” don’t believe I was saying that at all. I am saying that refusing to serve someone because of something they do “off campus” (for a better lack of a term), or because of their beliefs, or race, what they protest or say while they protest… is wrong. More important, and my point, any one of these sets a precedent… a precedent that can be used against you, against me.

I do agree the grieving family has rights. As I mentioned in that column if we put election protesters far away from the action, if those are the rules we go by, certainly Phelps clowns can be. But I am uncomfortable with it… at best. For the same reason I am uncomfortable with mass sweeps during political conventions that arrest the innocent as well as the guilty, or caging them. If you can move protesters so far away no one sees them: corral them behind fences, then those who wish to avoid being confronted over the worst of deeds will rule.

This is really not about Phelps, IMO. It’s about the bigger picture.

I am trying to point out that any approved rules or treatment of the Phelps clan might just turn around and bite us in the ass. Or do you believe in a society where how we treat people is solely based on whether we like them, or how popular their cause is, at the moment? Should we hold a vote on every group that wanders through our towns and cities to see how they should be treated?

Personally I think the less we have of any of that as a social/political/theological dynamic the better.

RS Janes
11 years ago

Ken, in the example you cite, clients were surfing the net and just happened to find your columns, you didn’t throw your political opinions in their face. What happened to you may be unfair, but I don’t know how you can legislate that people hire you in spite of your political opinions. Besides, as an entertainer, don’t you want to retain the right to refuse to work for, say, the KKK Fourth of July party based on their objectionable political opinions?

And there’s a big difference here — Phelps and co. want to intentionally piss people off and and then turn around and be treated impartially; you didn’t solicit business, I assume, wearing your opinions on your sleeve — your potential clients just happened on your political writing. That may not be fair but, again, how do you prevent that and still retain your right to refuse certain gigs based on the client’s political views? I’m sure you wouldn’t want to have to be compelled by law to play for a benefit for the Westboro Baptist Church. In the same way, how do you compel car repair shops to fix the vehicles of offensive, hate-filled people like the Phelps crowd? Any such law would necessarily, as I have pointed out, cut both ways, forcing you to work for those you abhor.

As far as changing people’s minds without legislation, I agree with you, but Phelp’s WBC is the extreme exception — they are not trying to engage in any sort of political debate, just mindlessly yelling “God hates fags” and waving their silly signs. The Constitutional laws governing protest have to do with the public’s ability to protest their government, but does not apply to personal situations, such as your conduct at a private funeral. If the Phelps idiots wanted to protest the government with their BS, I’d approve of that, but interfering with a private ceremony is something different. Can you think of anything comparable that the left has done to what Phelps is doing? I can’t.

BTW, I’m not for shutting down Phelps’ church or infringing on his freedom of speech no matter what he says, except I think it should not be able to interfere with someone else’s private funeral — that’s harrassment and assault, and illegal. As I said, if he is protesting at a government facility, such as a Navy base, more power to him, but a private funeral is just that — private, and should not be a playground for demented clowns.

In the bigger picture, I found few of those in business care about your political opinions when trying to sell or buy goods and services, and the few who do, well — if they are that rigid and right-wing, it may be just as well you didn’t do business with them after all.

Ken Carman
Admin
11 years ago

you didn’t throw your political opinions in their face.

But I am assuming in the situation we are discussing the flat tire Phelps folks aren’t throwing their opinion in the face of Joe at Firestone. If they are and he tells them he doesn’t want to hear it, still they persist, I would refuse to serve them too.

don’t you want to retain the right to refuse to work for, say, the KKK Fourth of July party based on their objectionable political opinions?

Well there is a diff between entertaining kids and the all too necessary need to get out of a situation like flat tires. BTW, not servicing them guarantees they stay in your community longer. But, depending on the venue, I have worked for Church of God, Church of Christ and if the KKK simply wanted me to do a show without radical edits, hell yes I’d do it. Maybe the kids would learn something other than hate. But I doubt they’d ask: they’d rather not have any of my messages passed on.

Snozard of Odd message… “What makes us so wonderful? We’re all different!”

but interfering with a private ceremony is something different

Crucial point here. I agree. But when they were here they stood across the road from the Armory. Is that “interference?” If you believe even seeing the signs is interfering the perhaps Bush was right in making sure he didn’t see a single sign.

There is no right not to be offended. Sometimes, like in the Phelps case, I wish there a way to craft legislation so it only applied to whackos like that, but there really isn’t. What applies to them applies to us.

I agree: nothing comparable. But I’ll bet the Bush bastards think some of the signs the left has had were, and I know those who ties themselves to trees and such are considered equal. I don’t agree, but not my point.

I had a client who ranted right wing crap at me every time I was in his office. I avoided confronting him. One day I mildly objected to something he had said, only saying I didn’t quite agree, and I lost his business. The Right is obnoxious when it comes to this, even though they rant against boycotts on the left: they don’t just boycott. This same guy asked me once if I wanted pizza when I stayed over at his house. He wanted Papa Johns. I wanted Pizza Hut and said Johns was a bit bland for me. (The only two delivery options at the time.) He claimed he ordered Hut but got Johns. (Chuckle.) Tried to fool me. I played along so as not to offend.

To this day I’m guessing there was something political going on here.

But back on topic: I didn’t refuse him service. This was during the Clinton impeachment. When we reached our final “discussion” he got mad because I told him I thought a lot of what he was promoting ws political correctness from the Right.

“You can’t use that! That’s our word!”

Proving my point.

RS Janes
11 years ago

Ken, I think you’re missing my point. As an entertainer, you reserve the right to refuse to perform at any venue where you don’t agree with the point of view — for example, I don’t think you’d be comfortable doing a show for young boys for NAMBLA. Several bands I’ve known — and a band is basically a small business that usually doesn’t show much profit — have refused gigs where they didn’t agree with the politics of the event. Bruce Springsteen and other rock stars have told GOP candidates to stop using their music to promote an ideology with which they don’t agree. Shouldn’t a car repair shop in Oklahoma have the same right of refusal as a band or Bruce Springsteen?

Also, if I’m clear on your position: you do not want laws passed to compel car repair shops and the like to serve anyone regardless of obnoxious ideology, no matter how objectionable their ideology, so your objection is more along the lines of a wish for a fairer society. I agree with that but, unfortunaely, life ain’t fair.

Our federal statutes prohibit businesses open to the public from rejecting customers based on race, color, religious creed or ethnic origin, but not political ideology. I guess you could say “God hates fags” is a religious creed and it might make a good court case to define it as such. But, as I’ve already touched on, even on public property, such as a sidewalk, one person, even for religious purposes, does not have the right to insult another — that’s defined as an illegal assault — and, if they keep it up, it becomes illegal harassment. Would you put up with someone following you around during the day shouting insults at you, even if they were on public property, or would you call the cops on them?

The legal exception here are demonstrations against the government. However, these funerals are private religious ceremonies and not part of any governmental activity, so we come back to a group shouting at another group of people on public property. In short, the religious Phelps idiots have no Constitutional right to infringe on another private group’s right to practice their religious ceremony. Remember the old saw, “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”

Other than this, I have no quarrel with what you’ve written.

Ken Carman
Admin
11 years ago

Of course I pick my venues, but once again that’s a bit different when compared to changing/selling tires. When you do that service you’re neither approving or disapproving any stand your customer takes. An entertainer does, possibly, lend his name to certain causes by being there. But, once again, performing for KKK kids? Depends upon the venue and how they treat me. Nazis? Well, I tend to view KKK folks these days (not so much in the past) as a bit clueless. But with Nazis I wouldn’t be sure “not a trap.” Of course not NAMBLA.

What exactly separates them walking in and being refused service from Martin Luther King’s folks being refused? We approve of one and not the other? If that’s the standard at none political/theological services then we might as well approve refusing them at the lunch counter. Then, if society changes its opinions again, we simply shift targets.

No, I don’t want laws passed, though I think not servicing them is like saying, “Please stay longer.” I also think it’s the wrong way to go with something less connected to approving a customer’s beliefs or how they protest. If society operated that way I think you and I might find doctors refusing us in times of peril, firemen watching our houses burn, no food from the grocery stores and, yes, not having our tires changed. The idea we should refuse service for some of our most basic needs, especially in times of need, is offensive to me. And it sure as hell is the wrong way to run a society.

Does anyone imagine in such a society the Phelps folks would learn their lesson, commit suicide, or change and agree with us more? More likely they’d become more hateful and more self sufficient. Basic human decency might still provide a little change in their hearts… maybe. But the kind of society I think your suggesting would do the opposite.

Would you put up with someone following you around during the day shouting insults at you, even if they were on public property, or would you call the cops on them?

The answer to that is obvious. In fact I think some anti abortion protesters outside clinics should be arrested: they really do go too far and cross the line of illegality with their actions. In fact if any of the Westboro Klan cross that line I’d be the first, as a cop, to toss them in jail. But going into a business and asking to have tires installed so you can get out of town is not the same, by any means. Now if they’re asses in there… toss the bums out.

…so we come back to a group shouting at another group of people on public property.

From what I have read they weren’t trespassing in any sense. They stood the required distance away. Now should those laws be changed? I would, but I’d be more likely to change them with less corralling. It’s tricky, I admit. But if all are under the same rule and their further away: more corralled? I have less objection to that than making a special exception out of either. In fact, right now, we make a special exception out of political protesters at conventions: kept many miles away in caged in places like animals. I object. But I might do the same if it were Fred’s clods. But we should at least treat them the same, legally.

Would you say that equal access is not part of the law? Basically, in part of this discussion, that part of what we are debating. I really feel laws that regulate protest need to provide equal access. Right now they don’t during political conventions. We have less rights than the Phelps clowns do. Frankly I’d rather not have us all caged like animals.

There needs to be a true standard, and that standard cannot be whomever we happen to not like at the moment.

And common decency alone demands we not chase people out of a business that provides basic needs. I don’t know about you but I’d rather not live in any society that allows the tire man to toss me out because he doesn’t like my politics. Now how I act in his store? Fair game.

An entertainer doesn’t qualify as “basic need,” regardless of the fact we pay most of them and major sports figures (same thing, really) way too damn much.

RS Janes
11 years ago

As to your first assertion: You seem to be saying that since your job is not necessary or a ‘basic need,’ you should have a superior right of refusal to a tire store owner. That sounds arrogant and elitist to me. I’d also question whether tire repair qualifies as a ‘basic need’ along the lines of food, water, shelter or clothing. (And the Phelps van was eventually taken care of by AAA anyway.)

As to the second: Martin Luther King’s marchers didn’t have the option of changing color and they weren’t black simply to be obnoxious but, in the realm of ideology, Phelps’ ‘church’ thrives on creating a scene and being as pointlessly obnoxious as possible. The Consitution guarantees equality based on race; it does not guarantee equality based on political ideology. Again, as I’ve stated several times, I have no problem with Phelps being obnoxious at a government facility, that’s his right; but a private funeral service is something different. Why should he have the right to interfere with someone else’s private grief?

It’s immaterial whether they were physically trespassing on private property; they were interfering with — trespassing on — a private service. That has nothing to do with equal access, it has to do with one group denying another groups solemn religious ceremony. I think you might feel differently if the Phelps idiots parked themselves outside of your church during services and shouted over your pastor through bullhorns.

As far as the merchants in that small OK town, they obviously were aware of Phelps’ ideology, which is why they denied him tire repair service. I think you sometimes have to take these things on a case-by-case basis: I absolutely believe in the freedom of speech, but not the freedom to conspire to murder another person — that’s a criminal act. By the same token, the Phelps band conspired to interfere with a private religious ceremony — to reinterate, NOT a government-sponsored event or activity — so they sought to arrogantly assert their right to ‘protest’ over the familiy’s right to conduct a religious service.

I think everyone has been denied some service — or had to hold their tongue, as you did — because of the politics of the person you’re dealing with that had nothing to do with whatever business was transacted. I once had a right-wing client who occasionally ranted about his political ideas which were to the right of Dick Cheney. Of course I could have told him he was talking out of his posterior but, then, who would be worse off? I’d lose a client I needed and he’d still be a nutcase. So I patiently listened and only mildy objected now and then on the crazier stuff. It may be unfair, but it’s an injustice I don’t see how you can correct without creating a horrible blowback that would be worse than the initial infraction.

As I said in an earlier post, and as I’m sure you know, most businesses don’t care if you’re red or blue as long as your money’s green. The Phelps thing is an exception brought on by his own doing that I doubt will be replicated throughout society.

Ken Carman
Admin
11 years ago

As to your first assertion: You seem to be saying that since your job is not necessary or a ‘basic need,’ you should have a superior right of refusal to a tire store owner.

Not sure what you’re saying here. I should have more of a right? Yes. They should… well that will be covered in the next comment.

I’d also question whether tire repair qualifies as a ‘basic need’ along the lines of food, water, shelter or clothing. (And the Phelps van was eventually taken care of by AAA anyway.)

Why, yes, it was taken away eventually. But if you have ever been stuck somewhere with such problems, well let’s just say I know the pain and how much you are at the mercy of, sometimes, crooks, thieves and con men. Being refused service? As bad or worse. Far more “basic need” than a children’s entertainer.

Phelps’ ‘church’ thrives on creating a scene and being as pointlessly obnoxious as possible.

Yes, they do. Although I think they’d argue about “pointless.” Some of us don’t get point at all. Some of us think the point is stupid, brainless and pretty much offensive to any deity there may be out there. Jesus was crucified without putting up a fuss. I think he might tip over a few “tables” here, or at least spit.

The Constitution guarantees equality based on race; it does not guarantee equality based on political ideology.

But it does guarantee equal access. If we tried to deny them the right to vote I think that would be a problem. I also think they might have a case here, just like if they were denied being sold food in a any store, public bathrooms, buses… Would they win? In a sense, you’re right. IMO: a bit border line. They could call the AAA or have the cops follow them out. Of course if neither option was available, would that be OK too? How far do we go with this? Who do we deny? Do they have a right to deny such to us if a member of the Phelps family is working in a grocery store or, most likely not, a drug store? Do you believe a pharmacist is within his rights not to sell birth control because he doesn’t believe in it?

By merely focusing in only on how offensive they are you’re missing the point too. If this could only be about them we might be in total agreement. But the old cliche’ “what goes around comes around” could very well apply here, I believe.

It’s immaterial whether they were physically trespassing on private property; they were interfering with — trespassing on — a private service.

If just being near there: in a spot where it’s a publicly owned area that’s permissible for protest. If they took out any permits that may have been necessary, then no. If they truly “trespassed,” ran up into people’s faces or stood in the way of the proceedings: haul their asses off to jail. But I have seen nothing of that in the news. I have heard the Phelp’s folks are pretty careful not to cross those kind of lines, though admittedly they go right up to the line, and way over when it comes to the content of the actual protest. But do we want a society that controls the content of otherwise legal protest? Some things are obvious where other crimes are involved: naked protest, dumping toxic waste… I would include throwing jars filled with a dead fetus here since decaying flesh is problematic. But otherwise: words… words on a sign. Taunts done from a specified distance.

No. I don’t want to live in that kind of society. “What comes around…”

I think you sometimes have to take these things on a case-by-case basis:

That’s a problem, legally. When it comes to punishment in a court of law, I’m more for that than most. When it comes to arresting people and denying them service it becomes problematic legally. BTW, I’m not claiming I’m fond of this. But I am when it protects me, or people I agree with. It’s a trade off. That or a society where we pick and choose how people get treated by how popular they are at the moment. There’s too damn much of that now, IMO. That’s why Bush the younger skates too much, why we’re just letting those who destroyed the Wilsons and got many people in Iraq murdered will probably never pay for their treason. We make too many exceptions, prosecute too much only when we dislike people: often for bogus crap, too little when they’re well connected and guilty as hell… or we generally agree with them.

By the same token, the Phelps band conspired to interfere with a private religious ceremony

“Conspire.” Should we use RICO against them? I have some real problems with RICO, BTW. “Interfering” can be addressed by where they’re allowed to stand, what they are allowed to do. To a certain extent, I agree. I don’t agree with the 10 block/many mile away rule used during conventions. Perhaps they are too close.

You keep claiming they “interfere.” Have you evidence they are stepping in the way of proceedings? Throwing things at the cars? What is your definition of “interfering” here? Standing in a legal location, with whatever permits are required? From what I understand the Phelps family is filled with lawyers. They cover these bases very well. maybe we should change some laws? Of course I’d need to see and assess any such change before I would agree, or not. Once again, not because I love them, but because, “What goes around…”

This is a boomerang issue, IMO.

I think everyone has been denied some service — or had to hold their tongue, as you did — because of the politics of the person you’re dealing with that had nothing to do with whatever business was transacted. I once had a right-wing client who occasionally ranted about his political ideas which were to the right of Dick Cheney. Of course I could have told him he was talking out of his posterior but, then, who would be worse off? I’d lose a client I needed and he’d still be a nutcase. So I patiently listened and only mildy objected now and then on the crazier stuff. It may be unfair, but it’s an injustice I don’t see how you can correct without creating a horrible blowback that would be worse than the initial infraction.

I agree. I’ve been there many times myself. The current thing is about how much they hate Obama. Odd, I never ranted to them about my loathing Bush II in the slightest, unless they indicated they felt that way too. Even then I held back.

As I said in an earlier post, and as I’m sure you know, most businesses don’t care if you’re red or blue as long as your money’s green. The Phelps thing is an exception brought on by his own doing that I doubt will be replicated throughout society.

Perhaps. But knowing lawyers and always pols eager to silence opposition, I wouldn’t go there. Frankly I think the real problem, and equal access issue, is that political protesters at conventions are forced into caged areas many miles away. Innocent folks are caught up in mass sweeps, and you know they have to spend their own hard earned money to dig themselves out of something they weren’t even involved in, but the Phelps Klan is allowed to stand with their obnoxious signs right across the street from the Armory where a service is being held. There is an equal access issue here, but if I were a lawyer I’d go after that. But a lot of powerful people would be after me if I did that, I’m sure. God help all the Georgies out there if they happen to see how much they’re hated and how many know how nasty they are.

Perhaps a cure would be a counter protest against them, in a legal space across from the church, their homes: 24 hours a day?

Back to Cliche-ville for a moment: “What’s good for the goose…”

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