Giving the Westboro Baptist Church the Time of Day

I know it’s stupid to give any attention to these anti-gay nutters so far outside the mainstream that they make the religious right look like Marxists. But I give you the latest from the Harvard Crimson:

Waving rainbow banners, American flags, and signs that displayed messages such as “God Strongly Dislikes Hate” and “We’re Staying Gay, Sorry,” approximately 400 counter-protestors waited for the arrival of the Westboro Baptist Church at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School last Friday morning.

At 11:24 a.m., six members of the anti-gay religious organization—including a 15-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy—finally appeared, entering the area the Cambridge Police had designated for their protest. From the other side, separated by two fences and a neutral zone, the counter-protestors began chanting loudly, drowning out the church group’s words and songs.

Last month, the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, whose nationwide picketing activities against homosexuality have earned them a “hate group” designation, announced their plans to protest the high school’s gay-straight alliance, Project10East. Since then, the school had worked with the mayor’s office and the police department to determine an appropriate response.

When the day finally arrived on March 13, the protests engendered an ironic consequence: although they propounded a divisive message, their effect on the community was decidedly uniting.

Good for Cambridge—one of the country’s greatest towns, I think—but I do think it’s worth calling out these nutters on the obvious unconscionable nature of attacking high-school kids. There are a lot of people who hold homophobic views that I find disgusting and repugnant, but they have the right to express their opinions. I’m left wondering, though, whether it’s acceptable to express one’s right to free speech by harassing high-school GSAs. I don’t know. There’s something deeply nauseating about the whole thing.

But yeah. Good for Cambridge for being awesome.

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