It's easy for those of us who are not gay, Jewish or Catholic to shrug off the creatures who make up the congregation of Westboro Baptist Church and dismiss them as inconsequential, mentally ill followers of a wing-nut cult. That's certainly what they are. Not convinced? Visit www.godhatesfags.com for the evidence. For those of us who are not direct targets of Westboro's spewage, it's pretty hilarious stuff.
But for many members of the Jewish and gay communities, it isn't the slightest bit funny. For them, it's painful to know that such reckless hate is out there, aimed right at them.
The knuckleheads from Westboro, Kan.—famous for their colorful “God Hates Fags” and “Jews Killed Jesus” signs—are apparently planning to picket this Friday, Oct. 16, through Monday, Oct. 19, at various high schools, Christian and Catholic churches and Jewish institutions in San Diego and Carlsbad. There is disagreement—here and everywhere else their kooky road show has stopped—about how to respond to them, with some recommending that they be ignored and others planning noisy counter-protests.
Morris Casuto of the local chapter of the Anti-Defamation League is part of the former group. “In general, [Westboro's] greatest ongoing need is for media attention,” Casuto told Joseph Peña of San Diego News Network.
“[O]ur suggestion is to not counter-demonstrate.… If there are counter-demonstrations, you can be certain there will be media attention. And that is, in fact, what they want.”
With massive amounts of respect for Casuto and his feelings, we disagree—not with his opinions about what Westboro wants, but about how we should respond to these jackasses.
Judging from the size of Westboro's recent events in New York, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Indiana, there's likely to be as few as five or six protesters. In each case, they were overwhelmed by much larger counter-protests. Hell, they were even a no-show at a scheduled appearance in Maryland. So, they could be easily ignored, and we could go about our business as if they were never here.
But we would be missing an opportunity. These unsavory characters give us a reason to stand together and celebrate our differences—our different religious traditions, our different ethnic heritages, our different skin colors and our different sexual identities. We should meet them not necessarily with anger—although we would empathize with any fury that they happen to spark—but, rather, with more of a party atmosphere: “We dig our diversity, so you insignificant handful of ugly haters can just suck on that.”
We expect to see hundreds of high-school- and college-age San Diegans out in force, and we'll be incredibly proud of them.
Most importantly, though, this is a chance to show our Jewish and gay friends, family, neighbors and co-workers that we have their back when insidious invaders come calling. Who knows, maybe such clownish intolerance might even hold up a mirror (of sorts) to those who oppose same-sex marriage. That might sound harsh, but make no mistake, a vote for Prop. 8 was an expression of intolerance, just not as over-the-top as the kind propagated by the freaks from Westboro.
Should you choose to stand for tolerance, here's the list of where and when you can do it (the information comes from www.godhatesfags.com, so we can't exactly vouch for its accuracy):
• 12:30 to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, at 5665 Oberlin Drive in Sorrento Mesa.
• 1:15 to 1:45 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, at 4950 Murphy Canyon Road in Tierrasanta.
• 2:10 to 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, at San Diego High School, 1405 Park Blvd.
• 3:20 to 3:50 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, at 8804 Balboa Ave. in Kearny Mesa.
• 5:30 to 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, at 1980 La Costa Ave. in Carlsbad.
• 7 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, at 4858 Ronson Court in Kearny Mesa.
• 8:10 to 8:40 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, at 5050 Del Mar Heights Road in Del Mar Highlands.
• 8:55 to 9:25 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, at 3813 Governor Drive in University City.
• 9:30 to 9:55 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, at 9001 Towne Centre Drive in UTC.
• 10:10 to 10:40 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, at 6299 Capri Drive in Del Cerro.
• Noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, at 1980 La Costa Ave. in Carlsbad.
• 7 to 7:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, at 3131 Governor Drive in University City.
• 8 to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, at 2643 Homedale St. in Paradise Hills.
• 8 to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, at 10752 Coastwood Road in Black Mountain.
• 8:30 to 9 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, at 5331 Mt. Alifan Drive in Clairemont.
• 9:30 to 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, at 2277 Rosecrans St. in Point Loma.
• 9:30 to 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, at 2100 Costa Del Mar Road in Carlsbad.
• 10 to 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, at 4747 College Ave. in the College Area.
• 10:30 to 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, at 3131 Governor Drive in University City.
• 10:30 to 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, at 2205 Harrison Ave. in Sherman Heights.
• 10:45 to 11:15 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, at 5825 Imperial Ave. in Valencia Park.
• 1:15 to 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, at 2100 Costa Del Mar Road in Carlsbad.
• 6:30 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, at 2277 Rosecrans St. in Point Loma.
• 6:40 to 7:15 a.m. Monday, Oct. 19, at Rancho Bernardo High School, 13010 Paseo Lucido.
• 7:30 to 8 a.m. Monday, Oct. 19, at 11860 Carmel Creed Road in Carmel Valley.
• 8:30 to 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 19, at 8976 Cliffridge Ave. in La Jolla.
• 10:15 to 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 19, at 2100 Costa Del Mar Road in Carlsbad.
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