Category Archives: Protesting

Let’s Talk About Religion Then: The Westboro Baptist Wannabe Martyrs

Live Long and Prosper: The Jewish Story Behind Spock

The Westboro Baptist Church was forced to cancel its plans to protest at Leonard Nimoy’s funeral at the weekend when no-one would tell them where it was.

The group often descends upon the funerals of celebrities and soldiers with neon signs filled with homophobic slurs, but couldn’t locate the late Star Trek actor’s after planners decided to make the memorial private. – The Independent, Westboro Baptist Church

I’ve said my piece about Leonard Nimoy’s passing, albeit it took me two years to write what I thought about it and never posted the article anywhere aside from this blog. It is like a lot of entries on this public blog. They are here if anyone is interested enough to go back through the archive and look for them. These articles aren’t for general consumption, they are my thoughts set down for my own reasons, thoughts that I don’t mind sharing with the curious if there are people who are curious. So this blog entry really isn’t about Leonard or my feelings for Leonard or Spock. This is about a penchant for grandstanding in self-destructive ways by a particular religious cult in the US.

I have broached this subject several times on bulletin board systems and email groups, but I’ve never said a word about Westboro Baptist church on this blog because I really don’t have much of an opinion about the beliefs of others unless they potentially impact me or the people I love. I don’t talk about things that don’t interest me on my blog, so I generally don’t talk about religion. Being an atheist and freethinker myself, I have almost no use for religion, but there are occasions when the discussion of religion can’t be helped. This is one of those times.

The Westboro Baptist Church members are essentially the same as most other christianist/dominionist cults in that they think we are in the end times and they want to bring about the second coming of Christ. They hope to do this by provoking attacks upon themselves, and they do this by inciting rage in people who really cannot be relied upon to be sensible in the face of provocation. Those people are the survivors of tragedy, the funeral parties for the recently deceased.

What has evolved over time is that the Westboro Baptists are penned into a protest area where they are out of sight and hopefully out of earshot of the grieving by local police forces who are just trying to keep the peace. I believe that this is a counter-productive way of dealing with a problem which has a simple, if violent, solution.

We should not be protecting the Westboro Baptists when they attempt to picket funerals. What should be done instead is that local law enforcement takes the time to explain to their leadership that the grieving are statutorily exempt from criminal charges if they attack outsiders who attempt to disrupt funerals. Funeral attendees are demonstrably not of their right mind. The leadership should be informed that picketing funerals is an attempt to have oneself killed as a martyr. That attempting suicide in this fashion is an admission of insanity on the part of the Westboro Baptists; and that they consequently can be detained without trial for mental evaluation indefinitely, and possibly committed to a mental institution for the rest of their lives if they insist on persevering in this deranged behavior.

Then we as a culture sit back and wait. If the Westboro Baptists picket, they get to go talk to headshrinkers for the rest of their lives, the few of them that survive. I’m good with that, and they do need help.

As a side note, I’ve had quite a few people object that we shouldn’t require funeral attendees to kill the Westboro Baptists in this fashion. I agree. We should be able to have the insane committed for their demonstrable insanity. Insanity like believing that if they die martyrs they’ll go to heaven. That Jesus hates homosexuals (he doesn’t, that passage is in the part of the Bible that came from the Torah, the Old Testiment) There are a whole host of ideas which are insane on their face that the religious really should be cautioned about espousing belief in, in public. What they believe inside their own heads is their own business. Just don’t expect the rest of us to endorse these ideas when you speak them or act upon them, because there are broader concerns that should be of more importance than their personal insanity.

Facebook status update backdated and expanded upon for the blog. This is the first of the many Let’s Talk About Religion Then articles which will be published eventually. Chronologically it will appear before Atheism is Not a Belief System but that can’t be helped now. I’ve written many things in other places over the years and this monologue about Westboro Baptists emerged about the same time as my original authorship of the atheism article on that now defunct BBS that I continually mention. 

Voting vs. Abstaining

I keep running across well intentioned individuals who seem to think they are achieving something by abstaining from the political process. Other Peoples Politics and Madness of Voting are two of the more recent examples of articles that I’ve read; however, there is a long standing tradition of not voting amongst anarchist and hard-core libertarian types that dates back to the days of Lysander Spooner. Just wander by the Voluntaryist some time, and have a look at the amount of work that’s been put into justifying non-participation in the current political process.

[I got a kick out of their statement of purpose; “Voluntaryists are advocates of non-political, non-violent strategies to achieve a free society” Politics is the process by which groups make decisions; apparently they advocate a society that makes no decisions, which is an oxymoron. A society that makes no decisions is not a society]

This approach amounts to nothing more than sour grapes; I’m not playing until the rules are the way I want them to be. In the world the way I think it should be, a simple majority would be a meaningless political concept. Rights would stand inviolable by ignorant voters, who simply believe what the school board tells them and raises taxes for everyone because “The schools need more money”. In a properly set up gov’t, every citizen would be pre-qualified to hold office. At election time, a name is drawn for each office that needs a new occupant, and the person attached to that name gets that job for the duration. None of these popularity contests, no owing favors to your backers once you gain office. The only thing binding you is your oath to uphold the constitution.

Unfortunately that isn’t the world we currently live in. The process outlined above is another form of democracy known as sortition; a process we should have adopted from the Greeks (rather than going with the beauty pageant, the essence of election) but did not.

I’m no devote’ of elections (as the above should show) but the game stands as it was set by the people who preceded us here. Either you play the game before you, or you don’t play at all. You can pick and choose which parts of the game you will take part in; but the game will be played the same way it always has been.

When the major parties pay lip service to getting out the vote, while all their ads are clearly slanted towards convincing their opponents core constituency to stay away from the polls, it seems foolish in the extreme for the average libertarian to hand them precisely what they are asking for. The protest non-voters are simply lost in the shuffle, 10% (at most) of the roughly 50% to 60% who simply don’t vote in any given election.

However, if that 10% voted Libertarian, someone would notice. And imagine what would happen if the other half of the country showed up and voted LP at the same time…

…Might actually make some changes around here.


Jim Davidson (of Indomitus, linked above) has other things to say on the subject of voting. Like this bit of amusement that he titled Head Shots over at The Libertarian Enterprise. Other than his confederate sympathizers reference to Lincoln, I think it’s an excellent proposal. Perhaps I should get in a bit more silhouette practice.

Unfortunately a good many of his arguments refer back to the issue he has with Lincoln and the War Between the States (I use that title instead of “Civil War”, because I just want to avoid the whole argument of what to call that war) as his objections to this blog entry also make reference to the behavior of Lincoln in relation to the Constitution (I’ll leave the graphic descriptions to the readers imagination) and what a proper society looks like.

I’ll leave the discussion of what a proper society is to another blog entry (as well as the subject of confederate folly) and address the points on voting that this entry is about.

I’ll beg Jim’s leave to reprint the salient points here:

I’m not a libertarian, RAnthony. I have signed the covenant of universal consent, so I am not average. I’m a propertarian and a free marketeer. Which is precisely why I cannot consent to a process that defrauds many and imposes force on all.

Those who choose to vote have given their consent to be governed by whomever has been chosen in the polls. As George Carlin explains, if you vote, you shouldn’t complain. The guys who counted the votes told you who won. You agreed that whoever the guys who counted the votes said was the winner would govern you. Carlin also noted that he doesn’t vote because he doesn’t consent to be governed.

Except for Carlin’s comment, granted on the above. I take the opposite tack from Carlin. Those who govern do so whether you consent to it or not. We had a discussion not so long ago concerning the nature of property (also a subject to be discussed elsewhere) where Jim took me to task for holding positions, and how that behavior was self-defeating. I submit that standing on the idea that you are refusing to consent to be governed, and so do not vote, you are in fact defeating yourself by holding an indefensible position. Those who govern will exert their authority whether you will it or not.

There is nothing that is right about this, it simply is.

I maintain that those who do not vote have no room to bitch about gov’t; they have forfeited that right by refusing to participate in the process (rigged as it is) and should simply accept whatever raw deal is handed to them in consequence. Since Genghis didn’t even bother with the trouble of a popularity contest before doing as he wished, I’m inclined to accept the (ridiculously) limited avenues of political expression available to me in exchange for my intention to rant on incessantly about every little thing that pisses me off in the current state of affairs.

The majority of people who don’t vote (and yes I know, the true majority voices no opinion at each and every election. It’s one of the things I find amusing when pundits talk about how “the majority has spoken”. Clearly they don’t get it) don’t bother to get active in the political process, and take no interest in politics, are the ones who enable the charade that we call government in the US to continue.

[While the above description probably doesn’t apply to Jim and other activists that I correspond with, it definitely does apply to 90% or more of the non-voting public; the apathetic as the media refers to them]

Will voting change anything? I sincerely doubt it. But it beats sitting around doing nothing while the the current gov’t destroys what little is left of the country.