So apparently Fred Phelps is dying. I know there’s definition a temptation to talk about protesting his funeral or dancing on his grave – after all, the man was a pretty loathesome bigot.
Personally, I find myself largely not caring. Phelps, in his venom, was a negligible source of homophobia simply because his tactics were so cartoonishly awful that he would have added ammunition to our side of the argument more than anything – he provided one service to homophobes though: he served as the face of homophobia.
So all the so-nice straight people who are completely not homophobic (BUT…) can say they’re not homophobes because, look, they’re not Phelps. So long as they weren’t picketing funerals, they were the good ones. So long as their church wasn’t his, then people could deride Phelps as a “fake” Christian, rather than accept that his bigotry is pretty much standard across the majority of Christian denominations.
Phelps was a useful scapegoat, a distraction and a perfect excuse not to look at the more mainstream churches.
He was also useful to hate, wasn’t he? So many people hated him for the evil shit he did to straight people…
…what, you thought he was hated because of his homophobia? Please, his doctrine is hardly different from that of the Catholic church or the Southern Baptists. His homophobia was pretty standard and we can easily drum up rather a lot of pastors who want gay people deported/in concentration camps/just dead and think that Russia, Uganda, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia et al have truly fandabbydosy laws.
Don’t kid yourselves that this man was reviled for his homophobia. He was reviled because he was a TROLL. And pretty damn good at it at that. The hatred for GBLT people was pretty much standard – we hear as bad and worse every day from purveyors of Christian love – but his trollish antics enraged. His picketing funerals, especially soldier’s funerals in particularly was designed to enrage cis, straight people and earned him even the ire of the KKK. The wave of righteous hatred against Phelps has very little to do with his homophobia (he could have been denouncing cucumbers or the act of stepping on legos and he’d be as hated) – it’s all about him being a nasty little man who revels in offending and outraging people.
In short, trolling.
Will I be said the troll is dead? Not even slightly. Will I smile if people dance on his grave? You better I will. But is this a big victory of GBLT people? Has one of our great enemies fallen? Nope, I don’t see it.