Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Dipping Into Political Protest

Today the Detroit Free Press printed an article about the Patriot Guard. This is the gang of large men, bikers, veterans, and others, who go to the funerals of fallen soldiers and block the protesters from Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas.

The people of Westboro, under the leadership of Fred Phelps, have taken on the habit of attending the funerals of these soldiers as almost a celebration. They believe that the soldiers deserve to die because of America's pro-gay policies.

Discerning readers will wonder:

  • What pro-gay policies? and,
  • How the hell did they come up with that?

I never said that Phred and his followers were paragons of logic.

Unfortunately, the article in the Freep downplayed this bizarre connection and reason for the Westboro protests. They wrote as if the followers of Phred (whom they did not mention) were ordinary anti-war protesters. I consider this to be shoddy reporting at best, and deliberate misinformation at worst. I am very strongly against the war and have been since the beginning, but I would never dream of saying so at a soldier's funeral! And I do not want to be connected with the delusional clowns from Westboro in any way, shape, or form.

So, being me, I fired off a letter to the editor. Here's what I wrote:

Dear Editor,

I must take exception to your 3/28 article regarding the Patriot Guard, who shield the families of fallen soldiers from protests during their loved ones' funerals. I have no issue with your coloring the Guard as heroes; they are that and more. My issue lies in the characterization of the protesters as simple anti-war demonstrators. Westboro Baptist, under the leadership of Fred Phelps, is noted for their hatred of gays. This has led to a warped belief that American soldiers "deserve to die" because of the country's pro-gay policies. By failing to emphasize this link and implying that Westboro Baptist is more-or-less a standard anti-war group, you have done your readers, as well as those who are truly against the war rather than using it as an excuse for hatred, a disservice of information.
Jenny Wilson

Polite, but to the point. Let's see if they print it.


Bainwen Gilrana said...

Hmm. I got an email back from the Freep's editorial assistant letting me know that my letter is being considered for publication. :-)

Tirithien said...

Excellent, my kola!

Beth said...

I sure hope they print it. That's a dirty journalistic trick for them to play, feeding the idea that those who don't support the war don't support the troops. Good for you for calling them on it!

McSwain said...

It also makes me VERY angry when the media calls the Westboro crowd fundamentalists. Because they're not fundamentalists, and they're not Baptists--they're wacko cultists. Disgusting bunch.

Bainwen Gilrana said...

Hey, they did print it! W00t!

Third letter down.

It really kind of surprised me to find that they did their article this way. The Freep is usually Detroit's more liberal paper. It's the Detroit News that's the conservative one.

martie said...

Good job for writing that letter and congrats on getting it published!

BTW, my maternal grandmother's maiden name was Wilson.

Bainwen Gilrana said...

Well, I don't know the first thing about my father's family, except that I have their last name. So maybe we're related!

Thinking about it, the Freep edited out my mention of Fred Phelps. And they didn't mention him in the original article. I wonder if they're trying to avoid a lawsuit?

naneth said...

You could say "censorship", which is, of course, the first thing I thought of when you pointed that out. (Old hippies never die.) It (censorship) seems to be catching on lately.

But I think you are right about them not wanting a lawsuit. Even though Phelps is quite the outspoken bigot, printing his name will only lead to trouble; he has cronies everywhere, I'm sure.

Beth, I agree with you!

I do not understand the Free Press's view regarding this matter. But, I am glad they printed your letter, and the other two. Point well-taken by all three of you. I'd like to see them write another article from another point of view.

Congratulations, Sweetie!

naneth said...

Oh, yeah, Martie; is your maternal grandmother from northern FL? You just might be related if she is!

clew said...


I have a lot of things I'd like to say about those hate mongering cultists but none of it's very nice.

I'm sure you can draw your own conclusions.