Posts Tagged ‘free speech’

How to Counter the Phelps Clan and the Westboro “Baptist” “Church”

March 3, 2011

As I’m sure you all have heard by now, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Phelps and his Minions regarding freedom of speech. And while I don’t ultimately disagree with their ruling, it frustrates me that there isn’t a way to punish these monstrous, vile, sub-human pieces of filth (Edited to clarify: I don’t actually advocate punishing them, but I wish I could frustrate them as they do me). But we have no right to legislate against idiocy. I’m paraphrasing a paraphrase of Thomas Jefferson through Mark Crislip that the only remedy for nonsense is ridicule, and I whole-heartedly agree. I want to get to a point where they’re beyond ridicule.

I hear and read all the time that if only “the media” would let go of it, if we all just ignore them, they’ll go away. I think we all know that and agree deep down, but I don’t think shouting “just ignore them” is going to change a damn thing. It’s like gawking at a traffic accident. While we’re in the back of the traffic jam, we curse those in front who gawk, but when we get up there, we can’t help but do it ourselves. Same thing with WBC. “Ignore the wreck and just keep going” aint ever gonna happen.

So, the question then is, What Next?

Below, about a year ago, I highlighted a roaring success of a counter-protest launched against the Westboro goons. The fact that they did fundraising for local gays and lesbians was AWESOME, and that they seized the opportunity to turn a hateful event into a positive and uplifting one with positive or funny signs, people giving out hugs, etc. was EVEN AWESOMER.

While I agree with those aspects (of positive messages and raising money), I think we need to do more. Standing around and holding signs? Kinda cool. Holding up bigger objects in front of them to block them from view? Eh, I guess kinda better. C’mon, I think we could do WAY BETTER THAN THAT – do more with this passion and this energy, more with the anger and frustration that we may have regarding this ruling, the restlessness and helplessness that some of us may feel.

So, here’s my proposal:

The only way to ever get the Phelpses to stop is to go after what they’re going after – to ensure that their goals are countered at every stop, so that it no longer is worth their effort, no longer worth their time, no longer worth their money, and no longer an effective means to spread their childish, hateful message. (Again edited to clarify: I am not proposing that we stop them from exercising their right to free speech. What I am proposing though is that we show through our action that the content of their speech is crazy on its face, because right next to the people saying gays are the cause of all the problems in the world, all the gays and atheists and christians and whatever are coming out and working together to actually make it a better place.)

Their whole schtick, in a nutshell, is that the death of soldiers, national tragedies, and other random disasters is the pouring of their god’s wrath upon America for being more accepting of homosexuals (and I think we still have a long way to go in that regard, but that’s a topic for another post). So, their goal is to have people be less accepting, more hating, more afraid of homosexuals, right?

So then our goal should be to turn each of their “protests” into events that directly benefit homosexuals: their communities, their educational opportunities, their career advancement, their reputation in the eyes of ignorant haters. Instead of just standing around with posters, and in addition to doing fundraising to benefit to local LGBTQ community group, local counter-protesters should do public – and publicizable – acts of charity and good works. We should all get together and do a street clean-up. Set up a mobile soup kitchen down the road from the wackos with the dayglo signs. Bake sales and sexy sexy car washes with proceeds benefiting local groups. Let’s get creative, people!

Don’t get me wrong, I love the funny and poignant and love-filled signs, but it just strikes me as not enough. It’s not enough just to mimic them, to copy their method. We’re reacting with the same action when we need to meet their action with an equal and opposite reaction.

As recent events have shown, social media are powerful mechanisms for effecting change. The Dub-Bub-Chubs announce where they’ll be and when, and so I encourage anyone and everyone who reads this to spread the word, organize, get out there, and turn it into a positive event. Positive for the ones they target, positive for the community, positive for the human race. And again, to emphasize, I laud those who have guarded mourning families with their wings, their flags, their bodies, their signs. And certainly the existing mechanisms for countering the “church” should continue. I just don’t think it’s enough. I want to see a future where wherever they go, there’s something better going on to report on, where their only mention is brief and cursory – as “those wackaloons again”- and then move on to the real story of how we raised 20K for scholarships to high school gays. How we cleaned up the park and beaches. How we raised enough money to renovate a youth center. How we made sandwiches and soup and gave it out to the homeless. How we made lemonade, literally and figuratively.

So – University unity groups, church groups, atheist groups, any loners out there who’ve always wanted to help counter the Phelpses’ message, let’s get out there! Find out when they’re coming to your area, organize a positive event based on your community needs, and let’s all be the ones to take advantage of them for a change!

to glenn beck

January 15, 2010

Just in case any of you missed what my dear colleague has done here, I’d like to reiterate the point.

glenn beck (glen-bek) v. glenn-beck•ed, glenn-beck•ing. 1. To popularize a  meme by fighting it judicially under the guise of copyright/patent/trademark infringement.  2. To call attention to a minor issue by means of its attempted squelching.  3. To make a fool of one’s self by publicly sparring a strawman which was purposefully presented as a parody. —n. 1. The act of glenn becking. 2. The act of turning a meme into a supermeme, which evolves into an object lesson in 1st Amendment principles.  –glenn-beck•ish adj. –glenn-beck•ly adv.

Usage: Did Glenn Beck glenn beck Glenn Beck?

Synonyms: to Dr. Laura, to Sylvia Browne, to Jerry Falwell

Related: The Streisand Effect

On August 31, 2009 08:32:26PM on Fark.com, user “oldweevil” birthed the Glenn Beck 1990 meme when he asked, “Why haven’t we had an official response to the rumor that Glenn Beck raped and murdered a girl in 1990?” (source: pg 7)

This prompted one reader to register the domain name “glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com” which has since been relocated to “didglennbeckrapeandmurderayounggirlin1990.com” and “gb1990.com

This strange query by oldweevil is actually a combination of Beck’s own rhetorical style (e.g. Interview with Congressman Ellison) with The Gottfried Technique. (e.g. Comedy Central’s Roast of Bob Saget).

The cartoon South Park immortalized this rhetorical favoring of Beck’s, and illustrates that the only way to combat it is with satire and humor:

Vodpod videos no longer available.
In September of 2009, the registrant of the domain name glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com received a Notification of Complaint, and learned that Glenn Beck had sought rights to the disputed domain through an International Panel.

The Panel rejected Beck’s complaint, for reasons too numerous to contain herein (click to download the full WIPO Decision), and he did not win the disputed domain.

However, having proven his point, the registrant handed over the user/pass of disputed domain to Beck in a scathing open letter.

The “glenn beck raped and murdered a young girl in 1990” meme has morphed into the “glenn beck 1990” or GB1990 meme, which has now been consolidated nicely into the “glenn beck” meme, which is here defined.

Did Glenn Beck “glenn beck” Glenn Beck?

December 29, 2009

The internet is a vast and lonely place. Websites come into existence, pour out their information, then wink out, sources forever lost. But the internet, like the universe, is a large place.

So it was with shock and horror that I noticed “glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com” had gone down. The link was broken (and still is).

Thankfully, I only had to ask myself “DID Glenn Beck rape and murder a young girl in 1990?”, and my shocked horror was quickly replaced, by mellow relief (also because you can just use GB1990.com instead). But the reason for the minor change in url, even better.

It seems that despite having no case, appealing to an international court, and what could have been some furious crying, Glenn Beck could not “glenn beck” the meme (by way of website) which had him deploying his lawyers en mass. After winning the case, domain owner Issac Eiland-Hall sent Beck a letter with a delicious finishing move: he gave him the user/pass to the site which he fought so hard to get taken down with his silly lawsuit.

Well done, Issac (and his awesome lawyer Marc Randazza). Satire superslam complete, first amendment defended, intenet meme now dipped in gold. The actual website domain? Not really all that important. I think “didglennbeckrapeandmurderayounggirlin1990.com” is just as funny as “glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com” was, (though GB1990.com is better still) and even more on point, too. ‘Cause we don’t know if he, in fact, did do that. I’m not saying he did it, but he certainly hasn’t denied doing it.

But the point isn’t about the actual domain, its that Glenn Beck can’t cry defamation for searing satire, just because he doesn’t like it.

2009’s Misinformer of the Year leans on the 1st Amendment almost every time he opens his mouth on TV. *I* don’t like him, but *I* don’t own a media network, so on he goes, spreading his own particular brand of weird right-wing lunacy. Such is free speech in this country. Its a wonderful thing, even if we have to live with people like Beck being allowed on TV as a consequence.

But for Beck to try to reach around the first amendment, while standing behind it shows just how much we really do need to hear him deny that he raped and murdered that young girl in 1990. You can do it at any time, Beck.

1990. Rape and Murder. Glenn Beck. And Free Speech

October 11, 2009

In a shocking move, Glenn Beck continues refusing to deny that in 1990, he raped and murdered a young girl. I mean, I don’t think that Glenn Beck is the kind of person who would rape OR murder anyone, especially not a young girl in 1990. But a lot of Americans want to know, why are you trying to get around the US court system? I’m not trying to call Glenn Beck unpatriotic, or even a shallow exploiter of tragedy.

It’s just that, as someone who spends at least as much time as Glenn Beck reading the Constitution aloud, wrapped in a giant authentic civil war flag as the battle hymm of the republic plays, I want him to prove to me that he’s not trying to sidestep the first amendment to silence criticism. I mean, I don’t think anyone who heavily depends on the right of free speech to do their job as a pompous talking head would try to reach around the first amendment to jack off a critic.

I think though, that a lot of Americans are asking about you Beck. They see that you’re a pro-American kind of guy. But then you turn to an international body to try to kill a website, because you know our American 1st amendment would throw it out. And what they want you to prove to them, Beck, and I’m not accusing you of this, is that you’re not a traitor to this country’s laws. Turncoat is not the way I’d describe you Beck, but I think you need to prove to me that your skirting the US court system isn’t the work of a thin-skinned coward. I don’t think you’re a traitor, Beck, but it would make a lot of people sleep easier at night if you could explain this to us. All you need to do is stop refusing to deny that you’re a traitor.