Monday, November 24, 2008

Why I love Silverton-- Oregon, part one

Word came out that the not quite right Reverend Fred Phelps was planning a little excursion to Silverton to let his feelings be known about our town electing Stu Rasmussen mayor. Now, I've written about Stu. He is, to be kind, a free spirit. He was also duly elected. He may not make the prettiest woman, but he has done nothing to the Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka Kansas-- certainly, nothing to deserve being called a "60 year old pervert. Nobody else will just tell him to STOP! Everyone else (i.e. besides Westboro Baptist Church) despises him so much that they will gladly watch him morph himself into a snaggle-toothed old witch because they know they are all guilty of the same or worse sins." These words of love and acceptance come from a church...

A church that reaps the reward of media attention-- the same media that they call "FAG MEDIA SHAME" on one of their day-glo signs. A church that benefits from non-profit religious institution status while standing on the flag during their protests. A church where the word LOVE is never uttered. They are clearly and openly, the Church of Hate. Their website is go figure.

I hemmed and hawed a bit about participating in a protest. I thought it best to ignore them-- not give them the attention they so desperately thrive on. Well, I was persuaded, by one of my new best friends-- a longstanding Silverton resident, who reminded me, as the 150 or so people who turned out reminded me, why I love this community. The support and solidarity that was shown to Stu and to our town and the democratic principles we live by--and fight for--was overwhelming. I talked to Stu at the end of the event, after the pathetic pariahs of hate crawled into their rental Lincoln and motorvated on down the road. He was touched by the show of support. The crowd was empowered.

Overall, it was a good day... the good guys won. And we did a good thing.

Back in the day, you'd get your ass kicked by hardhats and hawks for doing shit like standing on Old Glory. Now, you do it in the name of Jesus and you guarantee your place in heaven. Hmmm. I'd gladly go the other way.

One child grows up to be
Somebody that just loves to learn
And another child grows up to be
Somebody you'd just love to burn

They came from Albany and Portland, The Dalles and even Silverton.

Me, Stu Rasmussen and Tom Levy


Lena Dahlstrom said...

Thanks for showing your support!

justme said...

As you say, "Overall, it was a good day... the good guys won. And we did a good thing." All the best to youQ

Frogspond said...

Congrats to you all. Give a hug to Stu from the good Froggie here in WashDC. :-)

barryshap said...

Thank you all for your comments. Much appreciated. Frogspond-- as you can see from the last picture, I did give a hug to mayor-elect Rasmussen.

Metro said...

Glad you went.

If people like this remain unopposed, there is no hope. The attention they get serves primarily to show how out-of-step and genuinely crazy they really are.

Which is all Phelps' fault. You know he used to beat his kids with a pick helve? No surprise Shirley Phelps grew up crazy too.

Hah--WV is "humpe"!

Davauidian said...

Barry, you've found a niche!!

Granny said...

Fred's gang came to Turlock, CA a few years ago to protest something or another (probably the funeral of a serviceperson - they're good at that). Or it might have been the formation of a Gay/straight alliance at the high school - I can't remember.

Turlock, about 25 miles from where I am in Merced, is a conservative, small city. The opposition to good old Fred turned out en masse. He had planned another trip (another dead soldier) but canceled.

I used to think if we ignored them, they'd go away. No more. We (and I am the loving mom of a gay son who was one of the last married under CA law before Prop 8) have to stand up. To misquote a cliche - "evil triumphs when good people do nothing".

Our local PFLAG meets at my church. My pastor received hate mail - some from so called ministers. What is wrong with the people?

Thanks for your post and my congratulations to your mayor.

Ann (aka granny)

barryshap said...

Thanks for your comment and taking time to write. You are, of course, correct. We thought we could ignore the Phelps demonstration-- you know, not give them what they want, etc. But that ain't the way it works. A couple people in town convinced me of that.

David-- I have indeed found my niche. I will take my cue from Stu and not wear dresses on cold days Neither will I take for granted the measure of a community.

Carolina deWitte said...

What is especially onerous about these people is the fact that they give 'real' Christians such a bad name. It is my real conviction that 'Mr. Phelp's' so-called church (is/are?) a bunch of Satanists. I mean, who better to do Satan's work than these types of people? Why would anyone want to be called a Christian if THIS is what a Christian really is? If this were my first introduction to Christianity, I would be running the other way.

I am glad you showed your support to the right people in this case. I just wish that there were a way to 'disappear' this man and his minions. The only satisfaction I can get is the fact that someday they will have to account for their sins, as will we all. Why can't they simply be truthful as to WHOSE side they are really on?

Davaudian said...

Yes, Carolina deWitte, it makes Christianity appear to be fraudulent and dangerous to see some whacked out trouble maker on the fringe give fodder to the ones that hate Christians. Haters are everywhere and like Barry has said" hate and fear go hand in hand" and it seems to appear in almost anything that mankind puts faith in. And what's really ironic, he completely has the right to his opinion and we must tolerate his crap. But no, this is not what a Christian is at all.

the Lily Garden said...

It is always a good day when love conquers!

barryshap said...

David--Am I bering paranoid or egocentric in thinking I am the one who has a right to his opinion and must be tolerated, or Fred Phelps?

We live in the society of the double edged sword. What gives us the right to voice our opinions and not be persecuted for our opinions allows Mr. Phelps and his "congregation" the same privileges. The fact that his cadre is composed of inbred bottom feeders of the gene pool doesn't strip them of their inalienable rights. Ironic, isn't it, that they are free to mock men and women who have given their lives in service to their country. We can't "disappear" them, but I wonder if there is a Baptist organization that can strip them of their legitimacy and subsequently invalidate their tax-free status. Phelps, et. al. use the system to their advantage. Evidently, they thrive from the lawsuits they instigate as a result of actions taken against them by the people they offend. The sickness doesn't end in front of the churches, cemeteries and schools. it ends up in our courts.

Linda in VT said...

The best riposte to Fred et al came quite a few years ago from a Lutheran church in St. Paul that had installed a lesbian pastor. They got word that Fred and the gang were coming, so they (a) got out a letter to the congregation instructing how to bring the children in the back way so they wouldn't have to see all that and (b) sent another letter to all their friends and supporters asking them to pledge by the minute (the way you'd pledge by the mile for the AIDS Walk or whatever) for the time Fred & Co. were out front. They raised over $1000 and wrote to Fred asking him to please come back soon!
As to who has the right to express opinions: the ultimate measure has to be the good of the community. There is very broad latitude given, because in general we perceive the free expression of ideas to be a good superior to the order to be achieved by suppression. BUT -- when someone's "free speech" results in serious harm to others -- the famous Oliver Wendell Holmes dictum about it not being allowable to shout "fire" in a crowded theatre -- then the common good trumps "free speech." So we put up with Fred and the gang because they are ridiculous and therefore relatively harmless, but if they were actually succeeding in inciting people to maim and kill, they would have to be stopped.

Granny said...

I'm not an expert but I was raised as a Baptist (the liberal branch in the north).

There are more versions of Baptist than I can count and I'm sure he's not a part of any of them. I'm sure the Southern Baptists, conservative though they are, wouldn't have tolerated that kind of hate.

Fred's son is a lawyer (so was Fred until he was disbarred)and so far they've managed to stay just a hair shy of hate crimes. I despise them but I don't think there's a lot we can do to silence him.

If it's any comfort, most sane people think he's a joke.

Davaudian said...

Ha, you're being paranoid, but my wording probably gave an unintentional twist....sorry. Go ahead and be egocentric in that your phrase sticks with me. You know me well and you know I'm as tolerant and my place is as international and all encompassing as you could find. I don't need to like someone or agree with somebody else or carry water for anybody but I surely can see the basic good in most anyone. I'm a Christian, Southern Baptist and we're ridiculed and hated like hell, but this guy is just twisted.

barryshap said...

Owing to being a "member of the tribe," I must claim some level of ignorance as to the strengths and weaknesses of the Southern Baptist Church, and I really try not to fall on stereotypes or clich├ęs. I am not sure if Mr. Phelps and his "congregation" transcend the boundaries of Baptist tenets or fail to meet them. I do know, unequivocally, that the scriptures do not preach hate and intolerance. I also know that Mr. Phelps, his thirteen children and countless grandchildren are do not pose a danger in and of themselves. They may not know the Bible, but they sure as hell know MacLuhan. Pathetic though they may be, they get rational folks riled up and always seem to get their soundbyte and precious seconds of video. It is not by accident that of the blogs I have posted since September, this is the only one to get this kind of participation. In that, I should thank Fred... and thank you all for taking the time to read and comment here.

Davaudian said...

Yeah Barry, this one got you some action. Phelps is running a money scam with tax exempt status. If you checked his website and schedule, it's like a rock band. He's just a shyster lawyer/ambulance chaser.
I'm wondering if I could get tax exempt myself....Church of the Divine Guitar....yeah that's it. Services everyday at 11:30, collection plate, holy set of strings, prayer to Jimi, blessed with a new set of chord changes. I know I can sign you up brother. Can i get an amen?

barryshap said...

Consider it gotten.

The Experience Music Project in Seattle displays the smashed body of one of Jimi's Strats. He had written a prayer on it, combining the lyrics from "May This Be Love" and "Love or Confusion." In his mind, the destruction was a sacrifice, sending the notes out to the heavens and parting with the messenger.

I don't know if I would use the rock band analogy. Mr. Phelps sends out his congregants every day, spreading their hate to funerals, locations and events they deem particularly hateful. I would prefer him to be just a shyster lawyer/ambulance chaser. That's an evil I can almost comprehend. But a phony Baptist preacher chasing the media eye is an evil of another stripe.

From Procol Harum:

The Devil came from kansas.
where he went to I can't say
Though I teach I'm not a preacher,
and I aim to stay that way
There's a monkey riding on my back,
been there for some time
He says he knows me very well
but he's no friend of mine

Davaudian said...

Whoa, Procol Harum, now that's sacred.
Across the straights, around the horn
How far can sailors fly?

The Church of the Devine Guitar opens each service with Repent Walpurgis...
Excuse me while I head over to iTunes

Eddie Lin said...

Just heard your mayor and town's story on WNYC's Radio Lab. I'd love to visit Silverton one day with my family. Sounds like a nice place.