I wrote this piece today and sent it along to the Trib. They decided to run it--it's online now and will appear in tomorrow's paper. Ken just checked out the comments and said they're all negative. People just aren't feeling the love, apparently. I don't know. I still like it, I think.
Maybe you heard already, but that Great Famewhore of Babylon, otherwise known as the Westboro “God Hates You” Baptist Church, was in town this week, and one of the places they picketed was my kids’ alma mater, West High.
My son told me in advance the WBC was coming, so early Monday morning I got in my car and drove over to West High to check on the protest’s progress. Only, I didn’t see a single protestor . . . UNTIL I drove down the street past West High School to the Triad Center, home of KSL Television.
And le voila! There they were, holding their kooky little “God Hates You” signs for all the world (but mostly surprised commuters on Third West ) to see.
Hey! It was an honest mistake! The WBC folks aren’t from around here. No wonder they confused the addresses of “West High School” and “KSL Television.” It probably happens all the time. Visitors from out of town show up to get a tour of the studio and somehow find themselves instead in the faculty lounge at West High School.
VISITORS: Where are we?
TEACHER: The faculty lounge. Have a brownie btw. They’re left over from inservice last night.
Anyhoo! The experience prompts me to make the following observations.
First observation. Media images make everything feel larger than life. Perhaps if you were to see a photo still or television coverage of a protest like the one on Monday, you’d get the idea that there was a HA-YOOGE event going down. Five or six Westboro protestors fill the frame of a close up shot, and suddenly you (the viewer) start thinking what a field day for the heat! A thousand people in the street! And then before you know it, you’re combing the attic, trying to find that old Buffalo Springfield album you bought in the seventh grade.
Meanwhile, what you don’t realize is that in actuality, there were only five or six Westboro protestors there. Period. End of story. And that in real life, the whole thing felt kinda tame and pretty lame. (What you ALSO don’t realize is that you ain’t never gonna find that Buffalo Springfield album in your attic, because your mother sent it to the D. I. when you moved out. Thanks for that, Mom!)
Second observation. A small handful of the signs brandished by counter-protestors were nearly as mean and dumb as the hate-mongering signs welded by the WBC, which suddenly makes me think of that Sublime lyric: “Bradley’s on the microphone with Ras-MG, all the people in the dance will agree, that we’re qualified to represent the LBC.”
Sorry. I don’t know why I have so much music in my soul today. But come on, you teenage persons! You’re so much better than that! Don’t you know when you hold up a sign bashing Jesus, you become the very thing you profess to despise? Take a cue from girlfriend there that morning carrying a sign that said PREACH LOVE.
Third observation. Speaking of “the heat” (which we were earlier, which is why you stopped what you were doing to search for that album, which your mother already gave away 30 years ago), the best thing about the whole protest was the expression on the face of the cop directing foot traffic. He was all seriously? I had to get out of bed this morning to deal with this? Why can’t everyone just mind keep their hands to themselves and mind their own business?
At least that’s what I think his expression was saying.
Or maybe he was just all seriously? The Bears got their butts kicked by the Packers on Sunday?
(It’s hard to tell with cops sometimes.)