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Pastor Fred Phelps and members of his Westboro Baptist Church, out of Topeka, Kansas, plan to picket San Diego Comic-Con on opening day, July 22, starting at 1:15 p.m.

The religious group has made headlines nationwide, picketing military funerals while holding signs such as, “Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and preaching that wartime casualties are God's punishment for a society that tolerates homosexuality.

Why Comic-Con? According to Westboro’s website: “Are you kidding?! If these people would spend even some of the energy that they spend on these comic books, reading the Bible, well no high hopes here. They have turned comic book characters into idols, and worship them they do! Isaiah 2:8... The destruction of this nation is imminent — so start calling on Batman and Superman now, see if they can pull you from the mess that you have created with all your silly idolatry.”

Westboro congregants and Phelps will be busy, as they also plan to hit the Manchester Grand Hyatt on Thursday to protest the “adulterous Al Gore,” who is scheduled to attend the American Hospital Association’s “2010 Health Forum Leadership Summit.” (As a comicsbeat.com writer opined, the event is the Grand Hyatt’s “best way to keep the comic-con freaks at bay.”)

Photo: Westboro Baptist Church protestor

From: godhatesfags.com

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MsGrant July 18, 2010 @ 8:07 a.m.

There needs to be laws protecting people from this ignorant hate speech. I don't care what anyone says about freedom of speech. If these people showed up at my son's or daughter's funeral I think I would have a very difficult time restraining myself. Who in their right mind would join something like this? Are there really people out there completely devoid of intelligent thought? These cults attract the most marginal in society. This is just organized ignorance, attracting those with no ability for independent thought, who are loving the attention, and Phelps is getting national attention drawn to him the only way he could think of. And, boy, did he pick a doozy.

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Founder July 18, 2010 @ 9:20 a.m.

In the Orient, they have a saying, "Every Front Has A Back" and in America we have a similar saying, "There's No Free Lunch".

The "price" of US having Freedom of Speech is that we sometimes have "JERKS" come out and speak their "mind"; BUTT we don't have to listen to them! There is lots of auditory stimulation these days and it's easier than ever, to just tune into something cool instead of getting HOT about what makes JERKS, well jerks... unless one was for some reason interested. BTW: If your iPod is turned up, all the folks waving their arms and jumping up & down just look Jerky! After all a Jerk is spasmodic muscular twitch...and that goes "hand in hand" (no pun intended) with what they are doing!

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nan shartel July 18, 2010 @ 10:08 a.m.

so like free speech and everything but this is a ZIP IT blog!!!!!

and i demand it be removed from the READER!!!!!!!

we've had fine bloggers removed to naughty towels and permanent time outs for FAR less then this

pictures of children as purveyors of prejudiced!!!!

what is this world coming 2???

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nan shartel July 18, 2010 @ 10:10 a.m.

sorry peeps...it's a story...but i still say remove that pic!!

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Founder July 18, 2010 @ 11:13 a.m.

Adding onto #4's comment

... or at the very least blur the photos bottom wording to not "help" spread/enable their jerky-ness. It's no different than not publishing graffiti pictures because that would just encourage those Jerks to do it to gain "creds" with their Jerky friends...

If the Reader's GREAT WEB TEAM can filters words they also should blur the images they post in the same way...

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MsGrant July 18, 2010 @ 2:19 p.m.

As disturbing as that picture is, I think we need to see things like this to get an idea of just how much damage these miscreants are capable of. I hate that they get publicity, but my hopes are that seeing this picture angers rational people into doing something about this. Picketing a military funeral saying that dead soldiers are God's way of punishing homosexuality is a hate crime as far as I am concerned, and these people should be arrested.

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SurfPuppy619 July 18, 2010 @ 4:43 p.m.

Pastor Fred Phelps lost a major lawsuit over this issue in 2007, to the tune of $11 million big ones and had his home, church and law firm's property (his has like 10 children and 5 are lawyers) all attached with liens. That jury trial verdit was overturned last year.

BUT, it is on appeal before the SCOTUS.

The question of free speech is not the only right at issue here, there is also the right to privacy.

There can, and indeed are, limits to "free speech". For instance you cannot yell fire in a crowed movie theater. You cannot encourage a person to commit suicide. You have "time, place and manner" restrictions to when and where you can engage in free speech in public and semi public places.

It is a very interesting case b/c of the value our society places on the First Amendment's right to free speech. Speech which most everyone finds in this case dispicable. Free Speech in America has more protection than any other country in the world.

BUT there is indeed a balance on free speech, a small balance, but a balance nonetheless. And that balance, IMO, is going to weigh in favor of the SCOTUS reinstating the $11 million jury verdict in this case.

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Robert Johnston July 18, 2010 @ 5 p.m.

It has been said that clowns and jesters often pave the way for heavies.

Such is Westboro Baptist Church's agenda. What they are mocks the true message of Christianity, wrapping hatred, bigotry, and outright blasphemy into a mis-reading of the Holy Bible, then try to present it as "Christian."

I believe that Matthew 6:5-6 pretty much sums up what Christ thought of folks like Fred Phelps and his kin:

"And now, as to prayer: "When you pray, be not like the hypocrites. Oh, how they love to pray while standing in the street, thet they may be seen of men. I tell you the truth, they alreadxy have their reward. "But when you pray, enter into a closet and pray to Your Father, who is with you in secret. And Your Father will reward you openly."

And as for the kiddo in the photo: The younger you start them, the more fanatical they become as they grow-and-reach adulthood. It worked for the Hitler Youth and the Young Pioneers, and so it does with all fanatic-lead organizations!

--LPR

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Founder July 19, 2010 @ 8:32 a.m.

Regarding comment #8 Great well written post, maybe the SCOTUS will get "this" Right, right!

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David Dodd July 19, 2010 @ 3:01 p.m.

Nan, I can certainly see why you would want that picture removed, it's quite disturbing on a few levels. But, there is another side to that coin (other than free speech, etc.). There are some things that are revolting, and when such images are shown rather than hidden, it renders moot any and all arguments that racism and sexism are no longer a problem (there are many who feel it is no longer an issue). There's the proof, right there.

Also, there is an amazing irony that these hating bastards are going to do their part to contribute to the local economy, they'll need hotels and food and so on. While I'd rather see them not exist, if they do exist then I don't mind the world viewing their ugliness, to know that this danger has not at all gone away.

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Grasca July 19, 2010 @ 9:11 p.m.

Why do we need pictures of bigots in training to remind us that bigotry exists ?

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David Dodd July 19, 2010 @ 10:07 p.m.

Perhaps if we eliminate all of the photographs from the Holocaust then anti-Semitism does not exist?

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David Dodd July 19, 2010 @ 10:20 p.m.

A better example might be that if photographic evidence was somehow available for the public to view of the Armenian holocaust, that perhaps the World would have been more affected and willing to believe that Jews were being murdered by Hitler? There are times that a picture is worth more than a thousand words, that perhaps it is worth lives. Some are interested in politics. Others are more interested in truth.

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SurfPuppy619 July 19, 2010 @ 10:33 p.m.

You have to feel sorry for a 5 year old kid that is getting indoctrinated into HATE like th eone in the pic.

Just the sight of that little guy holding up such hate filled signs makes me feel sad for the kid-he is not getting the chance he needs to succeed in life.

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David Dodd July 19, 2010 @ 10:41 p.m.

SP: That's the reason that the Reader used it, I think. I have no idea if it's related to the group in the story (my guess would be no), but the fact that it pisses people off means that it did its job. This is what journalism is supposed to be all about. No one WANTS to see that crap, but you know, it's going on. People should know the truth. It's the best way to eliminate this sort of thing in the long run.

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SurfPuppy619 July 19, 2010 @ 11:19 p.m.

Well it did the job then.

I am positive that the pic is from the Kansas "church".

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Grasca July 20, 2010 @ 6:15 a.m.

Slimy snail trails leading in a southerly direction once again.

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Grasca July 20, 2010 @ 6:21 a.m.

If child pornography and any form of abuse "pisses people off," then we should also be glad to see it displayed on every billboard in town? Odd logic. But that same type of faulty logic follows those who see that sad child holding the hate filled signs as a good thing. Those strange people probably get a kick out of the anti immigrant signs in Arizona.

Is hate a way to inspire love ?

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David Dodd July 20, 2010 @ 6:47 a.m.

Interesting how some people bring child pornography into a discussion concerning bigotry, and then accuse others of faulty logic. These are the same type of people who post negative comments in personal weblog entries concerning the death of someone's friend, yet have the audacity to reference some sort of an understanding of hatred and love. Other references from such commenters include "slimy snail trails leading in a southerly direction" which could possibly be classified as "harassment and abuse of others", or else, a veiled reference intended to malign Mexico in some way, or perhaps just Mexicans in general. Amazing what the Reader allows in the comments section these days.

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Grasca July 20, 2010 @ 7:05 a.m.

Is there a southerly direction leading other than to Mexico ?

Somehow I thought the USA had a south ?

Has something changed in my geography book ?

The Klu Klux Klan is related to the hate mongers described in this story. They are a group from The South.

Again - is hate and its associated imagery a way to inspire love ?

No.

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David Dodd July 20, 2010 @ 7:16 a.m.

23: "Talk about the site and not each other."

17: My bad, SP, that image is from the exact source, apparently they own a bunch of different domains hating on gays, jews, and the armed forces of America.

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Grasca July 20, 2010 @ 7:17 a.m.

Link to a site for German propaganda posters which are simply other versions of he image on this blog. Did these posters inspire love ?

http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/posters2.htm

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Grasca July 20, 2010 @ 7:18 a.m.

Geographic lessons are never personal.

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David Dodd July 20, 2010 @ 7:48 a.m.

When I was a little boy, I found picture books of WWII on coffee tables wherever my parents took me. I wondered why such pornography was so embraced by the culture I grew up in, why images of dead Jews in gas chambers should be so readily available and acceptable. I was so naive back then. I thought that it was perhaps, because people loved to look at such photographs.

It is obvious now why such images were encouraged.

Images of Klansmen burning crosses, African-Americans hanging from trees, other horrible events. Some people wish to abolish these images. These people will try and ensure that history repeats itself. There is nothing left of Rosewood, Florida, so that since 1923 history has had a chance to repeat itself over and over again. People simply did not want to admit that it happened. All that is left there is a highway marker. There are no photographs, and no arrests were ever made.

Since then, thousands of African-Americans have been murdered simply because of their race and ethnicity. Feel free to ignore the photographs. Pretend it's just another Rosewood.

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Grasca July 20, 2010 @ 8:56 a.m.

Besides the smiling child who does not know what he is doing here , the other haters bring children to the anti immigration events. Early training counts.

Any "different" looking person (read non white, dark skin) who has been stopped for no reason and asked to produce papers will probably not want a photographic memory of being shamed.

Weegee made his living beating the police to crime scenes and created grisly black and white images. Apparently, his images did not stop murders and other crimes.

One can be reminded of our better natures in other ways.

Whoever has books of hatefilled images to share in a coffee table sense has a strange sense of both history and art.

Of course, one could argue (and this seems to be the point on the thread) that images of the crucifixion are inspiring to believers. Or holy cards with saints being stoned or tortured on a wheel. The list goes on forever.

I simply do not agree.

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David Dodd July 20, 2010 @ 9:18 a.m.

It is a lucky thing that the First Amendment ensures that people have the opportunity to know the truth rather than to create reasons to hide behind it. Otherwise, Iran's claim that the holocaust is fiction would certainly have merit? The photographs prove otherwise. Hatred manifests itself from ignorance and the willingness to ignore the truth; the child holding those signs could save countless children from innocently doing the same thing. I would gladly be offended by such a photograph if only one child is saved by having viewed it.

Those who think only of being offended and not by what such an offense might achieve in the long run are entitled to it. To me, it is a selfish notion.

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Grasca July 20, 2010 @ 9:34 a.m.

Promoting hate through imagery is one aspect that must be considered.

Life is not some cheap reality show where every disgusting aspect of history needs to be memorialized in photos to prove evil exists.

I am sure that the injured military who live with the effects of history do not need images to remind them of their sacrifices. Or the mothers who had stillborns do not need displayed photos of their loss. Or those who suffer from cancer do not need X-Rays to contemplate the size and location of their malignant tumors. The reality of their burdens is enough.

Images can inspire in so many other ways.

That poor child in the photo inspires me to say, " Enough."

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David Dodd July 20, 2010 @ 9:47 a.m.

It is fortunate that the cover of this particular edition of the Reader seems to have affected so many who would otherwise have not bothered to wear a helmet while boarding. Some people would rather not be offended by the image and couldn't care less how many might have otherwise been saved a similar ordeal as Dorain. Such people are selfish like that. May so many suffer in order not to offend their eyes? Seems that way with some people.

Had the story been written without the photograph, I seriously doubt that the story would have received the attention that it deserved.

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Grasca July 20, 2010 @ 10:08 a.m.

Different people are inspired by different cues.

If one needs graphic imagery as a prompt, then they are more literal types of learners.

Using a child to promote hate is never right.

Some find the child's image attached to this story offensive. Some do not.

It is that simple.

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Grasca July 20, 2010 @ 10:11 a.m.

“We must make the choices that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves.”

Thomas Merton

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David Dodd July 20, 2010 @ 10:12 a.m.

People who are offended by the image should simply look away and consider not complaining about the image. It gets no more simple than that.

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Grasca July 20, 2010 @ 10:14 a.m.

The First Amendment gives us the right to comment.

Looking away is for cowards.

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Grasca July 20, 2010 @ 10:15 a.m.

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”

Thomas Merton

Live and let live is the lesson.

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Grasca July 20, 2010 @ 10:18 a.m.

“The first step toward finding God, Who is Truth, is to discover the truth about myself: and if I have been in error, this first step to truth is the discovery of my error.”

Thomas Merton

If you have made a mistake, apologize and move on. That is, if you have the courage to do so.

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David Dodd July 20, 2010 @ 10:28 a.m.

I certainly hope that lovers of Merton own a mirror. I can't imagine Merton barging into a memorial service, or even a simple eulogy, with the implicit intent of heckling the person delivering it, regardless that the heckler has no idea who the deceased ever was and that he had family close by. Imagine the father of the deceased entering in the middle of this, wondering why someone would do such a thing. Now imagine the irony of the heckler then saying, "Live and let live."

Makes the picture of the little boy holding signs of hatred seem almost acceptable in such a forum. As though, somehow, it belongs. As though, perhaps, that image is the reflection in the heckler's mirror. Even Batman would have a difficult time trying to reconcile it.

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David Dodd July 20, 2010 @ 10:33 a.m.

For the record, I have made no mistakes that were not already corrected by the good folks at the Reader, many months ago. The only thing I have to apologize for is that far too often I take the high road and do not persue those who follow me around in here in order to attempt to antagonize me. My email box is full of messages from good folks who encourage me to tell such people to go to hell. There are times when I get fed up, and this is one of those times.

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Grasca July 20, 2010 @ 10:51 a.m.

Back to topic.

All these arguments about the First Amendment right to protest are certainly valid.

However, there seems to be a very fine line when you involve a child in what I would consider a hate campaign. But then some believe what is on the signs held up by the small boy to be true.

Everyone must reconcile the image in their own mirror. If one finds perfection in their reflection , how wonderful for you.

This image is disturbing because it connotes a learned hatred. The poor child will probably never stray from his preordained path. History tends to repeat itself.

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Grasca July 20, 2010 @ 10:58 a.m.

“We have to have a deep, patient compassion for the fears of men and irrational mania of those who hate or condemn us.”

Thomas Merton

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David Dodd July 20, 2010 @ 11:10 a.m.

If someone posts enough comments, then the truth will disappear behind comment number 50. Hide the image, so that no one will see the truth. Appropriate. Not live and let live, simply attempt to bury it and it never happened. Interesting strategy.

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Grasca July 20, 2010 @ 11:21 a.m.

“All things truly wicked start from an innocence.”

Ernest Hemingway

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nan shartel July 20, 2010 @ 12:07 p.m.

39

hey refried i came up with a little phrase for those kind of people who antagonize

it's ZIP IT!!!

try it out whenever u want..i'll take that high road with u if u don't mine a companion

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David Dodd July 20, 2010 @ 12:23 p.m.

Nan, I will accompany you anywhere, anytime :)

I think it's important to profess our difference of opinions; simply that it isn't done maliciously, and certainly not under the guise of some vendetta. I bet that Batman would approve!

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nan shartel July 20, 2010 @ 1:12 p.m.

if Batman didn't approve he could just charge up his Batarangs and deal with it

i like the "stone smoothing" aspects of differing opinions as well Refried...even with a vendetta looming

what i don't like is barrage ballooning to take one off track from the original premise into a place of personal squaller

it solves nothing when those kinds of tactic are employed

oh no...i'm talking like i'm intelligent

gotta go now...hahahahahahahahahaha

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Grasca July 20, 2010 @ 1:16 p.m.

Squaller is like holler as in Butcher Holler, home of dear Loretta Lynn ? Tactics on these threads, never, or gang ups either. Just plain old country talking on the porch.

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MsGrant July 20, 2010 @ 2:05 p.m.

Nan and Refried hitting the high road!! I'm in my invisible plane....

http://www.1966batmobile.com/batcycle1.htm

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MsGrant July 20, 2010 @ 3:03 p.m.

Look he's got one!! Mystery finally solved.

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Trakball July 21, 2010 @ 1:52 p.m.

Oh Nan, I think that bodice is fine the way it is!

I came in this thread for the Phelps outrage, and left having a seen quite a bountiful rack. Not bad!

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nan shartel July 21, 2010 @ 3:28 p.m.

i think that's Grantie in disguise Trakball...she buys those Wonder Woman costumes 2 sizes to small and fires for effect ;-)

and she likes to rub my tiny bits in....hahahahahahahahaha :-(

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MsGrant July 21, 2010 @ 6:12 p.m.

Just stay out of the cross fire!! Unless you have those bracelets....

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