Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Students Stand Against Hate

I’m still trying to figure out how I missed this last week.

For those of us who had allowed the unfortunate continued existence of hatemonger Fred Phelps, Pastor of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, to momentarily sink below our radar, his “organization” made itself all too visible on February 5, 2009 when anti-gay protesters descended upon Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, Kansas. The school was targeted because it has formed what it refers to as a “Gay and Straight Alliance,” and because the students elected an openly gay homecoming king in 2007. But this time, when Phelps’ dozen or so protesters appeared to shout and harass the public, they were not met by the Patriot Guard. They were confronted instead by hundreds of students, parents, and school staff who gathered outside the school to counter-protest.

Photo Credit: Tammy Ljungblad/The Kansas City Star 

Phelps and his hate cult church are infamous for their virulent anti-gay message. Phelps maintains that God is punishing America for homosexuality and asserts that tragedies such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina are in fact “acts of God,” examples of the Almighty exacting his vengeance upon a sinful culture. Their method is largely centered around creating controversy, and they often show up (or attempt to do so) at military funerals, gay pride gatherings, and political gatherings. In response to Phelps’ protests at military funerals, former President George W. Bush signed into law the Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act in May 2006, which prevents protesters from harassing mourners, and in April 2007, Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius signed into law a bill establishing a 150-foot no-picketing buffer zone around funerals. But despite such efforts by Democrats and Republicans alike, the hate and harassment carry on in other venues or via different tactics, with Phelps’ people diligently seeking out new ways and new places to spread their message of hate.

It is inspiring to watch young people fight back against that message.

What’s amazing to me here is that these kids didn’t just shy away from the spiteful group of men and women who came to taunt and mock them. Instead of merely grumbling to themselves or stepping back, they and their parents and their teachers took action. They turned something negative into something positive. An anti-gay protest essentially became an AIDS benefit. It is truly uplifting to hear the enlightened viewpoints of some of the students.

“Everyone is equal whether you’re gay or straight,” said [Jake] Davidson, a 16-year-old junior from Leawood and an organizer of the student protest.

“It’s really cool that everyone wants to be involved and take a stand against this. It doesn’t surprise me that everyone wants to help out.”

He said word of the counterprotest ran through the school like wildfire.

The Kansas City Star

The protest lasted approximately an hour, and the students pledged money for AIDS for every minute Phelps’ hate posse was there.

This is America’s youth. This is the hope I see for our country. This is the very best of our nation rising up against the very worst — the kind of hatred and intolerance which even Freepers go out of their way to fight. The remarkable thing is, these young men and women didn’t just rise up in outrage. They didn’t counter hate with hate. They countered it with love. They chose words of love and peace over rhetoric of hate and violence. They stood in the face of something hideous and turned the occasion into something beautiful. They “fought back” with compassion and tolerance and charity.

What a wonderful way to win a battle.


  1. sricki

    maybe some of you remember the hilarious pwnage from 1999 when someone hacked Fred Phelps’ grandson Benjamin Phelps’ website,, transferred the domain, and redirected it so that everyone attempting to visit the page was taken instead to, “a non-denominational, non-discriminatory web site [maintained] to monitor the actions of those who spew hate in the name of God.” The original GodLovesFags has since been revamped and is now hosted on another domain, but they’ve never stopped keeping a close eye on the Phelps family.

    But redirecting GHF to GodLovesFags? Yeah, EPIC pwnage and lulz.

  2. creamer

    I will never understand the need of those who make it their mission to hate.

    I think God smiled a little that day.

  3. Kysen

    but..that Phelps character is a creepy fucker.

    Here he is ranting against Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert:

    Here he is trying to sweet talk his way into some poor family’s home:


    Nightmare inducing…the both of ’em.

    Is good to see that our younger generations are proving wiser in many ways that our older.

    Mad props to the Shawnee Mission East High School Family and Friends.

  4. Hollede

    bumper sticker on my last truck. It said “Hate is NOT a Family Value”. I loved the thumbs up I would get (and a couple of happy notes under the wiper), and snickered at the looks of pure hate that would occasionally be cast my way. Kudos to these kids, and thank you Sricki, for posting this awesome diary.

    Now I want that bumper sticker back!

  5. KLRinLA

    it does the heart good to hear stories like this.  I am happy to hear this coming out of the midwest as opposed to SF or NY.  Now if only they will allow dancing again.

  6. Michelle

    Through this experience, these students have learned the great blessing of supporting each other against the suffering of hate.  And regardless of what we think of Phelps, I am grateful that we live in a country where we all have free speech rights.  Phelps has the right to speak, and I have the right not to listen.

  7. I thought odious insane bigots like Phelps were a unique part of the US religious experience, but according to Pink Times it seems that Phelps is encouraging protests at a church in Basingstoke for performing The Laramie Project. From their website

    “God Hates England; Your Queen Is A Whore; You Hate God; God Hates You; You’re Going to Hell; Matt Is In Hell; Hell Is Real Ask Matt; God Hates Fags (Buggers); Obey God, etc.

    “Some of the best Bible preaching in the history of the world came out of that dark dismal land, but now it is full of all abominations!

    “God will shortly destroy the UK and the world, but not until they have gotten the plain, clear message so that they will be WITHOUT EXCUSE!”  

    It’s hard to believe this people are for real. Fortunately there are a raft of organisations going to a counter protest. Check facebook for more info: Church of Hate Fred Phelps: You’re Not in Kansas Any More, UK says NO!

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