Well, the "Colorful and not very shy" John C. Welch
has just posted the following story via Twitter:Britain bars entry to anti-gay U.S. preacher
By Michael Holden
LONDON (Reuters) - An anti-gay U.S. Christian preacher and his daughter have been barred from entering Britain as they could spread "extremism and hatred," the British government said Thursday.
The Reverend Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, had been due in Britain to protest at a play about the murder of a gay man.
But British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she had decided to prevent Phelps and his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper from entering the country.( Rest of story behind cut for the link-phobic )
OK, I'm no fan of Fred Phelps, his family, or the Westboro Cult. I mean, these are the poster children for giving Christianity, and indeed any religion, a bad name. And were I to read that they and their hatred were struck by lightning, split in half, burned to the ground, and sunk into the swamp, I might give out a cheer
But, having freedom of speech means that you take the good, the bad and the ugly. I think that in refusing them entry, The British government is taking a step down an awfully steep, slick slope that they need to be avoiding.
Phelps is an asshole of the largest possible proportions. And yet, he has the right to believe as he wishes and to speak as he wishes, just as I have the right to ignore his hate-filled rhetoric.
And for the record, when I say "ignore", I don't mean that I pretend this asshat doesn't exist. Rather, were he in my face spewing his venom, I can walk away. I sure ain't gonna engage this moron in debate - you can't win arguments with idiots like him; they drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. He's looking for a fight. He's looking for a platform to practice his pedagogery. I don't have to give him that. I can (and will) walk away.
Turning people away won't stop hatred.
Silencing "Hate speech" doesn't stop hatred.
The only thing that can stop hatred is love. The love that we, as humans, have for one another. The love that is reflected in how we treat one another.
I offer this example from my own life:
During high school, I played football. For 3 summers, I went to a week long camp to help improve my skills. One year, another player took a dislike to me. I don't know why - he just did. Gave me grief during practices. Insulted me at every opportunity. A number of the other players there came up to me during the week and basically told me that they had no idea why he was being such an ass.
Well, Thursday rolled around, and his room mate was going around to the other campers asking if anyone had any aspirin, Tylenol, or something similar. He asked the guy I was rooming with, who told him "no", and started to leave. Now, my Mom never sent us anywhere for any length of time without certain basic supplies, including Tylenol. I hollered at him to wait, got out the meds, and gave him 3 of them. The guy looked at me in disbelief; after all, he had apologized for his roomies asshat behavior just a day or two earlier. He took them and disappeared.
That night at dinner, the asshole sat down across from me and apologized for being an asshole all week. He thanked me for the Tylenol, and we got along OK for the last day.
My point, then, is that love, compassion & caring can all be transformative. And as hard as it is at times, it is the only way to truly end the hatred bourne by people like Fred Phelps and the WBC.