#1) Keep this debate Clean please I know tempers will flare.
I would like to bring forward some startling information I have discovered that caused me to pause and reconsider my viewpoints on politics and
society as a whole.
Westboro Baptist Church is known as the 'Most Hated' church in the United States by many people. This is because of their high profile actions in
the past several years, most notably since 9-11-2001 terrorist attacks.
However there is a deep and complex history behind this group that will bend your mind and cause you to rethink your position, I hope.
Many people believe they do not deserve their freedom of speech to spread their "hate-speech" , despite the fact that our nation was founded on that
very Freedom of Speech. Westboro Baptist Church is commonly considered a gross abuser of this Freedom, and their behaviors are considered
'dangerous' by many.
Fred Phelps, the founder of the group, has a long and bizarre history.
In fact, Phelps was one of the central Civil Rights Activists during the 60's and 'took on cases that no one else would touch', defending the
rights of African American citizens against discrimination and abuse.
But there is another Phelps that few know. He was a "brilliant" civil rights attorney in the 1960s who would take on racial discrimination cases
that no other lawyers would touch, say longtime African-American civic leaders in Topeka.
He fought for the rights of blacks, they say, with the same passion he now reserves for the condemnation of gays.
Phelps declined to talk with CNN about his civil rights work or his ministry. But his daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, says there is no contradiction
between her father's civil rights work and his ministry. That's because there's a distinct difference between gay people and black people, she
"You're born black. It's something you can't change even if you're Michael Jackson," she says. "God never said it was an abomination to be
In Topeka, longtime civil rights activists say they were accustomed to seeing Phelps fight another type of battle in the courts.
By the time Phelps moved to Topeka in 1954, it had become the launching ground for the modern civil rights movement. That was the year the U.S.
Supreme Court banned segregation in public schools with its historic Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education decision.
Jack Alexander, a Topeka native and civil rights activist, says the Brown decision opened the door for discrimination suits. Phelps would take cases
in the 1960s that other lawyers, black and white, wouldn't touch, he says.
"Back in that era, most black attorneys were busy trying to make a living," says Alexander, who attended Topeka's high school when the Brown case
was filed and went on to become the first black person elected to Topeka's water commission.
"They couldn't take those cases on the chance they wouldn't get paid. But Fred was taking those cases."
Phelps was so successful that he became the first lawyer blacks would call when they thought they were being discriminated against, says the NAACP's
"Most blacks -- that's who they went to," Scott says. "I don't know if he was cheaper or if he had that stick-to-it-ness, but Fred didn't lose
many back then."
So basically Fred Phelps is one of the most prolific Civil Rights Activists in the history of the United States, love him or hate him. And I know most
everyone hates him.
One could argue that despite his venomous rhetoric , Fred Phelps is still fighting a Civil Rights battle, although counter-intuitive and highly
controversial and explosive.
He is testing his Freedom of Speech, and what limits it has. He says things that the majority of the population abhor, but this is indeed his freedom
as an individual.
The reason I said it was counter-intuitive, is because he is attacking a controversial issue head on, the Gay Rights movement.
No matter what your views on Gay Rights, you have to admit that this man knows exactly how to explore Civil Rights issues in ways never before seen
in our History, and both sides pro and con, take their lead from Fred Phelps.
The Gay Rights activists typically base their strategies off of Phelps' activism, whether they acknowledge it or not. In many ways, they are merely
reacting to his initial moves on the chess board, and he remains at the forefront of these two very important issues.
I Believe that Gay Rights activists owe far more to Fred Phelps than they realize, as he has brought the issue of Gay Rights to the forefront of
the American household. He has turned it into one of the central Civil Rights dilemmas of our time.
I believe that Gay Rights activists should support and protect Fred Phelps Freedom of Speech,
because he has publicized their movement
more than any of them ever have. Despite his "hate speech", which he is entitled to by law, he is surely a Pioneer in the realm of Civil Rights,
from the 1960's up till the present day.
You may not like his 'obscene opinions', but you have to admit that the man has done more for the Civil Rights issues of our era than almost any
other person alive today.
Fred Phelps has been discriminated by the majority of society for over 50 years now, whether they condemned him for defending the Civil Rights of
African Americans, or whether they condemned him for defending Free Speech while at the same time, attacking Gay Rights Activists.
Historically, today and yesterday, we should acknowledge that Fred Phelps is a living pioneer of the Civil Rights movement, whether you love him or
hate him. He has certainly gained more press for these issues than ANYONE around here has, that is for sure.
If you are Gay and hate this man, I want you to realize that he has done more to gain sympathy nationally for your cause than perhaps, any other
living human. Consider this counter-intuitive approach.
I am interested to hear what members have to say about this view of Fred Phelps.
Will you react to his "venom" with yet more "venom" of your own? I have decided to not hate him anymore, but instead respect him despite his
highly controversial views and ugly 'hate speech'.
I think it is time that people began to thank Fred Phelps for what he has done to further the Civil Rights movements of African Americans, Free
Speech, and Gay Rights issues.
Again I will say, he has done more to gain sympathy for Gay Rights Activists than possibly any other American alive today, because of his inflammatory
head on attacks against the movement. While at the same time, teaching us what the Freedom of Speech is really about, and exploring it's boundaries
Is Fred Phelps a true pioneer of Civil Rights Activism in our time? I believe so.
Again, lets keep this one clean folks. Opinions are welcome, but please act mature about it. Thanks.