Friday, March 21, 2014

Phelps: To Revel or Not To Revel?

In the days leading up to and immediately after the death of Fred Phelps, I've been struck by how many prominent gay people have chosen not to express unbridled glee.  When word came down that Phelps was near death, George Takei wrote on Facebook, "I take no solace or joy in this man's passing. We will not dance upon his grave, nor stand vigil at his funeral holding 'God Hates Freds' signs, tempting as it may be.

"He was a tormented soul, who tormented so many. Hate never wins out in the end. It instead goes always to its lonely, dusty end."

Not only classy, but downright poetic.

When some people suggested picketing Fred's funeral, Donna Red Wing, head of the gay rights group One Iowa, demurred. “We can become just like our enemies, or we can do better,” she told the Des Moines Register. “I hope we do better.”

I'm not sure I can.

It's not like I want to crack open a bottle of champagne.  But a nice microbrew wouldn't go amiss.

I know, I know, speaking ill of the dead just isn't done.  And LGBT leaders know they mustn't sound petty.  Taking the high road is politically necessary and socially admirable.

For hours after I heard Phelps had passed, I couldn't get "Ding Dong!  The Witch Is Dead" out of my mind.  Hate oozed out of that man, directly at us.  My wife called him an "emotional terrorist."

But even she said when she heard of his death she felt "a combination of  relief and pity."  She added, "I feel more like weeping that he was on the planet than rejoicing that he is gone."

I'm surrounded by high-mindedness.  Clearly I need to keep any desire to revel in his death to myself.   Even my microbrew is starting to feel unseemly.