The real reason is?

Posted 9 October 2010 by
Gay Rights Flag

October is GLBT History Month

On October 6, 2010, Morning Edition on NPR had a story about a case before the US Supreme Court that day by Nina Totenberg called “High Court Asked To Limit Military Funeral Protests.” The Rev. Fred Phelps and six other members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, protested at the funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder in Westminster, Maryland. These protestors are famous for their signs that say “God hates fags.”

It is the opinion of Phelps the reason Snyder and others are dying in Iraq is ”the punishment of God almighty upon this nation” because of its toleration and enabling of homosexuality. There are those that agree with the Rev. Mr. Phelps. For the record, I disagree with all of them.

According to the story on NPR, the protestors “did not contend that Matthew Snyder was gay.” In addition, “the protesters had followed police instructions and kept their distance.” Snyder’s family claim that this was a private funeral, not a public parade, so constitutional protections for free speech do not apply.

The father of the dead Marine has an explanation for why he thinks the Rev. Mr. Phelps is wrong. “I want to know how you would feel if somebody stood 30 feet away from the main vehicle entrance of a church when you’re trying to bury your mother with a sign that says ‘Thank God for Dead Sluts’ — you tell me that shouldn’t be illegal. Is ‘fag’ any worse than ‘slut’?”

A jury awarded the Snyder family $11 million in damages from the protestors. The judge reduced this to $5 million. An appeals court reversed the decision, prompting an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The first point where I raise a question is about how public an event this was. The NPR story said that the funeral “drew thousands inside and outside the church to pay their respects.” It is very hard for me to imagine how this was a private funeral by any stretch of the imagination. This was not a family asking to be left alone in their grief.

The second is comparing “slut” to “fag.” It is true that the normal use for “fag,” short for “faggot,” is as an insulting term. Is there any term referring to a homosexaul that is not an insult, at least at times? A teenage boy saying someone is gay is not necessarily a reference to that person’s sexual orientation.

A person is a slut because of actual or perceived behavior. A person is a fag because that is what that person is, even if celebate.

Removing Br. Mychal Judge from the World Trade Center

Emergency personnel removing Br. Mychal Judge from the World Trade Center.

The casket of Br. Mychal Judge

The casket of Br. Mychal Judge, the first recorded death at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Was comparing fags to sluts necessary? Was comparinng fags to sluts appropriate?

Why did the Snyder family not complain about the thousands of other people, inside and outside the church, that turned the funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder into a public event?

Not all gay heros die in service to their country. Some are only wounded.

The questions asking why earlier are retorical. I should not speculate as to the reason why such a comparison was made. All I can do is say that comparing a “slut” to a “fag” is an insult to all fags. After all, the service of all men and women—straight and gay—let the Snyder family and the Rev. Mr. Phelps say the things they do.

Read more about GLBT History Month.

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