Today I received an offer on my Facebook page. It was an offer to participate in a protest this Friday in Webster. The reason for the protest is to counter another protest scheduled by WestBoro Baptist Church. A tweet posted by @WBCpauletta stated that,
“WBC will picket funerals of Lt. Michael Chiapperini &Tomasz Kaczowka #GodSentTheShooter #StrengthComesFrmGod Not man Ps 92:7-9 Prov 11:7″
I have written about this church before in the article, WestBoro Baptist Church: The Ethics of Extremist Beliefs . It discusses the group’s inflammatory protest and remarks regarding Sergeant Devin Snyder, a soldier killed in Afghanistan in 2011. Westburo is infamous for being controversially outspoken, protesting military funerals and practically celebrating recent American tragedies as the wrath of God; more often than not a ‘God’ who apparently thinks as they do. There was even an intention to protest the funerals of the twenty-six people killed on December 14th in Newton, Connecticut, According to this recent tweet, their attention this time is to do the same in Webster, as it mourns and buries the two fire firefighters killed this past Monday on the 24th.
I have chosen to join others in the counter protest, not to be another hostile voice among others doing the same back at me, fellow protestors, or the townspeople of Webster. I elected to participate in this because free speech works both ways. As shameful and insulting as the church’s tactics are, freedom of speech is one of our most cherished laws, and I dare say beliefs. And by that law, they have the legal right to voice their extremist views.
However, the right to voice our opinions and beliefs, to support others in their time of need, also belongs to those who abhor Westboro’s views. When a person or group has convinced themselves that they are righteous martyrs, laws and even violence, no matter how justified, will not stay them; only inspire them onward in their extremism.
It is by the voice of the people, those who are not law makers but everyday, average people trying to get by and get along with others that affects real change. If you don’t believe this, then look at the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights’ movements. These historic revolutions sowed change in the hearts of our social psyche. This was accomplished by the will and sacrifice of people, that then motivated change in law.
Local news Channel 10 has said that shared calling hours will be at Schroeder, Friday 6pm to 9pm; and Saturday, 12 noon to 3pm and 6pm to 9pm. Whatever you believe, whatever you hold dear, if you want to challenge messages of hate, as well as fight against those who are tempted to commit such violent acts to begin with, then I would encourage you to join. Follow your local news and social media for updates.
(For any of you who read this and considered or planned on attending the planned counter protest, thank you. However, I just discovered that the counterprotest has been cancelled that was scheduled for today, Friday, December 27th, out respect to families and law enforcement wishes)