The reaction to Michelle Shocked's hate speech is a gauge of how far attitudes toward the LGBTQ community have come over the last few decades. It was an anti-bigot reaction, not an anti-queer reaction. The reaction was a litmus test of American attitudes toward homophobia.
There will always be people like Fred Phelps who use religion to justify their bigotry and hate, and sadly, there will always be those like Michelle Shocked who internalize the twisted message and lash out as a bizarre defense mechanism. I feel sorry for them, because hate only breeds hate.
Hatred and homophobia can never be underestimated. And the effect of someone saying "God hates fags" can never be underestimated either. It's a license to kill. It's a death sentence. It's not funny. It's not OK. It's not something I can let go easily, because I know what it truly means.
Rep. Andy Gipson is likely a good man. In this instance he just said some really thoughtless, hurtful things. I realize again that so often it isn't the person so much as the ideas that we need to reject in our society. To wish harm on this man is to repeat the mistake he made.
At the heart of humanity is a sometimes sweet, sometimes not-so-sweet narcissism that makes it almost impossible for us to get outside ourselves. In a similar vein, we tend to assume that God shares our perspective and priorities.
The folks from Westboro Baptist Church know all too well how to play the public and the media. With little more than the selection of some curious venues and a few press releases, these protesters have gained national attention.
Fred Phelps and his "church" are the ones who arrive at various places and events all across the country, waving hate-filled signs which convey his belief that God hates the US, homosexuals, the U.S. military, and dead American soldiers.