I suspect that the more chaotic protests in Ferguson were being fueled by the media. Peaceful, daytime marches aren't a big TV audience draw. But wild, nightly clashes between residents and a militarized police force? That's ratings gold. Heck, who knew that Jesse Tyler Ferguson even had a town? Nevertheless, he's fantastic on Modern Family.
There's a reason why most famous protest marches took place during the day. Because that's when you can see. You can't read placards when it's dark out. And people are tired at night. They want to relax on the couch and eat overly-buttered popcorn and watch Dating Naked on VH1. Or maybe that's just me.
But the TV cameras were out at night, inducing people to leave their houses, which invited more TV cameras, which brought out more people, and so on. Television cameras and people out in the streets are a symbiotic relationship, like Donald Trump and women who only love him for his money.
I was watching an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians a few weeks ago. I'm running behind on my Kardashian-watching schedule. I still have three or four episodes on my DVR. It's not easy to keep up with the Kardashians. Well, I mean it's pretty easy to keep up with some of the Kardashians, like brother Rob and Bruce Jenner. They don't do anything. But the Kardashian sisters? They have so much going on. I would like to see a reality show about what the Kardashians are like when the cameras are off. (That joke might take a minute.)
Anyway, on the episode I was watching, Khloe Kardashian was strategizing with the State Department on ways to democratize the Syrian government without destabilizing the region even further. Khloe designed a plan that would maintain an American military presence, but without sending American troops into... no, I'm just kidding. Khloe was pissed off at Kris, her manager and mother, because Kris was ignoring Khloe's career and spending too much time working on Kourtney's book deal. Khloe said that even though Kourtney deserved a book deal, Kris should've been spending more time on Khloe's new line of peppermint-scented halter tops or whatever.
But I was more interested in the part where Khloe said that her sister Kourtney "deserved" a book deal. Deserved!? Why does Kourtney deserve a book deal? Does Kourtney write? Does Kourtney have something to say? Has Kourtney shown some sort of literary ability that would warrant a book deal? You know who deserves a book deal? Steven King. J.K. Rowling. John Irving. Heck, I deserve a book deal. You know what Kourtney deserves? Scott Disick.
But I don't blame Khloe for feeling the way she does. She's in the media spotlight. Cameras change your perception. We feel important when people are watching us. Without cameras, Khloe doesn't think Kourtney or Kim or Kylie or Kweckie or any of her other sisters deserves a book deal. We feel empowered when people are paying attention to us. Without cameras, the late night streets of Ferguson would've been much emptier.
This brings me to the Westboro Baptist Church, those thirty or forty brainwashed idiots from Kansas who "protest" at funerals with the colorful, hateful signs because something about God wanting us all to burn in hell because George Takei married his boyfriend. The Westboro Baptist Church's entire purpose is to remind America that God hates us all. But one time I had to spend an entire Saturday afternoon watching my 8-year-old nephew's soccer tournament, so I already knew that.
It's not a real church, you know. The Westbozos are not affiliated with any Baptist denomination. It's an extended family who gets together in the Topeka suburbs every once in a while to discuss, presumably, how to garner more attention. Heck, if trying to keep the spotlight on yourself constitutes a "religion," then I should apply for tax-exempt status. The nation's most popular faith is now Instagramism. The prophets are a table of five college kids out for a night of drinking, fun, and selfies.
The Westboro Baptist Church is a novelty act. Its 15 minutes ended around the same time as that "Leave Britney Alone!" YouTube weirdo. And yet it is still in the news. Or, to be more specific, society's united contempt for these people is still in the news. One comedian is getting a lot of buzz by offering to pay for each Westboro Baptist Church member's plane ticket to Iraq. Media personality Russell Brand jokingly tried to hug some of the WBC members on his talk show. People were outraged that the Westboro Baptist Church threatened to picket the funeral of Robin Williams, and before that the young victims of the Sandy Hook massacre, and before that Apple founder Steve Jobs. I have no idea if these morons actually did appear at any of these funerals; I only heard about the collective outrage over the possibility.
I read more about protests against the Westboro Baptist Church -- some angry, some mocking, some compassionate- than anything this small and insignificant and ineffective "church" has done in recent years. These losers should've been figuratively buried long ago. And yet they're still around, being given CPR by television cameras and our self-congratulatory need to keep them alive as the butt of the joke. But like every gag in the entire series run of Saved By the Bell, the joke isn't funny.
There is no controversy regarding the Westboro Baptist Church. Controversy implies disagreement. But everyone agrees. These people are clowns. And nobody likes clowns, especially the ones with the "sad face" make-up.
Yes, the Westboro Baptist Church is a family of scumbags whose sole purpose is to offend. But why is anyone still offended? Why does anyone still care? The Westboro Baptist Church is, thank God, a fart in the wind. Stop trying to "defeat" them with the attention they crave. I live next to one of my town's main roads. The noise from the passing cars is annoying. But I got used to it. And after a short while, I stopped noticing. It's like the noise just sort of went away. The same thing happens when I listen to jazz on NPR.
Why is our disgust of the Westboro Baptist Church even still a "thing?" We should ignore these people. No more cameras. No more anger. I promise you -- pretty soon, you'll stop noticing that they're even still there. And soon after that... they'll just go away, faster than you can say, "Khloe's new romance with Moroccan rapper French Montana seems legit."
The media has no obligation, nor any justification, to cover a few zealots standing across the street from a funeral holding up stupid signs. This is not "news." This is just a cynical attempt by reporters and pundits and social watchdogs to create conflict. Geez. There is enough real conflict in the country right now, not just in Ferguson but in every town where systematic inequality and an unfair distribution of power begets violence and outrage. We don't need to start making stuff up. The Westboro Baptist Church picketers have about as much real social impact -- and they're about as newsworthy -- as a squirrel climbing a tree.
Now if that same squirrel was waterskiing...