Last week, a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Maryland man, Albert Snyder, had to pay the court costs of the Rev. Fred Phelps, who protested at the funeral of Snyder's son, Matthew, a Marine lance corporal killed in Iraq. Phelps is the minister of the Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas, whose members picket the funerals of slain soldiers with signs reading "God Hates Fags" and other despicable slogans.
Snyder sued Phelps and his church for invasion of privacy and intentionally inflicting emotional harm on his grieving family. A lower court granted him damages of $11 million. The Fourth Circuit Court overruled that decision and ordered Snyder to pay Phelps' court costs. Snyder is appealing the ruling, and the case will go to the Supreme Court this fall.
Phelps is also pushing for a "Matthew Shepard in Hell" monument, and he and his flock of "Christians" have also picketed the funerals of victims of the Virginia Tech shootings. His "logic" is that since the United States allows gay people to exist, those who serve our country in its military should fry in hell. Of course, it's not logical. It's sheer lunacy.
But twisted logic and lunacy abound, and Tennessee isn't immune. Republican state representative Stacey Campfield of Knoxville, for example, has reintroduced his infamous "don't say gay" bill, which would prevent teachers from giving out "any instruction or materials discussing sexual orientation other than heterosexuality" in elementary and middle schools. So, if a seventh-grader asks his science teacher a question about homosexuality, that teacher would be forbidden to answer. Great thinking, Stacey.
It's become a cliche because it happens so often: Those who squawk loudest about the "evils" of homosexuality — fundamentalist preachers, conservative legislators, anti-gay-rights politicians — are "outed" for acting on their repressed desires. I'm not saying Phelps or Campfield is gay. I am saying they are troglodytes who demean their profession with such misguided behavior. They are fighting a losing battle.
Polling shows that younger people are more accepting of homosexuality, and it shows in their popular culture. They are more likely to know and accept friends and acquaintances who are gay. A majority of them don't see gay marriage as a threat to their own lifestyle.
No sane person believes God hates gays. But as long as some people do, we are destined to fight this lunacy.
Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."
(such a sky and such a sun
i never knew and neither did you
and everybody never breathed
quite so many kinds of yes) — e. e. cummings
I attended the White Station High School graduation ceremony last weekend. My stepson crossed the stage without incident, got his diploma, and is now ready to fly the nest, come September. He's a great kid, a good student, and we're very proud of him. (Not as proud as a few families, who, despite pleas from the principal to refrain from applause and demonstrations of enthusiasm, went nuts when their family member crossed the stage — signage, horns, etc. We opted for the restrained and tasteful, "Whoo!") ...