It’s hard to know how to react to the news of the passing of someone that’s caused pain. The knee jerk reaction may be to celebrate or mock the death of a man that spread so much hate. By no means can I tell you how to feel, but what is it that makes us feel this way? Does the hate in one person justify having an equal or even greater hatred for them?
Obviously no one is justifying the actions of Fred Phelps or the horrible things the Westboro Baptist Church has done, but responding to hate with more hate only seems to continue the cycle. Maybe there’s no getting through to a group that’s so set on forcing their opinions down the throat of others, but maybe not. Would it make a difference if you knew that Fred Phelps was excommunicated from the church because he felt the church needed more kindness? We don’t know if during the final days of his life he realized how much pain he had caused or what an anger-fueled life he had lived. Did he see something that let him know there was a greater good in the world? Does it even matter?
Again, I know he’s been responsible for unspeakable damage, but there’s just something tragically ironic about shouting, “Enjoy hell you godless monster!” in response to the death of a man we hated because he would go to the funerals of those he hated and yell the same thing.