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May 13, 2005

Keep Kansas out of Dracut

by at 1:22 pm.

I saw this today at the Lowell Sun online…articles stay up only 14 days, so this link will die, but to quote:

Anti-gay group plans picket
Attacks Dracut school after student wins contest with Ellen DeGeneres essay
By DENNIS SHAUGHNESSEY, Sun Staff

DRACUT — A Kansas-based evangelical group plans to picket Englesby Intermediate School June 6 after a student won an essay contest writing about openly gay comedienne Ellen DeGeneres.

A flier from the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka singles out a Women in History essay written by a 12-year-old student who chose DeGeneres as her subject. The invective-laden leaflet includes a photo of the Englesby School and a grotesque devil. The diatribe attacks the staff, labeling it a “homo-fascist regime,” among other things.

Acting Police Chief Kevin Richardson said he received a communication from Fred Phelps, pastor of the Kansas church, asking for information about securing the proper permits. Richardson recoiled when shown the flier, saying, “No, we didn’t get this.”

[snip]

Reached by phone, Phelps acknowledged that the flier came from his church, but would not say how he knew about the essay.

“I don’t know if I could give you a name. We receive e-mails from all over the country informing us of these things,” he said. “We had about 22,000 last year. It may have just been the case where we saw it online. We have people all over the country who go online and look for these things. They contact us and we follow up on it.”

If you don’t know who Phelps is, he’s the kook that showed up at the funereal of Matthew Sheppard, the college student in Wyoming who was the victim of an anti-gay hate crime. As the Sun mentions, “Phelps and his supporters stood across the street from the church shouting at the mourners and holding signs that read, ‘Matthew is in hell.’ “

These people are networked across the country, and this is the end result: some smart kid in a little town in Massachusetts wins a contest by writing about a gay celebrity, and gets picketed. I believe in free speech but I really hate what some people do with their freedoms. Not only is it disgusting, but it’s scary that these people have so much influence that a preacher in Kansas can activate bigots in our own towns and cities.

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