Is your Facebook newsfeed shriller than usual this week, or is it just mine? There are a lot of passionate responses to current events (the Zimmerman trial, the Senate filibuster change), but then there are a whole host of responses to other people’s responses.
And by “other people,” I’m referring to the fringe lunatics and vapid attention-hounds of cable news, talk radio, and the Westboro Baptist Church.
We really need to stop including these people in our discourse.
The WBC has been cited on my Facebook feed (by way of the Huffington Post, of course) for openly condemning Cory Monteith’s funeral, the DOMA ruling, Arizona firefighters, soldiers, a One Direction concert (seriously), and the NBA playoffs. Oh, and a 5-year old girl tried to “take them on,” and they were mean to her, too.
Why did that little girl’s parents even *tell* her about the WBC? Is that something a 5-year old should be aware of?
The Westboro Baptist Church boasts 40 members. As a point of comparison, the Ku Klux Klan has upwards of 5000. And yet we still get almost daily updates of HuffPo about the church’s whereabouts and actions.
I can see why the Huffington Post is so obsessed with reporting WBC head Fred Phelps’ every thought. “Stoking the flames of liberal hysteria” is practically Arianna Huffington’s mission statement. The goal isn’t to inform – it’s to terrify and enrage, and then get you to click through. That’s why every headline is written like a vague, tantalizing threat.
I must have seen a dozen posts about Pat Robertson saying something offensive about gay people. Why does anyone care what Pat Robertson thinks about anything? He’s not running for office, or leading an influential think tank, or giving TEDTalks. He’s an asshole with a TV show that airs on the Christian Broadcasting Network and Fox Family.
People who never watch his show somehow have opinions about what he says. It’s bizarre.
Rush Limbaugh says he wants to see Sandra Fluke naked, and liberals decided to boycott his show. Were liberals ever listening in the first place? Is that an audience he’ll miss?
Tony Perkins provides the “counterpoint” in the gay marriage debate on CNN, and viewers sign a petition to get him removed. Does CNN even have viewers?
Every time we reference these morons, or condemn them, or otherwise react, we legitimize them. We play into the drama that the media loves to escalate. Someone said something horrible, we freak out, and then we tune in to see what happens next.
I get that people are mad. No one wants to see protestors at a loved one’s funeral, or be propositioned by a radio show host / drug-addict, or hear vile lies spewed by right-wing extremists.
So why do we keep giving them a voice?