Remember a year ago I told you about the almost unbelieveably obnoxious Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas calling Irish poet Desmond Egan a fag-enabler (”the only thing worse than a fag”), and indeed calling Ireland “a land of sodomites” and the ultimate insult “not quite as bad as Sweden yet”?
Of course those are really quite funny; it’s the funeral protests Phelps twisted family makes that has the rest of us finding them obnoxious.
Well last weekend I saw the poet Egan in Kansas City, and in a reading at Rockhurst he mentioned Phelps’ reaction to his poem that was itself a reaction to Phelps. In a well-attended, very entertaining reading, when Egan tried to describe his feelings about the Phelps group it was the only time all afternoon he struggled for words.
And then Desmond Egan read to us the poem that had upset Phelps so much, Understanding God Too Quicky in Topeka, with his final introductory words being that he doesn’t trust people that claim to speak for god.
What the Phelps people do is truly sickening, so news of the Kansas church does reach Europe, which I’m going to have a hard time explaining to people in Ireland and Britain when next I see them.
Today Phelps is in the news again in Europe, because of a new BBC TV documentary by Louis Theroux. The son of travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux, Louis is known for his documentaries on, well people who are decidedly different. And now, with a BBC crew, he spent three weeks with the Phelps group in Topeka, Kansas.
One poster even depicts Princess Diana — who had many famous gay friends — with the words “Royal In Hell Whore”.
Oh dear, way to upset Britain by calling the people’s Princess names, although she was technically Diana, Princess of Wales at the time of her death, and not Princess Diana - a title she never held.
I’ll confess to feeling very uneasy about linking to something in Britain’s The Sun newspaper, but that’s where this article is so I’ll try it this once and see if I respect myself in the morning. As sickening as Phelps world is, I really wouldn’t believe everything you read in The Sun either. And you already know not to believe anything I say, so now you have the full story, believe it or not.
Well nearly. Last year a KU student, Ryan Jones, also made a documentary on the loveable Westboro Baptist Church, called Fall From Grace - and Lawrence.com shared insights:
Although Phelps and his extended family of lawyers attended Washburn University, the pastor was garbed in KU gear when he met with Jones.
“Fred went on this diatribe of how KU is this homosexual mecca - he had harsher words for it,” Jones recalls. “And after this I said, ‘I see you are wearing some KU apparel. Are you rooting for the football team (at today’s game)?’ He said, ‘Oh no. I knew you guys were from KU. I have one of these from a lot of schools around here. I wear them to keep the enemies at bay.”
Louis Theroux’s The Most Hated Family in America, is on BBC 2 at 21:00 on Sunday 1st April, 2007.