Each week we spotlight one massive shmuck. This week: the Westboro Baptist Church.
The hate-spewing goofballs from Westboro Baptist Church, long known for their enthusiastic protestation of all things gay, have scheduled a swing through Colorado for next week, starting with a picket intended for the "generation of violent, simple sluts and fornicating clods" who attend Boulder High School.
Besides inspiring a new indie-band name -- I expect to be reading about the Fornicating Clods on Pitchfork by next spring -- the church's tour schedule starts off like they have for years: at random places where there may or may not gay people to bombard with poorly constructed insults like "God hates Doomed america's rebel kids!" But after that, the tour does what more and more of the church's swings have done over the last year or so: takes a turn for the Jewish.
The church has a habit of posting a bunch of events on its schedule and then only showing up when counter protests are launched -- probably hoping for a lawsuit and some time on the ten o'clock news. But if its current schedule is to believed, the church is much less concerned with who you're schtuping than it is with whether or not you're a Jew: Of its 15 scheduled stops, eight target explicitly Jewish institutions, and one targets Comedy Works, where Richard Lewis is playing.
The Anti-Defamation League is working with the local institutions -- including synagogues, the CU Hillel, the JCC and Jewish Mosaic, an LGBT group that may just make a picketer's head explode -- on how to respond.
"The overwhelming advice we have received is that we go on with business as usual and that the greatest counter-action to this group is not to engage with it in any way," one local synagogue, Temple Sinai, wrote to its members after consulting with the ADL. "Do not speak with them or even look at them. They want to arouse a reaction from us. If we ignore them, then their plans for free publicity and intimidation will be defeated."
But it's harder than it sounds. I suppose lifelong Jews are used to ignoring the noise -- this ain't their first hate-rodeo, you might recall. But as an aspiring Jew, it's hard for me to dive into the church's rhetoric without coming up with clenched fists.
"Torah, Schmorah! You stinky, beenie-wearing clods do not believe the Torah!" they write in preparation for picketing the Denver Academy of Torah. And for Sinai, they write, "Remove the beanies! And while you're at it, ask God to remove the vail from your black, evil hearts!"
They're very concerned with undersized head gear, and they seem to think "clod" is a very useful noun. But other than that, there's not much rhyme or reason to these folks, and they're probably not worth the bandwidth of this post. But it seems worth noting that they're branching out, and that the ADL -- which spends a lot of time thinking about clods like the WBC's -- thinks the best way to respond at these pickets is to not respond at all.
Easier said than done.
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Here's the schedule for next week, should you feel like testing your restraint:
THURSDAY, APRIL 22, 2010
-- 2:10 to 2:40 PM ~ Pomona High School in Arvada -- 3:15 to 3:45 PM ~ Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School in Boulder -- 4:00 to 4:30 PM ~ C.U. Boulder Hillel @ 2795 Colorado Ave. -- 7:00 to 7:30 PM ~ Chautauqua Community House (Chautauqua Park & Morning Glory Dr.)
FRIDAY, APRIL 23, 2010
-- 6:45 to 7:15 AM ~ Standley Lake High School in Broomfield -- 8:10 to 8:40 AM ~ Denver Academy of Torah (6825 E. Alameda Ave.) -- 9:00 to 9:30 AM ~ International Jewish News (1177 Grant St. [Denver]) -- 9:45 to 10:15AM ~ Mosaic National Jewish Center (2222 S. Albion St. [Denver]) -- 2:50 to 3:20 PM ~ Mountain Range High School in Denver (12500 Huron St.) -- 5:30 to 6:00 PM ~ Hebrew Educational Alliance (3600 S. Ivanhoe St. [Denver]) -- 7:00 to 7:30 PM ~ Comedy Works South (5345 Landmark Pl. [Greenwood Village])
SATURDAY, APRIL 24, 2010
-- 8:30 to 9:00 AM ~ Temple Sinai (3509 S. Glencoe St. [Denver]) -- 10:00to 10:30AM ~ Temple Emmanuel (51 Grape St. [Denver]) -- 1:00 to 1:30 PM ~ Jewish Community Center (350 S. Dahlia St. [Denver]) -- 5:00 to 6:00 PM ~ EXDO Event Center (1399 35th St. [Denver])
Meet more smmucks in our Shmuck of the Week archive.