Sunday, June 29, 2008

George Carlin: an alternative viewpoint

Just to provide the requisite balance to my bigging up of the late George Carlin the other day, here's Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church with a moving and sensitive elegy. Further old-school charm of this sort can be found at the Church's website, or by watching the Louis Theroux documentary The Most Hated Family In America which was repeated a couple of nights ago.

The most important thing to take away from this is that, despite Poe's Law making it difficult to tell the difference, these people are not brilliant (if slightly over-the-top) satirical performance artists, they are actually completely serious, difficult as it may be to believe. There's several degree theses' worth of material to be written here about the pernicious effect of overbearing authority figures, biblical literalism, in-group loyalty overriding rationality, not to mention the real reasons behind Fred Phelps' irrational fury about what other people get up to in the privacy of their own bedrooms. None of which is much comfort to those attempting to grieve for the deaths of Matthew Shepard or Heath Ledger (or indeed George Carlin) while their funerals are picketed by banner-wielding lunatics.

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