Yesterday I wrote about the Westboro Baptist Church’s announcement that they plan to demonstrate at the funerals of the Tucson shooting victims, including 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green. The Westboro Baptist Church is a hothouse where an actual “climate of hate” is maintained under pressurized conditions.
I hoped the Patriot Guard Riders, a group of bikers who protect the graves of soldiers from the Westboro degenerates, might roll into Tucson and confront them. I’m sure they’d still be welcome, but local people are stepping up to shield the funerals of their neighbors behind the wings of angels.
“Our nightmare happened when we saw the Westboro Baptist Church was going to picket the funerals,” local resident Christin Gilmer told CNN. She’s part of a local group that plans to wear huge “angel wings” and form a screen between the Westboro picket and Christina Green’s funeral. They say they’ll attend the other funerals in Tucson as well, if their adversaries don’t take the hint and go home.
The “angel wings” strategy is a tradition that goes back to the funeral of Matthew Shepherd in 1999. Shepherd’s friends hit on the idea to protect his ceremony from an early growth of the Westboro tumor. It will be good to see those angel wings spread around Christina Green and her family. They’ll be almost as lovely as the angels hidden from mortal eyes that will fill the sky on that day.
The ideal of free speech presents many difficult challenges, when its borders are tested by those who respect no boundary of compassion or civility. The good people of Tucson have the right answer. Let the damned of Westboro scream their hatred at people who have volunteered to meet it with quiet faith and courage.