The Untold Stories: the Real Fred Phelps

Lots of commentary on the Fred Phelps "God Hates F*gs"/funeral protest case before the US Supreme Court. One of Jonah Goldberg's readers tells us a few things about Phelps that you almost never hear:

Fred Phelps is not, by almost any standard definition, a pastor.

He’s a disbarred lawyer who attended a couple of Bible colleges from which he did not graduate, went on to law school, ended up in that field and then disbarred, for cause, then realized that in Kansas it wasn’t that hard to get congregational status for an operation with a building and some family members on Sunday mornings. His financial program is routed through Westboro Baptist, which is not affiliated with any religious body, Baptist or otherwise. Likewise, Fred has no standing, ordination, or recognition from anyone as a minister, other than from the couple dozen, almost all direct relations, who worship with him when he’s in town on Sundays.

Phelps is also a Democrat (admittedly of the Old South variety), who supported Al Gore's 1988 presidential run. Again, something you almost never hear in media stories about this "pastor" and his "extreme views" on homosexuality.

Isn't it amazing how sleazeballs like this always manage to capture the attention of the media and the courts? And isn't it also amazing how the liberal commentariat and political elite managed to prevail upon a similarly obscure "pastor" to refrain from burning a Koran, while simultaneously expressing its helplessness at being able to stop Phelps from picketing Marine funerals (and indeed lecturing us pompously about how the First Amendment absolutely protects his right to do so)? But, if the Court upholds his "right" to show up at military funerals, what's to stop anti-war protesters from doing the same? (something they would never have the balls to do outside of a Supreme Court writ brought about by the most extreme set of facts possible). Again, isn't it amazing how these things just seem to fall together?*

There once was a time when society and its public spheres - the courts, the media, the elected officers of the state - would have regarded someone like Phelps as what he is: an a**hole, and treated him accordingly. That time is obviously long past.

*other amazing ascents to political notoriety: Cindy Sheehan's "absolute moral authority," Joe Wilson's trip to Niger, Meg Whitman's maid, Levi Johnson, etc. You get the idea.

Best Retirement Invesments Auto Search