Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, has passed away. Since he was best-known for protesting military funerals and anti-gay public statements, many are responding with hatred and vitriol.
Through his usually-hilarious and frequently-shared Facebook page, George Takei has been outspoken about gay rights. His response:
Today, Mr. Phelps may have learned that God, in fact, hates no one. Vicious and hate-filled as he was, may his soul find the kind of peace through death that was so plainly elusive during his life.
Celebrating Phelps’s death will be fashionable, much more so than strongly-worded obituaries of the murderous dictator Hugo Chavez about a year ago. This will be especially true for those who want to make a big show of their own acceptance of gay people. (“Look, everyone! I hate this guy who hated gay people! I’M SO DOWN WITH THE RAINBOW!”)
First, the time to show you support your gay friends and family members is every day, when you interact with them and show them the same love and support you show all your other friends.
Second, when someone dies who said and did hurtful things, the proper response is not to celebrate but to hope that, at some point in their afterlife, they realize just how hurtful they were. And, you’d hope that once they understood that, that they were sorry and able to let go of whatever was causing them to do it.
In other words, our reactions should have been exactly what Takei said.
Leave it to Mr. Sulu to steer the conversation in the right direction.