Monday, June 06, 2005

MA Blogger Takes on Fred Phelps -- Wins!

Blogger and social justice activist Lynne who writes Left in Lowell has done a fine thing.

Picking up on a tactic pioneered by pro-choice activists, Lynne organized a "pledge a picket" campaign in response to an invasion of Dracut and Lowell, MA by the roving hate monger Rev. Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kansas and his band of cult followers. (Abortion clinics have used this tactic for years as a fundraiser -- the more pickets show up, the more money raised for the clinic.)

Lynne reported that Phelps was in the area to protest, among other things, Lexington High School's graduation ceremonies because of the school's strong gay/straight alliance group; and Dracut's Englesby Intermediate School because the subject of a 12-year-old girl's winning Women in History essay was Ellen DeGeneres. Phelps' group described these schools to The Boston Hearld as "fag infested moral cesspools."

The Boston Globe reports that Phelps also picketed area churches, and that over 100 people attended an advance training in how to handle the situation. The Bedford Minuteman also carried a detailed article in advance of the events.

Phelps is a profoundly polarizing figure and provocateur -- his signature slogan is "God hates fags." And he is good at drawing attention to himself. People are sometimes divided about the best approach. Here is Lynne's evaluation of that question. "On some level, I can see the point of those who didn't want to make a big deal of their visit -- because they love just getting the opportunity to spout hate on TV. I wonder though; would they still have gotten interviewed if there were no counter-protests? It's possible, but there would be no opposite viewpoint given. And that would be unfortunate."

Meanwhile, Lynne also demonstrated how effective a blog -- they are free ya know -- can be as an organizing tool. She had links to relevant information, details of times and places, and even links to maps and directions to the protest sites.

Phelps had 15 people. Lynne had over 70. And her pledge-a-picket effort received over $600 in pledges for gay rights groups in Massachusetts. The Lowell Sun covered the events -- which were described as "uneventful."

[Crossposted from]


Blogger Bruce Wilson said...

Oh goody. This is getting rather close to home, and I do believe I may be able to use this as a "teachable moment".

We'll see.

12:26 AM  

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