Always an advocate for some of the more extreme elements of free speech, I felt compelled to go down to the Woodsdale/Fulton exit in Wheeling yesterday afternoon. The Westboro Baptist churchies were back. This was a different crew though. They only had one child with them, 6 adults and a somewhat attractive brunette girl in her late 20's. They were supposed to be at Wheeling Jesuit University, but opted for the much busier intersection by Perkins Restaurant.
There were 2 cops who stood diligently across the road as well as some younger counter-protesters. Three of them were from Columbus, Ohio and had decided to follow them to Dayton and then backtrack to Wheeling. They offered everyone an absurd amount of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (disgusting) and a smorgasbord of homemade cookies (much better). I had one of the raisin oatmeal ones. Above average. They carried some scribbled signs that read "Jesus Loves Westboro" and "God loves you" (predictably weak and beyond lame). I've seen better artwork from most second graders. Nice kids though.
As a collector of oddities and unusual propaganda, it was my intention to secure one of their signs for my household. Seriously, what a great conversation starter. I suppose I could just make a replica, but that's quite the pathetic effort. Instead, I had hoped to get a teenager on a bike to steal one of them for me. Maybe pay him $20-$40 for it later at a nearby undisclosed location. I spoke with some of the anti-protesters and they suggested I simply just ask them for a sign. They claimed they wouldn't accept cash but might simply relinquish a sign if they thought it would further their cause.
So as the protest wound down, they headed for their Blue Ford Econoline Van (different than what they drove last time - an old Plymouth Voyager). I approached them on the sidewalk...
"Hey you guys, I know this might sound like an unusual request, but I was wondering if I could have one of your signs... you know, if you have any extra."
"Uhhh yeah, I'm just fascinated with freedom of speech issues and if you could find it in your heart. I'm sure you have some extra in the van. I'm willing to take anything you got."
Still no response as they walked briskly toward the back of the lot. They all seemed programmed to automatically ignore my request.
"Hey uhhh, I know it's a little out of the ordinary but I'd be deeply appreciative. Seriously, I'd even be willing to pay for your lunch or something.
Their blatant indifference was starting to get on my nerves. These morons were just singing up a storm and telling everyone they're going to hell and this and that, but they seemed vehemently opposed to any other form of discourse, even just simple small talk.
Now I'm disturbed. Finally, I say, "What's wrong with you people. Can't you even respond? Do you lack the ability to form a verbal response.
Finally, the leader/driver (male in his 40's) grunts, "NO! We need the signs for the tour!"
I quip back, "Alright, thanks for nothing you idiots. Was that so hard? Like it's a matter of life or death that you can't speak. Idiots."
They just ignored me and jumped in the van and rolled onto "their next gig on the tour" at Trinity High School in Washington, PA. A bunch of college age kids were left walking around the Perkins lot. They kind of resembled zombies on this overcast, dreary day. All in all, I'd have to say I was very disappointed. There was hardly any interaction with motorists. Out of 25 minutes, I'd say only 7 or 8 cars honked their horns. One guy in a truck yelled "Fuck You" and I saw a girl in a Nissan give them the finger. But other than those isolated reactions, the citizens of Wheeling pretty much pretended that nothing was even happening. Talk about lifeless. How much effort does it take to roll down the window, and tell them to "eat shit and die" or "go fuck their mother" or something. Am I really asking to much?
That speaks to the overall complacency of Wheelingites. The vast majority have no balls, testicular fortitude, ovaries or even slightly elevated estrogen levels. They seem content to sit on their front porch, incessantly smoke cheap cigarettes and most important, no talking under any circumstances. Unless it's a critical discussion about a coupon for 10 cents off ranch dressing. That savings of a dime will really come in handy on that oversized $3.99 bottle. And considering the urgency among locals to overdress their iceberg lettuce to the point where the fucking salad starts to resemble the Puget Sound...
All in all, no sign was obtained and the whole excursion ranked extremely low on the entertainment factor. Last time they came was vastly superior. I'm curious to see how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on their right to protest. I'll be shocked if they don't get a unanimous ruling in their favor. Maybe Scalia and Roberts vote no. My prediction - Westboro Baptist Church wins either 9-0, 8-1 or at the worst 7-2. What a conundrum... I despise, detest, loathe and have trememndous animosity for religious dumbshits but I completely stand behind them and embrace their 1st Amendment rights.