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How to nullify the fanatics of Westboro Baptist Church

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Jordan Guinn

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 12:00 am

Not this lunacy again. Westboro Baptist Church is gleefully offending anyone with decency with their latest stunt. The fringe religious group once again made headlines by announcing their gratitude for the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in which 20 children and six adults died.

The church, which unfortunately still revels in tax-exempt status, also said it would picket outside the victims' funerals and thank God for the incident.

Truly wretched. But somehow par for the course for Westboro Baptist, an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as a hate group.

They protest the funerals of American soldiers killed overseas, and routinely say objectionable things about homosexuals.

As detestable as this church is, they have a right to act like this. It's one of the Catch-22s of America. They are protected by the First Amendment. Court rulings have allowed them to picket funerals, provided they stay a certain distance away.

The law won't make them go away. But that doesn't mean we're stuck with them. There's a way to get rid of Westboro Baptist Church. And best of all, it's effortless.

Just ignore them.

Their "strength" comes from gunning up outrage. They don't discriminate between positive and negative feedback.

So, let's just ... stop. Stop reading about them. Stop giving them the satisfaction of playing their game. Stop stooping to their level.

Ignore them, and they will eventually get bored and stop.

This is all very easy to write from the comfort of a couch. My son's funeral isn't the one being picketed by slovenly malcontents. The church doesn't directly affect my life.

And that goes for the overwhelming majority of people in this country. That's why ignoring the church is a good option.

Most people only think about Westboro Baptist Church when the group takes a page from "Family Guy" and is repulsive for the sake of being repulsive.

Then we take to Facebook and our cellphones to share all truly hateful things the jackasses are saying.

They win.

The hacktivist group Anonymous has said it will end the group and recently published the home addresses of church leaders. Presumably, people around the world will now flood their mailboxes with death threats and poison pen letters.

But don't bet on Anonymous to win this fight.

Take it from someone who specialized in writing classless columns at my college newspaper to prompt angry letters from readers; ignoring offensive material is the most powerful weapon against it.

No one, not even me, can out-troll Westboro. My vitriol and contempt for them could reflect itself into a 1,000-word column fueled by intense combinations of expletives and the relentless logic you'd expect from someone raised on George Carlin and Eminem.

But what would it accomplish?

My reasoning wouldn't be what finally makes them have that lightbulb moment. No insult or verbal attack, no matter how disturbing on on point, will shame them into acting decently.

This is what they are.

And yes, I'm aware of the irony of using hundreds of words to convince you to put on earmuffs whenever Westboro starts chirping.

But this is it on my end. Don't argue with fools, because people from a distance can't tell who is who.

Jordan Guinn of Lodi is a former reporter for the News-Sentinel and The Record. He can be reached at 209-369-4086.

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