DOUG’S DIATRIBES – WESTBORO BAPTIST vs. SLAYER FANS
Thursday, 2nd May 2013 was a dark day for metal, and any Slayer fan. I too was blown away and incredibly saddened when my cell phone buzzed in my pocket, and I was hit with the news that Jeff Hanneman had passed away. Furiously, I searched the internet hoping it was some kind of cruel hoax or an internet rumor that spun out of control. Sadly though, it wasn’t.
So like many other fans, I had some beers and jammed some Slayer to celebrate the life and music of Hanneman, one of the baddest guitar players ever, and this lasted most of the weekend. From the first time I heard Slayer at the age of 12 (nearly 20 years ago) I was hooked, and now I find myself upset at what will await Slayer in the near future.
But this posting isn’t about that at all. This diatribe of mine is based on the fury that seems to be brewing regarding the decision of the Westboro Baptist Church to be outspoken about his death, and the potential of them picketing and protesting at his funeral. I’ve seen the campaigning on both sides, and yes, I even chuckled at the internet memes that have been posted and even shared some myself. However, as humorous as it is to see that these clowns intend to face-off with Slayer fans in public, I strongly urge you all to just maintain some civil disobediance and turn the other cheek. Hard as that may be.
And here’s why I say that:
1) I hate these people just as much as you guys. In fact, I’ve had two encounters with them myself when I was living in Wyoming. The first was the Matthew Shepard protest in 1998, and another in 2006 for their protest of a US soldier’s funeral. Regardless of that, I’m also continously reading about these jokers in the news here in America, when they continue to spread hate and inflict emotional damage on those who have recently lost loved ones. In no way, shape, or form will I ever condone their stance or actions, and in a way I’m disgusted that they have the rights to do what they do. But I just do what I’m telling you guys to do, just ignore them. The best way I can describe it is to image them as a 3 year old child throwing a temper-tantrum. They are just doing it for attention, and they do it time and time again because they continuously and repeatedly get what they want: Attention. If you engage them and motivate them into confrontation, you are just giving them what they want, and the better course of action is to just ignore them. Plain and Simple.
2) Be the bigger person. Yes, I agree that what they do is despicable and deplorable on many, many levels. But as a metal fan, think of how society views you, and think about who you actually are as a person. I am a die-hard, tried and true metal fan, and will be until I’m a 100 year old man in a wheelchair. But on the other hand, I’m also a teacher who works tirelessly with his students for their work and service learning projects, and I’m just a good human being. Am I the Satanic, uneducated, drug riddled moron that the Westboro Church and many other idiots think I am? Hell no. I will proudly wear a Slayer shirt in public and stand up for metal fans everywhere, but I will not cater to their narrow-minded idea of who they think we are as a culture. So do the right thing and show them that the metal culture, and metal fans, are capable of maintaining moral high ground. Don’t engage their hate with your anger.
3) Ignore them for Jeff Hanneman. Did I personally know Mr. Hanneman? No, I didn’t. But I can imagine that he would see my point and not want Slayer fans highlighted in this manner. My impression of him is that he was an easy going man that loved guitar, loved shredding, and loved his job in Slayer, along with the extremely dedicated fanbase that Slayer has. Please, do not tarnish the band or the man with public hateful actions. But there-in lies the problem that these clowns from Westboro will most likely show up to the funeral. Your jobs, as Slayer fans, is to not engage them in any kind of name calling, yelling, counter-protests, or violent actions. Instead, your job should be to provide as much of a barrier or buffer as possible to protect Jeff Hanneman’s family and close friends from their ignorance. In fact, there’s a great group of folks here in America that will help you with that I’m sure. The Patriot Guard Riders are a motorcycle group here in the United States that set up themselves at soldiers’ funerals to act as a protective barrier between the Westboro crew and the families of the fallen that have to deal with idiocy protesting their loved ones’ funerals. They don’t like the Westboro Church either, and they don’t engage them in their ignorance, they merely protect the families that are grieving. That is what your job should be, shield the Hanneman’s and their friends from the negativity during their time of grief.
So I implore you Slayer fans everywhere to simply ignore the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church. I don’t like them any more than you guys do. But matching ignorance with ignorance just isn’t the answer. Instead, celebrate the life and music of Jeff Hanneman, and if you must show up, maybe you should do it just to make sure that his grieving friends and family don’t have to view the blatant hate and human disrespect that the Phelps family dishes out.
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