Fred Phelps: Why it is not possible to believe that you ate Chick-fil-A because of ‘freedom of speech’

Please stop pretending that the orgy of hate last week at Chick-fil-A had anything to do with free speech.

It obviously did not. I know it. You know it. Everyone knows it.

Fred Phelps.

That’s why if you say you went to Chick-fil-A “Appreciation Day” because of “freedom of speech,” everyone knows you’re just play-acting.

Fred Phelps, buddy. Fred freakin’ Phelps. Fred “God Hates Fags” Phelps of the infamously nasty Westboro Baptist Church.

Fred Phelps proves you’re just playing games.

Phelps is a reprehensible human being, but he’s a skilled publicity hound, so I find it hard to believe that the chuckling hordes of chicken gobblers last week were unfamiliar with Phelps and his body of work. They’ve seen his signs. They’ve seen him on the news, in the paper, on the Web. Their kids may even have played him in the school play.

Everybody knows about Phelps and what he does. And everybody knows that Phelps is free to do it. Free to continue doing it.

Anybody claiming to believe that the freedom to speak against homosexuality is somehow under threat has to explain how such claims could possibly be compatible with the continuing freedom of the deliberately obnoxious Fred Phelps.

And that cannot be done.

You say you went to Chick-fil-A to stand up for the freedom of speech? Nonsense. Fred Phelps.

Fred Phelps, ergo, liar, liar pants on fire. Fred Phelps, therefore, no one believes you.

Fred Phelps therefore no one is able to believe you.

So since no one is able to believe the pretense, drop the act. Last week’s ugly display was not inspired by some noble defense of freedom of speech. There was nothing noble about it.

Fred Phelps. His freedom disproves your claim.

But don’t be too hard on him. After all, he’s on your side, and that’s all that matters, right?

  • Dragoness Eclectic

     I’ve always been amused by the fact that the cow in the ‘Eat Mor Chikin’ signs is very obviously a Holstein. That’s a dairy cow; generally, we don’t make hamburgers from them. I find the signs ironic and hilarious.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    PETA hasn’t yet thought of how they can make a misogynistic campaign out of it, probably. If they can figure out a campaign surrounding this that demeans women and celebrates rape culture, they’ll be all over it.
    If we’re really “lucky”, they’ll also Godwin the entire thing.

    Quoted for truth.

  • Tricksterson

    On the plus side the FBI is investigating it as an act of “domestic terrorism”.

  • Tricksterson

    He or she sued their ass I hope?

  • Tricksterson

    Betting pool on how long it takes before someone comes up with a reason that it was somehow the Sikh’s fault.

    PS:  I don’t actually expect this to be the majority reaction on the right or even of the fundgelicals.  The political right will be full of the usual meaningless platitudes.  The religious right will probably pretend it never happened.  But you just know somebody will be meanspirited and stupid enough to try and turn this around.

  • Emcee, cubed

     I believe the answer is yes, but they settled out of court (I’m guessing because CfA knew they didn’t have a leg to stand on). The woman fired because the manager wanted to encourage her to be a stay-at-home mom is still ongoing. As are two sexual harassment lawsuits (which are in discovery to see if corporate will be named as a co-defendant. But even if they aren’t, they certainly didn’t do anything to stop the harassment.)

    http://www.salon.com/2012/08/03/chick_fil_a_too_sinful_to_fry_chicken/

  • The Guest That Posts

    It’s possible that what the CNN meant by “it’s easy to mistake Sikhs for Muslims or Taliban” was simply “the perpetrator was probably an Islamophobe who didn’t realise that his victims were Sikhs, not Muslims”.

    But you’re right, they do leave themselves open to less charitable interpretations.

  • old democrat

    Hadn’t Moreno been concerned all along about how  CFA would conduct itself in a gay neighborhood.? He said CFA didn’t even have a written non-discrimination policy, and he wanted to see that “before they proceed.”

  • old democrat

    What I’m seeing in the news is slanted journalism distorting what the mayors said (even assuming the media got the out of context quotes right).

  • http://twitter.com/gndwyn Urthman

    This is terrible, ridiculous logic.  If I can point to one person whose freedom of speech isn’t being infringed, that proves no one’s freedoms are?

    That’s like the people who think racism doesn’t exist because Oprah.

  • Wingedwyrm

    I am a thoroughly amateur writer and, if you need any help writing your musical, beta-reading your musical, funding your musical (I can donate very little but something), working the concession stand for your musical, or sweeping the floors after, I will want to be a part of that!

  • EllieMurasaki

    How about you point to some actual people whose freedom of speech is actually being infringed. Don’t bother to mention anyone who owns Chick-Fil-A or bought any CFA food on ‘CFA Appreciation Day’, because self-evidently they spoke and they have been allowed to go on having spoken without suffering ill effect.

  • Ross Thompson

    If I can point to one person whose freedom of speech isn’t being infringed, that proves no one’s freedoms are?

    If that one person is the most obvious, visible example of someone doing what people are screaming that people are being persecuted, and that person is taking this stance to the most obnoxious extreme imaginable, then while it doesn’t prove that no-one else is being persecuted for such behaviour, it does strongly imply it, and it does mean that if people want to claim that persecution is happening, they should provide evidence of it, or they’re likely to get laughed at.

    Wow, that was a horrible run-on sentence. Hope you can pick your way through it.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Most people don’t realize just how high the failure rate is for Mars landers.

    Ok, that I didn’t know. 

    I was a space-mad child in the ’70s; seemed like every other month National Geographic would have photos from a new space probe, so my reaction had been “nice, but why the big fuss?”

  • Emcee, cubed

    Betting pool on how long it takes before someone comes up with a reason that it was somehow the Sikh’s fault.

    Haven’t seen what you are saying yet, but apparently Pat Robertson is blaming it on the atheists.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Lyp55wvj50&sns=fb

  • http://twitter.com/gndwyn Urthman

    I agree that the Chick-Fil-A fans are wrong that they are defending freedom of speech (or freedom of religion), but it’s just not true that persecution always goes after the most visible targets first.

    Furthermore, Fred Phelps in particular is such an odious character, if I were an Evil Secular Humanist trying to persecute Christianity, wouldn’t I give him more attention and publicity rather than trying to shut him down?  I wouldn’t be surprised if there aren’t Christians who believe he’s a parody or false flag operation run by liberals like Landover Baptist

  • http://twitter.com/thedrunkenrogue Joel Sharpton

    This was exactly what I was thinking as we had a military funeral that was supposedly to be attended by the Phelps just two days after the “Appreciation Day.” 

    I shared this post to my Facebook and this is what resulted.

  • Ross Thompson

     Yeah, there have been days when I’ve entertained the idea that he’s a liberal sock-puppet. The alternative is that people can genuinely be that nasty. But then I realise that being that nasty just to demonise your opponents is probably even worse than doing it out of genuine conviction, and I get depressed again.

    (Equally, I’ve wondered if PeTA isn’t funded by McDonalds to discredit animal welfare groups)

    But the point remains: Unless you can actually point to some evidence that someone is being oppressed for holding these views, I’m going to assume that it’s not happening. Is that so terribly unreasonable?

  • Bnerd

    They have to believe they’re persecuted. You know this as well as all of us who grew up in the movement. It’s a central tenant of their tribe. Otherwise, all the end times fervor and fevered dreams of being the Last Christian Action Hero fade and wilt. Imaginary persecution keeps the plant of crazy alive like water and sunlight. So Fred Phelps or no, they’ll find a way to twist anything they don’t like into example #3,979,340 of persecution against Christians. Perhaps an interesting thing to note of course, is that these are the same people who have passed laws trying to desperately to restrict Phelp’s freedom of speech and cheered an egrigerious Court verdict fining Phelps and family $5 million before the suit reached the Supreme Court and was reversed. It seems just like salvation is “only for certain people to them, freedom of speech is only for those whose actions or speech they agree with.

  • W33B33 weebee

    Actually, I’m sorta inclined to agree with urthman here to some degree. Fred Phelps, so free speach isn’t being infringed doesn’t really fly with me, though I didn’t really think it through until he brought it up. Keep in mind, that, though  I would dearly love to shut Phelps up as much as anyone else, it must be pointed out that some people apparently tried, thus the lawsuits that he kept getting ruled unconstitutional.

    Basically, there are a lot of factors that argue against Phelps being an example of how far free speach can be pushed, including the fact that he is a lawyer, and his family are lawyers, all vursed in constitutional law, he is pretty much the ultimate example of what we oppose so keeping him yelling his crap could be, well, not good, but a way to remind people of how far you can fall into extremism, and sockpuppetting of the sort speculated on has apparentlyhappened before, at least according to a cracked article I read once, in this case involving a racist radio host, though the issue there gets rather confused since his over-the-top crap apparently turned into actual belief somewhere along the line.

    It’s not that I think these guys are really being opressed, as others have said, you’ve got a right to say whatever you  want, and I’ve got a right to call you an idiot over it, but the argument in the article does seem really weak now that I look back on it.

  • MaryKaye

    It’s next to impossible to prove a negative.  And it probably is true that someone, somewhere in the US is getting inappropriate trouble from some branch of government for being a Christian and for doing things that are legally protected.  There are so many people, so many branches of government, so many opportunities–it must happen occasionally.  (The ACLU could probably provide a list of such events, because they act on such peoples’ behalf from time to time.)

    I think we just have to say, the burden is on those who claim persecution to show some evidence that it is happening.  This is the standard to which women and minorities claiming discrimination are held, after all.  And “People are criticizing what I said” is not discrimination.  “People won’t buy my product because they don’t like what I said” is not discrimination.  That’s the flip side of free speech, is all:  the right to speak in return, and to react to others’ speech.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I think that Fred’s argument here is not nearly so strong as when he deployed the same argument before in response to, eg., Glenn Beck’s claims that the government was a totaltiarian regime that would stop at nothing to silence all views it found hateful and they were secretly plotting to assassinate him personally — it’s a very good argument there: are we really to believe that there’s a widespread all-powerful conspiracy to take down anyone who dares hold anti-gay views when they can’t even have their fabulously jackbooted secret police ship Fred Phelps off to the gulag? That would SO OBVIOUSLY be the FIRST move of this hypothetical fascist-gay-agenda-army that the continued liberty of Fred Phelps *proves* the non-existence of the conspiracy.

    It’s a bit different here. because we aren’t dealing with claims of a national conspiracy to harshly oppress all homophobic christians — we’re dealing with the claim that a few leaders have overstepped their authority.

    But, of course, once you acknolwedge that this is about the possibility that a few leaders overstepped their authority (which even still, I disagree with), and not “there is a systematic conspiracy of oppression”, then you call the CfA Day into question: is a national “protest” consisting of showing your solidarity with homophobes really a reasonable response to three city-level officials suggesting they might overstep their authority (Remember, Chick-Fil-A has not, whatever Rahm  & company have said, been denied anything yet)?  Clearly not. Therefore this was not about free speech-in-principal. It was about showing support for the *content* of Cathy’s speech, not his right t osay it.

  • http://audioarchives.blogspot.com/ spinetingler

     No they don’t: the US flag is red, white, and blue and the French flag is blue, white, and red!

    (repressed high school french class memory)

  • SirThinkAlot

    Is this Chick-fil-A thing really worth devoting two whole weeks to?  I may not agree with the causes they support, but I dont see why theres such a ****-storm over it.  If you disagree with the causes they support, then dont buy or eat their chicken.   Besides is anybody really surprised to learn a company founded and run by Mormons is supporting anti-gay causes.  

    Plus they make tasty sandwitches and fries….just throwing that out there.  

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I was a space-mad child in the ’70s; seemed like every other month National Geographic would have photos from a new space probe, so my reaction had been “nice, but why the big fuss?”

    Partly that is because most of those automated probes we send up are never meant to come back down, so that is not an issue.  Even the crewed missions we send up are either meant to come back down in the ocean (which is relatively soft) or are designed to make a careful and human-corrected glide down to a very long airstrip.  

    However, landing on Mars is a whole different beast.  We have nothing but irregular rocky surfaces to touchdown on, which are poor places to land at the best of times.  Further, the lightspeed delay means that the probe must be entirely self-guided in its descent since there is no time for human input to make corrections.  To top that all off, any planned method of safely landing on Mars must be largely theoretical as the system is being designed, since we cannot replicate perfectly Mars-like conditions on Earth.  It takes millions of dollars and several years just to get something to Mars, let alone landed.  This means that the engineers at NASA are biting their nails the whole way, since they will not know if their design will actually work until after all the money, effort, and time is spent.  

    It is actually kind of exciting.  Only in this last decade have we actually done any “on the ground” data collection on an extra-terrestrial surface any further than our own moon.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Sir Think Alot – well put.

    This seems like a case of people being in a hole continuing to dig. The Chick Fil A boycott was a well meaning but silly idea. It was, I gather, meant to express support for gays but was taken as an attack on anyone who wasn’t urban and/ or an elitist. 

    and Fred Phelps isn’t really a good analogy for anything.  He’s out on a limb somewhere that isnt even right or left and seems to exist solely to make everyone in out current ridiculous dialogue feel more moderate.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

     That’s THE WHOLE POINT. If the government was going to start repressing Christians, surely they would start with the ones with the most extreme viewpoints that nobody likes – and since they haven’t, then the claims of repression are rather dubious.

    It was, I gather, meant to express support for gays but was taken as an attack on anyone who wasn’t urban and/ or an elitist.

    Only by people unable or unwilling to examine the facts. Surprised you fell for it, I am not.

  • LMM22

    Ok, that explains some of it. I still think it would have been more interesting had he not gone for some of the obvious stuff, though.

  • LMM22

     I have no doubt that the Right would be all about the space exploration the minute someone finds the slightest hint of aliens interested in going all ID4 on us or a reasonable way for a tiny handful of people to use it to get fabulously wealthy.

    There is a very noticeable contingent of libertarian sci-fi fans. I remember attending a con panel in which one of them made a very obvious point: Why on Earth would any government want to cover up something which would make *everyone* want to immediately double their taxes?

    On a related note, did you see the National Geographic poll about which candidate one would want in charge during an alien invasion? I’m thinking of writing a movie proposal: ID4 meets “Wag the Dog”.

    If I start now, I’d have a chance of getting it done by either 2016 or 2020, depending upon how the elections go.

  • LMM22

    Only in this last decade have we actually done any “on the ground” data collection on an extra-terrestrial surface any further than our own moon.

    Voyager. (And, technically, the first Mars rover landed in 1997.)

  • Rhubarbarian82

    @Jamoche: Yeah, it’s tough. The Mars Polar Lander, the Mars Climate Orbiter, and the British Beagle 2 lander are some of the most recent failed attempts (the MCO was obviously an orbiter, of course). It’s an extremely difficult task, and that the scientists and engineers at NASA and JPL have been able to pull it off as often as they have, is a testament to their skills.

    Also, whenever people bandy about the $2.5 billion cost for the Curiosity lander, it’s important to remember also that that’s the total price tag, not an annual budget. That $2.5 billion covers costs going back to 2004. The entire planetary sciences budget is only 1.5 billion each year (an amount that President Obama wants to cut to 1.2 billion. I shudder to think of what Republicans want it reduced to).

    I do wish I lived in a country that wanted both universal healthcare and a robust science program. I know we can’t have that, because we can’t have nice things, but… at least we have a goal we can work towards.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You mean like how $10 billion is OMGBREAKTHEBANK but $400 billion in military spending? Yawwwwwwwwwwwwwn.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1269018319 Chris McGuire

    Filmmaker takes on Westboro Baptist Church & Homophobia in hilarious new Mockumentary. Laugh! & Please Share! http://youtu.be/V-EVbB4pZ80

  • PJ Evans

    That’s a dairy cow; generally, we don’t make hamburgers from them.

    I’ve heard that they get sent off to be turned into hamburgers (or something, possibly pet food) after their milk production starts declining.

  • PJ Evans

     I saw a cartoon somewhere:
    picture of a scoreboard
    Earth 15 —- Mars 24

  • Lori

    Way to totally miss the point.

    Enjoy the tasty, tasty hate chikin. It’s a free county.

  • Lori

    On a related note, did you see the National Geographic poll about which
    candidate one would want in charge during an alien invasion? I’m
    thinking of writing a movie proposal: ID4 meets “Wag the Dog”.  

    I didn’t see the poll, (did people actually vote against the guy who got bin Laden?), but I would absolutely watch that movie.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Isn’t that within 15% of being the plot to ‘Watchmen’?

  • Ross Thompson

    I may not agree with the causes they support, but I dont see why theres such a ****-storm over it.

    Yeah, he’s only donating to groups that lobby to have homosexuality punishable by death. Why would anyone think that was worth getting worked up over?

    It’s not like the Religious Right (in fact, the same groups that Cathy is funding) freaks out and call for a boycott of JC Penny for hiring a gay person. That’s totally justified.

    ETA: The Cathys are Southern Baptist, not Mormon.

  • SirThinkAlot

    It’s not like the Religious Right (in fact, the same groups that Cathy is funding) freaks out and call for a boycott of JC Penny for hiring a gay person. That’s totally justified.
    No, that was stupid too.  

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    Is this Chick-fil-A thing really worth devoting two whole weeks to?

    Yes. They are funding groups trying to deny people their civil rights – and in other countries, their right to life. Damn right this is worth devoting two weeks to.

    If they had funded Robert Mugabe’s anti-white landgrabs in Zimbabwe would you be asking the same questions?

  • AnonymousSam

    “Support for gays.”

    And here I thought it was because I didn’t want my money going into the hands of people who are actively hurting people through vicious lies and promotion of discrimination. I guess I should have known it was well-meaning but silly. I’ll go back to funding their domestic terrorism now.

  • SirThinkAlot

    If they had funded Robert Mugabe’s anti-white landgrabs in Zimbabwe would you be asking the same questions?
    If I couldnt go two weeks without hearing about it every time I turned on the news.  Yes I would.  Although I would also stop eating there altogether(not that I eat there that often anyway).  

  • Ross Thompson

    No, that was stupid too.

    The problem is that you seem to see “hiring a gay person” and “working to get gays outlawed and murdered” as problems of equal magnitude. That people should express their disapproval, and then get over it, leaving the status quo as it is.

    If I couldnt go two weeks without hearing about it every time I turned on the news.  Yes I would.

    So, people should just mention bad things (mass murder, in this case) once, then shut up, rather than trying to put pressure on organizations to affect change?

  • Lori

    So you just admitted flat out that you would stop eating CFA if they supported groups with anti-white policies, but the fact that they support anti-gay policies doesn’t make you feel like you need to change your chikin buying habits at all.

    We now know everything we need to know to assess your opinion about this issue.

  • SirThinkAlot

    Who said I wasnt stopping eating at Chick-fil-A?  

  • SirThinkAlot

    So, people should just mention bad things (mass murder, in this case) once, then shut up, rather than trying to put pressure on organizations to affect change?

    I think there are more important issues than how a chicken restaurant(of all things) conducts its business.   Maybe if people showed the same level of outrage towards, for example, the use of drone strikes to blow up people on little more than the presidents say-so.  Or even towards the actual harassment and harassment of gay people that occurs in the US and elsewhere….But nope, our outrage has to be directed towards a company that makes chicken sandwiches….

  • Ross Thompson

    Maybe if people showed the same level of outrage towards, for example, the use of drone strikes to blow up people on little more than the presidents say-so.

    Ah, the good old-fashioned Outrage Olympics. We can’t do anything about this problem, because people are starving to death in Africa! And we can’t do anything about Africa, because people are being tortured in Yemen! There’s always some greater problem that can be brought up as a reason not to react to the current outrage, and so you* never react to any outrage.

    For what it’s worth, I am strongly and outspokenly opposed to all manner of outrages that the War on Terror has produced, including presidential assassinations. And I think many progressives are, but the media isn’t geared towards reporting issues that have bipartisan support amongst politicians.

    Or even towards the actual harassment and harassment of gay people that occurs in the US and elsewhere

    Yeah, if only there were some way we could protest such groups, and maybe even try and limit their funding…

    *Generic “you”; I don’t mean to imply that you’re not tirelessly working to increase awareness of the problems you identified (so long as such awareness doesn’t extend into a second week).

  • http://www.crochetgeek.net/ Jake

     Chick-fil-A isn’t Mormon. Neither is In-N-Out Burger, which is also evangelical Christian but less publicly obnoxious.

    Novell and Marriott are Mormon, FWIW. Note that none of the companies I named other than CfA are involved in public kerfuffles over their business practices and institutional beliefs, so it’s certainly not impossible for a company to adhere firmly to a religious belief without courting controversy.

  • SirThinkAlot


    For what it’s worth, I am strongly and outspokenly opposed to all manner of outrages that the War on Terror has produced, including presidential assassinations. And I think many progressives are, but the media isn’t geared towards reporting issues that have bipartisan support amongst politicians.

    This is a fair point.  The media in this country is pretty terrible.  But it annoys me how people just go along with the issues the media chooses to be outraged over(see the number of people who showed up at ‘chick-fil-a day’ for example).  

    *Generic “you”; I don’t mean to imply that you’re not tirelessly working to increase awareness of the problems you identified (so long as such awareness doesn’t extend into a second week).

    I dont mind issues being pushed hard over a long time, if they are issues actually worth pushing.  I just dont think the chick-fil-a thing is.  They arent doing anything illegal, its a small amount of their money going towards these causes, and they arent the only sources of funding for these organizations.  


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