Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Chase Hardin: It’s smarter to ignore Westboro’s vitriol

We’ve all heard of the Westboro Baptist Church – a grotesque “congregation” that pickets funerals, courtrooms and universities, decrying homosexuality as a one-way ticket to hell. The group is coming to the Mount Vernon Campus on Oct. 11, and some students are planning a counter-protest.

But don’t mind them. The members of the Westboro Baptist Church are just trolls, subsisting on the attention we pay them with our honorable – but misplaced – urge to tell them exactly how much they suck.

I used to be among the most passionate antagonizers of the Church. They’re vile. They disgust me. I prank-called them, I responded to their tweets and fished for snappy retorts. I sought them out during the Supreme Court’s hearing on Proposition 8.

But I regret all of it. It was childish, unproductive and – even more frustrating – it was exactly what they wanted.

These fundamentalists won’t ever go away, but if the rancor spewed by this church falls on deaf ears, their rhetoric loses its power. Let them rant. Let them picket. They are powerless if people simply stop listening.

Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community will say that protesting is a way to show the world – and, specifically, frightened LGBT youth – that love is louder than hate. But there are better ways to send this message than by inadvertently propagating their vitriol.

If you’re really interested in showing your LGBT loved ones how much you hate the Westboro Baptist Church, join Allied in Pride. Send care packages to soldiers stationed abroad. Or just hug someone.

Don’t let them get to you. To acknowledge them is to give credence to the notion they’re even worth counter-protesting. When they come to campus, pretend they are not here.

If you counter-protest the Westboro Baptist Church, they win. The only way to beat them is to refuse to play their game.

The writer is a junior majoring in international affairs.

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