Adsense Search

Custom Search

28 April 2013

The West- Westboro Controversy, and Why So Many Get It Wrong

There is an Internet meme currently making the rounds about the sheriff of West, TX arresting members of the Westboro Baptist Church. They had come to town to protest at the funerals of victims of the recent explosion that occurred there.

Here is the version of the meme I have seen;

So Westboro "Baptist Church" showed up here in Texas at the memorial service in West for the first responders who lost their lives in the explosion. The Chief of Police promptly had all 20 or so of them arrested and put into holding cells (all the men in one and all the women in another) When they told him he couldn't do that, he let them know HE could. Since he hadn't officially charged them, he could hold them for 24 hours before he had to charge them or let them go! (plenty of time to hold the memorial service). I guess Westboro didn't think it through too well... This is Texas. As quickly as we fry people down here, did they really think they would be allowed to show that kind of disrespect?? Their photos were also released to the other small towns surrounding West, where services would be denied to them. Sometimes you just have to admire the way we do things down here in Texas!

 Pretty great, huh?....Well, not really. A group of people, despicable as they are, are subjected to extrajudicial treatment because the majority believe it is the right thing to do. What makes this incident important isn't that the protestors were arrested. More than likely they should have been. But they should have been arrested either on a charge, (or charges)  or a pending charge, (or charges). The right of a sheriff to hold someone for 24 hours is to provide time to investigate charges, or prevent flight from a probable prosecution for a crime. Neither of these circumstances were cited. According to the meme, they were arrested simply because they could be. This is a grave abuse of power. It would have been more correct to arrest the offenders for a crime, loitering, unlawful assembly, disturbing the peace, interfering in a private solemn ceremony, any number of things. Make them pay a fine, pronounce a sentence, or execute them, whatever is done in West, TX. 

For the sheriff to say "I'm confining you in jail simply because I can, and it will please the people I work for" is as repugnant to the rule of law as the original protesters are to our sense of dignity. It is official mob rule. 
And it could happen to you. Don't think it never could simply because you aren't a despicable human being like the Westboro cultists. Once the rule of law is lost , anything is possible. I refer you to Nazi Germany for proof

But the more profoundly disturbing issue at hand is the stark hypocrisy of the actions. West, the State of Texas and the United States all claim to be Christian-based entities. But Pre-Roman and Pre-Reformation Christianity says these are exactly the kind of people Christians are to love;

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
Matthew 5:43-47

I have heard countless convoluted arguments as to why this passage doesn't really mean what it says. But none of them hold water. It is the words of the Lord, instructing plainly, what is required of his followers. The fact that it is utterly rejected by practically ALL modern Christians doesn't change its meaning and doesn't make it irrelevant.