The following letter was printed in the St. Joseph News-Press on Saturday, April 16. Unfortunately, I guess their web person was off on Saturday, so they did not publish it on their web site.
April 15, 2011
I read the April 14 letter from Shirley Phelps-Roper with dismay, if not surprise. I am disappointed that the News-Press chose to publish her letter and gave her hateful, bigoted mockery of a church free publicity. Although I believe firmly that the expression of diverse points of view is the hallmark of a free society, I do not believe giving attention to the most virulent and extreme viewpoints is the obligation of any media outlet. Whether it is the pastor in Florida choosing to burn a copy of the Qur’an or the Phelps group, at some point the members of the media become complicit in these groups’ bigotry by providing a forum for people who ultimately care only about self-promotion.
As for Phelps-Roper’s statement that nothing can stop the work of her group (presumably because God is on their side), I beg to differ. Her group will be stopped, first of all, when reporters and editors finally stop giving them the attention they crave. When we realize that such offensive behavior is so offensive that it is not worth our attention, we will move on and spend our energy on addressing the real needs of our society rather than wasting it on a group whose behavior amounts to the same thing as a spoiled toddler’s tantrums.
Furthermore, we as a community of people with diverse views and beliefs can consciously choose to not allow a group like Phelps-Roper’s to dictate our behavior. The best response to them is to not lower ourselves to their atrocious standards. Where they sow seeds of hatred, abuse and scorn, let us as a people choose the better way and reap love, dignity and respect. The proper response to Phelps-Roper’s group is to first ignore them and second define ourselves by our deepest values rather than our shallowest prejudices.
Rev. Chase Peeples