Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Rising above hate

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Fred Phelps' life work, if that's what hate-mongering can be called, depended on getting attention, so we will keep this short.

Phelps and his pseudo church, mostly family members, were indecent enough to picket funerals of gays and service members whom they saw as symbols of a nation too tolerant of homosexuality. They were haters extraordinaire.

Phelps died in hospice care, and we can hope he knew his work was in vain.

Acceptance of gay men and lesbian women is the great sea change in America. Intolerance is giving way to a high tide of acceptance.

In Columbia, Mo., recently, hundreds formed a human wall a half mile long when a few members of Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church showed up to make an issue of NFL prospect Michael Sam's coming out as a gay man. It is now a badge of honour to be picketed by the increasingly cartoonish Westboro clan.

There is no better evidence that love triumphs over hatred than the statement offered this week by Thomas Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas.

"This is our moment as a community to rise above the sorrow, anger and strife he sowed and to show the world we are caring and compassionate people who respect the privacy and dignity of all," Witt wrote.

Even at the end, Phelps was outclassed by the people he so inexplicably hated.

-- The Kansas City Star

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 22, 2014 A17

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