The Story is one of the finest radio programs on the air. Dick Gordon is one of the best interviewers I’ve ever heard and he finds amazing subjects every single episode. If I didn’t have a life, I would be listening between 9:00 and 10:00 PM every night.
This week he interviewed Nate Phelps, one of Fred Phelps’ sons. I’ve said for a long time that I’m going to maintain strict radio silence where the Westboro Baptist Chuch is concerned because talking about them gives them power and attention and that’s exactly what they want. I’m breaking my vow of silence to talk about the one thing we don’t really understand about these people.
Listening to Nate talk about the history of intellectual and physical abuse that he was subjected to at the hand of his father, I came to understand the tragic nature of the world Fred Phelps has created. He creates hateful, awful people by creating a world that makes that behavior seem normal.
When you hear Nate’s description of that insular society, you almost feel sorry for the people who have been, quite literally, brainwashed into doing what they do. Worse, every one of them is being taught how to make sure the next generation does the same thing.
It’s a never ending cycle of hatred and we all feed into it by hating them right back. I wish I knew the solution. I wish I could figure out how to rescue these kids from the cycle of hatred and abuse that Fred Phelps has created.
I don’t know how to do that. I just fear that every time those hate filled people are met with (deserving) hatred and anger, we are perpetuating the problem.
You want to know how I define evil? Fred Phelps.