You remember that religious group that, over the years, has picketed the funerals of American soldiers? The ones that made signs – reading "Thank God For Dead Soldiers" and "God Hates **** [Derogatory Term for Homosexuals]" – suggesting that their deaths were a clear indication that God hates America? The ones that went so far that they inspired congressional action, with Capitol Hill enacting restraints on their protests?
Demonstrators would be barred from disrupting military funerals at national cemeteries under legislation approved by Congress and sent to the White House Wednesday.Remember them? They're back.
The measure, passed by voice vote in the House hours after the Senate passed an amended version, specifically targets a Kansas church group that has staged protests at military funerals around the country, claiming that the deaths were a sign of God's anger at U.S. tolerance of homosexuals.
And now they're praising the Minnesota bridge collapse, going so far as to issue a press release with the headline "Thank God For The Minnesota Bridge Collapse." It says that "that area of Minnesota is like the ***-dominated Castro District of San Francisco" and that the Minnesota bridge victims "died at the Bridge for the *** sins of Minneapolis."
It's a bad enough that they're saying these things, but what makes things worse is the fact that their message was picked up and disseminated by two different publications – the Chicago Sun-Times and the Twin Cities Daily Planet – along with a number of Web sites. In its defense, the Sun-Times used the release and the group to indictment the extremes of some religious zealots … but I've got to think there's a way to make that case without giving these people some publicity.
I believe in free speech, even when it's ugly and base. And if Congress wants to enact a law that creates a buffer zone between these people and the funerals they picket, that sounds good to me. But there is no law or journalistic reason that this group needs the validation of seeing their names in print. (I am not naming them and adding to their portfolio of clips.)
This is an open suggestion to all in the mainstream and alternative media: Perhaps it's time that we stop covering this group and others like it. Do we give media attention to other groups that pursue similar agendas? Given the fact that this group seems to feed off of publicity opportunities, let's see if they will continue to pursue their agenda if they are no longer given access media exposure. It's a worthwhile exercise.
The media need to stop empowering and validating these hatemongers with publicity. Right now would be a good time to start.