'Laramie' lures protesters

September 24, 2009
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"...to show His wrath, God has killed Matthew Sheperd."

That's the belief of Fred Phleps, leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, which has organized a protest of North Central High School's production of "The Laramie Project," an oft-staged play that tells of the impact that the brutal murder of Shepard had on his town.

FYI: Phelps gained national attention by demonstrating at Shepard's funeral. His group maintains such websites as godhatesfags.com, jewskilledjewsus.com and priestsrapeboys.com.

The question arising in Indy is how to counter a group that loves publicity.Many are asking that there not be counter-protests at North Central High School and the Jewish Community Center (also a target for Phelp's group).

My suggestion: Go see the play. "The Laramie Project" opens tonight at 7, with additional performances Friday and Saturday. Tickets are only $7. A full house will send a message.

Your thoughts?

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  • Go see the play without talking about or giving any media to the protestors, please.
  • You've already fed Fred with the desperate publicity he craves...As someone who lived in Kansas City for a decade, we were used to his hatred. It's sad that someone who claims to be Christian has forgotten about the "love thy neighbor" despite their imperfections part.
  • Call and send emails to those that have bought tickets that the play will be moving and ask them not to tell anyone. Ha, that would teach them. They would all be standing there picketing an empty auditorium!
  • I agree Lou - go see the play. What a positive way to protest against this ignorant man. Just think of the great positive news stories that would result if the show sells out and they have to add more performances!
  • is there a way to purchase tickets in advance, or do they need to be purchased at the door?
  • Though I understand that Phelps' protest is in very poor taste and may cause hurt feelings -- particularly among those who have been touched by violence and hate -- I think there is a benefit to our community from such actions.

    Gross over-exaggerations of prejudice, such as Phelps, help to highlight the irrational fears and ludicrous arguments put forth by him and others who peddle their hate.

    Laura Schlessinger is another example of someone who has strengthened gay communities nationwide by offering a name and face to hatred. When we have something or someone tangible to fight against it is much more effective.

    That said, I would fight for Phelps right to protest anything anywhere at any time. So far, President Obama hasnâ??t gained control over a personâ??s right to be a douchebag, and Phelps is a shining example of excelling at being one.
  • I won't be seeing the play, but I think it's important to realize that there are MANY people who detest the kind of publicity Fred Phelps brings, but still think that a staging of this play is inappropriate.

  • As a North Central parent, I agreed with Principal Quandt's admonishment to ignore and avoid the protesters, but to let them do their thing in recognition of their right to free speech (no matter how hateful it is). It is unfortunate that the media and others could not do the same. Rule #1 on the Internet is "don't feed the trolls"--should be the same in real life.

    The one good thing that came of this was that the "Phelps-a-thon" raised $7,700 to benefit NCHS' Gay-Straight Alliance and the Indiana Youth Group. http://www.phelps-a-thon.com/northcentral.html for more information. Not too late to contribute more!

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