Westboro Baptist Church picketers headed to churches, synagogues, schools in Savannah

[UPDATE, 5/20: I have made three posts about the WBC since this one. Find all the posts here.] Well, as if we didn’t have enough to talk about in Savannah, the fine people of the Westboro Baptist Church — the picketers at soldiers’ funerals and owners of www.godhatesfags.com — are on their way to Savannah.

Here is the schedule on the WBC website:

  • Christ Church in Savannah, GA May 22, 2011 10:00 AM – 10:30 AM
  • First Baptist Church in Savannah , GA May 22, 2011 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM
  • Savannah Christian Church in Savannah, GA May 22, 2011 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM
  • Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Savannah, GA May 22, 2011 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM
  • St. John’s Episcopal Church in Savannah , GA May 22, 2011 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Beach High School in Savannah, GA May 27, 2011 2:30 PM – 3:00 PM
  • Jenkins High School in Savannah , GA May 27, 2011 2:30 PM – 3:00 PM
  • Windsor Forest High School in Savannah, GA May 27, 2011 2:30 PM – 3:00 PM
  • Jewish Community Center in Savannah, GA May 27, 2011 4:30 PM – 5:00 PM
  • Congregation Mickve Israel in Savannah, GA May 27, 2011 5:30 PM – 6:00 PM
  • Bnai Brith Jacob Synagogue in Savannah , GA May 27, 2011 6:15 PM – 6:45 PM

You can also go to this page to read these four instructive press releases:

  • FATEFUL FIG FIND: SAVANNAH, GA EDITION, FRIDAY, MAY 27: Jewish Community Center, Congregation Mickve Israel, Bnai Brith Jacob Synagogue
  • WBC TO PICKET FIVE SAVANNAH, GA WHOREHOUSES, MASQUERADING AS CHURCHES ON SUNDAY, MAY 22: First Christ Church, First Baptist Church, Savannah Christian Church, Savannah Christian Church, St. John’s Episcopal Church

I’m exhausted just thinking about how much coverage and conversation these picketers will generate. I can pretty much guarantee that I’m not going to write about them in my column (at least not in advance), and that I won’t dignify their presence by showing up at any of these short protests.

Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how Savannah reacts. For a variety of reasons dealing with both tolerance and security, the picketing will be especially problematic for the targeted public schools.

[UPDATE: I have gotten a lot of questions about the issue of media and community response to this; I have followed up here.]

9 comments for “Westboro Baptist Church picketers headed to churches, synagogues, schools in Savannah

  1. Jewell
    May 2, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    oh dear… Maybe we can get some counter-protests going along these lines…

  2. Elizabeth
    May 3, 2011 at 7:14 am

    here’s how our good ole boys in Mississippi handled them: http://www.ihatethemedia.com/a-simple-way-to-stop-westboro-baptist-church-funeral-protesters

  3. I'm Just Sayin'
    May 3, 2011 at 7:47 am

    So, you’re not going to write about them in your column? How about not writing about them at all, Bill? Geez man, what were you thinking? Providing these haters with ANY publicity is in a word: stupid. Ironic, but you did exactly what they hoped you would do.

    • bill dawers
      May 3, 2011 at 8:00 am

      Stupid? Really? Do you honestly think that no one in Savannah would have heard about these protests if no one had written anything? It was all over Facebook yesterday before I even made that post. Various protests are already in the works — and that was inevitable given the anger the WBC provokes. I’m going to opt out of those, probably, and I won’t write about the WBC in my column unless there’s some great absurdity or something community-building that happens in response (and at least one possible effort like that seems to be in the works). The WBC is news, whether we like it or not — they were even vindicated recently in the federal courts. How they’re covered, and how much coverage — those would seem to be the relevant questions.

  4. May 3, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    I hope you have shared this with the city council, police departments, etc…they are a bunch that sounds similar to the KKK, using first amendment rights to sue people who will push them back…so don’t encourage them, they will sue you and fund their further projects…I like what Mississippi did…thanks, J

  5. Rachel
    May 3, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    Thank you for giving us a heads up. I visited Savannah for the first time this year and think it is a wonderful, tolerant city and will be there in spirit if there are counterprotests – already let my Savannah friend know too. Sure they want attention, but we should be aware of the evils out there so we can fight them.

  6. Liz
    May 3, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    How do I connect with reasonable people who want to provide a peaceful presence for those that WBC seeks to insult?

    • bill dawers
      May 7, 2011 at 11:38 am

      Liz and others,
      Everything I know about responses can be found in this follow up post.

  7. May 14, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    So I was having a conversation about this with a friend and he had a great point about this counter protest…
    Why not hold the counter protest on the opposite side of town rather than giving them the exact publicity and attention they crave. They’re essentially doing it for media coverage and why not have all of these COUNTER protests covered in the media instead of letting them have the ‘story’. The phelps-a-thon can still work in this manner.

    What if the areas that Westboro Baptist church were protesting were essentially ghost towns and they find that all the money they spent on getting to savannah was useless??? What if everyone came to see this counter proest we’re holding… that would be the REAL story. I feel like the most beautiful thing about this idea is that all we have to do is ignore them, but we can still hold rallies for the greater cause.

    They will be completely shocked and probably pretty discourage to find that they
    – won’t be getting any attention from the media
    – the citizens of savannah wouldn’t be giving them the time of day
    – no one would be around to hear their ‘message’ of hate
    – we would still be raising money for phelps-a-thon
    – we would have a peaceful, beautiful counter protest far, far away from the hate

    Thoughts on this idea? I’m going to tell the other groups as well… I think this is a really interesting and effective way to deal with this…

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