Open Questions Concerning WBC
February 27, 2010 7 Comments
Westboro Baptist Church is coming to the University of Chicago, where I am enrolled. They were here last year to protest one of the many divinity schools in Hyde Park, Chicago; this time, they’re here to protest the campus Hillel center. The fuckers.
As I choke back the vomit that is steadily rising in my throat (just as it does every time that Fred Phelps takes up more than a microsecond of my time), I’ve begun to start asking myself a few questions about ethics, magic, and activism. I want to curse Fred Phelps and his cult, you see.
Now, to be honest, I know full well that cursing and my views about pacifism are fundamentally at odds with each other: To curse someone is necessarily to take an action that is meant to cause that person harm, and causing harm is antithetical to pacifism. But, at the same time, I’m not sure that cursing someone is the same as punching them; is there, or is there not, some qualitative difference?
Recently I heard a statement concerning magical ethics that I thought I could get behind. It was something like, “You should only perform a magical act on someone if you would be comfortable doing the same thing to them physically, in person.” So, while I might be sorely tempted, I don’t think I’d ever walk up to Fred Phelps and kick him in the face; therefore, I won’t be sending any immediate physical harm. Okay. But, would I be okay if he got some disease (though not a fatal one) that affected his ability to organize his followers?—would I sit there and smirk while he was comatose? Probably—I’m no saint. So, might I send him a good ol’ coughing-up-spiders-and-ants-for-life curse? Hmm…….. tempting. Would I shut him up if I could? Certainly. So, can I send him a working by which he looses his ability to speak? Hell yes… maybe.
If anyone deserves to be cursed, it’s Fred Phelps. Yet, I recognize that Phelps’s pathological problems are not his fault; he’s a sick, sick man. I don’t really wish harm on his followers, because they have obviously been effected by the sort of brain-washing and mind-twisting that defines cult activity. These reasons are what keep me from going ahead and doing my worst, really, and yet… and yet… I find that I am still tempted, nonetheless. My gut wants to act, my hands itch for sand to throw in their faces…
So, here are some open-ended questions: Would you curse Westboro Baptist Church? Have you? Would you use magical techniques to cause a change in any political figure or ideologue? Given that civic cursing has been a practice since Greek times (to my knowledge, and I assume since before even then), why don’t we, as Pagans, set about taking magical action against our opponents? I don’t have answers to these questions right now, but I’m super-interested in other peoples’ thoughts!