Our esteemed and beloved man of the cloth, the Rev. Fred Phelps, is in quite a quandary. Locally, the TV news people have announced that his Kansas church group, 100 strong, plans to picket the funeral of a local man killed in Iraq. They would, as in the past, hold up signs saying (I kid you NOT), "GOD LOVES I.E.D.'S." But the graveside picketing might not come to pass, since Fred also wants pickets a-plenty at the Gerald Ford funeral in Michigan. What's a fundamentalist geek to do?
You *do* remember Fred, don't you? The slavering twit who showed up at the funeral for Matthew Shepard after the latter's bashing in Laramie, Wyoming, where Felps's group held up placards claiming that "GOD HATES FAGS!" Actually, if there were a god, he or she would hate Fred Phelps, who, incidentally, has a rap sheet of his own and was disbarred from law practice. (Apparently, it is actually possible to be so nasty you're unfit to be an attorney!)
Interestingly, when, later this evening, CNN interviewed former Sect'y of Defense (under Clinton) William Cohen; following a news story that Gen. John Shallikashvilli has recommended doing away with "don't ask, don't tell," Wolf Blitzer asked what chance there is to get such a policy carted off to the dungheap of American history. And Cohen answered that some high-ranking military people are seriously considering it, if only because the all-volunteer army cannot afford to turn any qualified men and women away. (That's nice, we are not good enough to marry, but we are good enough to be blown to bits by I.E.D.'s in Baghdad.) Owning up to the fact that plenty of gays and lesbians already serve, silently, Cohen suggest that a re-thinking is much in order, and he's not unaware that European armies have never made any distinction between gay and straight troops and have had none of the problems with the integrated policy that are usually predicted here.
But he had a caveat. Cohen says that the decision to do it should come from military leaders, not politicians. If the matter is politicized, he points out, it will inevitably become a wedge issue, just as it did for Clinton. It can only be hoped that Rev. Phred Felps had a massive coronary when he heard this news, for if there is a hell, I am certain he is going to it.