Headline at CNN.com from January 16, 2017: Famed Ringling Bros. circus closing after more than 100 years
We, in the small (population approximately 24,000) City of Derby Kansas had our own circus last week. Hunky Husband got to see it on his way to the grocery store. I missed the whole thing, even though it was only about 1 or 1.5 miles from our house.
OK, it wasn’t the traditional version, but it did have clowns.
It was the Westboro Baptist Church road show giving a 45-minute performance Jan. 11 near DHS.
Led by longtime ringmaster Shirley Phelps-Roper, the five-member group put on a decent performance, but the even better one was the large turnout by students and a few residents as a counter production.
I’ve encountered the Westboro gang a number of times over the years.
Frankly, I was surprised they actually showed up, but they did, saying they were protesting the participation of a transgender student in the school’s recent Holly Ball royalty court.
There are a few ways to counter protest this group. One is simply ignore them. They hate that.
Last year, they called off a protest at Wichita State after only 20 minutes because no one paid attention to them.
Another is to be dismayed, upset and angry at them. Horrible move.
That’s the worst thing to do as that’s the exact reaction they seek. The more hostility they provoke, the higher their gain.
Then there’s by far and away the best tactic: humor!
As Mark Twain put it: “The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.”
It’s been said that bigots and fundamentalists have an adversely dim view of humor because it’s not a product of force, but of the intellect and it takes away the fear – and power – others may have of them.
Had all of Germany laughed at Hitler, he never would have gained any power.
In that vein, I was pleasantly surprised at how much humor the crowd employed at the event, which took place during an unseasonably pleasant afternoon.
Kudos to the classy sign-makers who held up classics such as “If God Hates Gays Why Are We So Cute?,” “Generic Angry Slogan,” and one of my favorites, “I Have A Sign Too.”
That’s the spirit!
Adding to the wacky atmosphere, which had shades of a day at Burning Man, was a fully outfitted Darth Vader, a man in a tutu, another passing out colorful M&Ms and an eclectic mix of tough biker guys, gays, serious-looking police officers and a plethora of tattoos and hair colors.
Everyone seemed fairly good natured and well behaved – and basically having fun in a festive atmosphere – just what Westboro doesn’t want to see happen.
At one point near the end, I saw Phelps-Roper crack a small smile as if to say, “Hey, you guys gave us a good fight.”
Unlike many people, Westboro protestors don’t upset me.
They’re a one-line cartoon show. Phelps-Roper, with her exaggerated presentation of four colorful signs, upside flags and constant banter, is basically a combination troll and shock jock.
How can anyone take the group’s over-the-top slogans seriously?
I mean, “Thank God for 9/11?!,” “God Hates America?!”
It’s not a hate group, it’s a ludicrous punk group that is so patently absurd it’s a running farce.
But Phelps-Roper does know the First Amendment better than most citizens.
She even has a video camera at the ready in case anyone violates those rights, and she’ll be quick on the draw to file a lawsuit.
The motley crew is all smoke and mirrors and, as far as I know, avoids any sort of violence.
In that regard, the Derby cops did an excellent job of carving out a protest space and knowing the law to its letter.
But there are those who simply aren’t up on the beauty of the First Amendment, which rejoices in free speech – including hate speech – no matter how distasteful one may find it.
Hundreds of thousands of brave men and women died for us to have that privilege, a precious right that very few in other countries enjoy the way we do.
That includes allowing Phelps-Roper to blow her nose into an American flag at the event’s end. No doubt she was hoping to shock and upset, but it didn’t work.
If anyone took notice of it, they rightly weren’t going to let her control their reaction – only laugh at her foolishness.
In the end, humor – as it should – claimed victory.
For several days, the weather people and emergency management people have been notifying us, and a wide swath of countryside from NW Texas to Chicago, to expect a massive ice storm, the worst of which was expected to hit us around 6:00am this morning. The largest concerns were keeping people off the streets and highways and preparing people to endure power outages that might last up to one week - especially in rural areas.
In fact: I haven't checked on the rest of the projected storm area, but we got off easy. We have had a small amount of icing on the streets, despite county and city maintenance workers spreading brine on all of the major through-fares, and the most-traveled E-W through-fare in Wichita experienced a 22-car pileup Friday night; but, we have seemingly escaped being hit by a major ice storm in our area. I listened to the freezing rain for several hours last night (our sump pump activated at 2:25am and 2:46am, if anyone cares); but, the temperature hovered just above freezing. Surprisingly, with the streets wet rather than icy, the trees sport elegant ice coats. Forthwith, some photos.
The sugar maple is gorgeous even without its multi-hued leaves (below).
Below is a detail showing the small amount of ice accumulation, including tiny icecycles.
The redbud tree clump at the corner of the front yard looks elegant, below.
Below is the overall view of the trees along the edge of the back woods. Those trees always lean a lot, even without ice (they grow, reaching for available sunlight); but, with the ice, some of the branches are actually touching the ground.
Another detail, below, of the trees at the edge of the woods.
Below is our stately cottonwood tree at the edge of the woods. (It is nearest to the house of all the trees in our woods.)
The following photo has nothing to do with ice; but, displays the current state of a clump of Shasta Daisies in front of the house. One doesn't expect green leaves on daisies during the winter.
Hope everyone else is staying cozy! Oh, by the way, I did hear a report that about 25 homes in Wichita were without power for about one hour during the evening hours, yesterday.
P.S. Hunky Husband tells me that all of the rain to which I listened last night measured out to 1.03".
Sometimes it's difficult to remember that the vast majority of the people out there are good and helpful. Sometimes we need reminding. Bogie reminds us, this evening, with a story of mutual cooperation getting the job(s) done.
Belated congrats on your whole Mr. Robot thing. You promised to use the Internet to expose and bring down all the corrupt bastards ruining our world, and boy did you almost follow through. Julie baby! Boychick! The job's only half-way done! You need to show us you're not just another gun for hire and hose down the other mosh pit. You know what I'm talking about. The tax returns, the out-takes, maybe even some freaky-deaky-golden-leaky beauty pageant video action. Time to step up, J-man. If you wanna be a cyber Fidel, or a digital Che, or a virtual Ho, you've gotta stop stuffing your face with arroz con pollo and get to work. It's time to go all Talking Heads on this situation. Burning down the house, bubelah! You're one wikiwacky-leak away from being a hero. Or maybe a martyr. Ecuadorean potato soup, Ecuadorean puhtahto soup, they're usually the same thing.