It's a fact that no one likes the news, and the more news we get, the less we enjoy it. Name a 24-hour news network that isn't constantly the butt of jokes and I'll name my unicorn Phil and he'll fix us drinks that are sweet with the delicious nectar of lies. Lies!
The problem with news is that, aside from it constantly bombarding us, it's often terrible. News is bad about 80 percent of the time, and the remaining 20 percent is a mix of good news and bullshit that was probably made up by the Onion, then picked up by legit news sources. And then, at the end, there's a tiny fraction reserved for stories that are bad and good at the same time, stories that wield irony like a hobo wields stink, that leave you unsure of how you're supposed to feel because they transcend the easy-to-digest formula of regular news and force you to deal with an awful mix of stuff that's somehow wrong and right all at the same time.
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The Westboro Baptist Church is a 24-hour news network's supercharged wet dream. They're hateful, vocal, and mobile, and they never run out of ways to anger the average viewer. Have you gone into a public restroom and been appalled to discover that some uncouth monstrosity has opted to spatter the walls and floor with a burst of fecal confetti? That substance, along with the way it makes you feel, is basically personified in Westboro.
If you aren't aware, the church is a 40-member hate group based out of Topeka, Kansas. They espouse extreme pseudo-Christian beliefs and are mostly known for their hardcore anti-gay ideology and the fact that they will actively picket the funerals of soldiers, children, and celebrities with signs celebrating the deaths and assorted other colorful shittery plastered on Bristol board. You know those cramps you get if you eat undercooked chicken wings? Like a twisting pain, as though the diarrhea you're moments away from experiencing decided to have a knife fight in your colon? Now imagine those cramps out on the street with colorful signs and a wardrobe from Big Lots. I can't stress enough how much like shit these people are.
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"Get the DeWalt Worksite Radio/Charger for only $99.99 at Big Lots! Fag NBA sold separately."
To attempt to understand Westboro, try to imagine someone who hears that a soldier has been killed in battle and thinks "Well, thank God!" then makes a sign that says "God Hates Fags" and just goes and stands at that person's funeral, across the country. "Asshole" doesn't even broach the subject. "Douchebag" isn't even in the same ballpark.
Luckily for Westboro, their stunningly ignorant yet repetitive rhetoric is not only legally protected speech, it's the kind of stuff that gets them constant press coverage. And, since several prominent members are lawyers, they've managed to make a decent living off of the proceeds from lawsuits that help fund their shitty little field trips around the country being all googly-kook insane and stirring up shit because apparently none of them have any hobbies whatsoever.
So what's to be done against a prolific hate group that has every legal right to do the awful things they do? The exact same thing they do in the form of a counterprotest. It's become par for the course for groups to arrange counterprotest lines that Westboro won't cross in order to protect families at targeted funerals. A lot of times it seems to be local biker gangs, but in one particular instance, the heroes who rose to the occasion in an effort to thwart Westboro were members of the Ku Klux Klan. Man, this would make for a zany children's book.
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It was OK, but the character development isn't there.
As members of Westboro protested the funerals of soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery, a counterprotest headed them off. Dennis LaBonte, himself a veteran and also grand wizard of a KKK chapter, was there to show his support for the fallen soldiers and, along with a handful of other Klan members, wasn't about to let Westboro be such blatant douche nozzles. Presumably any witnesses stood by silent and dumbfounded, fearful that offering support to either side would cause Mexican drug cartels to come and decapitate everyone or, at the very least, aliens and predators to join in and make a scene.
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Everyone loves animals, except for heartless old ladies with Dalmatian-fur coats and people whose loved ones have been murdered by ravenous livestock. And it's good to be a friend to our animal neighbors, except for things like gross bugs and most kinds of fish, which have soulless eyes and creepy faces. However, there's definitely something to be said for understanding the best way to help and nurture animals as opposed to just causing a terrible, awful clusterfuck.
At a university lab in Milan, where researchers had been studying genetic psychiatric disorders, animal rights activists busted in to help liberate the poor mice and rats that were being callously experimented on. The protesters destroyed data and freed the little animals so that they might run several steps from their cages and promptly die.
"It's, like, they're free. And, like, sometimes that means dying right away."
Turns out a number of the animals were genetic mutants or had compromised immune systems and can't really live outside their cages. So you can't free them at all, but that's OK, because something something sanctity of life or whatever.
At the end of the raid, the group had to negotiate for the release of the animals. They were allowed to take 100 of the about 800 on site and were promised they could come back later for more, which apparently they believed. That's like the police promising the bank robber that if he releases the hostages, he can keep the money and go home.
So on the one hand, this group struck a blow for ignorant animal lovers everywhere by ensuring that 100 animals are now free to live in sterile cages somewhere outside of the lab they were raised in. On the other hand, this isn't a lot different from activists raiding mink farms and releasing thousands of them, only to have the animals, which are domesticated and rely on machines for food, return to the farm, with the notable exception of all the ones that got killed on highways when they ran up to cars expecting dinner.
Most people understand the desire to stop another living thing from being in pain, or from being killed, but maybe a better way to help those creatures is not by murdering them faster.