Even Internet cranks need an occasional break from examining the myriad ways human beings abuse and cause unnecessary, frequently unintentional harm to one another. For me, those breaks usually lead to the discovery of apparently parodic movements that are, in fact, completely on the up and up.
I’m sure we can all agree on our love for the Westboro Baptist Church, its political and social primitivism and the Phelps’ family’s talent for self-promotion and income generation via civil suits. If you are unfamiliar with Esquire Phelps and his odd brood, his method of putting food on the table is one that could not exist outside of a nation that combines a (relative) lack of judicial corruption with a (relative) plenitude of civil protections. His methods are simple: utter astonishingly provocative, hurtful things to individuals who are at their most vulnerable, then sue the inevitable few who violate the law in retaliation. Whether picketing Matthew Shepard’s funeral with “Fag Matt in Hell” placards, driving en masse to military funerals to harass the grieving families of dead soliders, or introducing their own children to the beauty of a lifelong siege mentality, Phelps and his lawyer children scrupulously observe the letter of the law while counting on the fact that the grieving families who suffer their abuse will not. Given that Westboro’s costs include little more than transportation, housing, food, and complete isolation from the world, it’s hard to imagine that Phelps doesn’t do pretty well for himself. It’s a smart business model and a de facto monopoly as well, as the promise of complete social isolation, endless and frequently witty ridicule, and likelihood of catching a vigilante’s bullet prevent this breed of litigious attorney from proliferating.
And then there is the lesser known Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, whose values are explained at some length by founder and human extinction advocate–I swear I am not making this up–Les U. Knight. Leaving aside Knight’s decidedly dualistic view of creation as humanity vs. everything else, a romanticized understanding of how (not to mention how long) species exist in a natural world rife with asteroids, volcanoes, and plenty of other catastrophy-inducing stuff, and his cheerful rejection of the singular goal that has led life from the humblest of origins to himself over the past few billion years, he makes a lot of sense.
Intellectual exercise of the day: Using the argumentative form provided by this article, devise as many ethical reasons as possible to avoid having children. I’ll start us out:
If you as a Cardinal fan choose to give birth to a child, and it later turns out to be a Reds fan, it renders your own personal commitment to decent haircuts and good dentistry completely invalid.