lunch time and I was driving out of the library parking lot with a co-worker
from another branch when I first noticed the group of protesters on the side of
the road outside the Gay Pride festival that was being held in the adjacent
park. Linda grabbed at my steering wheel and yelled, “Run them down.” I laughed
uneasily and drove right by the group. “Come on, we could have said your
steering wheel was too hot and you lost control.” It was a blistering hot June
day in Phoenix and you needed an oven mitt to work the steering wheel if you
forgot to put up the sun visor when parking, so that alibi just might have
It was the
late 1990s, before the Matthew Shepard murder, and I wasn’t yet familiar with
the antics of the hateful Westboro Baptist Church, which is where these protesters
hailed from. At lunch, Linda filled me in on their actions and how they had
earlier in the day stopped them from picketing on library property.
afternoon we returned to interviewing in the library alcove near the entrance. I
went out to get the next candidate when a security guard motioned me over to
the desk. Standing in front of the security desk was an old man with a young
child. “These protesters want to use the restrooms,” the guard stated. “Are
they allowed in here?” For most of the morning the guards had been turning away
many of the Pride participants because they were not dressed appropriately to
enter the library, so I understood why he was asking. “Leave the sign outside
and come with me,” I told the man, and I escorted them to the facilities next
to our interviewing rooms. “Thank you,” Fred Phelps replied.
While I am
fairly certain my colleague wasn’t serious when she suggested I run the group
over, I have wondered over the years how much pain and grief the world could
have been saved if my steering wheel had been truly too hot to hold.
monster died on March 19, but his hatred lives on through his daughter and the
small Kansas church that he left behind. In the 10 years of playing the AO
Deadpool, this was the first time I was happy to get a hit.