“It is often considered proper form for the remaining party among two established enemies, when one is dead or dying, to make disingenuous statements of remorse — to express that ‘nobody wishes death’ upon their opponent. You’ll find no such dissembling from me. As I write this, Fred Phelps is now in the process of doing probably the one thing that he’ll ever do for which he will have my gratitude: He is dying. And while some part of me thinks, the sooner the better, another part of me hopes he lingers long enough to savor the full terror that must consume a mind as superstitious and bitterly haunted as his during its last moments of life.”
— Lucien Greaves, leader of the “Satanic Temple,” on the supposedly impending death of Fred Phelps
According to Phelps’s estranged son, Nathan, the infamous pastor of the equally infamous Westboro Baptist Church is at death’s door right now. The younger Phelps posted an update on Facebook over the weekend saying that his father is currently in hospice care in Topeka and reiterating that he’s apparently been excommunicated from the merry band of psychotics he helped to found. (The church itself won’t say whether he’s actually been thrown out.)
What can anyone possibly say about someone like Fred Phelps that hasn’t already been said? I’d like to write something satirical, maybe about Fred arriving in Hell and finding a welcome party and a warm embrace by Satan, who congratulates him for a job well done. But the Onion would simply do it better and I’m not sure I can muster the ability to be glib about a man as utterly evil as Phelps. So with that in mind, maybe it’s best to just be direct: Fred Phelps shouldn’t simply die — he should suffer. He should suffer the pain he’s caused others in the darkest hours of their lives, multiplied by a thousand. Ironically, the Biblical definition of Hell is precisely what he deserves, because he deserves to reap the anguish he’s spent a lifetime sowing and be tormented for all eternity by the souls of those he once mocked and whose memories he defiled. He deserves to cry out for mercy and receive none. He deserves the sudden epiphany that what he did tortured others and now has consequences and have it not matter in the least, because it’s just too fucking late.
But he’ll never see any of that because that’s the great cosmic joke — in this case perhaps tragedy — at the center of Fred Phelps’s life’s work: It didn’t matter. He won’t be meeting God. He won’t be meeting Satan. He very likely won’t be moving on to another consciousness. He’ll just be gone. Dead. The next logical step in the physical deterioration of his already desiccated body. So, with that in mind, I guess all I can say is that I wish I could be there. I wish I could be there for that final moment when everything goes black and it all comes to an end for Phelps. I wish I could somehow witness the split-second when his consciousness finally evaporates and he has the realization that there’s no reward awaiting him for all that hatred he spewed. There’s no God there to welcome him. There’s just — nothing. It was all for nothing.
I do hope, though, that good people picket the shit out of his funeral.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.