Exhibit A: Wonder Woman (or a reasonable facsimile)
• A child of the gods sent to save humanity (specifically men — women were apparently doing fine)
• Defender of truth, justice, and the American way (despite being an illegal immigrant)
• Into truth-telling and light bondage (both courtesy of a magic lasso).
You have to want to see it. You have to possess a mind so clouded by fear and hatred that the notion of Wonder Woman epitomizes evil. You have to lack a sense of humor in any form or fashion. Mostly, you have to be a dickweed.
Enter the Westboro Baptist Church. Led by the right reverend Cletus T. Tubbs (actually led by somebody else, but I couldn’t care less who), this church, which clearly allows family members to marry one another and encourages them to breed (again, I haven’t actually read their literature, but it seems a reasonable assumption), thought it would be a good idea to stop by the San Diego Comic-Con to inform everyone in attendance that they were all going to die and burn in hell for all eternity. It is sort of what they do: roam the countryside spreading hatred of homosexuals, Barack Obama, and opposable thumbs.
At Comic-Con, the WBC took umbrage at comic book fans because, in their deeply crossed eyes (the result of aforementioned inbreeding), comic book fans worship superheroes when they should be worshiping Jesus Christ. You see, the Westboro Baptists live binary lives; they see the world as ones and zeroes. People can only be one thing. How boring and sad their world must be.
The problem the Westboro Baptist Church faced at Comic-Con is that they were clearly out of their element. You see, this bunch of inbred mouth-breathing hicks usually protests at the funerals of soldiers where the military honor guards and those in attendance are cautioned to pay the WBC no mind. Not so, the Comic-Con attendees, many of whom knew of the planned protest. And prepared for it.
Whereas the military tends to believe “might makes right,” the Comic-Con attendees seemed to believe that cleverness makes right. ‘Twas sarcasm that ruled the day, as the counter protest was filled with characters and signs, mostly using gentle humor (one hate-filled counter protester missed the point entirely with his “F*ck God” sign). The de facto leader of the group was a man dressed as Bender from “Futurama,” carrying a sign with the words “kill all humans” written on it.
A Starfleet officer bearing a dual sign with “God needs a starship” on one side and “God hates Jedi” on the other drove home a few points.
But what about the Westboro Baptists themselves? From one angle (as bespeaks part of a metaphor), they are a force to be reckoned with. But when seen head on (completing the metaphor), the truth is revealed. The WBC protest consisted of only four people, and one of those four was a depressed looking little boy who had been drafted into service (question: do child labor laws come into play during a protest?). Each person was given a t-shirt, an American flag, and at least four signs to hold up. Against the legion of superpowers represented in the counter-protest, the WBC looked as pathetic and impotent as they actually are.
To add more depth to the conversation, I turn to Joseph Campbell, whom I consider to be a spiritual teacher and massive influence on my life and my faith. I’ll begin with his point that, “Greek and Latin and biblical literature used to be part of everyone’s education… It used to be that these stories were in the minds of the people. When the story is in your mind, then you see its relevance to something happening in your own life. It gives you perspective on what’s happening to you. With the loss of that, we’ve really lost something…” This land that we hold dear and this government that we swear allegiance to has distanced us from history. Not just from Judeo-Christian traditions, but those predating the Bible (as well as many that followed the times of Jesus). Society is left with a mythological void, and no modern storytelling digs into mythology more than the fantastic world of comic books.
“Read myths,” Campbell instructs. “They teach you that you can turn inward, and you begin to get the message of the symbols. Read other people’s myths, not those of your religion, because you tend to interpret your own religion in terms of facts — but if you read the other ones, you begin to get the message. Myth helps you to put your mind in touch with this experience of being alive. It tells you what the experience is.” Without the myth, we lose sight of why we’re here.
By and large, comic book heroes live by a code of honor and morality lacking in society today (and obviously lacking in the Westboro Baptist Church). The books contain tales of bravery, loyalty, and acceptance. The characters are flawed and typically outcasts, each searching for salvation or redemption. In other words, there is more Christian spirit in the average comic book than there is in the Westboro Baptist Church.
Allow me to conclude by saying that the Comic-Con attendees did right in their response to the WBC. They used wit and humor to belittle the opposition. They used archetypes to convey just how wrong the opposition was. And, in the end, they stood with Bender as he encouraged the Westboro Baptists to bite his shiny metal ass.