Friday, February 24, 2006

A Class Act with a Mission

I’m probably just slow on the uptake, but I hadn’t heard about the Patriot Guard Riders until today, when I saw an article detailing their latest mission in Minnesota.

It sounds like some neofascist group, doesn’t it? Just the opposite, it seems. The job of the Patriot Guard Riders is . . . well, let them tell you through their mission statement:

The Patriot Guard Riders is a diverse amalgamation of riders from across the nation. We have one thing in common besides motorcycles. We have an unwavering respect for those who risk their very lives for America’s freedom and security. If you share this respect, please join us.

“We don’t care what you ride, what your political views are, or whether you’re a ‘hawk’ or a ‘dove’. It is not a requirement that you be a veteran. It doesn't matter where you’re from or what your income is. You don’t even have to ride. The only prerequisite is Respect.

“Our main mission is to attend the funeral services of fallen American heroes as invited guests of the family. Each mission we undertake has two basic objectives.

“1. Show our sincere respect for our fallen heroes, their families, and their communities.

“2. Shield the mourning family and friends from interruptions created by any protestor or group of protestors.

“We accomplish the latter through strictly legal and non-violent means.”

In other words, the mission of the Patriot Guard Riders is to attend funerals of American soldiers – when invited – and to shield the mourners from attacks by the members of Westboro Baptist Church – Yeah, that church. See, Fred Phelps and his ilk like to show up at soldiers’ funerals to torture the families. They figure that the U.S. is too gay-friendly (ok, I must have missed the news bulletin on this!) so anyone who fights for the U.S. is bound for hell as a punishment.

The Patriot Guard not only shields the family from such hatred, but it refuses to engage the protesters in return: “If you’re looking for a group that protests, counter-protests or confronts any organization, you’re in the wrong place. The PGR is not a protest group.”

Pretty cool, huh? Now, I’m not a dyke on a bike, and to be perfectly honest, seeing all the Harleys and burly guys in bandanas and links to veterans’ associations makes me a tad uneasy.

But I’m hooked enough to want to know more. If these folks really are what they claim to be, and I hope they are, then there’s going to be at least one card-carrying lesbian joining their next Georgia mission.

Oh….an important side note here: I support the speeches made at Coretta Scott King’s funeral. The speakers were requested by the family and what they said was consistent with Mrs. King’s life and values. Totally different thing than unwelcome intruders coming in to make a fuss.

Oh, and one more thing: that link above for Fred Phelps? That goes to the Wikipedia entry on him. I don’t know how much of it is true, but hoo boy, it makes for a whale of a Lifetime movie.


  1. I haven't checked Wikipedia but they protested at Matthew Shepherd's funeral. They seek out military funerals because our soldiers are being killed because of this countries' view of homosexuality.

    Pehlps is a maniac.

    They were in a nearby town last year (very conservative place) and were met by many counter protesters and no support.

    They're planning to come back next month and we'll be more organized by that time.

    It's 40 people max, mostly related. Their family tree does not fork. Evil is too mild a word.

  2. Very interesting... and I'd be curious to know how the Patriot Guard Riders get the invites.

    As for Phelps, he's a whackjob of the tenth degree. I think the Patriot Guard might want to follow him around and throw rotten tomatos whenever he opens his mouth...

  3. Unfortunately, Fred Phelps is an actual breathing creature. (I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say human - some sort of heart and compassion I think is required for that distinction.) His crew came to our city's production of the Laramie Project earlier this year. However, given the large number of counter protesters (~400), Phelps didn't show up himself - just sent in 11 or so of his families and supporters to do his protesting for him. He knows nothing but hate.

    This group does certainly sound interesting. Thanks for keeping us posted.

  4. He'll be here (Turlock actually - about 25 miles from us) tomorrow. One of my son's Nat'l Guard company was killed - his memorial service is tomorrow. I called Jim. What's left of his company not still in Iraq will be there and so, I think will be motorcycles.

    I'm sure it will make our paper and I'll let you know what happens.

    The Patriot Guard may just keep track. That's what Phelps does. His website has an itinerary of funerals and other activities. There are sites listing the kia's and it's simple enough I suppose to check on services.

    I clicked off his site feeling soiled.

  5. woohoo on the PGR!!!! :0) PA coal miners made the trip to WV to meet Phelps at the MountainLair on the WVU campus and send him home. The local police kept him and his maniacal followers from causing any ruckus at the coal miners' funerals. And rumor has it that after he created the stink over the coal mining accidents, God exacted some justice of His own and took Phelps' home away. But I don't know how true that is because I didn't see any headlines about it.

  6. There's a whole online book on Phelps which goes beyond the beyond. (google "Addicted to Hate.") If 1/10th of it is true...beating the kids with a mattock, driving one son's fiance to suicide, screaming rages that last for hours, on and on...

    Seriously, if I believed in possession and so forth, I'd think he looked like as likely a candidate as anyone. A howling wind tunnel of hate and madness and poisonous murk, and no apparent spark of humanity left.