All right, I’ll be very honest. I am a tool. To me, Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) aren’t offensive—they’re just annoying little gnats—so I told everyone that I would just go to math class without any recognition of their protest. Well… I did go to math, but I still celebrated the fact that Westboro, the Only True Christian (TM) Church, was protesting at the University of Chicago.
But I was disappointed.
The protest was to take place between 12:00 and 1:00 p.m. in front of the main quads (protesting the Chicago Theological Seminary for their “fag-enabling”), and my analysis class took place between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. Grabbing a quick to-go lunch at the Div School Café with a friend to watch the freak show, I stood at South University Avenue starting at noon. The party was already there—several boys making out with each other, along with some girls, large signs, and slogan T-shirts, and the frats (particularly Alpha Delta Phi) were giving us a free show—streakers dancing wildly to the Village People’s “YMCA.” Yet as 12:30 rolled by and I began to head toward analysis, Freddie and Shirley Phelps never showed up. Sighing heavily, I ran up the stairs of Eckhart without any jeering or catcalling accomplished.
The majority of my class was there, waiting for our professor to begin. As is typical of every math class, we sat in awkward silence while watching him stare back at us. He stood up after everyone sidled in, and he walked to the chalkboard. When he began, “So, as we discussed last time—”, we heard loud cheering from the quads. Our professor froze and the opening piano riffs to “Dancing Queen” accompanied the lonely scene of “Linear Mappings” on the chalkboard. Awkwardly, he attempted to continue the lecture, only he had to speak louder, given his very soft, accented voice. The soundtrack then turned to Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out” and the cheers grew louder. My friend told me later that this was when the show really began. The party continued with more Diana Ross, Village People, The Weather Girls, and what I believed to be the soundtrack to Bridget Jones’s Diary. Honestly, I’d say that “It’s Raining Men” is one of the most dramatic ways to change the ambiance of a math class.
Despite being hosted by the gayest musical in Chicago, Westboro Baptist Church seemed to have lost its appetite for protesting fag-enablers, as the show closed within 15 minutes. I personally was extremely disappointed, as I wanted to join the festivities, but given our professor’s untraditional grading system (a discrete distribution of 1 pass and n-1 fail), I had to sit through the rest of the class, forcing myself not to sing along to “Macho Man.”
Later, I found out from friends partying with the crowds that the protest was disappointing even for them: Tardiness aside, the WBC army stood at a whopping seven people, two of whom were children. Seriously, guys. If you want to protest the Anti-Christ’s core values-provider, shouldn’t the Army of God include the Cherubim, Seraphim, or even just Archangel Michael? The epic battle at Armageddon was as exciting as watching a group of seven people cross the street. I guess that’s because that’s what literally happened.
Freddie and Shirley Phelps: If you guys ever want to protest again at our campus, we might listen to you if you bring a bigger contingent of people. If you mobilize more than the five adults present at the protest, I’ll be sure to be there to hear how we fags have doomed the nation. Then again, I’ll probably be too busy making out with the Crew Team to listen.
Daniel M. Choi is a third-year in the College majoring in physics.