Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Crazy and hateful

San Franciscans have long had a secret fondness for crazy people. Emperor Norton, possibly the only homeless man who was lauded as the Emperor of the United States, was our first. Although there was nothing remotely amusing about the savage mauling death of Diane Whipple, there was certainly a lot of talk about Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel, the dog owners who were alleged to have had sex with the large Canary Island dogs who attacked Whipple.

A perennial favorite for nearly a decade now is Frank Chiu, the indefatigable "Chinese poster-carrying guy." I remember him appearing first during the Clinton impeachment controversy. He would walk slowly up the street, always wearing a sports jacket, slacks, and wraparound shades. From the beginning, he was carrying his large sign: by now, his deltoids must be like titanium.

The original placard in 1998 called for the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Apparently, he got some feedback on this, and he changed it to request the impeachement of Clinton and George W. Bush (still in 1998). Later, more presidents were added, and it all spiralled downwards from there. After the posters started mentioning "12 Galaxies" and the "Zegnatronic Rocket Society", no one could mistake Frank for a political enthusiast: he was plainly nuts.

Frank is nuts, but he's our kind of nuts. The terrific 12 Galaxies bar and music hall in San Francisco is named after him, and every Halloween, there are multiple men and women who dress as Frank Chiu. As with having more than one mental patient who think they're Jesus, it doesn't always go well when two of them meet. If Frank meets an impersonator, he does not appear to mind, but he usually asks them for money.

Fred Phelps, the notorious minister from Kansas, is crazy as well. In fact, Phelps is sui generis in the category of publicity-seeking priests blinded by their hatred of homosexuality. He's been well-known for years for his picketing of funerals, for his otherworldly pronouncements on current affairs, and for his large collection of semi-arbitrary hate sites: godhatesfags.com, godhatescanada.com, and my personal favorite, godhatessweden.com.

Phelps has been in the news lately because of his persistent picketing at military funerals. I can hardly imagine the insensible rage of someone at one of those funerals, being told that your son or daughter died and is actually in hell because America doesn't hate its gays sufficiently. Although I knew all this, and I thought I was holding Phelps in the proper level of contempt, that was before I read the Fred Phelps blog entry at wikipedia. As Forrest Gump would say, "he's every kind of bad there is!":
  1. Multi-substance abuser: amphetamines, barbituates, and alcohol.
  2. Physically, emotionally, and verbally abusive of his family and his sun-addled parishioners.
  3. Implicated in death of his daughter-in-law.
  4. Disbarred in state and federal court. The federal disbarring paper was signed by every federal judge in Kansas. More sanctions against him than anyone else in the history of Kansas.
  5. Multiple acts of physical violence, fraud, perjury.
  6. Deep, pathological hatred of homosexuals, Swedes, Finns, etc.
Amazing stuff. Do not read unless you have a strong stomach. It is funny, though, to imagine ordinary, decent Swedish or Finnish folks stumbling onto his web site, wondering just what in the world they had found. Do not worry, ordinary decent Swedish folks: most Americans do not actually know where your country is, much less hate you.

Personally, I'd rather hang with Frank Chiu and watch him scare the tourists. It is harmless fun. When he gets too excited, you can always distract him by asking him when he was on television last. He watches for the TV vans like a hawk so he can parade behind the poor reporters with his placard. He can tell you every broadcast that he was on, and it always seems exciting to him.


Anonymous Alan said...

What a sad and pathetic little monster.
I knew about the funeral picketing of course, but not details about Phelps.
Every federal judge in Kansas signed his disbarrment papers? I bet that's unique in the history of the US. Kansas must be heartily sick of him.
My favorite from his wiki page:
"Phelps also wrote a book in the 1980s with his son-in-law, Brent D. Roper, called The Conspiracy. In the book, Roper and Phelps claim to possess evidence that AIDS spontaneously generated in Africa; Truman Capote contracted the disease during an orgy with African tribesmen; Capote then gave the disease to John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe by playing football with them; and that the CIA assassinated all three to prevent the spread of the disease."
Ahhh, it all makes sense now!

Wednesday, 01 March, 2006  

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