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Using a stop watch to change hearts and minds

Using a stop watch to change hearts and minds
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Organizing rant-a-thons to combat the Westboro presence at Heath Ledger's memorial and 2008 Oscars
heathdefense was opened to organize folks for a rant-a-thon pledge drive against the presence of Westboro Baptist Church at Heath Ledger's memorial and the 2008 Oscars.

In case you don't know what the Westboro Baptist Church is, see this Wikipedia entry. They are a hate group targeting mainly the funerals and memorials of people they think are somehow involved in gay issues or lifestyle. (Mighty brave, eh?)

This group of sad little people have gotten press in the last few years by spewing reprehensible defamation, taking advantage of the tabloid culture in this country to spread their message of intolerance and bigotry. They have recently announced that they will picket the funeral and memorial service of Heath Ledger, the actor who starred in Brokeback Mountain, along with Jake Gyllenhaal, as a gay ranch herder. They have also said they will picket the Oscars.

Now, it's very tempting to go and get into some kind of screaming tussle, but that's precisely what they want - to be "victimized" by the "immoral" people who oppose them. Me, I think it's much more productive to use their own hate against them. So I'm putting together a pledge drive to pull the rug out from under them. This will be an honor-system thing, the idea being to sign up as many people as possible to donate a certain amount (whatever they like) per minute for each minute these people are at the events, and then after the event, the pledgers will be informed of the minute count, with instructions to send their donations to P-FLAG, the organization founded to help parents, families and friends of lesbians and gay men.

Why P-FLAG? Well, I felt they were the best choice for two reasons:

1) Heath himself was not gay, but working in Hollywood, he could not have avoided knowing many gay people. Having taken the role of Ennis del Mar, it seems to me that he supported the idea of openness and tolerance in our society. (Of course, I'm not a mind reader; it just seems that way to me.)

2) Heath was immensely popular with young people, and P-FLAG does a lot of good work in fostering understanding for those who are discovering their own sexuality as gay people.

So that's the basic rundown on the idea. Now here is what we need:

1) Presence.

If you live or around Los Angeles, CA, and would like to be present at the events, please join and let me know. I will contact you about getting together.

If you live in Australia and would like to establish an action like this one at Heath's funeral, please join and speak up. I live in L.A. and am unable to travel to Australia, so it would be utterly grand if we could have a contingent there to cover all the bases. There is a possibility that promotion of this action will actually anger the WPC enough to keep them away, and we all know Heath's family does not need the grief of their hate-mongering presence.

2) Support

Tell your friends. Word of mouth will be just as valuable as pledges at this early stage.

3) Technical Help, including:

Website - We will need a website where people can go to find out about the actions and sign up. If you have these skills, PLEASE consider helping us out. It needn't be anything fancy. Just a simple intro page, pledge/comments page and contact info page would be sufficient, I'm thinking. Since we will not be collecting money ourselves, it should be pretty simple.

Promotion - If you have experience in writing press releases, have mailing lists of news organizations and/or entertainment industry entities, or have experience in promotion charitable events, your help would be invaluable.

That's pretty much it. I hope you'll join our comm and get involved in whatever way is most comfortable for you. If we all pull together, we can protect those people who are honoring Heath's memory and doing their jobs to give us great movies, AND show the world that the kind of hate and fear these...people...are fomenting is not what America believes in.