I’m not usually in favour of giving attention to organisations that preach hatred and intolerance — I usually go with the school of thought that giving them too much attention is like giving attention to a misbehaving five-year-old. The more attention you give him, the more he’ll kick and scream. However this particular group bears mentioning if only for the lovely project that has spawned from their hatred, so bear with me — it’s worth it.
The infamous Westboro Baptist Church has been back under the spotlight after apparently incurring the wrath of the ‘hacktivist’ group Anonymous. An alleged letter from the Wikileaks supporters criticises the WBC for their bigotry, and threatens a ‘vicious retaliatory‘ attack on the Church, despite Anonymous’ usual support of freedom of speech. Whether the letter is genuine or a hoax is at this stage unclear, however in response, WBC’s latest press release urges Anonymous to ‘bring it‘, which is a dangerous invocation indeed.
Instead of focusing on this, I’d like to draw your attention to the folks over at God Loves Poetry.com who have been inspired to craft ‘blackout poems’ from WBC’s vitriolic fliers. Using the press releases published by the WBC, the poets erase the words they don’t want and what’s left is usually a thought-provoking message. The medium itself has been used before, and the project takes its inspiration from Austin Kleon’s ‘Newspaper Blackout‘, and it’s refreshing to see the focus of so much hatred turned into something else with a little creativity.
Kevin and Andres, the founders of God Loves Poetry, started the project last year with an aim to demonstrate that,
“everyone has the ability to manipulate negativity by using just a little bit of creativity. Art, humor and love are three of the most powerful tools used to combat hate.”
Potential contributors can choose from some of the pre-selected press releases on the website, or search for their own to transform into a poem for submission to the website. Here are some of my favourites: