Frog and Esther Jones

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Westboro Wannabes Picket Norwescon

So, I’m in my hotel room at Norwescon. I don’t have a dealer table, and my panel appearances are kinda limited, so I’m making the best of it by getting as much done on Black Powder Goddess as I can. I’m deep into revisionland when all of a sudden a load, distorted voice from a megaphone starts shouting at me to repent my sins.

Now, understand something; I am on the tenth floor of the hotel. So this megaphone is putting out some serious decibels, if not clarity. I step out onto my balcony, and see that there are people with massive signs bouncing them up and down in front of the con hotel as megaphone-preacher predicts a future of eternal fire for me.

I admit, my first thoughts were of irritation. After all, I’m just trying to get some work done, here. Now I’ve got to listen to this moron shouting at me while I try to fix this little bit of dialogue, or that paragraph structure.

But other people begin to emerge onto their own balconies as well, and now we’re looking at each other. Occasionally, someone shouts something rude back at the preacher. One dude starts up a chant of “Live in sin” over and over again. There are catcalls, people fly the horns, etc. But even that starts to die down in the face of what appears to be a never-ending barrage of scripture.

And I’m thinking to myself; what the hell good can they possibly imagine this is doing?

I mean, is anyone going to say “Whelp, I was going to hit up a room party, drink like Bacchus, and compare various forms of magic and demons to one another, but now that someone I don’t know has yelled Bible verses at me through a megaphone I think I’m going to church instead?” No. That is a phrase said by nobody, ever.

I start a thread on the Norwescon Facebook page about it, and suddenly I’m getting awash in comments. Some talk about the fact that it’s kinda late in the evening and they’re trying to get kids to sleep. After all, the party wing is as far from the tower in this hotel as one can get; he’s literally shouting at the tower of people who really didn’t feel like going out, getting wasted, and/or having an orgy. But he doesn’t care. He’s doing the Lord’s Work, and nothing so silly as logic or reason is going to do anything to stop that.

But I’m getting other comments, too. Comments like this one, from Amanda Hodges:

“That’s awesome! They only protest the good stuff these days. Grats!”

Or this, from Robyn Lynne:

“WooHOO! Norwescon has made the big time! :\”

And I’m beginning to agree with them. These people only protest things that I tend to agree with (with one notable exception). I disagree with these kinds of so-called Christians so radically that the simple act of being protested by them makes me truly believe I’m doing something right. If someone evil tries to stop you, chances are you’re doing good.

And as the protest goes on, I start getting more stories. Here’s one from John Redmond:

“Was a GREAT teachable moment for my 8-year old girl when my sexy Harley-Quinn-themed wife walked past them and they essentially called her a whore. I said, right in front of them, that he had judged Mommy by appearance, not knowing she’s a fanatical member of our Church’s choir and faithful to her husband. Said 8-year-old said, “Isn’t it a sin to judge people?” RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM. “Absolutely, my dear. Jesus loved everyone except hypocrites. Hypocrites are the WORST sinners. Now turn the other cheek, just walk away from them. They’re evil.”

We got an applause from a good handful of people we were walking with.”

So, to the Westboro wannabes who thought protesting us was a good idea: you fucked up. See, we’re nerds. We have a certain familiarity with the short end of the bully stick. Yelling at us does nothing worthwhile, because we’ve had a lifetime of being judged by others. And we come to these conventions because we’ve discovered that there’s an entire community of us here, supporting one another. For all the con drama that can take place, you come at us as a whole and we respond in kind. Not violently, but as a community. You absolutely failed to shame us, because we took your protest as validation that we are in the right. It’s not that your opinion is irrelevant to us; quite the opposite. It’s that, by your very actions, you have proven an inverse relationship between your goals and ours.

We want freedom; you want oppressive religion. We want diversity; you want the continued dominance of the white male. We want consent-based sexuality; you want sex to be an act of possession. We believe as we want to believe, and we respect that in others; you think any belief other than your own is invalid. And we dream about what the future could be, while you try feebly to cling to the past.

And since we know all that about you, we also know that every angry word that flies out of your obnoxiously loud megaphone only serves to confirm that we are in the right. That, by gathering here to celebrate these basic principles of nerdity, we have in some way affected the world. That ripples are going forth, reaching people–if they weren’t, after all, you wouldn’t care to protest it.

So thank you, Westboro wannabe morons. Thank you for proving, by your actions, the value that Norwescon (and all such fan-run conventions) have in this world. Thank you for proving that we can’t be bullied. You gave us all a teachable moment, and we learned something about ourselves.

And maybe think about what it was we learned before you drag your damned megaphone out to interrupt my work again.

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