The Westboro Baptist Church, the Kansas based hate group that has gained media attention nationwide for its protests at military funerals, mainstream churches and Jewish groups, has announced plans to picket the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International.
The sold out four day event, held at the San Diego Convention Center, opens Thursday, July 22nd, and is expected to draw over 130,000 fans, making it the largest event of its type in the western hemisphere. Their contract with San Diego is set to expire in two years, and other cities have been aggressively vying to get future Comic-Cons moved to their locales.
Comic-Con is a San Diego tradition, dating back to 1970, when it was founded by Obecian Shel Dorf and other San Diegans. (For a perspective on the early days of Comic-Con go here. Shel Dorf died last year, see his obituary here.)
Originally showcasing comic books, science fiction/fantasy and film/television and related popular arts, the gathering has grown to include a much larger range of pop culture, including as horror, anime, manga, animation, toys, collectible card games, video games, webcomics, and fantasy novels.
Many of the participants in Comic-Con are involved in role-playing, also known as cosplay, creating elaborate costumes based on characters from science fiction, anime and other fantasy art forms. Signs giving directions in Klingon, an invented language that grew out of the Star Trek tv series, have been posted in nearby city transit stops in recognition of the popularity of role playing for attendees.
Thus we have the potential for bizarre confrontations between members of the Westboro congregation (whose members certainly qualify as freaks in the own right) and Comic-Con role players. Just imagine… Jesus freaks surrounded by vampires and X-man characters… the possibilities are just endless. (And if it’s any consolation for Comic-Con attendees, the protesters are well known for fleeing at the first sign of hostility, so you don’t need to fear them.)
The group intends to saunter over (about 1:15) to the San Diego Convention Center after picketing a speech by “adulterous Al Gore” at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.
Why would these people picket Comic-Con? Here’s the reasoning from the Westboro website (GodHatesFags.Com):
Are you kidding?! If these people would spend even some of the energy that they spend on these comic books, reading the Bible, well no high hopes here. They have turned comic book characters into idols, and worship them they do! The destruction of this nation is imminent – so start calling on Batman and Superman now, see if they can pull you from the mess that you have created with all your silly idolatry.