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The Westboro Baptists Are Coming Again


They can't get enough of Penn, it seems! The Westboro Baptists, the protest group that fervently pickets against homosexuality and Jewish organizations (again, a shocker they love it so much around these parts), are coming to campus on Saturday, according to their website, GodHatesFags.com. What's irking them this time? They're protesting Annenberg's production of The Laramie Project, the critically acclaimed and well-known play that tells the story of the hate-crime murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay student. From November 11 - 13, the theater is putting on productions of The Laramie Project and an update on the play called The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later.

On December 7, 2009, the group protested outside Hillel, generating a pretty active response from the Penn community. Nearby fraternity ATO held a "Tolerance Barbecue" while Hillel hung a banner with logos from dozens of campus groups, in support of diversity. Although the Penn community took a stand against the group, organizers from Hillel and elsewhere stressed that engaging the protesters in debate could have deleterious effects, especially since the Church often sues counter protesters who attack Westboro Baptists.

Last year, in all the hullabaloo, we actually tracked down the Twitter page of a Westboro Baptist protester on the scene, who tweeted: "Madre just spoke w. a woman from UPenn paper; we’ll see how well Ivy League schools teach journalists to be unbiased. Not holding my breath!" Anyway, that happened.

Since this year's protest is on a Saturday, it's uncertain whether the turnout will be as large as last year's, but we can expect lots of animosity for sure.

[Photo: Alex Remnick, The DP]