A popular band met hateful extremism with generosity recently after a gaggle of perma-protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church showed up at its concert in Kansas City, Miss., wielding posters that read "Repent or Perish" and "God H8s Fag Marriage."
Electro pop-rock band Panic! at the Disco found out about the impending protest beforehand and tweeted this ingenious response to its own 666,000 Twitter followers.
When only 13 picketers showed up, Panic decided to up the ante. Instead of donating what it promised—which would have been $260—the band decided to donate an even $1,000 to the Human Rights Campaign, a group that advocates for LGBT marriage rights. Later that evening, the donation ballooned to also include 5 percent of merchandise proceeds from the show.
“By taking a stand against [Westboro Baptist Church], Panic! at the Disco has sent a powerful message to the millions of young fans across the world about the power of love and acceptance,” the advocacy group’s blog said.
Though their in-the-flesh protest against alleged sins of the flesh failed, the church has continued to use social media to attack Panic! at the Disco and specifically, frontman Brendon Urie. Urie is married to a woman but has spoken before about his previous bisexual experiences. The church tweeted this parody graphic of him with the words Repent! Or Perish.
For their part, the Westboro protesters appear to feel they’re the persecuted ones, and they posted a video of a car driving near their group of protesters before the show (there were no injuries) accompanied by this quip: Ya know when @PanicAtTheDisco’s giant line of fans looked the happiest? When this happened.
Panic’s decision to donate money to the Human Rights Campaign was spontaneous; the equal rights advocacy group says they had no idea it was going to happen.
“We heard about it probably when everybody else did,” said Charles Joughin, national press secretary for HRC.
When Westboro announced plans to protest the Panic concert, the band responded quickly by showing their support for the LGBT community, said Joughin. Although HRC is the largest LGBT civil rights group in the country, with more than 1.5 million members, Panic’s swift and creative reaction was something not often seen.
“We certainly have wonderful relationships with a number of celebrities and musicians, but this is pretty rare,” said Joughin. “It’s not often that you see bands or musicians taking what could be kind of a negative... and putting such a positive spin [on it]. And then taking it even a step further and, more or less, putting their money where their mouth is.”
But what would be worth changing is what comes out of the mouths of the Westboro Baptist Church’s hatemongering protesters. They have a long history of searing racism, homophobia, and a pervasive, near total hatred for everyone who’s not Aryan and heterosexual (and even some that are). Judging by their Twitter account, perhaps the only demographic they despise more than gay people are Jewish people.
The attack on Panic! at the Disco began last week, when the Church released a song parodying the band’s song “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.” The hateful version denounces gay marriage, with an abundance of the other F-word and a smattering of how gay people are going against the word of God.
Panic’s original song is also about a wedding but revolves around a bride on her wedding day being accused of being a “whore.” Their gothic video includes pews full of eccentric bordering on freakish-looking characters, from magicians and circus performers, to men in face paint, and women wearing bustiers and tulle.
Panic is not the first pop artist the group has attacked; they went after young singer Lorde earlier this year by protesting outside her Kansas City show and claiming the teenager has been wasting her time teaching other young people to be “indolent rebels.” The church tangled with Lady Gaga back in 2010, parodying her song “Telephone” with a song called “Ever Burn” that calls Gaga “devil spawn” and a chorus that says, "Stop praying, stop praying, God will not hear you anymore/You taught the boys and the girls to be proud whores."
But Westboro followers are not just obsessed with pop stars; they will latch on to any major tragedy if it lands them in the headlines. Earlier this month, they went as far as celebrating the tragic crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in which 298 people were killed when the plane was shot down over Ukraine. Westboro tweeted that this disaster was a punishment for sin and was part of “God’s curse on rebels”—referring to the multitudes of AIDS scientists on board. They even went so far as to produce a video claiming that those who died in the crash were now in hell.
Next up on their attack list? Justin Timberlake. The performer is coming to Kansas City at the end of the month, and Westboro is already recruiting Twitter followers to help them protest his show.
But it turns out all this hatred and negativity is breeding a counter force of good deeds. The Human Rights Campaign has announced they’re raising funds to match Panic! at the Disco’s donation and is encouraging other LGBT supporters to contribute. For those who do, HRC will add your name to a thank-you card for the band. HRC has also announced they’ll be collaborating with Panic! at the Disco more in the future, including a possible merchandise partnership “in support of the fight for LGBT equality nationwide.”
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Original article from TakePart