Lampanelli: Turning the Tables on the Westboro Baptist Church

Author: Mike Rickman
Published: June 07, 2011 at 6:46 am

There are a couple of great lessons to draw from Lisa Lampanelli's recent donation of $50,000 to the nation's oldest HIV/AIDS prevention charity, Gay Men's Health Crisis.

First of all, there is the "book-cover" lesson. Lampanelli is a very outspoken, loud-mouth comedian, often referred to as The Queen of Mean. Building a reputation with her outrageous stand-up she eventually became a staple of celebrity roasts, taking shots at William Shatner, David Hasselhoff, Donald Trump and many more. Her comedian persona is one that rubs many people the wrong way, but with her recent donation she turned her aggressive nature on a very negative force resulting in a very positive outcome.

Which brings us to lesson number two, which I call the "comic book tactic". Invariably the bad guy appears to be bigger and stronger than the hero, yet the hero always knows how to use the big bad's size against them. Instead of just railing against the closed-ear ignorance of the Westboro Baptist Church, Lampanelli turned it against them. For every protester that came out to her show in Topeka, Kansas she vowed to donate $1,000, therefore the bigger the protest the bigger the donation towards what they were protesting against.

Lisa tells TMZ, "It's gonna be hilarious to write out the checks to the GMHC and have them send thank you notes to the WBC for their 'generous contributions.'"


There are some other recent examples of addressing the closed-minded agenda of the Westboro Baptist Church (which includes protesting funerals) in an intelligent and creative way.

One subtle and peaceful method of counter-protest is to join into the fray with signs highlighting the ridiculousness of the protest.

Another great example came a few months back when Kevin Smith took his new movie Red State out on the road for screenings across the country. The protagonists of the movie are loosely based on the Phelps family and so drew their attention. Rather than battle the protests or attempt to debate their message Smith turned the other cheek and actually invited them into the screening. The movie had barely begun before the group left the theatre, but Smith was able to make a strong statement through the counter-balance of his openness. In a surprise twist a few Phelps family members who have fled the church participated in the Q&A at the end of the film, which was a great platform for providing some insight into the world of the Westboro Baptist Church (some video and details at the A.V. Club).

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Article Author: Mike Rickman

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