Fred Phelps: Is It Okay to Express Joy When Other People Die?

Fred Phelps, the leader of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, died the other day at the age of 84. Phelps was near-universally despised. His church taught that when soldiers died in war, it was because god was angry at America for tolerating homosexuality. He believed that the best way to spread this message was to picket the funerals of dead soldiers with “God Hates Fags” signs. It’s not my purpose today to get into why this is repugnant (I assume the reader agrees with me on that), but to instead take Fred Phelps and use him as a case study to investigate the curious moral question of whether or not it’s okay to express the happiness we feel when repugnant people die.

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