Comic-Con 101: The Difference Between Protesters And Proselytizers

So I just got back from an excellent Comic Con, probably the best one yet.

But something’s bugging me.

Every year I go, I see the young Christian people standing on the corner with their personal PA systems and picket signs with biblical quotes and slogans like GOD IS LOVE. Every once in a while there’s an older guy with a bullhorn saying something stupid. This year there was a guy scolding the passersby for glorifying the serial killer character Dexter, whom he described as “a killer of little girls.”

use-your-force-harry_largeObviously he hasn’t ever seen an episode of DEXTER. My buddy Ryan made this observation as we were passing him on the way into the convention center, and yeah, that’s kind of a dumb thing to say. If nerds are anything, they’re sticklers for facts. If you want to stop up a geek’s ears quick, display a lack of knowledge about one of their beloved properties in the midst of criticizing it.

But that’s not really what I wanna touch upon today. That guy was the exception to most of the proselytizers I saw.

Most of them, as I said, were younger people with innocuous Bible quotes on their signs about love and redemption and the like, and whenever the trolley started to cross and they had a captive audience, they’d launch into a calm, measured, pre-memorized speech about God’s love and Jesus’ acceptance, etc.

Nobody really confronts them or engages them aside, and they don’t really address anyone in particular either. As a matter of fact, it’s like they’re not there.

Yet without fail, every single time I crossed the street, as soon as we were out of reach, I would hear some costumed crusader or video game character nearby begin railing against them, loudly cracking wise on their beliefs, or “cleverly” tying Jesus or God into some comic book or pop culture reference (“Didn’t anybody tell you? Zombies are out, dude!” one cut up shouted at a kid with a JESUS IS LIFE sign in passing).

There is a general misconception among con-goers that A) these Christians are representatives of the Westboro Baptist Church and that B) they are protesting the Con.

There are protesters there, yes (like the Dexter-hater I mentioned – though really, although uninformed, he probably is right about the dubious merit of idolizing/idealizing a serial killer), but they are very, very few in number. I only heard one this year.

god-hates-jedi-20100723-125344

Cool

The Westboro Baptist Church are never at Comic Con. The people there post 2010 have no affiliation with that organization/sect. I was at the con in 2010 during that big, much reported protest and while I do remember the huge and hilarious (GOD HATES JEDI declared a Starfleet officer’s sign) anti-protest, I don’t remember even seeing a WBC representative there. Maybe they were. Don’t know.

zod640

Uncool

I do know I started noticing the Christians with signs in subsequent years. But none of their signs read GOD HATES FAGS or the like. Uniformly they are inoffensive bible passages touting love and salvation, or simple affirmations of faith. It’s possible these people were at the Con before 2010 and I just don’t remember seeing them.

I’ve also noticed the clever counter-protesters out every year since 2010 as well, the signs changing to fit into the latest pop culture fad. KNEEL BEFORE ZOD was a new one this go round.

But the point of all this is, the Con goers are no longer counter protesting. They’re the protesters, and they are in force, and far outnumber the picketers. I’ve kind’ve been appalled at the vitriolic, decidedly un-Jedi stuff I’ve heard people say to and about these Christians.

Guys, they are not protesters condemning you for your spandex or love of She Hulk. They are proselytizers, or street preachers, just trying to spread the message of their faith. You don’t have to listen to them, just like you don’t have to take the ENDER’S GAME handbills the hot chicks in skimpy outfits push at you.  If you have a message you want to spread, why would you not place yourself at the busiest intersection on the busiest attendance day of the year, when thousands of strangers are passing by? The club owners are doing it. The webseries filmmakers are doing it.

Probably the best picket sign I've ever seen

Probably the best picket sign I’ve ever seen

What’s the problem? Why are so many swaggering geeks who can laughingly quote the most un-PC lines of Tarantino aloud word for word in ear shot of little children in Robin and Princess Bubblegum costumes so bent out of shape by the word Jesus?

The Westboro Baptist Church sucks, and the counter protest was awesome. But it’s over, folks. Lighten up. Don’t be douchebags to people with the passion to stand out on a corner in high temp and full sun for hours on end to spread the word of the motivating factor of their lives. It’s the same kind of passion that causes you to band together with your fellow fans to sweat under the nearly unbearable heat of a wookiee costume or full battle armor for hours on end.

So…a little common courtesy, fellow fanboys. A little respect. A little less passion and a little more compassion. Don’t be a bully.

Carry on, and may the Force be with you.

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