Is when they don’t even bother showing up. Sure, protesting outside the funerals of fallen Marines and Safeway shooting victims is really annoying. As are demonstrations outside high school productions of The Laramie Project. But when it comes to small towns or big cities that are strapped for cash, the last thing the police force wants to do is expend resources to ensure the safety of a protest that never materializes. Like the folks in Fargo are about to do.
Fargo police suspect the Westboro Baptist Church, an anti-gay ministry based in Kansas, might not even follow through on a plan to protest a Feb. 20 play at Fargo South High School. The chances are likely lower than 25 percent, Lt. Joel Vettel said Thursday. But police are prepping for the protest regardless, with plans in place to have extra officers on duty Feb. 20, which is a Sunday. The amount of additional cops will depend on how much attention the event draws, Vettel said.
The whole charade is over a local high school’s Laramie Project production, of course. And the problem arises when Westboro announces it hate tour schedule on its website, freaking out local officials around the country (and exciting the student bodies, who love a good counter-protest) — often for nothing. Westboro has a tendency to cancel. Those liars. If you’re going to make a mockery of the First Amendment, at least have the decency to follow through. Otherwise we’ve got cops on overtime, schools on alert, and all this unnecessary over-preparedness for squat.