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I was glad to see your call for nonviolent engagement in response to the Westboro hate group ("Protesting the protestors").

I heard some in the media, and the larger community, express an ‘ignore them and they'll go away' sentiment. And, I understand the urge to withhold media and community attention from an organization devoted to disrespectful disruption of civil society.

However, the quote attributed to Edmund Burke that, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing," would seem to have been designed with these people in mind. Sadly, the evil of hatred doesn't just go away. Left to its own devices, it grows-sometimes to the point that it marches millions into gas chambers, or leaves good men dangling from hangman's nooses.

The media's job is to report newsworthy events. While the process of defining what is and what isn't newsworthy inevitably creates a filter, to not report on a newsworthy event simply because it is grotesque and distasteful, is an abrogation of responsibility. Just as it is an abrogation of civic responsibility for citizens to not respond to attacks on fellow community members.

If our response is both substantial and nonviolent, we may owe this Westboro hate group, a word of thanks-for providing us with a powerful opportunity to redefine the just response to those who would turn us against one another in hatred. Rather than a "protest against", it is an opportunity for an expression of "support for" the inherent worth and dignity of our fellow citizens regardless of their race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.

By adopting this approach, we make Westboro, itself, essentially irrelevant. The event becomes about us as a community. It becomes a great opportunity to let the world know that Savannah is the home of hospitality not hatred.

Vicki Weeks