Heavy metal protesters scare off homophobic church group with a little kid's musical instrument.

The Westboro Baptist Church are a family-based cult out of Kansas on a seemingly never-ending hate-speech tour. The family drives from town to town stopping at schools, state capitals, and events to scream vicious homophobic, anti-American, anti-semitic, and Islamophobic rhetoric.

Along the way, they fill their coffers through litigation by suing municipalities and counter-protesters who attempt to block their constitutional right to free speech.

[rebelmouse-image 19497644 dam="1" original_size="622x547" caption="via Elvert Barnes / Flickr" expand=1]via Elvert Barnes / Flickr


The cult scheduled a demonstration against Democratic Delegate Danica Roem on Monday, March 11, at the Virginia state Capitol in Richmond and soon realized they were messing with the wrong person.

Roem is the state’s first and only openly transgender lawmaker, the vocalist of a thrash-metal band, and friend of Randy Blythe, the frontman for Lamb of God, an uber-popular metal band.

[rebelmouse-image 19497645 dam="1" original_size="811x384" caption="via Ted Eytan / Flickr" expand=1]via Ted Eytan / Flickr

After hearing the Westboro Baptist Church was coming to his town, Blythe organized a counter-party to drown out the church’s hate speech. Blythe promised he’d bring along a hundred kazoos and $100 award for the best costume.

“We will play the ‘Benny Hill’ & ‘Sanford and Sons’ theme songs,” he wrote on Instagram. “We will drown them out with cheap buzzing plastic noise makers.”

View this post on Instagram

(Please re-post!) ATTENTION! PEOPLE OF RICHMOND! CALLING ALL FREAKS, WEIRDOS, MISFITS, & REGULAR PEOPLE OF GOOD CONSCIOUS! This coming Monday, March 11, 2019, the buffoons of the #WESTBOROBAPTISTCHURCH (AKA the “God Hates Fags” losers) are coming to our fair city of Richmond, VA. They will be at our state Capitol at 9 am, then over by VCU at 9:45, spreading their bizarre brand of hate mongering. Why? They are protesting my friend, a fairly elected member of the Virginia House of Delegates, Danica Roem- Danica is an award-winning journalist, a heavy metal musician & all-around #RIPPER (who happens to be a trans-woman.) These “Christians” are always picketing military funerals, Kansas City Chiefs football games, the funerals of people killed by natural disasters– their insane activities are too many to list. They even picketed at the funerals of #FredRogers & tried to find the funereal of #LeonardNimoy (but they failed- ha!) - WHO PROTESTS THE FUNERALS OF THOSE TWO GREATEST OF AMERICAN MISTERS, MISTER ROGERS & MISTER SPOCK?!?!? THEY PICKETED DIO’S FUNEREAL- oh, HELL NO. And these people are coming to MY TOWN?!?? They have left me no choice- in the name of all that is GOOD & JUST in this world, in the name of PUNK ROCK & HEAVY METAL, in the name of #MISTERROGERS & #MISTERSPOCK, IN THE NAME OF MY BELOVED FRIEND #DAVEBROCKIE (R.I.P.)... I COMMAND YOU TO JOIN ME FOR A COUNTER-PARTY!!! NOT a counter-PROTEST, because that would entail arguing with these idiots (which is USELESS), but a COUNTER-PARTY. I WILL BE BRINGING 100 KAZOOS- WE WILL HAVE A #KAZOO #CHAMPAGNEJAM. WE WILL PLAY THE “BENNY HILL” & “SANFORD & SONS” THEME SONGS. WE WILL DROWN THEM OUT WITH CHEAP BUZZING PLASTIC NOISE MAKERS. I will also be bringing a BRAND NEW 100 DOLLAR BILL as a CASH PRIZE for BEST COSTUME worn to the #COUNTERPARTY. A hundred kazoos AND a hundred dollar prize?!?? IT’S ALMOST TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. So Monday, MARCH 11, 2019, 9 AM, VIRGINIA STATE CAPITOL- PUT ON YOUR CORPSEPAINT, YOUR RAINBOW WIG, YOUR INFLATABLE SUMO WRESTLER COSTUME. FLY YOUR FREAK FLAG HIGH! LET’S PARTY!!!!!

A post shared by D. Randall Blythe (@drandallblythe) on

View this post on Instagram

Watch the FULL VIDEO here on my IGTV. Tomorrow, 9 AM, 1000 Bank St, Richmond VA. $200 cash prize for best costume! We will have at least 200 kazoos to give out & various other melodious party-enhancing devices. Get there by 8:45 AM at the latest! My friend @dargott (director of the “As the Palaces Burn” documentary) is sending out a small film crew to document this EPICNESS. Remember, not matter what kind of offensive things they say- DO NOT ARGUE OR ENGAGE IN ANY WAY with the buffoons of the #westborobaptistchurch- that’s what they want. We’ll just drown them out instead. What if they don’t show? I don’t cancel parties because unwanted jerks don’t show up- there will still be a #kazoo #champagnejam & CASH MONEY for best costume. See y’all there! #kazoo #counterparty #westborobaptistchurch #beatitkooks

A post shared by D. Randall Blythe (@drandallblythe) on

Hundreds of people showed up to the “counter-party” far outnumbering the six Westboro demonstrators.

“These people are coming out and speaking a bunch of ignorance about my friend,” Blythe told Virginia Mercury news. “I don’t like that. So we came out and just drowned them out. That’s the easiest way. There’s no point in engaging these people.”

The mob of metalheads formed drum circles, blew kazoos and chanted. The Westboro cult only lasted 30 about minutes until they shuffled away to their next demonstration.

While this outpouring of love seems to counter the angry metalhead stereotype, science has proven otherwise.

Parent groups and religious organizations often warn that the violent themes in heavy metal music are desensitizing to young people; however, researchers from Macquarie University's music lab found that that metalheads react to violent imagery the same way non-metalheads do.

“[Death metal] fans are nice people,” Bill Thompson, a professor at Macquarie University, told the BBC. “They’re not going to go out and hurt someone.”

Blythe’s "counter-party" sent a great message to the Westboro Baptist Church and any group that wishes to spread hate and intolerance: never go against the gods of metal.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

Keep Reading Show less
Pets

Ginger the dog reunited with family 5 years after being stolen

Ginger's family never gave up hope, and it payed off.

Ginger the dog was missing for five years before being reunited with her family.

A sweet pup is finally home with her family where she belongs after way too many years away.

Ginger the dog was stolen from her family back in 2017. Her owner, Barney Lattimore of Janesville, Wisconsin, never gave up the hope that his sweet girl was out there somewhere. Whenever he'd see a dog listed on a rescue website or humane society website that even remotely resembled his Ginger, he would inquire about the dog. Unfortunately, it was never her. You'd think that after a while he would stop, but if he had, he likely wouldn't have gotten the sweetest reunion.

Keep Reading Show less

Prior to baby formula, breastfeeding was the norm, but that doesn't mean it always worked.

As if the past handful of years weren't challenging enough, the U.S. is currently dealing with a baby formula crisis.

Due to a perfect storm of supply chain issues, product recalls, labor shortages and inflation, manufacturers are struggling to keep up with formula demand and retailers are rationing supplies. As a result, families that rely on formula are scrambling to ensure that their babies get the food they need.

Naturally, people are weighing in on the crisis, with some throwing out simplistic advice like, "Why don't you just do what people did before baby formula was invented and just breastfeed?"

That might seem logical, unless you understand how breastfeeding works and know a bit about infant mortality throughout human history.

Keep Reading Show less