I don't know if there is anything to be said or
written now about Memphis' much-loved Isaac Hayes that
hasn't already been said in the week since his passing, but I feel obligated
to try. And what I want to do is thank the members of Topeka's Westboro Baptist "Church" from
Topeka, Kansas, for standing out on Walnut Grove Road waving "God Hates Isaac Hayes" signs Monday, just a few blocks from Hope Presbyterian Church, where Isaac's memorial service was held. Yes, I want to thank them. But don't throw this paper down in disgust until you read further. As many of you probably know, the "people" from Westboro have a long and controversial history of protesting in this manner at various events. They are especially known for doing this at the funerals of fallen U.S. soldiers, their "reason" being that the United States government is too lenient about homosexuality. But regarding Isaac, their protest was — according to their godhatesfags.com official website — because Isaac misused his musical talent for promoting sexual promiscuity instead of praising the word of God. The reason I want to thank them is that they are great teachers, despite the fact they don't have a clue that they are and the fact that they don't really even know how to garner publicity for themselves (unless they are garnering it here, and if so, I apologize). They are great teachers because they inform the world around them that hate, bigotry, and intolerance are the traits of the absolutely most asinine members of the lunatic fringe. Think about it for a moment or two. Say someone with an I.Q. higher than a tube of Chap Stick has one little inkling of bigotry in his or her being and just happens to witness this "God hates ..." protest. After seeing this and recoiling in horror at the stupidity of it, I would hope that the person then begins to do a little self-examination to see if he has anything at all in common with those idiots. If so, I would hope that he realizes that having any atom in his body that resembles these people is a major, major problem that needs to be addressed. I'm thinking especially of the people who claim to be non-racist and tolerant and liberal and forward-thinking, but who also have the slightest little part of themselves that thinks black people are just a bit less deserving of good things than they are; that gays are just a tiny bit less deserving of equal rights than the rest of society; that Muslims are all terrorists at heart and are therefore dangerous; that poor people are poor because they are lazy; that drug addicts are drug addicts because they are weak human beings with no morals; that homeless people are homeless because they just don't want to work. Think about it again for a moment. And think about it hard and try to be as honest with yourself as you can possibly be. If you find that you do have some little part of yourself that feels that way and you aren't doing anything to try to change it, you might take a closer look at the Westboro folks carrying signs that read "God Hates Fags" and "God Hates Isaac Hayes." I know I'm on a soapbox, and I apologize if I am boring you. So back to Isaac Hayes and not being able to write or say anything else about him that hasn't already been said or written, I just want to convey this little story: Some months back, in the winter, Isaac was at the Stax Museum (where I work) for a magazine photo shoot and we were on a tight deadline because the photographer wanted to get the shot at just the right time. We have two schools adjacent to the museum: the Stax Music Academy and the Soulsville Charter School. I had instructed the schools to tell the kids not to rush over and surround Isaac and ask for autographs as they usually did, because our schedule was so tight. So all the kids hung back and pretended not to pay attention to him. Isaac kept looking over at them and then looking back at me and it finally hit me: He was a little upset. I told him, "Isaac, the reason the kids are not running over here to see you is because I asked them not to because of the timing of the shoot." He chuckled with that deep voice and sighed in relief and said, "Man, I'm glad you told me that. I was worried!" That was Isaac. He never talked about his fame, his accomplishments, or anything like that. He just wanted to be nice to the kids. He loved them and they loved him. And that is an Isaac for whom I really doubt God or anyone else has anything close to a feeling of hate.