When Fred Phelps announced that he and his Westboro Baptist Church were going to picket a staging of The Laramie Project he must have imagined that he and his congregation would fly to Bassingstoke, wave around some inflammatory signs, provoke international outrage and maybe get some fish and chips... good times, by his standard.
Instead, Phelps was denied the privilege of setting foot on British soil and helped make the play a rousing success, complete with a sold-out performance.
The Laramie Project is a play about the aftermath of the murder of Matthew Shepard, and was written with the aid of interviews with the residents of Laramie, Wyoming where Sheppard's grisly murder took place.
Considering that Shepard is the object of a particularly simmering hatred on behalf of the WBC and the Phelps clan, it was only natural that they would plan to protest at the performance.
"It is the first actual picket. We have been preaching by so many means to the UK for years," Shirley Phelps-Roper told the Telegraph. "The arm of the Lord our God is not shortened by oceans and things, all of which he created, and all of which he knew about when he considered these last hours of the very last days of all."
Phelps' plans were curtailed by Maria Miller, the Conservative MP for Bassingstoke, who contacted the British Home Secretary to prevent the WBC from getting onto the ground in Britain.
"The most important thing is that a production that is trying to promote tolerance goes ahead and that's what I'm focusing on achieving," she pronounced.
Even though Phelps and the WBC were denied the opportunity to press ahead with their vile protest, representatives of several British GLBT organizations showed up to wish the producers well and take in the performance.
The performance the WBC were planning to protest -- the closing performance -- sold out in the wake of Phelps' announcement.
Whatever Phelps intended to accomplish by protesting the performance, it's evident that he didn't want the play to succeed. Any number of would-be spectators Phelps could dissuade from attending the performance would have to be viewed as a victory for the WBC.
Instead, Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church became the engineers of their own defeat.
Fred Phelps really is his own worst enemy. Frankly, he and his hopelessly wretched reputaiton deserve one another.