Who are the worst Americans?

I had this thought last night when a conversation I was having touched on Joseph McCarthy. Surely he’s near the top of the list. Who else? Roy Cohn? Ronald Reagan? (Obviously this list will be different for people of different political stripes, but Reagan’s trading of arms for hostages seems to me to have had the potential to put uncountable American lives at risk.) George W. Bush is an obvious candidate for many people. Fred Phelps?

Obviously, I’m thinking mostly in political terms here; people like Michael Jackson and Paris Hilton belong on another list.

Fred Phelps is definitely a worthy candidate. It’s guys like him who the Joker from the movie, The Dark Knight, is based off of.

Take this excerpt from Wikipedia as an example:

Worst Americans? Meaning American people who are doing bad things to America the nation? Or shitty people who happen to be Americans?

Either way, Fred Phelps doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. If I had a nickel for every religious nutcase that chapped my hide, I’d be a fucking millionaire. His impact on the country is miniscule. His impact on mankind is nearly non-existent. He’s annoying, but less so than many other people. I hear very little about him except on these boards. Nah, he’s not even a blip on my radar.

Very few “worst people” act alone. I don’t know that I could award the title to a single person.

I’d say Nixon belongs on there somewhere.

IMHO, or are you putting those names out there as ones to debate?
Not that my opinion is all that humble. At least it’s accurate, though.

Michael Moore

Moderator:

I REQUEST THIS THREAD BE MOVED TO “In My Humble Opinion” please

I cast my vote for Thomas Midgley

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Midgley,_Jr.

inventor of CFCs and figured out the TEL additive to gasoline.

quote from wikipedia, “[he] had more impact on the atmosphere than any other single organism in Earth history.” It seems that if global warming caused by humans turns out to be true, then he sure helped doom our species real bad.

No, no, whether Michael Moore is better or worse for America than Joseph McCarthy is prime juicy GD material!

Um, I request you open your own thread in IMHO. Kthnxbye.

Fred Phelps isn’t anything like The Joker.

He’s an evil scumbag, but that’s a wildly inaccurate comparison. In any event, Phelps is far more famous on the SDMB than he is to the public at large. This board gives him more attention than most media outlets, which of course he loves. As nasty as he is, he’s not terriby important ansd would rank as a “worst American” behind all serial killers and a lot of politicians, white collar criminals, and the like.

He’s a walking talking–reproducing–hate crime. He affects more people than you think; you’ve obviously never lived in a world where the prevalent cultural message is that you’re a mistake, and better off dead.

Not that I’d rank him #1, which you seem to’ve misread the OP to be doing. But the majority of teen suicides are gay identified, so to the extent that Phelps contributes to the culture that drives that statistic, there’s your serial killer right there.

I’d venture to guess that peer ridicule has a helluva lot more to do with gay teen suicide than Fred Phelps ever did. He’s a putz, for sure, but he influences the behaviors of no one but his family, and then only because they’re afraid of him. The dude has no followers.

Nah…the kids that pick on the gay kids learn that shit from their parents and other “normal” people in their lives – not from Phelps.

Fred Phelps didn’t create that. He exploits it to make money (through lawsuits) but it was well established before he was alive. Shit, dude, you just saw “Milk.” Who’d heard of Fred Phelps in 1978?

Sorry, but I still rank him a million miles behind John Wayne Gacy and Dick Cheney. He doesn’t crack the bottom hundred for overall awfulness, even if he is one of the most psychotic.

Maybe I’m cranky because of the weather, so I apologize for my cranky tone, but the only response I can come with is “Please reread for comprehension. Thank you.”

ETA: Actually I withdraw the apology. Your cavalier dismissal of the effect of such contributors to the cultural landscape as Phelps is pretty much a dismissal of the life experience of me and millions of others like me. So I think the crank is justified.

Are we discounting mass murderers and serial killers?

Hate mongering Jesus hustlers like Dobson, Falwell, Roberston, et al should be on the list. Basicaly, the religious right in general. Also right wing radio hate screamers as a whole.

I’m not sure, but it seems to me that serial killers’ effects have a relatively narrow scope: their victims and their victims’ families, for the most part. They don’t actively work to limit the freedom of millions of Americans, for example, like some of the people you mention.

Yes, but the Joker (in his latest screen incarnation) is a nihilist trying to inspire nihilism in others. Phelps at least has definite values, twisted as they are.

In hindsight CFCs have been shown to have a severe negative impact on the atmosphere, however condemning him for something that he had no possible way of knowing at the time seems a bit much; CFCs like Freon were developed because the refrigerants prior to that time were poisonous. He was making a serious effort to save lives and people at the time believed he did.

Now, it’s my understanding that the dangers of lead were known back when Tretraethyl Lead was developed, so I guess you can reasonably condemn him for that. But the worst American?? Seems a bit excessive.

All of them - they’re tied.