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Should "Anonymous" Hack the Westboro Baptist Church?

— Filed under: Breaking News, People & Culture, Science & Technology
Anonymous with Guy Fawkes masks at Scientology...

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"Anonymous Hates WBC"

The Westboro Baptist Church is best-known for picketing military funerals and gay pride gatherings with "God Hates Fags" and other slogans deemed offensive and shocking by most who see them. They're led by the incendiary Fred Phelps, who burned a Koran last September. WBC and Phelps always seem to be looking for new ways to push the envelope when it comes to hate.

While their actions might be protected as free speech, that's not going to stop "Anonymous", a hacker group with a simple name but an already-impressive list of accomplishments. Anonymous is best-known for shutting down Mubarak government websites earlier this month, and bringing down the websites of Visa and Mastercard last year, in defense of Wikileaks. More recently, Anonymous absolutely destroyed security firm HBGary and delivered a scathing come-uppance letter on the firm's hacked front page.

Now Anonymous has written an open letter to the congregation and supporters of the Westboro Baptist Church, calling them "an assembly of graceless sociopaths and maniacal chauvinists & religious zealots."

The letter goes on to warn:

"Cease & desist your protest campaign in the year 2011, return to your homes in Kansas, & close your public Web sites.

Should you ignore this warning, you will meet with the vicious retaliatory arm of ANONYMOUS: We will target your public Websites, and the propaganda & detestable doctrine that you promote will be eradicated; the damage incurred will be irreversible, and neither your institution nor your congregation will ever be able to fully recover."

As outlined above, Anonymous has both the ability and experience needed to deliver on these threats. The letter concludes with their standard signature:

WE ARE ANONYMOUS. WE ARE LEGION. WE DO NOT FORGIVE. WE DO NOT FORGET. EXPECT US.

wbc
In the crosshairs?

Before everyone raises a glass to cheer on this new breed of renegade "hacktivists", consider what the implications are for the future of free speech. In this arena, the arm of the law is not long, and Anonymous is essentially unstoppable, at least for the time being. Where does such a group draw the line? What if their next target is something or someone which you don't find so offensive?

Anonymous essentially has the power to fully circumvent the First Amendment, and in the process, they are rewriting the rules on how we react to speech we don't like. With new tools like the Low-Orbit Ion Cannon becoming more widely available to the average computer user, the future of protest is changing in front of our eyes.

Or should we take heart that citizens are rising up to challenge the old paradigm and the hate-mongers who misuse it? Should we accept that times are changing, and that certain kinds of speech should not be allowed? Certainly the sentiments expressed publicly by WBC are unwelcome by the vast majority of the population. The government's hands are tied when it comes to restricting hate speech — is it time for us to take matters into our own hands?

Anonymous's picture

Re: Should "Anonymous" Hack the Westboro Baptist Church?

Someone else has already put it better than I could on another site:

"Anonymous isn't doing this. It's not the will of the whole. WBC are just a bunch of trolls and you're all a bunch of morons for taking them seriously and giving them attention. The general mass of Anon likes offensive humor and wouldn't bother with something like this (see ED for reference). The hacktivist contingent has better things to do. It seems to me that one lone individual has contacted the media and duped them into thinking this is going to happen. It's not. They aren't a threat to anybody, they're not trying to censor the Internet, and attacking them would be hypocritical. There's also no lulz to be had in this, just trolls getting trolled hard. You're all a bunch of complete morons for cheering on things like this but condemning Anon for things that are actually worthwhile."

newk's picture

you say Anon isn't trying to

you say Anon isn't trying to censor the internet and attacking WBC would be hypocritical, but they disrupt websites for refusing to assist wikileaks and the guy that provided all that information or do the same thing and make threats to another company because some guy claims he knows and might expose the identity of Anon leadership? Pretty much sounds like censorship to me.

Not Anonymous's picture

Motives

I'd read a little deeper into that. Anonymous has been very transparent and outspoken as to their motives in that issue. You can agree or disagree with their perspective but there's nothing inconsistent in their attempt to stop those that are trying to censor Wikileaks.

newk's picture

How does Visa and Mastercard

How does Visa and Mastercard blocking donations to wikileaks and its founder equate to censoring the website? This is a serious question since I can't see it.

Would also like to hear an explanation to how its not censorship when they essentially shutdown the website from HBGary when that got said he knew the real identities of the ANON leadership. or even that matter shutting down WBC website cause they said some not so kind things about ANON?

Jenkins's picture

they are trying to stop

they are trying to stop people from using their OWN money to support a cause that THEY believe in. it's an attempt to restrict freedom. it may or may not be censorship, but its a corporation trying to tell people what they can/cant do with their money.

Anonymous's picture

In the information age money

In the information age money equates to voice. Cutting off funding from Wikileaks hinders their ability to distribute information, effectively gagging them.

As to HBGary or WBC, Antonymous isn't in charge of protecting the speech of those that attack them. Nor would it be reasonable to expect them to.

Anonymous's picture

LULZ killer

I consider them a terrorist group openly living within the United States. They aren't censoring the internet but they are tearing families apart. Much like the Scilons, WBC members will disown relatives that do not join the church. Groups like this are built on censorship. Their members minds are polluted with so much bullshit they can't see the world around them. I guess I wasn't at the meeting when we decided what we will or wont do. Im sure the 4Chan fagz dont want any part of this and thats great. Trollz can keep themselves trolling by posting pics all day long. I know first hand that many anons are on board

Anonymous's picture

Lulz Killer is a regular member of 4chan

Just so you know ;)

Anonymous's picture

I almost think WBC posted the

I almost think WBC posted the threat against themselves for the media attention. It's an open forum and the perfect way to start a publicity stunt. I could be wrong, but it just seems like the type of thing they would do for attention.. I mean I think I went two whole weeks without hearing about them in the news, they must be getting desperate.

Not Anonymous's picture

Conspiracy abounds

Yes they should hack WBC, they could use the good publicity and they are uniquely suited to teach the God Hates crowd a lesson but that's not what Anonymous is about. Anonymous has never done what is expected of them nor have they ever stood against the use of free speech for any reason. However I don't think anyone has put a shot across their bow like this before either. There's been no loss of love between the two factions but it's been a civil opposition before. Whether or not WBC released the original press release they did shout BRING IT. I think Anonymous now has to respond to prevent others from throwing gauntlets whenever it pleases them.

V's picture

When/where exactly did WBC

When/where exactly did WBC shout BRING IT? Or were you being rhetorical?

Anonymous's picture

This article was pressed

This article was pressed before the reply came by WBC put out an open letter in response to the supposed letter from anonymous, it was a header followed by the words "Bring it!" all caps, large font. However, even if the open letter is a hoax Westboro has been taunting Anonymous in interviews and across protest lines for a long time.

Anonymous's picture

Bring it pretty please.

Also I hadn't spotted it before but I guess Megan Phelps also told them to bring it on Twitter. It appears that WBC is very concerned that they not forget -it- if they are coming over. Perhaps if Westboro had it in the first place they wouldn't have to pick fights with Hackers to get it.

DaveR's picture

The right hand doesn't know what the left is doing

On the same site mentioned, there is a new post saying that the original threat was a hoax started by WBC to gain publicity, and everyone seems to believe that. But I don't see why WBC would bash themselves so hard in their own hoax.

By definition, no one knows who is (or isn't) a member of Anonymous. Heck, I could be a member. I think the original threat was created by one faction of Anonymous, and now another faction is (erroneously) claiming it was a hoax.

The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing......

Anonymous's picture

THEY'VE JUST BEEN

THEY'VE JUST BEEN HACKED!!!!!!!!!!!!! http://downloads.westborobaptistchurch.com/ IS HACKED

V's picture

HOLY COW! (turn off your caps

HOLY COW! (turn off your caps lock)

That site has been taken down.  Here's a cache of the latest letter posted by Anonymous after hacking their site: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://downloads.westborobaptistchurch.com/

WBC spokesbitch says they're giving the info the FBI, but i don't think Anonymous is stupid enough to leave a trail: http://cjonline.com/news/2011-02-24/hacktivists-attack-westboro-baptist-sites

Muho's picture

well it looks like they were

well it looks like they were hacked after all, by anonymous who knows but it will teach them a lesson hopefully. supreme court voted to allow them their pickets but that shouldn't stop the hacktivisits.

Hewy's picture

What a bunch of sad nerdy bastards!

Like I said. What a sad bunch of nerdy bastards! Anonymous you are in every respect if you haven't got the fucking balls to be true to yourself and true to others and have to hide your identity. You are not a superhero. You are a super zero! Grow up and man up. That includes the number of protagonists who choose anonymity on this and any other forum.

It's the ultimate playground fantasy to do naughty things and remain un-noticed! You little scamps!

HAVE THE BALLS TO LIVE AND DIE BY YOUR SWORD!

Pathetic.

mercedesbenz's picture

Usually I don't read article

Usually I don't read article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do it! Your writing style has been amazed meThanks, very nice article.
 

Anonymous's picture

westboro fanatics

I hope someone is capable of stomping some idiocy out of this

so called church...