For those of you who haven’t heard this week, the hacktivist group Anonymous took out Westboro Baptist Church’s entire Internet system. All of their websites are down, and still are at the time of this posting. At the beginning of all of this, a letter was posted letting WBC know this was going to happen. After Westboro struck back, telling Anonymous to “bring it”, the hacktivist group denied sending it. Even though they find WBC’s views repulsive, they affirmed their free speech right to continue.
Then on February 24th, the David Pakman show arranged for a live confrontation between a member of Anonymous and Shirley Phelps-Roper. Since I couldn’t get the video to embed, there’s a transcript of the essential part below the fold, with a link to the YouTube video afterward.
From the beginning, the usual talk went on. Then after 8 minutes, Mr Pakman moderated Mrs. Phelps-Roper long enough for Anonymous’s rep to get a few choice words in. And that’s when the magic happened:
David Pakman: “I think I understand Shirley…let me go to…Anoymous is trying to say something. and I just want to moderate this. Anonymous, go ahead.”
Anonymous: “I was just going to say, in the time that Shirley was blabbing her religous preach, I actually did some business. And I think if you check downloads.westborobaptistchurch.com right now you’ll see a nice message from Anonymous.
David Pakman: “So, hang on. Downloads.westborobaptistchurch.com is it?”
Anonymous: “Yeah, we just put up a nice release while Shirley was preaching there.”
David Pakman: “Just while we were doing this interview?”
Anonymous: “Yeah. Well, we had enough. We responded maturely, we said we no, we don’t want a war, Shirley came on the radio, started her (laughs) well, thinks I’m going to hell, so we’ve given her something to look at.”
All this time, Shirley Phelps-Roper is sitting there with what looks like a smug grin on her face. Now she jumps in.
Shirley: “Oh, you mean, you think if you try to do something to us because we tell you…
Anonymous: jumping in “Something’s already been done! Check it!”
Shirley: back on track “Don’t you understand hon? I have to talk. That’s my job. It’s somebody else’s job to look at the websites. It’s not my job.”
David Pakman: So, hold on. I am getting a thumbs up from my producer that there has been a message posted that appears to be from Anonymous on downloads.westborobaptistchurch.com. Anonymous, are you taking responsibility for this?”
Anonymous: “Yep. We just did it right now. This very second. All these other sites have now become… (Shirley pipes in “That’s so special…”)
Shirley: So, are you saying you did take down the websites or you did NOT take down the websites?”
Anonymous: We did this just now. You told us we can’t do anything to harm your websites, we just did. I mean,…
Shirley: (starting to holler some) “What I told you is you cannot shut us UP!”
David Pakman: To Summarize here, we’re going to have to wrap up, I’ve heard from Anonymous initially that they did not issue the letter that was spread around the internet by the Westboro Baptist Church. They have denied responsibility for the denial of service attacks. But, during this interview, Anonymous has taken responsibility for a message that has been placed on downloads.westborobaptistchurch.com Shirley Phelps-Roper seems completely unmoved by it. But I think…is that a fair summary of where we are, Shirley?
Shirley: “Pretty much!” (big old grin.)
End of show. (YouTube clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSENf-HaWjY )
Here’s a link to the letter Anonymous left on WBC’s website. Click on the letter itself to make it big enough to read: http://bit.ly/fH11ao
Now, personally, I’m in LOVE with Anonymous over this. I know it took about 30 second out of their day, but it’s given me warm fuzzies that will probably last for years. 🙂 Even though WBC came to mainstream media’s attention for picketing the funerals of dead soldiers and “praising” God for disasters like 9/11, they’ve been dogging the LGBT community since the early 80’s. And during that time, most of the mainstream could have cared less. At first, the idea seemed to be that we “brought this on ourselves”. Then it sort of morphed into: “Well, it’s hateful and gross, and we feel some empathy that you have to go through that. But hey, it doesn’t affect the rest of us, so good luck with it! Keep your chin up and just tell yourself that they have a First Amendment right to do this.”
Yeah, they do, but it’s easy to go on about someone’s right to say stuff when you hardly ever have to hear it. And in my opinion, what WBC does is less speaking their minds and more stalking. If they did what they do as individual people, they’d most likely be arrested. Think about it for a second. They learn as much as they can about the movements of people, sometimes including their address. They write things about them, travel to where they are, and show what I think is a menacing presence. As far as I’m concerned, it’s stalking masked as freedom of religion. (h/t to the Almost Wife because this concept originated from her, not me.)
Since the hacking of WBC was all over Twitter and mainstream sites, I looked forward to seeing commentary from LGBT-centered blogs when I got up this morning. After all, the Phelps folks have been at our heels for years, making our lives miserable. Though, Shirley seems to be gaining a bit of a cult following amongst some gay men who find her style hilarious, bordering on camp/drag. 🙂 Then the Almost Wife broke it to me:
Nobody seemed to care. No one we normally read was covering it.
After she went off to work, I got into some sites and checked around. Unbelievable.
Box Turtle Bulletin: Nothing
Good As You: Nope
Rod 2.0: Nada
Pam’s House Blend: They had the interview up, but covered the angle of the child abuse that went on in the Phelps clan. I can respect that. Sometimes, in a big event getting spun, other important things get lost.
Then, it started to come up on other sites. GayAgenda, JoeMyGod, Queerty, and Towleroad all had coverage, and seemed as gleeful about it as I am. After thinking about it, I can only come up with one possible reason for the big miss: perhaps LGBT media’s “all marriage all the time” slant is starting to push other news off to the side.
Look, I know that the Anonymous/WBC shutdown is not news on the same level as a cure for cancer, free ice cream, or Barney Frank coming out for a fully inclusive ENDA and announcing that he’ll have no more of this false baiting anti-trans bathroom talk. Still, this kind of smackdown of a long-term thorn in our community’s behind certainly deserves more wide-spread celebration.
For God’s sake, the Advocate managed to pick it up.