So this happened:
Supposedly, the hacker group Anonymous, which has targeted The Church of Scientology in the past and most recently took on the sites of companies which distanced themselves from Julian Assange's Wikileaks, sent this notice to the infamously homophobic and anti-American Westboro Baptist Church. For the record, Westboro runs the site GodHatesFags.com (I refuse to link to these morons - seek them out on your own, if you must) and is infamous for protesting at funerals of U.S. soldiers, whom they say are dying because of America's tolerance of gay people. Ironically run by former civil rights attorney Fred Phelps and his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper, Westboro Baptist's message of hate and intolerance continues to make headlines wherever they go. They have been banned from entering Canada and the U.K., but their well-publicized protest schedule keeps them on the move throughout the U.S.
In response to the supposed threat, Westboro sent out their own press release, advising Anonymous to "Bring It." Since then, Anonymous has put out a real press release (via), denying the original letter and claiming that Westboro created the threat in order to lure hackers to attack their their site so that they might sue those hackers for impinging on their rights to Free Speech and creating press for a group of hate-mongers who have fallen out favor with even the most right-thinking religious and political advocates.
The whole thing reeks of nonsense to me. I have to ask, is anyone at Westboro really smart enough to come up with such an insidious plan? I'd have to say no, even though Fred and his daughter Shirley are both disbarred lawyers. Their hateful rhetoric is just that, and the more they protest, the more people respond by simply ignoring them. Yes, it's a genius plan - but no one at Westboro is an actual genius, even by the broadest of definitions. As for Anonymous, this is simply not how they operate. If they were going to take down Westboro, they would have done so and then taken credit for it. Announcing their intentions so publicly is simply not their style.
I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Someone who hates Westboro posted the announcement posing as Anonymous, and Westboro simply took the bait.
Still, I'm interested to see how the whole thing plays out. And no one would be happier to see Westboro taken down than me. Of course, in the interest of full disclosure, JTMF tried to entice Westboro into protesting our 2009 production of The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told by sending them fake emails decrying the God-less show in order to garner publicity for ourselves (shameless, I know). Sadly, their protest schedule was already full. Maybe if we start now, we can get them to protest our upcoming production of Die Mommie Die!
Today, radio host David Pakman interviewed Shirley Phelps-Roper about this very subject and she shone the light on her family's insanity as brightly as one could hope she would (via):
While I would never truly wish harm on anyone, I do hope the adult members of Westboro drink the Kool-Aid soon. The world will be a much a better place without them... Of course, if they believe that July 2012 is in fact the end of days, I hope they let their kids decide for themselves, as Squirelly - I mean, Shirley - insists they do...
A caveat - this post in no way is meant to disparage the Baptist sect of Christianity, but rather expose the evil-doings of a particularly insular group of people who claim to members of that sect. If you are a true Christian, then you know exactly what I mean. If you are an Atheist or a member of a sane religious organization, you also know what I mean.