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The Internet Politics

Anonymous Goes After 744

An anonymous reader writes "Anonymous is now recognised as a serious force to be taken seriously, but its activities aren't confined to mass global protests, as the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, is discovering, according to p2pnet. Says the Examiner, 'Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church is infamous for their "Love Crusades," obnoxious displays of insensitivity and homophobia at the funerals of fallen American soldiers. The controversial if monotone message of the "Love Crusade" seems to be to blame everything that is wrong in the world on homosexuality. The crusades are part of a hate-based mission started in Kansas by the WBC and Fred Phelps.' In an open letter on AnonNews, 'We, the collective super-consciousness known as ANONYMOUS – the Voice of Free Speech & the Advocate of the People – have long heard you issue your venomous statements of hatred, and we have witnessed your flagrant and absurd displays of inimitable bigotry and intolerant fanaticism,' says Anonymous, stating 'Should you ignore this warning, you will meet with the vicious retaliatory arm of ANONYMOUS.'"
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Anonymous Goes After

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  • by gcnaddict ( 841664 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:02PM (#35250064)
    I smell a conflict of interest.
  • by Bananatree3 ( 872975 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:06PM (#35250092)
    Tactically, Westboro is a bit better target than just saying "hey! let's DDOS!"

    Do I condone all their techniques? No. But it seems they've come to realize multi-billion dollar corporations are a bit too big to attack for them. Not that I pity Westboro at all (hypocritical demon warshipers)...
  • Seriously? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:06PM (#35250100)

    "Anonymous is now recognised as a serious force to be taken seriously..."

    C'mon, "a serious force to be taken seriously?" Who wrote that?

  • Ohhh the irony... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by j4ckknife ( 1222282 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:07PM (#35250108)
    Is there anything ironic about the self-appointed "voice of free speech" trying to bully an admittedly annoying and vocal cult into silence?
    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:18PM (#35250234) Journal

      Yes, it's extremely ironic. The fact of the matter is that most activists usually reveal themselves to be wannabe-autocrats. I can understand attacking PayPal or Visa websites over the Wikileaks thing, but trying to silence Phelps and his gang of attention whores demonstrates that, at the core, they have that unique activist capacity for not really getting the underlying point of freedoms.

      • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @09:22PM (#35250850) Journal

        I can understand attacking PayPal or Visa websites over the Wikileaks thing, but trying to silence Phelps and his gang of attention whores demonstrates that, at the core, they have that unique activist capacity for not really getting the underlying point of freedoms.

        The fundamental problem with what you're saying is that it presumes Anonymous should, could, would, or even wants to maintain a consistent ideology or set of morals.

        Anonymous is legion and so are its motivations and goals.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Or to put it simply, Anonymous really stands for nothing at all. It's a rebel with too many causes. It has about as much meaning or philosophical underpinning as a wet bag of shit.

          • by mevets ( 322601 )

            So consistency is the cornerstone of morality, philosophy and understanding? Tell me more of this little world you live in, and how I can join.

            The article summary has a very poor choice of words in describing these lunatics as "controversial". Controversy requires that there are at least two sides to the issue. A group of self obsessed media whores using outrageous tactics to direct attention to themselves isn't controversial. They just want the spotlight, but lack the talent, cleverness or beauty t

      • by Howitzer86 ( 964585 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @09:35PM (#35250956)

        What's so wrong about making an exception in this case?

        Idealistic human rights aside, if a small group is being grotesquely obnoxious to everyone else (to the point of making the grieving so sick that they barf between wails and tears) - and *everybody* else hates them and what they do - it would not be unreasonable for the vast civilized population to shut them up. It's not even mob rule, it's common sense. You can't yell fire in a theater, you can't threaten another human being, and you certainly can't sexually harass a woman. A lot of that has to do with how other people would respond to it. The panic, the fear, the awkward silence and anger... How is this any different? The list of reasonable exceptions to our great free speech rule is very large, and we're already used to having laws that limit it.

        So why not make it illegal to protest a funeral? Who will be disenfranchised by that? Oh boo hoo, some hill-billy backwards family of lawyers isn't going to be able to make the family of the diseased cry. How will they ever make money, once they are unable to sue people who react in extreme but totally understandable ways to their troll-like behavior? Poor Fred Phelps, now that his right to be obscene and grotesquely obnoxious is taken away, what ever will he do? Maybe the family will have to take up real jobs, I bet some clansman ax-murderer would love to have one of them to represent him.

        • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @11:24PM (#35251558) Journal

          If you try to do that, you'll end up getting it tossed out in the Supreme Court. There's no way that a blanket ban on protests at funerals would ever hold up.

          I'm afraid liberty requires that we sometimes put up with some genuinely vile people.

          • If "free speech zones" are legal, then it's legal to cage people into a fixed area who want to protest a given event. So why not simply "free speech zone" WBC somewhere "out of sight, out of mind" from the mourners. Either that lets the funeral go on in peace, in which case everyone wins, or they successfully fight the legal battle and find "free speech zones" unconstitutional in a sufficiently high court, in which case everyone wins. I'm having trouble seeing a downside to this plan...

        • by Caraig ( 186934 ) *

          Well, let me throw in a total hypothetical.... So, yeah, this is going to be batshit.

          Say that somehow in the US (or your Western nation of choice) there is a real asshole of a politico. As in, all but ate kittens on television. Doesn't matter what his party or politics were. Did the whole hypocritical politician thing with regards to his religion. Went to Christian church, accepted communion, had the blessings of his minister, yadda yadda. In short, total asshole hypocrite.

          Said politician dies. His c

        • You are suggesting that a law be passed to protect people from "awkward silence" telling everyone to shut up? Funerals themselves would have to be illegal, because what else are they but demonstrations?
    • by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:19PM (#35250252)
      Most people really only like free speech that does not offend them. They tend to claim some sort of right to not be offended or something like that, too.
      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        There will always be a dividing line to be found somewhere. I'm all for free speech, but do find protesting at a funeral to be over the line.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @10:00PM (#35251100) Homepage

        Most people see that even free speech needs to have some border towards slander, intimidation, harassment and other related topics. I may be far out there on the "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" scale but I wouldn't take any accusation, any threat or any treatment.

        Calling me once is not harassment. Calling me hundreds of times at all hours of the day, even after I've told you to stop is harassment even if you've used nothing but speech. Threatening to bust my kneecaps should obviously be a crime. Lying about me to my employer so I get fired likewise.

        The question is one of sensibilities as some could feel slandered, intimidated or harassed for practically nothing. I see the problem, but I can't really go to the other extreme that nobody should ever feel that way. And between the clearly legal and clearly illegal I do see shades of gray.

        • by epine ( 68316 )

          And between the clearly legal and clearly illegal I do see shades of gray.

          What people often fail to understand is that the shades of grey are usually small potatoes. You have to cut somewhere as a practical matter. The large potatoes are touchy quibbles over intent, but I tend not to think of these as shades of grey.

          Clearly illegal: I think everyone in group X should be exterminated.

          Free speech: I would be happier if group X didn't exist.

          Clearly illegal: I would also be happier if group X didn't exist [and I'm pleased to join your movement to bring this about].

          Sometimes you hav

    • Re:Ohhh the irony... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:25PM (#35250328) Homepage
      Absolutely there is some irony and there is an understanding of this expressed in Anonymous' letter, but it seems pretty thin (though long winded), and boils down to something like, "we are proponents of free speech, but we don't like the ideas you espouse or the way you express them, so we oppose _your_ speech."

      Anonymous should review the ACLU's defense of Nazis in the Skokie case: []

      For freedom of speech to work, unsavory speech must be protected. Indeed, it is bottling up unsavory speech, that makes it so dangerous.

      Anyway, this is Anonymous' reason not protecting speech:

      Being such aggressive proponents for the Freedom of Speech & Freedom of Information as we are, we have hitherto allowed you to continue preaching your benighted gospel of hatred and your theatrical exhibitions of, not only your fascist views, but your utter lack of Christ-like attributes. You have condemned the men and women who serve, fight, and perish in the armed forces of your nation; you have prayed for and celebrated the deaths of young children, who are without fault; you have stood outside the United States National Holocaust Museum, condemning the men, women, and children who, despite their innocence, were annihilated by a tyrannical embodiment of fascism and unsubstantiated repugnance. Rather than allowing the deceased some degree of peace and respect, you instead choose to torment, harass, and assault those who grieve.
      Your demonstrations and your unrelenting cascade of disparaging slurs, unfounded judgments, and prejudicial innuendos, which apparently apply to every individual numbered amongst the race of Man - except for yourselves - has frequently crossed the line which separates Freedom of Speech from deliberately utilizing the same tactics and methods of intimidation and mental & emotional abuse that have been previously exploited and employed by tyrants and dictators, fascists and terrorist organizations throughout history.

    • Re:Ohhh the irony... (Score:5, Informative)

      by TexVex ( 669445 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:35PM (#35250410)

      trying to bully an admittedly annoying and vocal cult into silence?

      Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose. What those people do is not just speech. They take deliberate offensive action targeted at specific people and do them harm. They are bullies, and Anon are bullies, and is bullying a bully ironic? I don't see how.

    • by clarkkent09 ( 1104833 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:37PM (#35250432)

      Not only are Anonymous tactics morally repulsive (you cannot advocate openness and free speech while staying hidden and engaging in selective censorship) but they don't work. This Westboro "church" is a tiny (just one family I believe) group of fringe fanatics that everybody laughs at. Rather than silencing them, Anonymous is just giving them free publicity they don't deserve.

      • by Caraig ( 186934 ) *

        Well, it's more complicated than that.

        Mind you, I don't think Anony will accomplish much with this other than deface their website, claim victory, and call it a day. Though I'm curious as to if they're thinking of doing more, there's just not that much you can do to the Phelps clan. They're not really a small family, though -- they're about 30 people, almost all of them related to Patriarch Fred by blood or by marriage. And they are all, apparently, lawyers. It's probably part of their home-schooling cu

    • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:46PM (#35250504) Homepage

      I dunno.

      Certainly the WBC has the right to say what they like. But that doesn't mean that anyone has to sit there and politely listen to them; counter protesters have just as much of a right to say what they like, and if the volume of the counter protesters drowns out the WBC, I'm not sure that I see the problem, or at least a problem to which there is a solution that protects both groups.

      If the counter protesters can convince the WBC to change their minds, or shame them into silence, or simply make it clear that WBC protests won't work, causing them to change their tactics, then the end result is that they're silenced, but so long as they were not forcibly compelled, is that bad?

      The usual online tactics of Anonymous seems to be DDOSing. This isn't a very hostile attack and it doesn't necessarily silence the target. It's not hard to see parallels between that and, say, protesters surrounding a building, or holding a sit-in. And WBC can always mount a similar attack right back.

      We'll have to see how this all shakes out, of course. But just because you support free speech, that doesn't mean you can't have an opinion, and can't aggressively exercise that freedom yourself.

      • "Change their minds"? "Make it clear that WBC protests won't work"? They're professional trolls, and if you're not offended by what they say, and you've got deep enough pockets to be worth a lawsuit, they'll come up with something that'll offend you too, so you can attack them and violate their civil rights and lose in court. They're not trying to convert you, they're trying to piss you off. They don't actually care how you feel about gays, God, or America's Brave Troops - those are merely popular enou

        • Well, I am something of an optimist. And in any case, the alternatives are what?

          Having the state censor them would violate their civil liberties, and as much as we may all despise WBC, their rights should be protected. (Plus it's nice when hateful people out themselves; saves a lot of trouble exposing them)

          Ignoring them would be okay, to the point where they're basically outcasts from society and commerce. But they could probably get a rise out of some people, sometimes; in the absence of opposition, some p

    • What this coward says seem to make sense. But can be easily shown its cowardly nature by changing the names a bit.

      Is there anything ironic about the self-appointed "guardians of freedom" trying to bully slavers out of existence? No, there absolutely IS NOT.

      Only people that prefer for nothing ever to be done about anything because they are scared shitless of ever having to take a stand try to find silly excuses like this.

  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['kis' in gap]> on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:13PM (#35250164)

    The Westboro Baptist Church fills an odd role where they're so extreme and, possibly more problematically, rude, that they have very little support. Will damaging them in some way actually change anything? Even people way on the right already dissociate themselves from them, and they have basically no actual influence on anything.

    It's sort of the same with Actual Nazis imo. I'm worried about a certain kind of intolerant right-wing strain in the U.S., but I think Westboro types and swastika-flag-waving types are mostly distractions and not where the real problems lie; the right-wingers who aren't actively shooting themselves in the foot like those two groups do are bigger problems.

    It'd go the other way too. Say you were a conservative worried about leftism in the U.S. You could attack the Communist Party USA, but would that be a good use of your time? They're a sideshow.

  • by Kaboom13 ( 235759 ) <> on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:15PM (#35250190)

    WestBoro Baptist Church is just a media whore stirring up trouble to provoke a reaction. Whoever claims to speak for anonymous is the same. "anonymous" is just a group of people, in the loosest sense of the term, with no leadership or agenda. You can not declare a warning from something you have no control over. As the wikileaks DDOS attacks have shown us, most of them barely even qualify as script kiddies, and are ridiculously easy to catch. There are some that know enough to do SQL injection attacks, or brute force passwords (or use the built in password reset) but super hackers they are not. The mainstream media is laughable in how clueless they are about it. They can't seem to understand that the internet makes it possible to have a group with common goals who is coordinated through group-think instead of a firm leadership. There is no monolithic entity, no membership, no initiation ritual or brotherhood. It's a loose group whose actions are dictated by a herd mentality.

    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:24PM (#35250300) Journal

      So what you're saying is they're two whores fighting over the same street corner.

    • "As the wikileaks DDOS attacks have shown us, most of them barely even qualify as script kiddies, and are ridiculously easy to catch..."

      The problem with this statement is that it is already outdated--Anonymous has changed significantly since those attacks. Their methods are more refined, the tone of their announcements have changed in subtle ways. I think some fence-sitters saw what they were trying to do, were sympathetic and joined them. The efforts of Anonymous in regards to Wikileaks are front page news

  • by Rivalz ( 1431453 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:15PM (#35250192)

    Not that I really care one way or the other, but shouldn't people who are "The Voice of Free Speech" not really make threats upon other groups use of free speech?
    I didn't take the time to look into any of their claims against whoever they are accusing of whatever today.

  • WE ARE ANONYMOUS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dhalka226 ( 559740 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:18PM (#35250232)


    Only twats as self-important as they obviously are could write this sort of thing and not even realize what they're saying. Or perhaps they do realize and just think that they're so great that their hypocrisy doesn't matter. I believe we've seen this sort of thing in history before. It starts with a religion and ends with lots of dead people. But hey, maybe this time it will be awesome.

  • by Capt.DrumkenBum ( 1173011 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:19PM (#35250242)
    Wow! Just wow! Anyone with enough homophobia to register a domain like that, and put up that website. Really needs to be taken to a bath house, and left there for a couple of days.
  • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:24PM (#35250296)

    The Westboro Baptist Church lives off suing people for infringing on their right to free speech, assembly, etc. If the IRC and 4chan douche bags attack them, then WBC isn't going to have anyone to sue, but will try and waste capital in their attempt.

    And yes, they have computers, website, businesses associated with them, so there is crap for anonymous to attack.

  • by GeneralEmergency ( 240687 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:24PM (#35250308) Journal

    ...and I cherish the First Amendment above all the others.... ...but just this once....I'm gonna be spending all my time looking in another direction.

    And -Damn you to Hell- Fred Phelps, and your inbred collection of Olympic class haters, for pushing me to this hypocrisy.

  • Streisand effect (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:29PM (#35250358) Homepage

    Pardon me for saying so, but why in hell would Anonymous give PR to this weird little cult? Apart from being grossly disgusting they seem fairly few and harmless and their sole power is the outraged press they garner.

    They're the kind of religious nuts you can't reason with because they see everything as proof they are right. Hell, isn't this the same creeps that wanted to show up in the funeral of that 9yo girl that got shot? I think these people are going for martyrdom and hoping someone will open fire on them. I'd be tempted.

  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:30PM (#35250366) Homepage Journal

    Phelps and his gang of Christianist assholes are in the business of provoking angry responses to their hellish displays that Phelps' gang will claim in court violated their rights or damaged them. To blackmail their targets, usually municipalities with the ability to pay, into settling the lawsuit and paying off Phelps rather than pay the extensive legal fees and possibly damages. That's why Phelps' gang is pumped full of lawyers trained at "Liberty" "University", the Christian crusade madrassa.

    In this fight, it's Anonymous that's on the side of the angels.

    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:36PM (#35250424) Journal

      The Phelps Gang tests the extreme end of free speech. I despise them with all my being, but if it came to push and shove and I had to either choose whether Phelps and his gang of vile hatemongers or Anonymous lived or died, I'm afraid I'd stand on the side of Phelps. Anonymous is attacking Phelps' right to freely express his views, no matter how noxious. Anonymous is wrong on this one, and should be ashamed of themselves, if they weren't, of course, a bunch of halfwitted scriptkiddies with as much of a hard-on for getting attention from the press as Phelps and Co.

      • by Prien715 ( 251944 ) <> on Friday February 18, 2011 @09:41PM (#35250978) Journal

        I have no problem with creating a website devoted to hate. What I do have a problem with are their funeral protests.

        If someone gives their life in service of the country, the least the country can do is give them a dignified funeral. We already have limits on Free Speech (screaming "fire" in a theater) and I'm not quite so sure adding an additional restriction would lead to repression. I am however, equally happy, that the counter-protesters always outnumber their filth.

      • We got enough bullets, there is room for one more at the well. No cigarettes though, you guys hate fags.

      • The Phelps Gang tests the extreme end of free speech.

        To some extent, many believe they're already passed it however. Their funeral protests, which are (quite deliberately) done in a manner to provoke violent responses (so they can sue) are essentially an incitement to riot in order to personally profit. I don't consider this free speech, and neither does the law. Inciting a riot is a crime. No one's stood up to them enough to get this kind of verdict so far however, so they continue to do it.

        There's a big difference in saying what you think, however hatef

  • by Skidborg ( 1585365 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:37PM (#35250428)
    You know, I hadn't even heard about that website until Anonymous vowed to take it down.
  • by goodmanj ( 234846 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @09:25PM (#35250872)

    Way to go, ANONYMOUS, way to pick the tough battle, to go against the grain and stand up against the weight of public opinion.

    Almost everyone hates the Westboro Baptist Church. It's easy, and also cowardly, to attack people whose beliefs are repugnant to the majority. But it takes true bravery to stand by and respect their right to say repugnant things.

    • No it doesn't. It only takes the cowards way out. "Oh I believe in free speech as some kind of right to say absolutely anything anywhere to anyone so I never have to take a stand for what I believe in because it might upset someone so I can sit safely at home feeling good at myself while filth roams the street".

      Bravery is fighting for what you believe, not rolling over on your back for everyone with some hate speech.

  • by retchdog ( 1319261 ) on Friday February 18, 2011 @11:48PM (#35251694) Journal

    i look forward to his proclaiming "4chan: land of the sodomite damned!" it may be the first time his judgment is received enthusiastically.

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