Vigilante “hacktivist” group Anonymous has a new target: Westboro Baptist Church. In an open letter to the notorious Kansas-based church, Anonymous promises “vicious” retaliation against the organization if they do not “cease & desist” their protest activities.
“We will target your public Websites, and the propaganda & detestable doctrine that you promote will be eradicated,” says the letter, “the damage incurred will be irreversible, and neither your institution nor your congregation will ever be able to fully recover.”
Led by pastor Fred Phelps, Westboro Baptist has become infamous for picketing the funerals of US soldiers — events know as “Love Crusades” — and for their display of signs bearing inflammatory messages, like “God hates fags.” The church has long argued that their Constitutionally-protected right to freedom of speech allows them to continue their derogatory brand of religious activism.
Anonymous also considers itself an “aggressive proponent” of free speech, having recently launched attacks on organizations they consider to be enemies of that right: Companies like PayPal, Visa and Master Card, who stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks after the anti-secrecy organization released a massive cache of US embassy cables; and the government of Egypt, which attempted to cut off its people from the world by shutting down all Internet and mobile phone connections during protests there.
Other Anonymous targets include the Church of Scientology and, most recently, cyber-security company HBGary, which attempted to infiltrate Anonymous. In response, the loose-knit hacker group released 71,800 HBGary emails, which revealed highly dubious activities by the company, almost instantaneously destroying HBGary’s reputation and potentially setting it on a path to financial ruin.
According to the Westboro Baptist letter, Anonymous has “hitherto allowed [Westboro Baptist Church] to continue preaching [their] benighted gospel of hatred and [their] theatrical exhibitions of, not only [their] fascist views, but [their] utter lack of Christ-like attributes” — specifically because Anonymous believes in free speech.
Not anymore, however. “The time for us to be idle spectators in your inhumane treatment of fellow Man has reached its apex,” says the letter, “and we shall now be moved to action.”
Read the letter in full:
Open Letter to Westboro Baptist Church
AN OPEN LETTER FROM ANONYMOUS
February 16, 2011
TO THE CONGREGANTS OF WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH:
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. We have always regarded you and your ilk as an assembly of graceless sociopaths and maniacal chauvinists & religious zealots, however benign, who act out for the sake of attention & in the name of religion.
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.
ANONYMOUS cannot abide this behavior any longer. The time for us to be idle spectators in your inhumane treatment of fellow Man has reached its apex, and we shall now be moved to action. Thus, we give you a warning: 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. It is in your best interest to comply now, while the option to do so is still being offered, because we will not relent until you cease the conduction & promotion of all your bigoted operations & doctrines.
The warning has been given. What happens from here shall be determined by you.
WE ARE ANONYMOUS.
WE ARE LEGION.
WE DO NOT FORGIVE.
WE DO NOT FORGET.